Since my slightly impatient post yesterday, I’ve spent almost 10 hours in Night City. I spent some extra time customizing my character, V (Vincent), in the character creator. Yes, penis size is an actual adjustable trait, limited to three options: Small, Default, and Large. These have no particular impact on the story or game whatsoever. You can choose from a good selection of eyes, hair, cyberware, scars, beards, and all the usual things. However, you can’t make any changes to the physical body type you have. You have the option between male and female, of course, but you can’t be a larger body, or slim body. You can’t be buff as hell, or swole and large. I don’t remember this being an issue in The Witcher 3, but you play a defined character in that game. You create your own story here, so why not your own body type? But, that’s not a big issue for me. I’ll try to do a breakdown of each element of the game as best I can, based on what I’ve encountered so far. Additionally, there is no Barber or Plastic Surgeon in the game. Whatever you pick in the creator is permanent, so be sure you won’t mind seeing what you pick in the mirror for duration of your playthrough.
I’m running a Ryzen 5 3600, 3060 Super, 16GB of RAM and this game performs about like I expected it to perform. I started out with Nvidia’s recommended settings, and the game looked great. I could get pretty steady frames early on, usually in the 50-60 range, and sometimes dipping down in to the 40s. This was playable, and hardly noticeable unless I was in a gunfight. After a couple of steady hours playing, my framerate kept dropping. After two hours, I was solidly in the 40s, with dips to the 30s. Another hour after that, solidly in the 30s and while my framerate dropped, my GPU load increased with it. At one point, around the 4.5 hour mark, my GPU was showing 200% usage, sometimes higher. I shut the game down, restarted my computer, and relaunched, and it happened faster the second time. An hour in, I was seeing 200% usage again. After some fiddling with settings, I ended up leaving everything on high or ultra settings, and turned off Ray Tracing. It instantly brought me up to 70-80 fps, and I’ve left it like that for the last 4 hours of gameplay. It does make a noticeable difference, of course, but I always prefer performance over quality when games make me choose. I’ve also turned off Film Grain, Ambient Occlusion, and Motion Blur out of personal preference.
I have seen cars and crowds spawn out of nowhere, but it’s typically at a nice distance, and not close enough to be an issue with me facing death or crashing my ride. The crowds look decent, the streets are decent, and graphically, I’m satisfied. I’d be lying if I wasn’t hoping for a performance patch coming, but for the time being, the game is playable. It always seems to be raining in Night City, so watching the rain on the windshields, with no windshield wipers of all things, is pretty satisfying.
While this isn’t the best story I’ve ever started, I won’t say it’s completely boring. I’m enjoying it, though the prologue and first acts kind of pull you through the story. Those two acts took me a solid 6 hours to get through, not because it was hard, but just the amount of stuff to do. There isn’t much going on at this point, so you follow your partner, Jackie Wells, and get in to some trouble. While you can free roam a bit, you’re limited to the Watson district until you get through that first act. I’ve barely started on the second act at this point, but I can now roam about mostly freely.
Be prepared to spend a lot of time in the Braindance portions of the game. You have to do these to uncover clues about where to go and what to do, and some of the clues aren’t obvious. I got stuck on one for 40 minutes, and it only had 3 clues to find. A bit frustrating, but until the next one, I’ll just remember to click on everything in there.
I mean, it’s solid. Driving cars is solid, you can hijack cars on the street, change radio stations, even ride bikes. It reminds me a lot of how Grand Theft Auto V handles it, and feels pretty similar. Driving with a mouse and keyboard takes a special talent, so if you can switch between kbm and a controller for driving, you’ll have a more enjoyable time. I refuse to get out my beat up controller, so I’m toughing out driving with a keyboard.
Gunfights feel pretty solid, as long as I’m strictly speaking firearms. Good sound effects, nice recoil, and satisfying. The enemies are kind of spongey, but some headshots will make that less of an issue. In every gunfight I’ve been in, I’ve had issues with being hacked and set on fire constantly. No enemies in the room, no cameras, but I’m still being hacked by enemies two rooms over. Through several walls, from behind cover, I’m being hacked. This causes overheat issues, which cause some graphical inconsistencies that are distracting. Constantly having a red “Uploading…” bar in the center of the screen in the center of some nasty gunfights. It’s not all that pleasant, and I can’t find a solution to fix the issue. Additionally, the melee combat just feels off. Enemy attacks still hurt you through your blocks, and you burn through stamina faster than a high school boy at his first prom. I stay away from the melee combat when I can help it, as punching a “boss” to death just takes entirely too long. (I’ve focused on firearms talents and skills, so you may have a better experience if you take the Body path.)
Quickhacks in firefights… A distraction for me, more than anything. I’ll make a new character at some point and spend more time on the hacking upgrades, but with my current character, I typically don’t bother messing with it. It’s kind of slow, so I end up wasting RAM on hacks and kill the enemy with my guns before the hack finishes. I haven’t looked at much of the skill tree for hacking, or sneaking for that matter, so this probably due to my own choices instead of a game fault. Take it or leave it, or prove me wrong, I don’t mind either way.
I haven’t encountered any save-breaking bugs. I have had to reload a save several times, due an inventory or vendor glitch, or an important NPC getting stuck in an area they shouldn’t be in. A simple reload solved that issue, and I was able to progress.
The first issue I had was with Jackie. Just finished up a mission, left the mission area. Jackie got stuck inside the building somehow, and the Militech corp showed up and blocked off the area. Jackie was stuck inside, and would not come out to progress the story. Simple reload, and it fixed itself. I did have to redo an entire 10 minute gunfight, but I was able to progress.
The second issue involved a vendor. Had to purchase a quest item from said vendor to advance the quest. Once purchased, I backed out of the vendor, and waited for the quest to update. 5 minutes later, it never updated. Had to reload the save, and redo about 3 minutes worth of mission before getting back to point I was at and continuing.
Is it worth buying now?
For me, personally, yes. I’m enjoying it so far, despite some of the issues I have. It’s a good game, if you can see past the bugs and other issues it has right now. It’s barely been out for 24 hours at this point, less if you’re on console. I expected bugs, and I expected set backs. Even with the highly-regarded CDPR, bugs aren’t unavoidable. With the crunch time issues in development, multiple launch delays, and the complete amount of hype this game has received, it was unavoidable that the game would have issues.
However, with the large difference in performance on PC right now, I would advise to wait at least 3 months. There have been issues I haven’t had luckily, with the exact same specs I’m running. 2070/S, 2080 users getting much lower framerates than I’m getting on my 2060 Super. Even the latest generation, the 3000 series, are having issues. Crashing every few minutes, to just really bad framerates. The game is poorly optimized, and I can’t say if you’ll get lucky or not.
On console, again, it’s hit or miss. Xbox One and PS4 users are getting terrible resolutions, and even more crashing. Xbox One S and PS4 Pro systems are performing somewhat better, but still not reliably. If you have a Series X/S or PS5, I say go for it. I haven’t seen any complaints about performance on the latest generation consoles, but I wouldn’t expect much either. There can’t be that many of those systems out there just yet.
I’ll give it 3 out of 5 right now. I’m not wowed by it yet, but I’m enjoying it. That lands it safely in the average column, with all the faults and bugs considered. I haven’t progressed far enough in the story, and I want to wait for some optimization patches to come through before I give this a more solid rating. For now, I say hold off on purchasing and give it time for CDPR to work on bugs, optimization, and wishlists.