I gotta level with you: I think Cyberpunk 2077 was always good. Definitely a flawed game, but c’mon, a bigass RPG whose reach exceeded its grasp that was uneven and horribly buggy at launch, you mean like Fallout: New Vegas or Vampire: The Masquerade—Bloodlines, two of the most beloved RPGs in PC gaming history?
Cyberpunk’s launch state was hard to swallow, especially on last-gen consoles, but as a lifelong RPG-liker, I’ve got a soft spot for overambitious games that launch in beta or worse. It turns out that wouldn’t be the final word on Cyberpunk, though. With its 2.0 update, it’s now a fantastic RPG I can unreservedly recommend, no caveats.
Diamond in the rough
(Image credit: CD Projekt Red)
I’ll always champion Keanu Reeves’ performance as Johnny Silverhand, a DIY punk who inexplicably drove a Porsche. I’ve got a similar affection for the rest of the cast, with standouts like Judy Alvarez or Kerry Eurodyne earning BioWare companion levels of devotion out of me. I don’t “stan” fictional characters, I’m an adult, but I love the dorks you throw in with over the course of Cyberpunk 2077’s many side stories.
However much I enjoyed my time with it all the way back in December 2020, I knew there was potential for CDPR or modders to tease something even better out of Cyberpunk, some combination of fixes, tweaks, and additions that would shape up this hot mess I adored. The patches over the last few years did add a little more texture, like more interactions with the game’s romance interests or the transmog feature that helped paper over an armor system lifted from a so-so looter shooter.
But when I replayed Cyberpunk last year, I found the same flawed game I loved back in 2020. There were just fewer NPCs clipping through the sidewalks and people in the real world felt comfortable saying they liked it now.
Under the hood
The 2.0 update, though, is genuinely transformative, turning Cyberpunk’s once-stultifying perks and gear system into one of the best CDPR has done to date—a match for the Witcher 3’s final form, and leagues ahead of the awkward oddities deployed in The Witcher 1 and 2.
Perks and leveling up actually mean something now, with substantial power ups that cater to specific archetypes from Cyberpunk’s tabletop roots. Translated into the 2.0 update, my 2022 character felt more like a cyborg ninja than ever, unlocking air dashes and the ability to deflect bullets with a katana from the revamped Reflex skill trees. These new systems inspired me to take a stab recreating my first character, a Cole Cassidy-style cyber cowboy, by speccing into a skill tree under the Cool attribute that beefs up precision shooting with revolvers while also unlocking firing from the hip as a viable option.
Now that’s what I call a perk tree. (Image credit: CD Projekt)
Decoupling characters’ damage resistance from what clothes they’re wearing and instead tying it to cyberware was a bold, inspired move as well. It focuses more of your build decisions into 2.0’s revamped cyberware options, helping solidify Cyberpunk’s unique identity. Cyberware has always been something that sets Cyberpunk apart from other tabletop settings, and in the original game it was a side concern to hunting down progressively stronger pieces of armor and then blessedly hiding whatever clownish combo I cooked up with the transmog system.
I think I feel it most in the weapons, though. Guns and swords no longer have these awful, ballooning, leveled damage numbers tied to them. I don’t have to suffer the indignity of getting a unique, named katana as a gift from a mafia don, only to kill a rando 20 minutes later and find one with a slightly higher DPS number.
This change, coupled with an absolutely blessed simplification of the original game’s perk and attribute-reliant crafting/weapon upgrade system, saves 2077’s weapon economy from being the most mediocre sort of looter shooter deal, a deluge of grey, blue, purple, and green drops that all feel the same and just kind of stress me out. Rewards feel meaningful now, and when you find a special weapon in Cyberpunk 2.0, you can easily keep strengthening it alongside your character.
The colors remain but the numbers have been significantly culled. (Image credit: CD Projekt)
Cyberpunk’s just a better, smarter RPG now, and CDPR managed to cut Gordian Knots embedded in the original game’s design left and right. I’d resigned myself to patching up the less savory parts of 2077’s RPG systems with mods that’d resolve my worst annoyances, but not only is that no longer necessary, you should actually delete your old mods before diving into the 2.0 update (at least for the time being).
CD Projekt has reforged Cyberpunk 2077 into one of the best single player action RPGs out there, and its new gameplay lease on life helps its already-great characters, story, and world shine all the more.