Three years on from a legendarily catastrophic launch that jeopardized CD Projekt Red's once-sterling reputation, Cyberpunk 2077 has completely turned it around. After failing to nab a Game Award for its initial launch (eligible at the 2021 TGA), Cyberpunk took home an award for Best Ongoing Game at this year's show.
Now, I always loved this game, but it's come a long damn way since December 2020. While a lot of attention gets paid to the game's performance uplift and many bug fixes, the way it's evolved mechanically has always stuck with me the most. First, it was welcome touches like armor transmog, added quests, and expanded text conversations in 2021, but this year's 2.0 update blew everything out of the water.
Cyberpunk's perks, weapons, and other gear were completely overhauled, turning it from a fun, if flawed roleplaying experience into one of the best action RPGs out there. The fantastic Phantom Liberty expansion only sealed the deal, and I no longer feel like I have to add caveats when I recommend Cyberpunk 2077.
My coworkers pointed out an unfortunate implication to this award seeming to celebrate releasing a game in bad shape, only to get back pats for fixing it later, but I don't really see it that way. Again, those bug fixes are one thing, but I'd say the 2.0 update's RPG system changes absolutely go above and beyond the usual "fixes"—they're genuinely iterative.
I definitely see an issue of mismatched categories here though: "Best Ongoing Game" strikes me as a category best reserved for live service games or MMOs, while Cyberpunk is a single player RPG that's received updates and an expansion. The Game Awards definitely strains at its category distinctions elsewhere as well—see Dave the Diver, which was published by a billion-dollar company, being "indie," or the show's bafflingly broad "Best Sim/Strategy" award, which pitted Cities: Skylines 2 against Pikmin 4 this year.
Ultimately, I found it to be an award well-earned, despite that caveat, and this feels like a fitting end to the critical saga around Cyberpunk 2077. The game itself does have at least one more big update to go though, with patch 2.1 promising a host of further improvements.