Cyberpunk 2077, The Great Divide Returns: Console Gaming vs PCPlatforms: All
Cyberpunk 2077's arrival has highlighted a growing divide between current-gen console gaming and the high-end PC experience.
While my time reviewing Cyberpunk 2077 on PC was an incredible experience, I have sampled the game on my base, vanilla, no-added-sugar, 'gets stressed out when I load up Fall Guys' PS4 and the difference is vast. While my PS4 test run was not nearly as riddled with as many glitches as some, there were some very obvious and glaring issues. Visually, the difference between the two is stark. The console version of Cyberpunk 2077 has more muted (sometimes even muddy) textures and the lighting is vivid but obviously without the extra details that ray tracing offers. Load times were a persistent hurdle, however, interrupting the flow of scripted events or causing delayed texture loads or NPC pop-ups when I moved through an area too quickly. I noted some slow down on more chaotic shoot outs but nothing that blocked my ability to progress.
These were fairly minor issues for me, I have a higher tolerance for these things than most, but playing the game I was keenly aware that this was a cross-gen title that has no real place being a cross-gen title. Seeing how Cyberpunk 2077 looks on a high-end PC emphasises that this is a next-gen built game. There is only going to be so much that can be done to fix Cyberpunk 2077 on a current-gen console, it is not built for this generation and it probably shouldn't have been released on it. It really brings to light just how different the console experience can be to a high-end PC.
It has been some time since we saw a technological gulf like this. Even the jump between the PS3 and PS4 was not that apparent as we were largely seeing ports of previous-gen titles, such as GTA V and The Last of US. There were some titles where the differences were more mechanical in nature, like Shadow of Mordor that cut the Nemesis System from their PS3 version, but the game was visually similar enough to pass by unnoticed. The prominence of PC gaming had fallen by the wayside somewhat due to the increased popularity of the Xbox 360 and the PS4, respectively, and it would take a good portion of this gen for it to rebuild to a point where it would be the industry leader again.
But as we move into the next-gen, the technological leap has become more pronounced. The things an expensive gaming rig can do eclipse what the PS4 or Xbox One can do and it's never been more obvious than here.
This used to be the accepted norm, even going back to the PS3 and Xbox 360 days, the PC always looked much better. As we moved into the PS4/Xbox One era things started to even out until we reached the end run of this generation and PC tech made another major jump forward. The next-gen of consoles will once again play catch-up, you can expect the free next-gen upgrade of Cyberpunk 2077 to look great on your PS5 and Xbox Series X, as those systems boast the sort of lightning-fast SSD load times and ray-tracing tech that games like Cyberpunk 2077 need to capture the dev team's full vision.
I am not entirely convinced there is much CD Projekt Red can do to get a game of this scale and complexity to look and run markedly better on the current-gen systems, it is clearly a game built for the next generation. My review of Cyberpunk 2077 stands 100%. I played the game as it was intended to be played, and my experience was one of my favourites in recent times. This is a game I am already playing through a second time, with plans to return for a third. It is fantastic and will be the standard-bearer for the genre once we finally move into the next-gen in full.
I would strongly recommend, where possible, that any current-gen owners wait to play this on a next-gen console. Even without the next-gen upgrade, you will benefit from the superior load times that are interfering with the texture loads and cutting into the momentum of scene transitions, if you can wait even longer for the next-gen graphics upgrade then absolutely do that. This game when running at its best is the most incredible spectacle I have seen in a game.
Cyberpunk 2077 will have a long shelf life ahead of it. There are planned free DLC roll-outs starting early next year as well as the major expansions (if these are anything like The Witcher 3's expansions, they will be the size of most other AAA games), on top of CD Projekt Red's constant implementation of QOL patches. The Witcher 3 was supported by the devs for years after its release. This game is not going anywhere, you are not going to miss out on something if you hold off on playing it, and it will be worth the wait.