The game was developed using the REDengine 4 by a team of around 500 people, exceeding the number that worked on the studio's previous game The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015). CD Projekt launched a new division in Wrocław, Poland, and partnered with Digital Scapes, Nvidia, QLOC, and Jali Research to aid the production. Cyberpunk creator Mike Pondsmith was a consultant, and actor Keanu Reeves has a starring role. The original score was led by Marcin Przybyłowicz, featuring the contributions of several licensed artists.
After several years of heavy anticipation, CD Projekt released Cyberpunk 2077 for PlayStation 4, Stadia, Windows, and Xbox One on 10 December 2020, with PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S versions planned to follow in 2021. It received praise for its narrative, setting, and graphics, although its gameplay received a mixed response. Cyberpunk 2077 was also widely criticized for bugs, particularly in the console versions which suffered from performance issues; Sony removed it from the PlayStation Store on 17 December 2020. CD Projekt became subject to investigations and class-action lawsuits for their perceived attempts in downplaying the severity of the game's technical issues before release.
Gameplay screenshot of player completing a mission
Cyberpunk 2077 is played in a first-person perspective as V, a mercenary whose voice, face, hairstyles, body type and modifications, background, and clothing are customisable. Stat categories—Body, Intelligence, Reflexes, Technical, and Cool—are influenced by the character classes that players assume, which are NetRunner (hacking), Techie (machinery), and Solo (combat). V must consult a "ripperdoc" to upgrade and purchase cyberware implants; black markets offer military-grade abilities. The rarity of any given equipment is shown by a coloured tier system. V can take cover, aim, run, jump, double jump, and slide. Melee strikes can be dealt with close-combat weapons. There are three types of ranged weapons, all of which can be customised and modified—Power (standard), Tech (which penetrate walls and enemies), and Smart (with homing bullets). Ranged weapons are equipped to ricochet bullets in a target's direction and slow them down in bullet time. Four types of damage can be inflicted and resisted—Physical, Thermal, EMP, and Chemical. Weapon use increases accuracy and reloading speed, which are manifested in character animations. Gunsmiths repair and upgrade weapons. The game can be completed without killing anyone, with non-lethal options for weapons and cyberware.
The open world metropolis Night City, California, consists of six regions—the corporate City Centre, immigrant-inhabited Watson, luxurious Westbrook, suburban Heywood, gang-infested Pacifica, and industrial Santo Domingo. Its surrounding area, the Badlands, can also be explored. V navigates these locations on foot and in vehicles, which are subject to either a third- or first-person view. Pedestrians are vulnerable to vehicular collisions. Depending on the location, law enforcement may be alerted if V commits a crime. Radio stations are available to listen to. The full day-night cycle and dynamic weather affect the way non-player characters (NPCs) behave. V owns an apartment and a garage. Night City features non-English-speaking characters. "Braindance" is a device that allows V to undergo other people's experiences.Branching dialogues enable interaction with NPCs and actions in quests. Experience points are obtained from main quests and fuel the stats; side quests yield "street cred", unlocking skills, vendors, places, and additional quests. Quests are acquired from characters known as Fixers. Throughout the game, V is aided by various companions. Consumables, like soft drinks, are used for healing, and objects can be inspected in V's inventory. Player choice leads to different endings.
Night City is an American megacity in the Free State of North California, controlled by corporations and unassailed by the laws of both country and state. It sees conflict from rampant gang wars and its ruling entities contending for dominance. The city is reliant on robotics for everyday aspects like waste collection, maintenance, and public transportation. Its visual identity is derived from the four eras it underwent—austere Entropism, colourful Kitsch, imposing Neo-Militarism, and opulent Neo-Kitsch. Homelessness abounds but does not preclude cybernetic modification for the poor, giving rise to cosmetic addiction and consequent violence. These threats are dealt with by the armed force known as MAX-TAC. Trauma Team can be employed for rapid medical services. Because of the constant threat of physical harm, all citizens are allowed to openly carry firearms in public.
The game begins with the selection of one of three lifepaths for the player character V (Gavin Drea or Cherami Leigh): Nomad, Streetkid, or Corpo. All three lifepaths involve V starting a new life in Night City with local merc Jackie Welles (Jason Hightower) and having various adventures with a netrunner, T-Bug.
In 2077, local fixer Dexter DeShawn (Michael-Leon Wooley) hires V and Welles to steal a biochip known as "the Relic" from Arasaka Corporation. They acquire the Relic, but the plan goes awry when they witness the murder of the megacorp's CEO Saburo Arasaka (Masane Tsukayama) at the hands of his treacherous son Yorinobu (Hideo Kimura). Yorinobu covers up the murder as a poisoning, and triggers a security sweep in which T-Bug is killed by Arasaka's netrunners. V and Welles escape, but Welles is fatally wounded in the process and the Relic's protective case is damaged, forcing V to insert the biochip into the cyberware in their head.
