The tumultuous launch of Cyberpunk 2077 will soon be a master class in What Not To Do When Launching A Game, as more details surface surrounding the game and its development, the worse CD Projekt looks.
Glitches, bugs, and other technical issues aside, it’s getting to the point where players are discovering entire mechanics in trailers for the games from years past that didn’t make it into the final product.
After combing through the E3 2018 reveal trailer, the first gameplay trailer from that same year, and other official sources, we found a number of things that were left on the cutting room floor that could’ve really helped the game live up to the hype.
What happened to the deep customization system?
If you watch that original gameplay trailer from 2018, the first minute-and-a-half of the walkthrough shows and describes an extensive customization list, giving the player full reign to craft V in any image they desired. The UI showed different face types, colors were laid out in a easy-to-follow grid, and the amount of options for things like hairstyle and tattoos seemed astronomical.
The final release, however, does not present all of those options. Customization has been boiled down significantly, losing many of the things that made this so impressive in the first place. The player still has a good amount of influence on how V looks, sure, but it’s not nearly to the level that was originally promised. Granted the trailer does specify that “nothing is final,” but the idea of teasing us with that customization suite and then launching the one we got left a bad taste in a lot of players’ mouths.
In fairness, the fluid class system where players simply assign points to certain attributes and classes aren’t selected did make it through to the final product, so all was not lost.
Where did destructible environments go?
Original gameplay for Cyberpunk 2077 showed off the game’s dynamic cover system, which does still exist, but it also showed how any piece of cover found is impermanent. Destructible cover and environments were a major perk in the early going, giving battles a more realistic feel as V was forced to move from one cover point to another.
Unfortunately, destructible cover simply does not exist in the game that launched. Hiding behind cover has no imminent dangers surrounding it; unless you get flanked or you accidentally stand up while in a firefight, you can turtle through battles without having to really think about them. On its own a lack of destruction really wouldn’t be a big deal, but compounded with everything else the game is missing it’s hard to ignore.
No more third-person cut-scenes
After delivering the patient to Trauma Team (a scene which remained virtually unchanged from the 2018 gameplay demo outside of some dialogue) Jackie and V share a conversation in an elevator which plays out in a cutscene with third-person perspective. We see the customized V talking, smiling, and interacting with Jackie from outside of her eyes, giving us another chance to see the antihero the demo driver crafted.
Viewing these scenes in the third-person has been completely removed from the final product, although in this particular case the end result could be seen by some as more immersive. Everything plays out in real time now, the player allowed to look around at their surroundings while engaged in these scenes, and the transition between scene and gameplay is seamless. Not all cut content is detrimental to the final product, and here we have an example of a design change that could be seen as a benefit to the game in the long run.
Detail-rich NPCs no longer exist
The NPCs of Night City were a major focus in the gameplay trailer, with two quotes from the voiceover narration standing out:
“We’ve greatly enhanced our crowd and community systems to create the most believable city in any open-world game to date.“
“The city streets are bustling with crowds of people from all facets of life, all living their lives, with a full day/night cycle.”
The NPCs that currently inhabit Night City, however, do not seem to exhibit any of these qualities. Pedestrians always spawn outside of the player’s sightline, multiple copies of the same NPC can sometimes appear, etc. In a few instances players have followed a citizen crossing the street only to find that the person would simply cross the same road back and forth repeatedly.
When a player tries to attack an NPC on the street, anyone not in the player’s line of sight immediately disappears, rendering an entire city block empty with one 360-degree turn. NPCs can be for the most part ignored during a playthrough of Cyberpunk, but that doesn’t change the fact that their capabilities have been significantly reduced in the two years since that trailer came out.
The graphics on consoles are far below expectations
We’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about the difference in graphics outputs between the PC and console versions, which has been noted at great length since the game’s launch. The Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 seem to hold their own with the game, but as we dig into the last generation of consoles things start to change quickly.
Characters appear out of thin air, their faces and features fading into view in real time. The 1440p/4K experience promised across all consoles reduced to 900p in some cases. Washed out scenery, character models that look like something out of the PlayStation 2 era, the list goes on. The game is nigh unplayable on last-gen hardware, especially the base models, and those who still own those consoles should wait to upgrade before venturing into Night City.
Never promised, but never delivered
Gameplay trailers like the one CD Projekt Red showed us in 2018 are often going to showcase more than the games themselves can deliver due to time constraints and budgeting and technical limitations of the target hardware.
That said, seeing all the things CD Projekt Red had planned versus what was included in the final release is a bitter pill to swallow. The trailer showed us a world brimming with potential, and the end result is decidedly less limitless.
If there’s a lesson here – and there is – it’s that early game trailers like the one we got for Cyberpunk 2077 (and No Man’s Sky, etc…) is that developers dream up amazing worlds, but the final product is worthy of skepticism… even if it comes from a developer with a previously strong record.