Cyberpunk 2077’s 1.2 update arrived last week, accompanied by a gigantic list of bug fixes, tweaks and upgrades. Dedicated players should see game-breaking bugs addressed, but basically the game has been fixed on consoles? Can we now recommend buying the title of the latest generation systems? To do something, this is good news for PlayStation 4 Pro owners, but in terms of performance and stability, there is still a long, long way to go.
What the patch notes are not spelled out in detail is some particular pressure to optimize the experience for the PS4 and Xbox One generation of consoles, although there is a long list of engine-specific optimizations that in theory should enhance the experience for all users. Improvements are also promised for the controversial time-consuming anti-aliasing solution, plus improved screen space reflections. Xbox One is also designated for memory management optimizations ̵
It’s about background flow technology – the way assets like geometry and textures are retrieved from storage, decompressed and then rendered on screen. We saw the change distributed on PS4, PS4 Pro and Xbox One, but strangely enough, Xbox One X does not seem to have changed much from version 1.1. Simply put, it’s the feeling that streaming may be running with a lower priority than it did in the past, and targeted at frame rate improvements at the expense of resolving details. It takes longer to load environmental assets, pop-in is now more of an edition than it was before. You could say it’s streaming delays, but details do render in the end, given time. However, in dense urban areas while driving fast, some aspects of the environment may not load at all until they pass you.
You can see in the video how this affects the overall presentation, especially on the PlayStation 4 Pro, but the result is that there are clear performance benefits. Sony’s improved console always ran the game best, even beating the more powerful Xbox One X. Now it’s even better and spends a lot of its time hitting the target 30 frames per second. Sprinting through a crowded marketplace, frame rate can hit low to mid-20s on PS4 Pro. With the new update installed, the game ran at almost 30 frames per second – albeit with the reduction (or rather the delay) in detail I have already talked about. Sometimes performance improves by up to 8 frames per second for Pro on update 1.2, a remarkable upgrade for a title at 30 frames per second. It’s more streamlined, and while it may take a visual sacrifice to get there, I would say it’s worth it for sheer playability. Pop-in occurs anyway in fast-moving scenes, and so practically it is often the case that it whips past while running.
I think the most remarkable of the tests is to see the infamous sniper shooting in play. This is a stress test I prepared when the game was launched – on the way to Ripperdoc, we drive at speed through Night City, and instead of parking up in the specified lane, we actually go on a murderous ravage instead. The combination of combat, multiple NPCs and dense city details makes the performance plummet on all systems – and it still does on the PS4 Pro, but it’s clearly still improved over version 1.1. There are still some issues – on later shoutouts against Maelstromers my console started to tighten quite badly into the 20s, before I experienced a complete crash against the dashboard. So there is obviously still a lot of room for improvement, and despite the big wins on the PS4 Pro, it’s hard to give the game a pass on patch 1.2 when crashes are still an issue.
By comparison, the Xbox One X still has major issues. There are some improvements in performance, the market run now operates in the mid-20s instead of the teens, while the first entry into the Night City after the first mission has also been improved. The problem is that many of the inherited issues persist: Xbox One X continues to suffer from issues – large hangups in games – causing major issues to 0fps. It is short-lived, but still a problem more often on Xbox One computers. Unlike PS4 consoles, I did not experience any crashes in my tests. Overall, the improvement to the One X is less impressive, and it’s still possible to see performance drop below 20 frames per second by crossing dense environments at speed – an area where the PS4 Pro sees dramatic improvements. The stress test for sneak control seems to run as badly as it did in version 1.1. Overall, it’s an improvement, but it’s nowhere near as good as the PS4 Pro – a strange condition.
As for the Vanilla PS4 and Xbox One, these consistently ran poorly with Update 1.1, and while the new update makes some scenes play out a little better, it gives an advantage of 2 fps to 3 fps small odds when you are still so far away from 30fps target. Strangely, the PS4 does not show anything like the same level improvement that the Pro shows – there is still a roughly 20-30 frames per second in shootouts (or worse) complete with hikes and falls. It’s a struggle to even aim properly with this edition during any gun game. I also experienced a crash in the system menu on the Ps4 as well – just like the Pro. PS4 is still a bad experience in general: crash is still there and performance level is still far beyond target.
Meanwhile, the Xbox One is still extremely difficult to recommend. Streaming optimizations are included, based on like-for-like traversal footage that compares patch 1.1 to 1.2, but performance gains are slim at best – and too small to register in most scenes, where frame rates show only one error difference. Where you really need a good, consistent level of performance, the Xbox One continues to disappoint, and perhaps inevitably, it’s still the worst performing version of Cyberpunk out there.
Finally, there is good news and bad news here. PlayStation 4 Pro is not bad. Accepting that a game that is clearly and obviously designed for the next generation of hardware will struggle on the last generation of machines, the notion of playing Cyberpunk 2077 at 30 frames per second for much of the experience suggests that it is not getting the game in shape on older hardware . impossible. Based on this, I will be fascinated to see how this improves the situation for PlayStation 5 running on the same code base. That said, the fact that both the PS4 and Pro crashed into system menus within two hours of gaming is a rather brutal reminder that a lot of work is still needed on this game.
And that feeling is even more true for the PS4, Xbox One and Xbox One X. Four months after its launch, it seems that only baby steps have been taken to improve the core performance of the game on these three. Based on the patch notes, it seems that bug fixes had priority – and rightly so – but hopefully CDPR will continue to push for optimization. What we see in update 1.2 is progress, but it is strange that in my tests only the PS4 Pro saw improvements. Fingers crossed that this extends to all systems when the next major update arrives.