DeShawn, furious at the unwanted police attention, shoots V in the head and leaves them for dead in a landfill. Upon awakening, V is haunted by the digital ghost of war veteran turned iconic rock star Johnny Silverhand (Keanu Reeves), believed to have died in 2023 during a thermonuclear attack on Arasaka Tower. V learns from their ripperdoc Viktor Vector (Michael Gregory) that DeShawn's bullet triggered resurrectionnanotech on the biochip. In a few weeks, Silverhand's memories will irreversibly overwrite V's, effectively killing them. The biochip cannot be removed, so V must seek out a way to remove Silverhand and survive.
Through reliving Silverhand's memories, V learns that in 2023, Silverhand's then-girlfriend Alt Cunningham (Alix Wilton Regan) had created Soulkiller, an artificial intelligence able to copy netrunners' minds through their neural links. However, the process destroyed the target's brain. Arasaka kidnapped Cunningham and forced her to create their own version of Soulkiller, which would store the minds of its targets in Arasaka's digital fortress, Mikoshi. Silverhand led a rescue effort to save Cunningham, but failed to find her before Arasaka used Soulkiller on her. Silverhand sought revenge through his attack, but Arasaka captured him and used Soulkiller on him as well.
By 2077, Arasaka was advertising a "Secure Your Soul" program, and conducting secret research into writing a digital copy of a mind into a living human brain, from which the Relic arose. Eventually, V must decide whether to mount an attack on Arasaka Tower to gain physical access to Mikoshi and use Soulkiller to remove Silverhand from their body.
Depending upon player actions throughout the game, V can choose between different options to conduct the attack. V can decide to commit suicide, allow Silverhand to stage the attack with his former crewmember and flame Rogue, mount the attack with a team of nomads assembled during the game, or mount the attack solo. Regardless, after successfully using Soulkiller, it is revealed that the damage to V's body is irreversible. Depending on player choice, V either remains in their body, with a life expectancy of roughly six months, or allows Silverhand to take over permanently, in which case he pays his respects to his friends and leaves Night City to start a new life.
Cyberpunk creator Mike Pondsmith acted as a consultant since 2012
The first-person perspective was chosen to immerse players more than what third-person would allow. Cutscenes and gameplay were both made in first-person to seamlessly blend together. The game features full nudity, which game director Adam Badowski said encapsulates the theme of transhumanism—"the body is no longer sacrum [sacred]; it's profanum [profane]". The quest designers focused on enabling players to decide the order in which quests are undertaken. Side quests were often made from unused parts of the main story. Animation systems were remade to better generate muscle movement, motion capture was improved, and environments were created from prefabricated designs. Reused models had their colours and details altered. Feedback from E3 2018 influenced the non-lethal playthrough and removed the male-female option in character customisation, instead basing it on voice and body type.
The script was written in Polish and a separate team translated the dialogue into English. Persons translating into languages other than English were provided with both the original Polish script and an English localization. The English localization was the base for all language versions except the Polish one, however, it was not a determinant that had to be translated one-to-one and allowed translators to be creative. Some other versions, such as the Russian one, were also based on the original, if the translators knew Polish. English and Polish dialogues were recorded independently of each other, as were some of the other language versions. Screenwriters took part in the recording of Polish dialogues, providing the actors with additional information about the characters and the context of the situation, helping them put themselves into the role. Dialogues previously recorded in Polish or English could be made available to authors of later versions in order to correctly convey emotions by the actors. Polish and English actors participating in the recordings, where the game's creators were also present, could suggest changes to the dialogues, some of which were recognised.
Night City was designed with the help of urban planners, and its architecture drew on the style of Brutalism. The world is loaded using vertical streaming[clarification needed] to merely render the assets that appear on screen. By August 2018, the story was completed and could facilitate a complete playthrough. The content was nearly complete in mid-2019, with the rest of development focused largely on polishing. Staff started working from home in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, causing a halt in localisation. Despite the studio's disavowal of mandatory overtime in May and June 2019, "crunch time" was implemented in the final weeks. In October2020, Cyberpunk2077 was released to manufacturing.
Marcello Gandini's designs from the '80s and '90s shaped most of the vehicles' looks. It features a motorbike from the Akira manga and anime film and a car inspired by Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). In July 2018, actor Keanu Reeves was approached for the role of Johnny Silverhand, codenamed Mr Fusion to maintain secrecy. He would lend his likeness to, voice, and do motion capture for the character. Reeves' dialogue amount is second only to that of V. Having first spent fifteen days recording his lines, Reeves was later granted his request that Silverhand's screen presence be doubled.Masane Tsukayama portrays Arasaka Corporation leader Saburo Arasaka in Japanese for all regions and the voice acting is not localized. Musician and producer Grimes voices the frontwoman of Lizzy Wizzy and the Metadwarves.
