‘Cyberpunk 2077’ Has an Open World That Invites You to Ignore It

Daddy’s Day Off is an ongoing streaming series where Patrick Klepek plays through the entirety of a game that he doesn’t have time for off the clock. Last year, he played through (the second half of) Elden Ring and Cyberpunk 2077. Starting in 2023, following each playthrough, he’ll file an essay about the experience. The next game hasn’t been picked. Any ideas?


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/epzw3e/cyberpunk-2077-has-an-open-world-that-invites-you-to-ignore-it

I ended up writing much more to come to basically the same conclusion, the game is bad, the world is bad, but your love interest (in my case Panam) is good.

I felt the opposite from the article. Elden Ring’s open world, as used as an example in the post, didn’t do a thing for me - it was just a big open world full of ruins of a vague medieval european design that I passed by on my way to the things that mattered, namely the legacy dungeons. Night City, however, through sheer fidelity and art enraptured me and I enjoyed driving or walking around just to take it all in.

They certainly could have filled the map with meaningful things that used the city in better ways but that problem isn’t unique to Cyberpunk.

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Let me be the mythical swing voter and say both Cyberpunk and Elden Ring open worlds are great? Elden Ring for its beautiful vistas, incredibly subtle signposted design, and more secrets than I could even comprehend. But Cyberpunk was all vibes. I never used fast travel and instead drove to all missions, and it was a sublime experience. The city lights whizzing by you while rain softly pours and you’re bumping Run the Jewels, it’s unmatched. It’s the best part about GTA games set to next gen graphics and a striking looking game world.

I did play C2077 after the last big patch, so I can see the buggy launch mess marring that, but all cleaned up, the experience works. At least to me.

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Another vote for loving Night City as a place to just drive around in and exist (didn’t play Elden Ring so no comparable opinion from me).

I will admit though that this is based on where my opinion was at the end of the game, when I played it just after the next gen patch made it, y’know, work. I’d gotten super into it and played it nonstop for a couple of weeks. By the end? Loved the world and how it felt to be in it.

I dipped back in months later when they added some stuff around the Edgerunners launch and I must have misplaced my rose-tinted glasses. The world didn’t feel alive anymore, while driving and combat suddenly felt clunky. I guess they were quirky systems I’d grown used to over dozens of hours and facing them again in isolation wasn’t nearly as pleasant. But when I was deep into the story? Yeah, it all worked for me then.

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I’m wondering how much of this is just due to expectations. I just started playing Witcher 3 for the first time and Velen feels similar to Night City in the sense that it is a video game map. Here are the highlights, maybe you stumble into some random thing in the middle of nowhere, but it’s a lot of empty space essentially.

The big difference is Cyberpunk is set in a city and we expect cities to be filled with life and shops and people and have stuff happening every where. Witcher, by being set in a fantasy countryside, we don’t expect those things so it’s fine when you have to ride your horse for 5 minutes to get to the areas where stuff actually exists.

Elden Ring (and Breath of the Wild) are much more exploration focused by not really giving you marks on the map to seek out. They feel like more active exploration that the Ubisoft style passive exploration.

There’s also a lot to be said about loot and the rewards for exploration in these games impacting this as well, whether that’s items or narrative bits.

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Night City defender here. Open worlds live and die on their vibes. Their integration in how the game plays or the rewards they offer is secondary, and frankly kind of a boring consideration to make. LA Noire has a fabulous open world precisely because it exists to provide texture. Night City has texture out the ass, as do CD Projekt Red’s other games. It’s the most consistently good thing about them.

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I have feelings about Elden Ring’s open world and basically none about Cyberpunk 2077 because I didn’t want to give CDPR money after they kept ramping cars off the 20-car pile-up made-up entirely of their attempts to do damage control on the transphobic behavior of some of their devs, and their less than stellar design decisions in that vein. Kinda hard to believe you’ve learned your lesson about putting your foot in your mouth when your apologies are muffled by the foot that is still very much in your mouth.

That said, I’m kind of feeling the reverse of Jimbot when it comes to Elden Ring’s open world. I liked riding around and finding bosses and feeling pretty secure in the knowledge that I could poke at them and keep poking at them until I got what I wanted out of them–namely souls and shiny rocks to put in a flask like magical whiskey rocks, I assume. I enjoyed fighting bosses in the open world, and whenever I had to crawl back into a full-sized Legacy Dungeon, I basically had to steel myself for spending 8 hours on a part that would take me half the time if I had a map. It turns out the little mini-dungeons–anything that wasn’t one of those goddamn catacombs, at least–are about as much dungeon content as I’m really interested in, and it honestly comes down to the fact that they’re smaller. Smaller dungeons means less paths, which means getting lost isn’t as harshly penalized. I liked the open world of Elden Ring because it had a map, which is something I have literally always wanted access to in a Soulsborne game, and is a large part of why I have never finished one without help. When a game has a map, it means I spend more time playing the game and having fun exploring, as opposed to feeling frustrated and lost as I desperately try to remember how the hell to get back to where I just was.

I think Breath of the Wild had basically exactly what I wanted out of an open world game, which is to say that it had a map for the overworld, a map for the dungeons, and exploring always felt like something that was worth doing for its own sake. Sometimes you find some monsters to beat up and take stuff from, sometimes you find a weird little puzzle and a funny little guy, and sometimes you find the best thing of all: cooking ingredients.

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