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Cyberpunk 2077 gets a second chance with Netflix's Edgerunner, fixes

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Every day this week, over a million people signed up to play “Cyberpunk 2077” – and for good reason. There’s no better time than now to try or revisit 2020’s most infamous video game.

CD Projekt Red, the game developer, announced the startling statistic on Wednesday, a week after the debut of Netflix’s “Cyberpunk: Edgerunners,” an animated series based on the game that received rave reviews from critics and fans. Since the Netflix show ended, “Cyberpunk 2077” has seen tens of thousands of people on Steam play it, the largest concurrent playerbase since the game’s December 2020 launch window.

It’s a reversal of fortune for “Cyberpunk 2077”. Two years ago, the title suffered a disastrous and buggy launch after revelations that it malfunctioned on consoles and failed to deliver on the many promises of its years-long marketing campaign. In 2020, the game was a joke. Today, “it’s okay now” is a common refrain among many players.

“Thank you so much chooms for this second chance,” CD Projekt Red quest director Pawel Sasko tweeted, using a term that loosely translates to “friend” in the world of Cyberpunk. Sasko has been a cheerful and reassuring presence through the studio’s feeds on game updates.

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The road to recovery was long. The game was so buggy at launch that PlayStation took the unprecedented step of pulling it from its digital stores for several months. Even up to 2021, CD Projekt Red updated the game to little fanfare with small updates and additions.

“Now is a truly special moment for Cyberpunk 2077 – a moment we’ve been striving for for years,” Jeremiah Cohn, CD Projekt Red board member and chief marketing officer, told The Washington Post. . “The current resurgence in gamers is a direct result of months of hard work by our amazing developers and others here at CD Projekt Red.”

Cohn points to the game’s February 1.5 patch as the start of that resurgence, an update that not only brought the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and Series S versions up to current-gen performance standards, but introduced a host of of changes that have restructured the game, how it plays out, and how its setting, Night City, feels. The game at launch encouraged unbalanced builds, but by adding and removing certain abilities while rebalancing how weapons are used, CD Projekt Red made building a character with special abilities feel consistent and engaging. Traffic and pedestrian behavior has been fixed to bring the bustle of Night City up to the standards of other open world games.

The game has also seen updates to how its side quests are distributed. Fixers, which provide jobs for Cyberpunk mercenaries, have been given a linear structure with powerful and meaningful rewards at the end of quest lines. Notes and environmental details have been scattered throughout the world to give additional context to these concerts, adding more flavor and context to the player’s actions. And the other side quests are clearly marked on the map so players don’t miss them. This was significant, as the game’s side stories were easily missed, but also often hailed as the game’s best-written content, reminiscent of CD Projekt Red’s exemplary strength in video game storytelling.

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And finally, Netflix’s debut of “Cyberpunk: Edgerunners” has people clamoring to visit or revisit Night City. The show was a powerful statement about how transmedia storytelling can be successful. Paramount’s “Halo” TV series was lambasted by many core fans for how it differed from the original product. “Edgerunners” not only embraces its video game roots – it bakes the game’s architecture and layout right into the anime. The entire Night City video game world was used as the show’s stage and setting, rewarding players familiar with the game.

“By timing the game update with the amazing anime, we were able to connect ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ players with ‘Edgerunners’ viewers and build excitement for both at the same time,” Cohn said. .

Playing the game after watching the show, in turn, feels like a continuation of the adventure. The show’s story may be over, but Night City persists in the virtual world of “Cyberpunk 2077.” This is transmedia convergence at its most powerful, cohesive and cohesive in design, theme and intent – ​​a feat that defies even juggernauts like Disney and Marvel.

“Edgerunners” succeeds because of its adherence to the spirit of the game and its design choices. The show uses the same soundtrack and features several radio tracks from the game. recontextualizes forever as a hymn of mourning. The game’s indescribable city blocks now hold a certain nostalgia as memories of the “Edgerunners” characters flood the player’s mind.