At E3 2019, an initial release date of 16 April 2020 was announced. This was delayed to 17 September, then 19 November, and finally 10 December. The developers received death threats over the last delay.
With E3 2020 cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, CD Projekt's online event Night City Wire showed additional trailers, more gameplay, and making-of footage. Next-generation ports for Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 were announced for 2021. Owners of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions will be able to freely download the game on their respective next-generation models. The delayed standalone multiplayer was announced to launch after 2021.
The collector's edition consists of a custom box, steelbook, figurine depicting a male V, hardcover artbook, metal pin set and keychain, A Visitor's Guide to Night City, embroidered patches, world compendium, Night City postcards and map, and stickers. The standard edition also contains the compendium, postcards, map, and stickers. Digital items that come with every copy are the soundtrack, art booklet, Cyberpunk 2020sourcebook, wallpapers, and Cyberpunk2077: Your Voice comic. Purchases through CD Projekt's subsidiary GOG.com include the digital comic Cyberpunk2077: Big City Dreams.Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment distributed the game in North America.Bandai Namco Entertainment acted as distributor for twenty-four European countries, Australia, and New Zealand.Spike Chunsoft published the physical PlayStation 4 copies in Japan.
The game was highly anticipated before its release. It won over one hundred awards at E3 2018, including Best Game, Best Xbox One Game, Best PC Game, Best RPG, and People's Choice at IGN, Best Role-Playing Game and Game of the Show at Game Informer, Best of E3 at PC Gamer, and Game of the Show at GamesRadar+. The second trailer was considered one of the best at the expo, although writer William Gibson, credited with pioneering the cyberpunk subgenre, described it as "GTA skinned-over with a generic 80s retro-future". Gibson later responded more positively to the first gameplay demo. The first-person perspective, in contrast with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt's third-person, was subject to criticism.Cyberpunk2077 was the most widely discussed game of E3 2019, where it was presented awards for Best of E3 at GamesRadar+, PC Gamer, Rock, Paper, Shotgun, and Ars Technica, and Best Game, People's Choice, Best PS4 Game, Best Xbox One Game, Best PC Game, and Best RPG at IGN. The third trailer was lauded with emphasis on Reeves' reveal.
Liana Ruppert, a journalist for Game Informer who has photosensitive epilepsy, experienced a grand mal seizure while reviewing the game days before its release. The seizure was triggered by the game's "braindance" sequence, which contains red and white flashing lights that reportedly resemble the patterns produced by medical devices used to intentionally trigger seizures. In response, CD Projekt Red made a public statement and reached out to Ruppert. The company then released a patch to add a warning, and issued a later patch on 11 December to reduce the risk of inducing epileptic symptoms.
Prior to the release of the game, CD Projekt Red provided review copies of Cyberpunk to several major outlets. CD Projeckt Red issued strict review embargo terms on these review copies, requiring reviewers to sign NDAs and only allowing for footage provided by the company to be shown in reviews; according to Wired Magazine (which did not receive a reviewer copy), violating the NDA could cost around $27,000 per violation. Concern also arose over the fact review copies were issued for the PC version of the game, ensuring that all pre-release reviews related to the PC version of the game, excluding consoles. As a result, this eroded trust from some consumers.
The PC release of Cyberpunk 2077 received "generally favorable reviews" from critics, according to Metacritic. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of the game received "mixed or average reviews".
Critics praised the quality of the story as well as the depth and expansiveness of side quests, immersive atmosphere of the world, visual quality, and freshness of the cyberpunk setting. The game's systems such as crafting, driving mechanics, and combat received a mixed response. Some critics, while acknowledging the game's many strengths, nonetheless criticised its shallow portrayal of the cyberpunk genre, and also described its portrayal of related themes such as anti-capitalism and anarchism as ironic. Others took issue with the portrayal of transgender people, who they felt were fetishised by in-game material but were not given any meaningful role in the narrative.
On launch day, the game exceeded 1 million concurrent viewers on Twitch.
Technical issues and controversy
The release of Cyberpunk 2077 was a high-profile event and was considered a disastrous launch as a result of the game suffering from numerous bugs and performance issues, particularly on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions.The Guardian called the release "a shambles", while The New York Times said it was among the most conspicuous disasters in the industry's history, with CD Projekt Red prominently failing to meet expectations for what was anticipated to be the biggest game release of the year. Other gaming industry commentators have described the post-launch reception of Cyberpunk 2077 as a fall from grace for CD Projekt Red, who had previously enjoyed a fiercely pro-consumer reputation.
