I’ve spent many hours in CDPR’s Cyberpunk 2077 in 2D, racking-up over 200 hours and possibly close to 300 since the game launched in December 2020. The recent 1.5 update has given the game some new life as far as I am concerned, and has meant another playthrough. My adventures with lead character “V” haven’t waned considering I love to play with specific class based builds, and do things like limit myself to not levelling-up the character to see how events pan out. Well…most recently another passion of mine (VR) collided with Cyberpunk 2077, and that is via the rather excellent LukeRoss REAL VR mod which works with the game. Previously, the mod worked with games such as Red Dead Redemption 2, Horizon Zero Dawn, and even the now aged GTA V, but bringing Night City into VR is something to behold.
Before we get into the nitty gritty here, a slight disclaimer. I am using an RTX 3090, 32GB RAM, i9 9900K CPU and running the game Windows 10 64Bit with a Solid State Drive (SSD). My VR headset is the HP Reverb G2, which in my opinion offers the best clarity of all current headsets. Basically I am playing with the most optimal hardware.
Another disclaimer. There is a contingent of VR gamers who swear-by any game that does not offer full motion controls is not proper VR. I totally disagree with that sentiment coming from the Oculus DK2 and original release of the Oculus Rift which shipped in March 2016 without Touch controllers for months. I am quite happy exploring VR worlds using an Xbox gamepad. I am also of the belief that in some games it is not necessary to grab and touch everything in sight. You wouldn’t do that in real life, and it seems that in VR games it’s an almost mandatory action to cement that players are immersed in the game world if they are allowed to pick every inanimate object up.
So then, Cyberpunk 2077 in VR is utterly amazing. That is not just my opinion either, if you look at several well-known online VR reporters they will say the same thing. But…I am going to go one further and state that Cyberpunk 2077 in VR is the best VR game I’ve played…period. Screw the motion controls. Sure, if they become a feature at some point, it will be a neat addition, but as it stands, I am perfectly happy feeling immersed in Night City using a gamepad. So why such the high accolade I hear you ask?
First things first, the visuals in the HP Reverb G2/RTX 3090 combo is crucial to success with the game running mostly low settings but things like Level of detail and textures at their maximum. Playing at the highest resolution the mod offers (3920×3920) with DLSS set to Quality, Reshade option Filmic Sharpening, fake HDR gives the game a clean look. Good enough for me at least, despite some choppy movements and artefacts. Obviously, lowering the resolution is an option, but when it’s too low, visually the game becomes a garbled mess and not worth the performance boost. That’s just my opinion, others might have their own standards.
What is fantastic about Night City in VR is the sheer sense-of-scale you have with its diverse architecture. Looking skywards or into the distance and it really hammers home the size of this megacity. NPCs, vehicles, the general vibes become massively enhanced in VR, especially now you have a more reactive populace. You can go right up into the faces of NPCs and they look at you with distain or interest their facial expressions more meaningful. Gunfights are magnificent, where the now improved gun distance (and tweaking options) feels more realistic. The AI behaving much more refined than prior to the 1.50 update. The world feels every bit as immersive as the GTA V VR Mod now despite a lack of activities outside of being a mercenary. GTA V is 9 years old though, whereas Cyberpunk 2077 just one year and it shows in terms of finer details.
What amazes me further aside from walking around during the day or night, is jumping into a vehicle and enjoying the space inside them, looking at car interior details. The transition to VR is incredible, as is driving around. More so, when jumping onto a motorcycle and speeding through cross-town heavy traffic. The road layouts aren’t flat in Night City, so all of the inclines, bumps and dips are accentuated in VR making for a real roller-coaster ride at times. The fact you can look around and lean into corners is pretty awesome. Your head direction decoupled from the vehicle direction enabling you to actually peer outside the vehicle windows. Again, this is even more dramatic when riding with Judy, Panam, River, Claire at the wheel during the story.
Speaking about the story, and VR puts you inside the game. You’re right there with those main characters throughout the story when in discussions with them. You move, during conversations and their eyes and movements follow you around the room, making you feel part of the world. It’s what VR is all about, putting the player into the game world rather than just being an observer looking in from the comfort of your seat. What strikes me the most about this, is VR remains pretty niche, and despite excellent games such as Half Life Alyx, there are few AAA games for VR players and perhaps none that are open-world in the same way that Cyberpunk 2077 is. I have my favourites such as Fallout 4 VR, Borderlands VR, Skyrim VR etc. but I’ve really felt totally immersed in Night City with all its AAA trimmings which you’re not going to see in many VR games developed by indie studios or half-funded projects from money lending publishers. Night City comes densely populated in comparison to the other open-world games I’ve mentioned, and it definitely impacts the assault on the senses in a different way as a result. There’s a less solitary feeling and more living and breathing inside a cyberpunk filled metropolis. If only CDPR were able to create a VR version themselves (with motion control support).
To conclude then, Cyberpunk 2077 VR highlights how good gaming in VR is and how great the PC modding community is. Sadly it also suggests a reluctance from AAA developers to adopt VR due to its niche standing in gaming. I am positive other players have garnered an equal enjoyment of Cyberpunk 2077 with lesser hardware than mine, and with some tweaking CDPR could probably make their own version for Playstation VR 2 when it rolls out this year. But, it’s likely not going to happen and is wishful thinking on my part. Either way, I feel totally in tune with the characters of Night City and look forward to many more hours in its warm VR embrace. Game ON!