Cyberpunk 2077 shines on next-gen consoles and Stadia, but older hardware struggles

Cyberpunk 2077 isn’t just one of the biggest games of the year; it’s also one of the most technically demanding. CD Projekt Red’s ambitious roleplaying game takes place in a huge, dense open world, and — as anyone who has ever played a Bethesda game can attest to — technology is often a step behind the designers in these kinds of experiences. Glitches and bugs are not uncommon occurrences, and early demos are far cries from what the game may look like on the standard hardware most players have in their living room.

Cyberpunk is also somewhat unique in that it’s releasing across a number of different platforms at launch — nine, to be exact. We initially reviewed Cyberpunk on PC, where we ran into a handful of glitches that were annoying but didn’t exactly render the game unplayable. Since then, we’ve been able to test it on two additional platforms to see how it fares, while also looking at reports from the community at large. The consensus? If you’re playing on older hardware, you’re going to want to wait for some fixes.

PlayStation 5 and other consoles

The first thing to note is there isn’t actually a PS5 version of Cyberpunk 2077 — at least not yet, as full next-gen upgrades aren’t expected until next year. Instead, I’ve been running the PS4 version on a PS5. Performance-wise, it’s been great.

After four hours of play, I haven’t noticed any major frame rate drops, and the visuals are incredible. Unlike on Xbox Series X or Stadia, there aren’t any performance options on PS5 — many modern games let players choose between having a higher resolution or frame rate — but it hasn’t been a huge loss in my experience. Even during extremely busy moments, like a massive shootout or a walk through a tightly packed street market, the game chugged along just fine.

It’s important to note that this is definitely not the case on older hardware. While I haven’t been able to test this, early reports point to the PS4 and Xbox One versions of Cyberpunk being something of a mess. Choppy frame rates, weird physics, and intense screen tearing have all been reported. Here are a few more PS4 screenshot comparisons, courtesy of Eurogamer, and some on Xbox One from Kotaku. If you haven’t upgraded to a new Xbox or PlayStation, you may want to hold off — or try Stadia — until these issues are ironed out with a patch.

That said, I still ran into a handful of technical hiccups during my time with the game, including one hard crash, and another mission I was forced to restart because my AI companion forgot to follow me out of a building. Other issues have been more cosmetic: characters walking through doors, pixelated textures on billboards, and people walking into walls. At one point, I couldn’t drive my car because a poor streetpunk became embedded in it. —Andrew Webster

Google Stadia

It may be hard to believe, but the Google Stadia version of Cyberpunk 2077 may be the best way to play for most players right now. Unless you have a 20 or 30 Series Nvidia GPU or comparable AMD card or you were lucky enough to get a PS5 or Xbox Series X / S, this game will not be performing anywhere close to how it was designed to. That means going the cloud gaming route is a surprisingly viable option if you’re concerned about performance and you also want the added benefits Stadia provides, like playing across multiple devices.

I’ve played through the first few hours of the game on Stadia, and I’ve been very impressed with how well Cyberpunk 2077 is holding up. Unlike the console versions, the Stadia one has graphical presets to prioritize either resolution or frame rate. And it runs smoothly and looks almost indistinguishable from the console version in my experience on a 50 Mbps-plus internet connection, even over Wi-Fi. (I’ve also been testing the game on PS5.)

Now, depending on your internet connection and display, you’re most likely not going to get anywhere near the same level of graphic fidelity — at least not consistently — as you would on a next-gen console or a PC running it at medium to high settings. (And no platform can remotely compare to running this game on ultra with ray tracing on PC.)

I’ve also encountered the occasional crash, visual lags and skips, and some audio issues. But the fast boot and load times and the ease with which you can sink right into the game from a Chrome browser on a MacBook Pro has me seriously reconsidering the primary way I want to play this game going forward.

With Google promising iOS support in the coming weeks, the Stadia version of Cyberpunk 2077, which requires you have only a Gmail account and pay the $60 to own the game and nothing else, could be a fantastic iPad game if you don’t have a big TV and Chromecast Ultra to enjoy it on otherwise. And while I’m not entirely sure I would play something with this level of complex in-game menus and on-screen text on my iPhone, I could certainly see the benefit of getting in a quick session for a side mission or two if you’re away from home or not near your computer.

All of this is possible with Stadia, which is an exciting prospect given how accessible the platform is now as a free service. —Nick Statt

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