The hype train is blitzing through the stations as Cyberpunk 2077's release date inches closer with each passing hour.
The excitement surrounding the game couldn't possibly be any more apparent as it is nearly impossible to browse through the internet and not find a mention of Cyberpunk 2077.
This hype isn't just the product of robust marketing but it is also a result of CD Projekt's nearly immaculate track record. The Polish developers are most renowned for The Witcher franchise, which is one of the most beloved trilogies in the history of videogames.
Cyberpunk 2077 is an open-world RPG title that simply needs no introduction at this point as the game has managed to attract quite the mainstream attention.
A couple of TV spots, several Night City Wire episodes, and many delays later, players are only days away from being able to play Cyberpunk 2077.
However, what is deeply concerning is the severely high expectations that teeter on the lines of being unrealistic at this point.
Are expectations from Cyberpunk 2077 too high and unrealistic?
The gigantic shadow of The Witcher 3 and its DLCs
One does not release a game as monumental as The Witcher 3 and not expect the fans to deify the developers. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is unanimously regarded as one of the greatest games of the last decade and one of the best in history.
The game truly set the gold standard for open-world RPGs to come and is definitely going to be a tough act to follow. CDPR's reputation as one of the best AAA developers was compounded with the 2 quality DLC expansions that were Hearts of Stone and Blood & Wine.
The DLC alone would guarantee 50+ hours, which is completely uncommon for AAA developers in the modern day. Fans couldn't be more in love with CD Projekt Red, and they were forever branded as one of the best developers around.
Therefore, it was a given that CD Projekt's next project would have a high level of expectations attached to it from the start. In what has now become one of the most iconic game trailers of all time, Cyberpunk 2077 was revealed to the world back in 2013, and fans haven't stopped talking about the game since.
The teaser ended with an ominous "Coming: When It's Ready" tagline. Little did fans know that it would be nearly 7 years before the game would be ready for a release.
A "Breathtaking" E3 Reveal in 2019
After delivering several quality DLCs for The Witcher 3, it was time for CDPR to truly set their sights on Cyberpunk 2077.
In the years that followed, expectations from Cyberpunk 2077 were beginning to swell, at which point CDPR dropped an absolutely massive trailer in 2018, that showcased Night City and V in full glory.
Cyberpunk 2077's trailer, set to Hyper's Spoiler, made waves within the community. A 40-minute gameplay trailer that showcased the expansive character customization and a mission in Night City was enough to send fans into a frenzy.
However, what really hit home for mainstream audiences was an E3 2019 trailer that marked the appearance of Keanu Reeves himself as Johnny Silverhand.
The internet's favourite actor, Keanu Reeves, helped Cyberpunk 2077 catch a lot of mainstream buzz, and the game soon transcended the boundaries of gaming and brought in newer fans.
Delays and The Fever Pitch
After several little teasers and info dumps, Cyberpunk 2077 would be set for a summer release date in 2020, much to the fans' delight. Alas, the restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic would cause a lot of concerns in development.
As a result, in order to maintain the studio's lofty standards, Cyberpunk 2077's release date was pushed back from April to September. It would be delayed even further from September to November 19th, and fans began to feel a bit agitated at this point.
Rumblings of a mandatory crunch period began to make the headlines, and Cyberpunk 2077, for the first time in its promotional run, began facing backlash from both fans and media outlets.
After the November release date was pushed back to December 10, the anticipation had raised a fever pitch.
A lot of the anticipation began turning into animosity, and social media was flooded with angry comments towards CDPR devs, which seems very unfair.
The burden of delivering masterpieces
As has been very apparent in the entertainment industry, following up on a masterpiece is far more difficult than making one in the first place. Time and time again, the expectations from a game have resulted in the title being received poorly or not as well as expected.
As a recent example, The Last of Us Part II divided public opinion despite being a game with a lot of value on offer. The burden of following up on a modern masterpiece as 2013's The Last of Us is simply a weight that cannot easily be carried.
At this point, anything even slightly shy of a sure-shot masterpiece is considered a mediocre product overall, which is not a very fair measure of a game. Cyberpunk 2077 may be a modern masterpiece or simply a decent game, but "decent", at this point, translates to "mediocre" for a lot of fans.
Thus, it is always good to have high expectations ahead of a game's release, but building it up to be a life-altering experience seems kind of unfair to both the player and the game.