Well I got gifted it by my brother last night, so I guess that answers any moral question over buying it for me.
I see several of my more casual friends have bought it, and none of them because of “edgelord marketing”, I suspect, given none of them are edgelords in the least (the contrary), but rather because a lot of us used to play CP2020.
Anyway, I’ve installed it, and played a bit. I have a fairly pathetic system with a Nvidia 1060, 8GB ram (!!!) and a sorta-decent 4-core processor (overclocked to 3.6GHz). It runs shockingly well outside combat on mostly-medium settings, and looks fantastic on those settings - better than I thought my system could do (I don’t play modern shooters, to be fair). In combat or in very busy street scenes, unfortunately, it runs kind of poorly. It’s a game desperately in need of one of those “minimum framerate” things where it dynamically drops internal resolution or features to keep your FPS up. Unfortunately it doesn’t have this (even though it would kind of work thematically). Still I’ve been quite shocked by how astonishing great it looks at times, especially in scenes with a small number of characters who are just talking to each other (I changed the setting to have improved character appearances, I note, medium normally has that off), or where I’m just looking around the city and framerate doesn’t really matter. It kind of does look like the sort of game I would have been expecting to play in 2020, in say, 1995.
Performance-wise, it’s also weirdly smooth in the lack of loading, or even the perception of loading (i.e. hitching, stuff popping into existence, etc.). Again I’ve never quite seen a game pull this off, but maybe this is just the result of not playing modern shooters.
The story/writing is decent. It’s not going to blow you away, and yes, the criticisms that it felt a bit ancient at times are valid, this is definitely and consciously a retrofuture both in tech, design, and how people act (much like Prey, though as developed as Prey’s aesthetic was, this aesthetic is considerably more developed). However, they are quite good - kind of unusually so at creating characters you care about one way or another - i.e. like/dislike, rather than the bland characters of a lot of games, or the parade of hateful shits of Larian games. It’s not quite like top-notch Bioware but it’s not bad.
I haven’t really encountered any bugs so far, but an awful lot of glitches (particularly people walking directly through large objects, like, y’know, doors, right from the get-go. Enough that it feels unfinished.
It kind of falls apart in the same places The Witcher 3 fell apart, which I guess is unsurprising.
The equipment system is a mess. It’s basically Diablo-style with qualities and as so on, but as one review put it, you’re basically just picking whatever has the biggest number on it. There may be some nuancing of that, but not a lot. Crafting might allow you to at least pick stuff that looks good, but even that’s unclear.
The mechanical RPG elements are surprisingly poorly developed, a lot of them being small-value numerical increases to things, or with the perks, still relatively small, i.e. not gameplay-changing improvements to abilities and so on. This is surprising in the context of stuff like FarCry and Ghost Recon Breakpoint, both of which have perks which feel a bit more like they actually change stuff (though they do also have a lot of “hold 1 extra grenade!”-type perks). Conversation options are unlocked by having stats, but because it just displays the stat number you actually have, not what you needed, it’s unclear if one is over-investing or whatever. Whereas in the world, if you need X stat to do something it usually shows it (albeit in a slightly confusing notation) - but a lot of things, like mines, it shows a stat on, but then you don’t seem to be able to do anything with them.
I would agree with Naramsin re: UI/controls - there are a lot of keys and the UI isn’t terribly clear, nor are the keys picked sensibly imho, but I feel like changing them is only going to make it worse. Playing on a mouse & keyboard, car handling was so bad I considered swapping to controller, but I’m already having issues with the shooting. On the other hand, I can get where I want to go, so there’s that. Stealth seems pretty rubbish to me. Enemies spot you incredibly quickly, and as Naramsin says, the takedowns have a weird delay in them that makes you think they failed, and then you have to press another button to choose lethal/non-lethal. I feel like this is massively worse than the approach DE:HR and others have taken.
I think the main thing they’ve really nailed is the atmosphere. It’s incredible. I found myself standing in a dark backstreet alone after talking to some people who drove off in a hurry, and I genuinely felt creeped out and hurried back to my own car.
Overall, if I’d paid for it, I’d be kind of frustrated. It’s amazing in a number of ways, but a lot of the rest of it feels weakly developed, or actually unfinished. I’m particularly surprised by how poorly developed the RPG and equipment and especially cyberware stuff is - that isn’t stuff that takes 7 years to develop. The rest of the game, yeah, you can see how years of development went into Night City, or making it so a glitter-y dress actually looks like a glitter-y dress really does in that kind of lighting (also can my character get that glitter-y dress please?), but why is this stuff, which just really requires thinking about, so haphazard-feeling? It almost feels like it was more significant, then they nerfed the impact of all of it to make the game less complex or something.