Back in 2020, Cyberpunk 2077 had the rockiest possible release. One of the most hyped games of the generation released severely broken and disappointing many fans. Fast forward nearly three years and not only is its DLC expansion coming out, the update it needed is here too. Phantom Liberty will get its well-deserved laurels from us soon enough, but we cannot praise that release without also praising its partner update, Cyberpunk 2.0.
Developer & Publisher // CD Projekt Red
Platforms // PlayStation 5, PC, Xbox Series X|S
MSRP & Release Date //$59.99, Sep 26, 2023
Reviewed On // Xbox Series X
Cyberpunk 2.0 Reworks Core Skills
This update’s most important changes are fundamentals. For customization, skill trees were simplified and streamlined, and cosmetics barely affect armor. Throughout Night City, players can now use weapons while driving, and AI reacts more naturally to your actions.
Skill trees aren’t siloed from the other trees under the same attributes. Now, each attribute has one tree which condenses and connects the previous silos. These trees branch between two to three core starting points where some Perks need investments in multiple branches to unlock.
For example, the Reflexes Tree, responsible for weapon skills, has core branches for guns and melee weapons. Sometimes, those core branches have smaller branches that connect to the other core. To get the Perks in the smaller branches, you need to buy all Perks that directly lead to that branch.
This clarity and cohesiveness address two of the original release’s biggest problems. When I first played Cyberpunk in 2020, I rarely looked at multiple trees because I never felt the need to cycle through the other siloed skill trees. Now, I can clearly see how the core branches relate to each other and mesh together.
Clear visions and streamlined designs make Perk customization much more enjoyable and give the players much more depth to their builds.
Armor is Free of Your Looks
In Patch 1.6, Cyberpunk added a transmog system, where players could save outfits to change in and out of without losing their actually equipped armor’s stats. 2.0 goes the extra step and completely moves Armor into Cyberware. Various pieces of Cyberware augment your armor score, some of which tie directly into a related attribute score.
My V has at least one armor Cyberware that raises her Armor by a number of times my Technical Skills Attribute. That alone can account for up to a fifth of your total armor score at late-game levels.
Clear visions and streamlined designs make Perk customization much more enjoyable
Launch day Cyberpunk’s armor system forced you to sacrifice your sense of fashion. Admittedly, the recent transmog system also notably addressed this issue. All of that said, this reworked Armor system feels much more natural to Night City and allows for much stronger defenses.
Speaking of Cyberware, your Cyberware also got updated. Cyberpunk 2.0 added a new Cyberware Section for Integumentary Ware, designed specifically for Armor. When building out your Cyberware attachments, each piece of Cyberware has a point value. That value adds up across all Cyberware and can’t go above your Cyberware Capacity without high-end Perks.
The Cyberware slot system stays the same, you just can’t overload your slots with powerful pieces anymore.
Night City, Meet Grand Theft Auto
As players get wildly bigger upgrades in 2.0, so do the Fuzz. The Night City Police Department (NCPD) got overhauled as well. You’ll routinely run into them shooting out a gang, they’ll defend themselves if you attack them, and you can force them to pull out bigger and bigger deterrents.
Say that you get into your own shootout with the police. Your wanted level will raise some badge levels, you’ll hear their comms as they try to bring you to justice, and police you give chase when they clock you. When you get up to three or four badges, the NCPD cars get more bullet-resistant.
Above: Gameplay clip of driving in Cyberpunk 2.0.
Should you need to defend yourself, you can. Players can use one-handed weapons while driving like pistols and submachine guns. Plus, players can use Quickhacks behind the wheel (including a new set of car-specific options). Don’t worry too much about aiming because the player will automatically aim at anyone in their line of sight.
These are such incredible additions to Cyberpunk. Lawmen appear in open-world video games to ensure players don’t turn into murderhoboes. When they do it on the road the controls are so simple that you can easily keep the energy going. Add in the game’s already existing cyber-combat with Cyberware attachments and Smart weaponry, and you can cause absolute mayhem.
Cyberpunk 2.0 Imperfectly Embraces Current-Gen Hardware
Last-gen consoles got hit the hardest at the initial launch. 2.0 was clearly made to help move on from supporting them. Beyond previously addressed bugs and glitches, the game looks and performs much better to a point. On Performance Mode, players get a seamless experience, with a framerate smooth as silk.
Details also look much better now, especially with light. Players can see dust clouds caught in early sunbeams, artificial smoke in dance clubs highlight lasers, and more. That’s far from everything new about lighting, but the point remains: CD Projekt Red’s partnership with NVIDIA paid off in spades. Cyberpunk now delivers an overall crisp visual experience.
That said, that experience is not perfect. Occasionally, we’ve seen textures break while driving and make the world look like a collapsing simulation. We did have at least one occasion during a sandstorm where pixels took a solid five or more seconds to properly reset after a character walked in front of the object they were on. These issues don’t routinely happen, but enough to break the immersion for us.
Additionally, there are still a few technical oddities. We’ve seen NPCs walk straight through walls, body disposals open the wrong way, and more, general tech issues. Unlike the aforementioned texture issues, these don’t completely break the game, but they still stick out.
Most importantly, the game crashed a couple of times. The crashes happened most notably when driving around Night City. We had one point in particular where the game crashed with Ray Tracing on, and then the game crashed twice when trying to reboot the game. Fortunately, once we rebooted the console the game started working.
No matter, that is not good. Crashes of any kind are not good for a game; routine crashes directly linked to a performance are horrible. Even though I personally prefer the game’s Performance Mode, you need to be able to confidently play a game without this kind of interference. These crashes are unacceptable.
Verdict: Night City Deserves Returning Visitors
When we first reviewed Cyberpunk 2077, our core criticisms were about bugs, bad driving, lack of customization, and “meaningless busywork”. Three of these four are now directly addressed, which all indirectly addressed the last. Side activities no longer feel like a chore because you use your arsenal for wildly fun combat.
This is the game players expected and wanted three years ago. Where that first release defined Cyberpunk 2077’s history, 2.0 comes to rectify it as best it can.
Note – We were provided an Xbox Series X code by CD Projekt Red and currently have around 20 hours of gameplay completed.