CD Projekt Red has always stuck by its games. The Witcher and The Witcher 2 both got massively improved Enhanced Editions about a year after launch, while The Witcher 3 more recently got its big next-gen update a full seven years later. But none of those games had the rough landing of Cyberpunk 2077's, which led to everything from staff departures to class action lawsuits. The list of things to fix was vast, and the list of things that could be improved was even longer. It seemed like at some point, CD Projekt would have to declare the game done, perfect or not, and move on—especially when the studio decided to switch its future projects to Unreal Engine 5, easing Cyberpunk's REDengine towards retirement.
But according to Cyberpunk 2077 director Gabe Amatangelo, who took over shortly after launch in May 2021, wrapping up development before the dramatic overhaul of the 2.0 patch was never in the cards.
"Part of my conversation at the beginning with my boss and the board was: I believe in the team, I believe in this IP, but I want to do it right. And I'm going to need the support to do that," Amatangelo said in an interview with PC Gamer. "And they're like, yes, you have the support."
Patch 1.5, released in February 2022, delivered major graphical enhancements for next-gen consoles as well as some reworked perks, changes to AI and driving, the ability to change your appearance, and new gear. That could've been enough to call the game "complete," but the gears were already moving for the much deeper changes of patch 2.0.
"The groundwork we laid in 1.5, 1.6 was all culminating in the plan in 2.0," he said. "It was mapped out. Loosely mapped out and it got more refined over time, but it was mapped out. You can see some of it with the slight AI improvements in 1.5—that was built upon to get to 2.0. The [thinking was] 'what are the gaps, and how do we fill those gaps to do the complete experience that hopefully everyone imagined and wants to play?'"
Those "gaps" led to 2.0's fully reworked perk trees, a much-expanded cyberware system, vehicular combat, and smarter cops, among many other changes. Playing the game for the first time now, it's hard for me to picture a version of Cyberpunk 2077 without them.
In the end, the three-year-long play seems to have paid off: Cyberpunk has been holding strong as a top seller on Steam, pulling in its best player numbers since launch and comparing quite favorably to other big RPGs released this year. And now, at long last, it's time for the dev team to move on to the sequel.