I don’t know if I’d go as far as all, but it’s like whichever part of the art department was doing the billboard ads just didn’t believe people would “get” any satire if there was even one ounce of subtlety, like just even a tiny amount. The ads should be crass and exploitative - anyone who was alive in the 1980s and 1990s remembers how ads were, and this is what it’s criticizing/referring to. If you think they’re bad now in the 2010s, they’re about 1/10th as bad, at worst, as late '80s and early '90s ads, which ran the gamut from pretty much literally porn (I remember one tennis game ad in a videogame mag where you could see labia in silhouette - this ad was for a perfectly normal tennis game - and that ad was itself inspired by a similar ad), to exploiting racial stereotypes, to misogyny/extreme sexism, to really hardcore classism. And in a lot of ways 1970s and earlier ads were even worse. I dunno how old you are, but this really started changing pretty fast towards the end of the 1990s and early 2000s, so you may have largely missed it. Also this is the UK and USA, so may have been different elsewhere. I think also I’m possibly less impacted by them because in pretty much all cases I’ve seen worse IRL.
But even given that, a number of the billboard ads are too exploitative, and end up on the wrong side of that line where instead of being satire, they’re just the very thing they’re trying to mock.
I think the TV ads do a slightly better job, at least the ones I’ve seen. But some are just as bad (usually the ones for the same products as bad billboard ones).
But yeah there’s definitely this incongruity between the world/setting/writing and the level of crass-ness of some of the billboard ads. I notice at least one of them updated after I did a certain mission, which was interesting at least, and shows there was some communication on this (it’s a non-offensive one though).
I mean, I half-agree here, but I think this risks getting into a dangerous territory where any game that does have tons of elaborate number-heavy systems “isn’t a good RPG”. Whereas for my money, what makes a good RPG is:
A) A nebulous feeling vibe that a game is like a tabletop RPG in a good way - CP2077 does have this, I’d say, much of the time. But this is very subjective.
B) Good opportunities to roleplay your character - i.e. to say no to some stuff, yes to others, to nuance your responses and so on. It doesn’t matter if you developed the character from the ground up or not - I utterly disagree with people who claim it does - some of my best TT RPG experiences have been with pre-gen characters. CP2077 pretty consistently does have this.
The perks are mostly underwhelming because they’re too minor. There are a few which can change how you play (like immunity to your own grenades, or the entire “Cold Blood” tree), but most of them are just numerical changes, like +X% damage in Y situation, and so on.
The cyberware is also a mixed bag - only a few bits actually change your game experience - pretty much legs/arms, cyberdeck slot and a few Epic/Legendary versions of certain items. Like, Legendary Subdermal armour gives you so much more amour (likely nearly double when you can get it) that you do get a different experience with it. Also, the game doesn’t even tell you about one of the biggest choices you have, and not a single review I’ve seen mentioned it - you can replace your cyberdeck with different devices entirely!
The game teaches you how to use your cyberdeck from the get-go, pretty much, and talks about it a fair bit, and there’s a fair bit of gameplay involved with it, and I think most people assume “just stick with it”.
But you don’t have to. You can take it out and replace it with at least two other options, and doing so will massively impact how the game plays, because suddenly you won’t have the ability to hack people/things (you can still scan them - that’s a cybereye function), but you will either have a Sandevistan reflex booster, which will mean you’re playing a lot of the game’s combat in slowed time, or you’ll have Berserk, which will make you very hard to kill and extremely dangerous in melee. Unfortunately neither is as well-developed as the cyberdeck. They should have presented this as an actual choice, and developed them more. The Sandevistans are just a short cooldown and a fixed duration, but they should have done it as a resource more like Max Payne, and similarly Berserk should have more mechanics, like killing people prolongs the Berserk (preferably including innocents to give it a bit more flavour and “yikes”-ness imo)
But anyway there is a reason a lot of the basic cyberware, many of the perks and so on are so underwhelming - the game is spreading systems too thin. They want to have attributes boosting a bunch of stuff, experience with certain skills boosting stuff, perks (which don’t exist in the TT RPG) offering tons of stuff, a Diablo 3/Witcher 3-style loot system for guns/armour, with them able to have tons of weird abilities, and cyberware offering tons of abilities, and they don’t clearly separate them or decide which one is the most, so you get this big mess where none of them seems particularly important or well-defined. I think they should have entirely dropped the Witcher 3-style weapons/armour, dropped the normal-legendary spectrum on gear, and instead made it so there were specifically better/worse items, and dropped learning-by-doing as anything but a way to get more perks, cut down the number of perks (and maybe made them a bit harder to get), and then focused on making the perks and cyberware more distinctive and important.
But I agree - despite all this the game is still remarkable and enjoyable. The atmosphere is unparalleled, even by stuff like RDR. People compare it to GTA V, but GTA V is about 1/10th as detailed as this - I’m not kidding - and doesn’t have anywhere near the atmosphere. I really hope that with all the problems the game has, they keep developing it, and come out with DLC, because Night City deserves more.