Cyberpunk 2077's 1.2 patch arrived last week, accompanied by an absolutely gigantic list of bug fixes, tweaks and upgrades. Dedicated players should see game-breaking bugs addressed, but fundamentally, has the game been fixed on consoles? Can we now recommend purchasing the title on last-gen systems? To cut to the chase, there's good news for PlayStation 4 Pro owners, but in terms of performance and stability, there's still a long, long way to go.
What the patch notes don't spell out in great detail is any particular push to optimise the experience for the PS4 and Xbox One generation of consoles, though there is a long list of engine-specific optimisations that should in theory improve the experience for all users. There are also promised improvements for the controversial temporal anti-aliasing solution, plus improved screen-space reflections. Xbox One is singled out for memory management optimisations too - but it's the streaming optimisations that caught our eye as it's this that seems to be the key for dramatic improvements on the title on PlayStation 4 Pro.
It's all about the background streaming technology - the way in which assets such as geometry and textures are brought in from storage, decompressed, then rendered on-screen. We spotted the change deployed on PS4, PS4 Pro and Xbox One, but curiously, Xbox One X doesn't seem to be much changed from version 1.1. Put simply, there's the sense that streaming perhaps runs with a lower priority than it did previously, targeting frame-rate improvements at the expense of resolving detail. Environmental assets take longer to load, pop-in is now more of an issue than it was previously. You could say that there are streaming delays, but detail does render in eventually, given time. However, in dense city spots while driving quickly, some aspects of the environment now fail to load in at all before they pass you by.
You can see in the video how this affects the overall presentation, especially on PlayStation 4 Pro, but the upshot is that there are clear performance benefits. Sony's enhanced console always ran the game best, even beating out the more powerful Xbox One X. Now it's even better, spending much of its time hitting its target 30 frames per second. Sprinting through a crowded marketplace, frame-rate could hit the low to mid 20s on PS4 Pro. With the new patch installed, the game ran at a nigh-on flawless 30fps - albeit with the reduction (or rather the delay) in detail I've already talked about. At times, in like-for-like scenarios - such as a fast dash through the marketplace - performance improves by up to 8fps for Pro on patch 1.2, a remarkable upgrade for a 30fps title. It's more streamlined, and while it might take a visual sacrifice to get there, I'd say it's worth it for sheer playability. The pop-in occurs in fast moving scenes anyway, and so practically speaking, it's often the case that it whips by in a blur while running.
I think the most remarkable of the tests is seeing the infamous alley shootout in play. This is a stress test I devised when the game launched - on the way to the Ripperdoc, we drive at speed through Night City, and then, rather than parking up in the indicated slot, we essentially go on a murderous rampage instead. The combination of combat, multiple NPCs and dense city detail causes performance to plummet on all systems - and it still does on PS4 Pro, but it's clearly still improved over version 1.1. There are still some issues though - on later shoutouts against the Maelstromers, my console started to buckle quite badly into the 20s, before I experienced a full-on crash to the dash. So, clearly there's still plenty of room for improvement and despite the big gains on PS4 Pro frame-rate-wise, it's hard to give the game a pass on patch 1.2 when crashing is still an issue.
Xbox One X, by comparison, still has major issues. There are some improvements to performance, the market run now operates in the mid-20s rather than the teens, while the initial entry into Night City after the first mission is also improved. The problem is that many of the legacy issues persist: Xbox One X continues to suffer from hitches - big hangups in play - causing big lurches to 0fps. It's momentary, but still an issue more frequent on Xbox One machines. Unlike PS4 consoles, I experienced no crashing in my tests. Overall, the improvement to One X is less impressive and it's still possible to see performance drop beneath 20fps simply by traversing dense environments at speed - an area where PS4 Pro sees dramatic improvements. The alley combat stress test seems to run just as badly as it did in version 1.1. Overall, there is improvement, but it's nowhere near as performant as PS4 Pro - a strange state of affairs.
In terms of the vanilla PS4 and Xbox One, these ran consistently poorly with patch 1.1, and while the new patch does make some scenes play out a little better, a 2fps to 3fps advantage makes little odds when you're still so far away from the 30fps target. Curiously, PS4 doesn't show anything like the same level improvement exhibited by the Pro - it's still a largely 20-30fps experience in shootouts (or worse) complete with hitches and drops. It's a struggle to even aim properly with this edition during any gunplay. I also experienced a crash to the system menu on Ps4 as well - just like Pro. PS4 is still a bad experience overall: the crashing is still there and baseline performance is still far off the mark.
Meanwhile, Xbox One is still extremely difficult to recommend. The streaming optimisations have been included, based on like-for-like traversal footage comparing patch 1.1 to 1.2, but performance gains are slim at best - and too small to register in most scenes, where frame-rates exhibit only a margin of error difference. Where you really need a good, consistent level of performance, Xbox One continues to disappoint and perhaps inevitably, it remains the worst performing version of Cyberpunk out there.
Ultimately then, there's good news and bad news here. PlayStation 4 Pro isn't bad. Accepting that a game clearly and obviously designed for the next generation of hardware is going to struggle on last-gen machines, the notion of playing Cyberpunk 2077 at 30fps for much of the experience suggests that getting the game into shape on legacy hardware isn't totally impossible. Based on this, I'll be fascinated to see how this improves the situation for PlayStation 5 which runs on the same codebase. With that said, the fact that both PS4 and Pro crashed to system menus within two hours of play is a pretty brutal reminder that plenty of work is still needed on this game.
And that's a sentiment that applies even more so to PS4, Xbox One and Xbox One X. Four months on from the launch, it seems that only baby steps have been taken in improving the core performance of the game on these three. Based on the patch notes, it looks like bug fixes took priority - and rightly so - but hopefully CDPR will continue to push on optimisation. What we're seeing in patch 1.2 is progress, but it is strange that in my tests, only PS4 Pro saw across the board improvements. Fingers crossed that this extends to all systems when the next major patch arrives.
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