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Why the Cyberpunk 2077 delay is both good and bad

(Image credit: CD Projekt Red)

Cyberpunk 2077 has been delayed twice now. At E3 2019, the game was set for release in April 2020. Earlier this year, that was moved to September 2020. And this week, the game was pushed back until November 2020.

The internet's immediate reaction? This must mean the game is releasing an upgraded version in time for next-gen consoles! But don't get your hopes up. Developer CD Projekt Red previously clarified that the game would look better on next-gen consoles at launch, but that a full next-gen upgrade – while free to owners of the PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game – won't be coming until 2021. That was confirmed this week. 

Instead, the game's delay is down to numerous bug fixes and balance tweaks, which isn't unexpected for an RPG that's seemed unbelievably expansive in scope since the first trailer. It's not particularly surprising that the game had to be moved again, anyway, given the challenges posed to large-scale game development caused by the current health crisis. 

We're not too distraught by the delay. The Witcher 3 has proven to be this generation's defining RPG, in the way Skyrim or Oblivion were in the generation before. More than five years later, it still makes millions for CD Projekt, helped by an enormously popular Netflix show. And Cyberpunk 2077 is set to be its successor, with no other serious RPG contenders set to arrive in the first year of next-gen consoles, based on what we know so far.

We'll play Cyberpunk 2077 to death, we'll dissect its best and worst quests and we'll talk about its characters for years to come. That is, unless it ends up being disappointing, or we play it once and don't really discuss it all that much afterwards, like Fallout 4. 

I saw Cyberpunk 2077 demoed at two E3s, and in both cases I felt like I was looking at the most expensive open-world version of Deus Ex I could possibly imagine. The game promises multiple paths through levels, in-depth customization and a varied world based on the classic pen-and-paper RPG.

I'm looking forward to it, then, but I don't think the delay is only a bad thing. There are a few things to bear in mind with a decision like this. 

Here's one downside

(Image credit: CD Projekt Red)

Cyberpunk 2077 is meant to be done by now. In January, CD Projekt's Adam Kicinski admitted that some crunch would be necessary to finish the game. "We try to limit crunch as much as possible, but it is the final stage. We try to be reasonable in this regard, but yes. Unfortunately." 

Well... that final stage will now last for almost a year, rather than the intended three months. On paper, that does not look great at all. I hope those developers find that this delay makes their lives easier, rather than harder. 

Waiting is usually worth it, though

Game delays are extremely common. This year is exceptional in a lot of ways, but even before the pandemic, a whole bunch of games due out this year were pushed back, like The Last of Us Part 2, Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Marvel's The Avengers.  

It's nice when games hit release dates, but when projects the size of Cyberpunk 2077 arrive with a slew of bugs and annoying issues, it's simply a poorer experience. Waiting is always better. 

Timing-wise, it would've been nice to cap off this generation of consoles with Cyberpunk 2077 a few months before the PS5 and Xbox Series X got here. But missing out isn't the end of the world. 

The late summer admittedly looks a little fallow without it for major games, unless you've got a PS4 and you're planning on buying Ghost of Tsushima. If you're a PC player, too, Baldur's Gate 3 may release on Steam Early Access in August, which is another potential threat to your spare time. Everyone else can check out Marvel's Avengers on September 4.

This is just going to be a strange year for games

We've got a few major reveals coming up this summer, like Ubisoft's live stream and Microsoft's reveal of its first-party games in July. But it's hard not to see the second half of this year as being a little depleted, based on what we know about it. The PS5 is likely going to launch with Spider-Man: Miles Morales, but seemingly without any other major in-house exclusives. 

We'd argue, then, that whenever Cyberpunk 2077 does come out, it won't have to fight for people's attention. It also doesn't matter that it's a last-gen game launching at the same time as the new consoles without a next-gen edition to match. 

It's fully backwards compatible with PS5 and Xbox Series X, for one. But it's worth remembering that the last generation started just after GTA 5 released on the older PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles, and it was undoubtedly still the biggest event of that year regardless.

Even if Cyberpunk 2077 got delayed again until 2021, it would still be worth waiting for. Whatever's best for the game – as well as the people making it – is actually what matters here.