The spectacle, which is the canon of the game’s story, also provides emotional closure. No doubt many gamers are revisiting “Cyberpunk 2077” after the series reframed some characters, sparking new feelings for the old faces. Anyone who’s beaten the game and finished the show knows exactly who I’m talking about.

This phenomenon repeats CD Projekt Red’s previous successful partnership with Netflix. In late 2019, “The Witcher” became the most-watched TV show in the world, reaching 76 million households in its first month; viewership for the third game exploded in the following weeks, boosting sales nearly half a decade since its release. Steam’s concurrent player count for “The Witcher 3” at the time reflects the current concurrent player counts for “Cyberpunk 2077”. It’s safe to say that CD Projekt Red and Netflix have done it again.

Making “Edgerunners” such a hit was a tall order, but the developers teamed up with legendary animation house Studio Trigger (“Kill la Kill,” “BNA: Brand New Animal”) to create something unique, a celebration of Michael Pondsmith’s world-building when he created the original Cyberpunk board game in the 1980s and CD Projekt Red’s 2020 vision. And it was built with the intention of serving the audience of both.

“My personal mission was not to create something that everyone will enjoy, but rather something that someone can really like”, tweeted the show’s executive producer, Rafal Jaki. This declared intention goes against what other media are asking for, namely a “wider” audience. “Edgerunners” was never intended to find a place in the mainstream; it was destined to find a place in your heart.

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In turn, “Cyberpunk 2077”, the video game finds a new place in history. There have been many high-profile video game disasters that have been able to topple their reputation and quality after numerous updates. Most famously, Square Enix pulled ‘Final Fantasy XIV’ from sale altogether to be reworked as ‘A Realm Reborn’, becoming one of the most popular online role-playing games today. Hello Games’ “No Man’s Sky” promised a lot and didn’t deliver. Yet, since its release in 2016, the studio has been able to implement just about every feature.

“Cyberpunk 2077” isn’t quite at that level of re-evaluation, and it may never reach it. The latest update synced with the launch of the show added much-requested features such as changing body cosmetics via doctors and more freedom in the clothes you wear. Individually, these updates are incremental steps toward the “original role-playing game of our dreams” that many fans had hoped for.

Other hopes of changing “Cyberpunk 2077” to fit this vision are undermined by the game’s core design, how missions are structured, and how the player interacts with the world. Many people expected a game that rivaled Bethesda’s RPGs, and the game’s marketing certainly didn’t discourage that pie-in-the-sky belief. Many features that people have been hoping for, like citizens running around according to their own unique routines or the ability to “live” in the game’s locations like bars or restaurants, may never be implemented. “Cyberpunk 2077” is now too full of product and vision to simply update. That would require an “A Realm Reborn”-style overhaul, or, naturally, a sequel.

Fortunately, the studio has increased its “mod” support, allowing people to modify game files to create new gameplay styles and elements – all while extending the life of the game even beyond official expansions. The most popular mod lets players pilot flying cars, a feature that was never promised, but represents a digital manifestation of the public’s hopes for a dreamy cyberpunk video game. Bethesda’s “Skyrim” remains popular due to similar support, and it’s easy to see “Cyberpunk 2077” having similar legs years from now.

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CD Projekt Red has long admitted that it will cut back on expansion work for “Cyberpunk 2077”. However, with development on “Cyberpunk 2077” set to cease next year, Cohn reaffirmed the studio’s commitment to further exploring the Cyberpunk brand and intellectual property.

“With this expansion, we will be updating and improving the game even further,” Cohn said. “The Cyberpunk universe is so exciting and has unlimited potential, and what’s important now is that we cherish this moment and use this momentum as an opportunity to go even further.”

“Cyberpunk 2077” is still not what was originally promised (or even expected), but if the game were released in the state it is in now, it would have immediately found its place among the best action games. in the most captivating open world ever created. . And “Edgerunners” shines a light on the sheer scale of CD Projekt Red’s stunning architectural achievement in making Night City, the most complex virtual city ever created for a video game experience.

CD Projekt Red is lucky that millions decided to re-evaluate “Cyberpunk 2077,” but it was hard work, not just luck, that earned them this rare second chance.

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