Cyberpunk 2077 in ultrawide is great for people-watching, but not much else

As a lover of ultrawide PC games, I’ve been chomping at the bit to see what Cyberpunk 2077‘s Night City looks like in 21:9. I’ve had to refrain from doing so for the last week as I put together my Cyberpunk 2077 best settings and ray tracing performance guides, but now those are complete I’ve finally found some time to swap out my regular 16:9 monitor for my trusty ultrawide Asus screen.

And the results are… fine, I guess? It didn’t blow me away as much as I thought it would, but hey, at least I made some GIFs so you can see what it looks like yourself.

As Alice Bee described earlier in the week, Night City is a place best admired when looking up, and the same holds true for playing the game in ultrawide. Night City is a huge, monstrous place with towering skyscrapers, glaring advert reels that draw your eyes skyward and more crisscrossing highways than a bowl of spaghetti. All that looks wondrous in ultrawide, and the sheer visual density of the world around you makes it very easy to just sit and stare at it for a while so you can drink in the details.

To experience this #content, you will need to enable targeting cookies. Yes, we know. Sorry.
Death Stranding, Horizon Zero Dawn and Microsoft Flight Simulator, to be sure.

To experience this #content, you will need to enable targeting cookies. Yes, we know. Sorry.
Red Dead Redemption-style. However, when many of your first-person conversations just focus on a single person a lot of the time, the whole scene ends up looking a bit flat when there’s so much empty space in your peripheral vision. Instead, characters such as the Burning Desire man with his malfunctioning… implant below just begin to look awkward and unimpressive as they squirm about in a big empty plaza.

To experience this #content, you will need to enable targeting cookies. Yes, we know. Sorry.
Samsung CRG9, for example, and I can see Cyberpunk 2077 falling into similar problems here as well.

There’s also the matter of having a powerful enough graphics card to render Night City at an ultrawide resolution, as most of the GPUs I’ve tested so far have been struggling to run the game at 1920×1080, let alone 3440×1440. And if you want to experience Cyberpunk 2077 with ultrawide ray tracing switched on, well, good luck with that. So far I’ve found that both of AMD’s new Radeon RX 6800 and RX 6800 XT are quite capable of running the game on Ultra at 3440×1440 (although given that AMD’s Adrenalin software doesn’t recognise my GOG copy as an actual game, I can’t say for sure what frame rate it’s actually running at), but its RX 5000 cards will struggle to play it on higher quality settings.

A screenshot of Cyberpunk 2077's map screen in ultrawide.

Alas, Cyberpunk 2077’s menu screen doesn’t change from its original 16:9 aspect ratio on an ultrawide monitor, so you’ll have to make do with black bars while you’re levelling up and looking at the map.

As for Nvidia GPU owners, I’d recommend you have at least an RTX 2070 Super in your PC, although ideally you’ll want an RTX 2080 Super or RTX 3070 to play it on a decent quality setting. And if you want to play the game with ray tracing switched on? It’s pretty much an RTX 3080 or bust.

As such, I won’t be racing to stick Cyberpunk 2077 in my list of the best ultrawide PC games just yet, although it definitely has potential to become a great ultrawide game if and when CD Projekt Red sort out their immersion-breaking NPC AI. After all, the city itself looks stunning in 21:9, and there are moments where you really feel the benefit of that extra screen space. More often than not, though, the game is simply too claustrophobic to really let rip on the old aspect ratio. I should note, of course, that I haven’t got to the Badlands yet, and I can imagine that Nomad lifepathers might have a much better impression of its ultrawide-ness due to being plonked in that huge, vast desert right from the start. But for Street Kids and Corpos like myself, there’s still a lot of work to be done in Night City itself before it can really shine in 21:9.