One of the most highly anticipated games of the year, nay, the decade, Cyberpunk 2077 is on the verge of release after being countlessly delayed in an attempt to make the game as polished as possible. But, before the game is made available to the rabid public, as per industry norms, companies such as IGN, GameSpot, and many more get their hands on the title for review. These reviews aim to give prospective buyers an insight into what to expect if they choose to venture off into the world of Night City and maybe even convince a few individuals to pick up the game in the first place.
I’ve got some bad news for you though. These reviews are false.
Why? Well, Cyberpunk 2077 has a day one patch that’s larger than most full games – a whopping 43GB, attempting to add even more polish than the sheer number of extra dev-hours that have already been put into getting it ready for release. This patch, which even one of the devs described as making the title “a different game”, aims to fix facial animations, dialogue, and a whole host of bugs that dramatically hinder gameplay.
While most companies reviewing Cyberpunk 2077 have been giving it a relatively glowing write-up, almost all of them also share the same caveat – the plethora of game-breaking bugs that simply remove you from the immersion CD Projekt Red aimed to create. As previously stated, that day one patch essentially creates a whole new experience than what pre-release reviewers have been undertaking and this, in our eyes, renders their opinions almost useless.
The questions that we need to ask are why are these companies choosing to review an unfinished product that requires a 43GB+ day one patch? How is that a true representation of the world CD Projekt Red has created? Why should readers even believe what they read when a patch pretty much the size of the whole game itself is being pushed out post-launch? There’s certainly enough hype for Cyberpunk 2077 so why dampen that by putting words out there that are plain and simply false compared to the day one patched game. Unfortunately, money talks, and a game as big as Cyberpunk 2077, albeit still not quite finished, provides websites the opportunity to make some extra cash through ad placements and affiliate sales, forgetting about what’s right for the reader.
At PC Guide, we had the chance to review Cyberpunk 2077 before it’s release but specifically chose not to in an effort to give our readers the most informed review as possible with that day one patch installed. I believe that this is the way that the industry should approach game reviews moving forward. Look, I get it, this has been the way video game reviews have been done for years but, that’s the point. We’re in a new age of gaming where day one patches are essentially a given, therefore, almost making pre-release reviews redundant in 99% of cases.
I don’t think the fault completely lies with CD Projekt Red, or the companies reviewing Cyberpunk 2077 for that matter, I think the video game industry as a whole should be the one to blame here. It’s become a minefield of getting as much information as possible before a new title or DLC releases so we know what we’re getting our hands on. What I’d like to happen though is if we know a day one patch is coming, like in Cyberpunk 2077’s case, reviewers either wait for that to come into place or simply tell readers in big bold letters ‘this a review of a pre-patched copy’ thus removing any misleading opinions.
We’ve already seen changes slowly making their way into the fray with sites like Metacritic disabling user reviews of games until they’ve been out for 36 hours to one, try and prevent review bombing, and two, keep integrity in the site. Why not make that same change for ‘critics’?
I hope that changes like Metacritic are making start to become the trend for the industry moving forward but I’m not holding my breath. I’m sure there are a bunch of stats as to how many more game copies reviews of this ilk sell so it’s likely ‘expert’ pre-release reviews won’t be going away anytime soon, even if we get to a point where there are 1TB+ day one patches…
What are your opinions on pre-release game reviews? Are they a help or hindrance? Also, if you are still picking up Cyberpunk 2077, is your PC ready to handle it? Find out that information and more with our upcoming guide on the requirements.