Some of the initial reviews that had been based only on the PC version of the game were later updated to add a caveat about the notable difference in performance between this version and its console releases. Because of the game's performance on consoles, CD Projekt issued an apology, particularly for their pre-release secrecy regarding these versions, concluding that unsatisfied consumers could opt for refunds. This was initially followed by multiple reports of players unable to get said refund. CD Projekt Red later stated that they had no specific deals in place with either Microsoft or Sony to facilitate such an action; refunds are dealt with according to standard refund policies. On 17 December 2020, Sony announced that it would offer refunds to customers who had purchased Cyberpunk 2077 through the PlayStation Store and removed it from the store "until further notice"; as of May 2021, the game remained unavailable on the PlayStation storefront as CD Projekt waited for Sony's approval for relisting. The Xbox One version of the game remained available for purchase from the online Microsoft store, albeit with a warning about the game's performance issues. Players who bought the game through the Microsoft store were also offered refunds. In the US, GameStop accepted returns of boxed versions of the game even if the box was opened, an exception to the store's usual refund policy.
Although the game's reviews were largely positive, its aggregate score was thought to be disappointing by analysts. CD Projekt SA stock fell by up to 9.4% after the publication of Metacritic's reviews. The reviews aggregation OpenCritic criticised CD Projekt Red for deliberately attempting to misrepresent the game, and not delivering review copies for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 knowing it would receive negative reviews. A class-action lawsuit representing those making investments in CD Projekt during 2020 was filed on 24 December 2020 in California, asserting that the company made fraudulent claims to the state of Cyberpunk 2077 as to mislead those investors; a second similar class-action suit had also been filed by January 2021. By May 2021, four separate lawsuits against CD Projekt had been filed over Cyberpunk 2077, and had been subsequently merged into one common action. Poland's Office of Competition and Consumer Protection began an investigation of the game in January 2021, asking CD Projekt for an "explanation regarding problems with the game and actions taken by them". Having previously asked its employees to work 6-day weeks for several final months of the development of the game, the company ditched plans to tie developers' bonuses to review scores, choosing instead to pay out the full bonus regardless.
Jason Schreier of Bloomberg News said that, based on discussions with CD Projekt developers, a major reason for the poor performance of Cyberpunk 2077 on release was underestimating the effort that would be needed. While more than twice as many developers were brought on board to help with the game compared to The Witcher 3, CD Projekt had only expected the same amount of time to complete the game, so that the bulk of development towards the game only began in late 2016. The expanded scope of Cyberpunk 2077 including the game's new engine had created difficulties, and while there were more developers, there was less organization of their various functions that further hampered the development, according to Schreier's report. Many developers urged management to hold off on the game's release. Co-CEO Marcin Iwiński issued an open message to players on 13 January 2021, apologizing for the state of the game and the company's plans to correct it. Iwiński stated that the company "underestimated the risk" in bringing a game optimized to run on personal computers over to consoles, particularly the older Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles. He specifically faulted the in-game streaming engine that was used to load in assets from storage on the fly as the player moved through the game, which was scaled back to work on the older consoles. While they had tested these versions as they approached release, they had not seen the same issues that players had reported in the released version. He affirmed that the developers were not responsible for the release state of the game, but instead this was a choice made by himself and the other management of the company. Besides working to issue refunds and bring the game to a state to return it to the PlayStation store, Iwiński outlined a year-long path that will involve multiple patches to bring the older consoles' versions to better performance and then looking to optimizing the game for newer consoles, prior to any further additional content development.
Cyberpunk 2077 received eight million pre-orders on all platforms, of which 74% were digital, and it received more pre-orders than The Witcher3: Wild Hunt; one third of PC sales were through GOG.com. It was a best-seller on Steam in China. CD Projekt Red has stated that digital preorders for the title alone recouped the game's production cost as well as the game's 2020 marketing cost. According to a CD Projekt investors call, sales saw a drastic decline four days after release owing to the technical issues present. After the launch, analyst estimations for sales over 12 months fell from 30 million to 25.6 million.
Within twelve hours after its release, the game had over one million concurrent players on Steam. The PlayStation 4 version of Cyberpunk 2077 sold an estimated 104,600 physical copies during its debut week in Japan, making it the second highest selling retail game of the week in the country. As of 20 December 2020, the game sold over 13 million copies worldwide. It had the biggest digital game launch of all time, selling 10.2 million digital units and grossing $609 million in digital sales as of 31 December 2020[update].
^Taylor-Kent, Oscar (October 2020). "_Cyberpunk 2077's art team talk to Oscar Taylor-Kent about creating the hot looks, fast rides, big guns, and slick cyberware that defines Night City". PlayStation Official Magazine – UK. No. 179. pp. 50–58.