By now, it’s clear that CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 is among this year’s most anticipated games. Developed by the team behind The Witcher, the title touts an ungodly level of customization, a sprawling science-fiction universe, and an unmatched development pedigree. And while the game showed real promise in our preview at the studio’s office, the fact is that I only scratched the surface after my quick 1,500 hours of playtime.
Don’t get me wrong: What I saw in that quick teaser was plenty intriguing. But the verdict is still out on this sci-fi juggernaut until I can sit down with the full build later this year and go beyond the all-too-short eight weeks I spent exploring its futuristic world.
When you get down to it, Cyberpunk 2077 is trying to be the be-all-end-all sandbox game, and nowhere was that more apparent than in the 27 hours that I managed to spend on the character customization screen alone. From minor cosmetic tweaks to your eye color to defining each and every facet of the backstory of your character, the developers gave me more than enough reason to skip an entire day of meals and suffer some hunger pangs in favor of really digging into the robust options on offer.
By the time I entered the Night City—the game’s dystopian metropolis based in the Free State of California—I had already developed some pretty severe bed sores from sitting in a recliner for 125 hours straight. And even though the lack of sleep gave me some minor auditory hallucinations, the five-day playthrough of the tutorial level—and especially the eight hours I spent motionlessly staring at the perfectly rendered sunset behind a futuristic high-rise—gave me some serious faith that Cyberpunk planned to give role-playing fans an unprecedented level of freedom.
Obviously, take all of this with a grain of salt. Listening to a few hundred hours of the game’s branching dialogue trees, walking down every alleyway in the hub area, meeting only a few thousand of the game’s cybernetic and human NPCs, and paging through a couple million digital diary entries isn’t nearly enough of a hands-on experience to render a full judgment. It’s also worth noting that my vision started fading fairly early on from eye strain, so I wasn’t entirely sure what I was playing by the demo’s closing.
It was sometime around when my landlord called me to say that my cat had died because I hadn’t fed it for weeks that I knew this was a game worth keeping my eye on.
Still, it makes sense that Cyberpunk 2077 would have serious potential. After all, this is the studio behind The Witcher 3, a game so immersive that by the time I finished my four-year speed run, my wife had left me and taken custody of our son and my muscles had atrophied to the point that I could no longer move around without a motorized wheelchair.
So I’m definitely hopeful that once I clock some real quality time with the game—even if it’s only 10 or 20,000 more hours—Cyberpunk 2077 will deliver on the hype. Until then, I’m reserving my judgment. But let’s just say that I couldn’t help but smile when I finished my 1,500-hour playthrough, opened up the game’s menu, and saw I had only finished 1% of the core storyline.
That’s the kind of impressive commitment to open-world game making that I like to see.