Cyberpunk 2077 hype train

Cyberpunk 2077 Isn’t the Messiah, It’s a Window into the Social Media Hype Machine

For a game that’s been in development for 8 years Cyberpunk released with a bit of hype and a few bugs. Both are understatements. While I haven’t played enough of the game to even attempt a review, I’ve played enough to know what I like and what I don’t.

The hype train that built around this game has damaged it permanently. Coming from CD Project Red the developers of The Witcher series and based on a tabletop game it was latched upon by every gaming outlet as the most anticipated game and now on release many are struggling to look inwardly at themselves and are scrambling frantically the other direction. What’s being missed, however, is the standard critique and discourse that you get on other games.

This game has been held up as a silver bullet for many groups. Whether it is proper representation for the trans community, the next big immersive experience or simply people being sycophantic to the developers because they attached themselves to The Witcher series. In truth this is a first person RPG, that has had a terrible launch year.

Luckily, I’m playing this on PS5 and my copy was delayed which means the game has had the benefit of a few patches and thanks to the hardware it is at least playable.
If you were unlucky enough to play this pre-release or on last-generation hardware you probably have already begun the process of getting a refund. This was negligence by the developer as the game was not shown running on PS4 or Xbox One before release.

I’ve been hooked on the world and the grotesque yet familiar vision of the near future society it portrays. Every design choice, character and decision in the world has logic and especially after this year of 2020 you can see how society could conceivably get to this point. I’ll do a proper review when I get further but so far, I’m having a blast. It’s like Fallout set in Blade Runner’s world.

Unfortunately, other people are not having such a good time and a quick scan of social media speaks to a larger problem online. People really need to stop putting all their eggs in gaming baskets.

The Witcher 3 has evolved after many patches and an excellent TV series into one of the best RPGs’s of the last generation but people pretending it was perfect and amazing from day one need to have a reality check. Over time and possibly thanks to word of mouth and social media hype, the adventures of Geralt have crossed into the mainstream. In all honesty I enjoyed and finished the main story but the Witcher 3 didn’t become the virtual world I used as the yardstick for all gaming.

So coming into this game with the Witcher being a 7 or 8 out of 10, to put a figure on it, prepared me perfectly for Cyberpunk 2077. I knew what I was getting. A first person RPG a bit like playing Bioshock or Deus Ex with a thumping techno backbeat and quirky characters was clear from early screens and impressions and that’s exactly what we’ve got.

Immediately after being announced in 2012, the game has taken on a mythical status. Without any grounding in reality, many respected games journalists and outlets have done monthly features on what they want from this game, what they expect from this game and what it will do to the industry. Unfortunately, for them, they have forgotten that nothing is a sure thing until it goes gold and in this case, not even Cyberpunk as it was delayed further. It is typical of the binary nature of social media that something is either the best thing ever or an absolute train wreck and once you fall over that tipping point the rest of the online community piles in.

I just don’t know what some people were expecting. I can’t comment on Trans or LGBTQ issues and their representation as there are much more qualified voices out there but plenty of other unqualified people have taken up the issue of how characters are portrayed in the game and how they thought it would be different. Just why were they so sure it was going to be different?

Geralt in the Witcher isn’t exactly the model citizen as he romances his way around the world at your control killing monsters, civilians and enemies alike while romancing sorceress’ in every town. Where people then expecting Cyberpunk a game without as clearly a defined main character and more traditional RPG questing to force users in one way or another in this debate?

This game should indeed be a watershed moment for the gaming industry in terms of how people temper their expectations on games but after the summer of controversy over The last of Us 2 and how it was accused of forcing an agenda on gamers, Cyberpunk arrives without forcing anything and gets even more criticism.

We need to be better regulators of the hype machine and focus on the things that are facts about the game: the copious bugs, the poor driving, the developers lack of honesty about how bad the game is on base consoles and more yet to be discovered. But the problem lies in the continued chasing of likes, hits and popularity.

You see people don’t want to read the necessary old style of game previews that look at the mechanics and give an accurate update on development. They want to hype up the audience and tell them that this game will be the answer to all their wants and desires. Cyberpunk may be this to a few people, but they will be drowned out by the multitudes of hype creators trying to save face by backtracking on promises they made for a few more clicks.

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