The patch notes for the latest Cyberpunk 2077 update are comically long, featuring hundreds of tweaks, bug fixes, and minor improvements. But as Chris reported last week, the game is still a bit of a mess. CDPR is no doubt working hard on more patches, which it needs to—to fix both the game and its damaged reputation. But even if it manages to squash every bug and smooth every rough edge, CP2077 is still, deep down, an underwhelming game by a studio I think is capable of so much more.
I've written at length about my issues with Cyberpunk 2077's flimsy world-building. Night City makes a stunning first impression, but it doesn't take long to realise just how superficial it all is. As a shooter, it's deeply average. As an RPG, it doesn't have a fraction of the depth or reactivity hinted at by those early gameplay trailers. It isn't a bad game—just a wildly disappointing one. And these are problems mere patches will never fix.
In the years following the launch of The Witcher 3, CDPR released two large expansions: Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine. Both are incredible, boasting some of the Warsaw studio's best storytelling, quest design, and world-building to date. Blood and Wine is so big, and of such high quality, that it could easily be a standalone game. These expansions are a lesson in how to do DLC right, and CDPR was rightly celebrated for it.
So it was safe to assume the developer would try something similar with Cyberpunk 2077. At least, it was, before that disastrous launch and the ensuing controversy. While there are definitely more stories to be told in Night City, I think the best thing for CDPR to do at this point is just move on. I'm uneasy with the idea of the studio spending the next couple of years building on this shaky foundation, when it could take the hard lessons it learned constructing it to create something new—and better.
CDPR could dedicate all its time and resources to making Cyberpunk 2077 the game it has the potential to be. The game that was promised. It worked for Hello Games and No Man's Sky—which, after years of free updates, is in dramatically better shape than when it launched. But is it worth it? No Man's Sky, even when it barely functioned at release, was bubbling with exciting, untapped potential. But I don't think there's much room for CP2077 to grow—at least not without a complete and fundamental rewire. Energy that's better spent, I think, on creating a new experience.
As for what that could be, I'd be lying if I said I didn't want CDPR to make another Witcher game. With the popularity of the TV series on Netflix, it's the perfect time for another journey to Andrzej Sapkowski's grim fantasy world. One starring Ciri, perhaps? Blood and Wine was such a perfect end to Geralt's story, it seems unfair to drag him out of retirement for another adventure. But equally, I would like to spend time in a Night City that lives up to the potential Cyberpunk 2077 had. CDPR clearly loves the setting—although, admittedly, that passion may have waned for many of the staff now.
It's easy for me to sit here and speculate wildly about what a developer should do, like I could single-handedly fix all of its problems with an 800-word opinion piece. But really, it comes from a place of love. After dropping the ball with Cyberpunk 2077, I genuinely want CDPR to reach the heights of The Witcher 3 again. Hundreds of talented people work at this studio, and I'm sure it has another great game left in it. However, what form that will take, whether it's a dramatically reworked CP2077 or a new project entirely, remains to be seen. Personally, I'm praying for the latter.