Right now, there's a 63GB patch for Cyberpunk 2077 downloading onto my Xbox Series X. That's going to take a little while to complete so, in the meantime, why don't we take a look at the state of CD Projekt Red's embattled open-world RPG and the new features that convinced me to dive back into Night City for the long-anticipated Cyberpunk 2077 1.5 patch and next-gen update.
Where Cyberpunk 2077 launched on PC in December 10, 2020 with redeemable qualities, the console version for PS4 and Xbox has been a wholly undesirable addition to the library. There were performance issues aplenty, enough core problems that the game was removed from storefronts, and CDPR pledged to right a lengthy list of wrongs – it's been a whole fiasco.
But patch 1.5 promises to be the start of real change. The next-gen update is of course welcomed for players like myself, who have been lucky enough to find a PS5 or Xbox Series X amid ongoing stock shortages, but the new free update promises massive changes and quality-of-life improvements for all players regardless of platform. So let's jump into it, the biggest Cyberpunk 2077 patch 1.5 changes that have convinced me to give the game another shot.
Night City will come to life
Cyberpunk 2077 demo is five hours long and out right now for PS5 and Xbox Series X owners.
When Cyberpunk 2077 launched, it might as well have been a neon-lit zombie game. Night City was populated with bodies, but they did little more than shamble from one destination to the next – they lacked the artificial intelligence to react to situations unfurling dynamically around them, responded poorly to external stimuli, and were one of the biggest contributors to this nagging feeling that Cyberpunk 2077 was set in a lifeless wasteland.
Patch 1.5 takes some steps to correct this. CDPR has overhauled crowd behavior in an effort to make the city feel more alive – reactive and unpredictable. Examples given include some civilians carrying weapons, meaning they may try to intervene in disturbances dynamically. NPCs on the streets and behind the wheel of vehicles will now panic when under pressure, shoving into one another to escape from the carnage you're creating, or driving into other vehicles and elements of the environment. Scare a driver enough and they may even lose consciousness behind the wheel, sending their vehicle careening off of the road and into the pavement, creating even more chaos.
Additionally, CDPR has finally addressed that weird feature where crowds of NPCs would just wholesale disappear as soon as you turned your back on them. Streets will be more bustling during the day and more dangerous during the night, a move that feels as if it's delivering on promises from the first salvo of game trailers from way back when. The decision to overhaul crowd behavior might seem small, but if it comes together as suggested it will improve the feel and vibrancy of Night City in ways that are difficult to quantify.
The Diving model has been overhauled
One of the biggest problems with Cyberpunk 2077 was that navigating Night City was laborious. That's partly on how boring it felt to walk the city streets, which should change now with overhauled crowd behaviors and density, and because driving cars and bikes was not a good time. Most of the vehicles handled largely the same – weightless, and difficult to control. CDPR has said that the driving model in Cyberpunk 2077 has been overhauled for patch 1.5. This should mean that cars are heavier underhand, a new braking system will produce consistent performance at all speeds, and ABS simulation has been added. Each vehicle on the road should handle a little differently to one another, and CDPR has apparently fixed that weird bug where summoned vehicles would spawn inside each other.
Again, small changes with a big impact. Additionally, CDPR has shifted visibility within cars so you can now actually drive in first-person – and get a look at those gorgeous internals – without being a danger to yourself and others, while bikes will be able to activate neon wheel rims with a click of the left thumbstick. It's these sorts of tiny details that make the world more interesting to inhabit.
The map has been cleared up
I can't remember what it was that finally pushed me over the edge with Cyberpunk 2077, enough so that I abandoned my save and vowed to take a long, long break, but it could well have been how messy that damned map was. For all of its big and small problems, I knew in my heart of hearts that parsing information on the map shouldn't have been one of them. Cyberpunk 2077 will now let you properly filter main and side missions, and other activities in Night City, allowing for more choice in what you want to focus on and pursue.
A nice additional touch, at least in terms of improving the scale of content and capacity to role-play in Cyberpunk 2077, Fixers will now dish out Gigs gradually over time. This is one of those small pacing decisions that I can't believe wasn't considered ahead of launch. You'll now get a small selection of quests from Fixers and, as you build up your Street Cred and standing, you'll unlock new missions. Not only does this bring a better sense of progression to your character, but it also helps declutter that map; complete every Gig for a Fixer and you'll even get special new rewards.
You can finally change your appearance
One of the strangest decisions in the base Cyberpunk 2077 experience implemented by CDPR was the inability to change the physical appearance of V after completing the initial character creation. Given that so much of the game is about role-playing, and body modification, the inability to alter hairstyles, facial features, tattoos, etc, didn't make all that much sense. Thankfully, this has been amended in the Cyberpunk 2077 1.5 patch.
You'll now be able to alter your appearance mid-game by visiting the mirror of V's apartment – any of them that is, as you can now rent additional places to crash in The Glen (Heywood), Corpo Plaza (City Center), Japantown (Westbrook), and Northside (Watson), which come complete with a shared stash and activities which can provide additional character buffs. You'll also find new hair styles, makeup options, and colors for a variety of the appearance options. Oh, and you can also completely change the appearance of your apartment as well, to make it feel more like home.
Combat has been improved
We'll need to dig into this ourselves to see how effective the changes are, but CDPR has shown off some massive changes to combat. The studio has reworked the skill trees, cutting perks that didn't make sense and redesigned old ones to allow for further specialization. As a result of the changes, if you return to an old save you'll need to go in and redistribute all of your perk points for free. This seems like a massive and necessary shift to character customization.
Changes to combat don't stop there. Cyberpunk 2077 has now given use to knives. You no longer lose a throwing knife when you chuck it at an enemy, instead, it's now on a cooldown timer that shifts depending on rarity – a legendary knife can be thrown again in short order, for example. This change has the potential to make a pointless weapon class viable.
There are also big shifts coming to combat balance and enemy AI. CDPR says that NPCs are more effective than before, reacting to players and pushing their playstyles more forcefully. Enemies will seek cover more effectively, make better use of the environments, and really get in your face – a more fluid combat experience designed to work in tandem with the overhauled Perk system.
Ultimately, many of these changes may seem small on the surface but they add up to a much larger whole. If you take a look at the full Cyberpunk 2077 1.5 patch notes from CDPR, and the performance promises in the next-gen update, we see hints of the game we thought we were going to get December 2020.
I don't know about you, but this is enough to get me interested once again. CDPR has been working hard over the last 12 months to right the wrongs of the launch and now we can only hope that this is the beginning of a real shift for Cyberpunk 2077. I'm downloading Cyberpunk 2077's 1.5 patch right now, the only question left is will you be joining me on the streets of Night City this week?
To learn about more of the changes, check out the Cyberpunk 2077 patch notes in full. Or check out next-gen footage below.