Cyberpunk 2077 launched in a dismal state in 2020. Despite the positive initial reviews on PC, console ports were a disaster. The entire situation for fans waiting for the biggest game from CD Projekt Red led to several lawsuits, apologies, and a promise to do better. Three years on, and CD Projekt is back with Phantom Liberty, a sizeable expansion fans have eagerly anticipated for months.
Paired with the massive and free Update 2.0, which overhauls how skill trees operate by offering better and more focused perks that allow you to create your ideal play style. CD Projekt also includes vehicular combat, so you can shoot enemies from your ride or use the Carhacker perk to take out enemies remotely. Cyberware is now limited to your current level and increases as your level rises, so the opportunity for growth is tied to your overall growth. Additionally, armour is tied to Cyberware. Stamina is also no longer drained outside combat, so you can sprint, jump and slide without worrying about running out of energy. However, Stamina is now tied to your weapons and actions in combat, so timing dodges is essential.
Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty Offers High-Stakes Action
I’ve only listed a few changes everyone can enjoy now that Update 2.0 is live. The link above provides the complete list worth reading through so you understand how different things are now for returning players. Perks, cyberware, crafting, upgrading, and abilities have radically transformed. For those beginning Phantom Liberty, a new Relic skill tree brings some seriously potent abilities.
For those returning to Cyberpunk 2077, you’ll notice that your perk points have hit the reset button. Don’t worry; it’s a more straightforward system, allowing you to shuffle your perk points whenever the mood strikes. A fresh start, a clean slate, and a chance to redefine your cybernetic prowess.
Just like the base game brought us Keanu Reeves, as Johnny Silverhand, the expansion Phantom Liberty introduces Idris Elba as the enigmatic Solomon Reed, a covert government agent working for the FIA.
The expansion begins with a bang as the NUSA President’s plane, aptly named Space Force One, gets hacked and crash-lands in Night City’s new district, Dogtown. Your journey begins when you receive a frantic call from the President’s net runner, Songbird. She pleads for your help in saving and extracting the President in exchange for assistance with the Relic stuck in your head.
Phantom Liberty weaves an exceptional tale of government spies, sleeper agents, presidential assassination attempts, and technology too potent for your good. It’s like being swept into a cyberpunk version of a Mission Impossible movie. Honestly, after my 28-ish hours with it, I can say Phantom Liberty‘s story outshines the base game.
The expansion also treats us to some exhilarating set pieces and boss fights, including an unexpectedly intense final act that borrows elements from a different gaming genre altogether. It’s a rollercoaster ride through Night City’s underbelly, and you’ll relish every moment.
Dogtown’s also one of the best areas in any CD Projekt title, and while it may not be the largest district in Night City, it’s packed to the brim with personality. Dogtown offers a fresh, futuristic Vegas vibe. Think casinos, hotels, and enough neon to light up the West Coast. It’s not the most vertically layered part of the city, but it’s a compact playground. I appreciate the aesthetic, and the quests here are a cut above the typical gigs you stumble upon elsewhere.
The Art of Suspense
A cast of fascinating characters anchors the narrative, and the performances are top-notch. Idris Elba brings the perfect tone and gravitas to the role of the covert spy, while Keanu Reeves delivers a blend of comedic relief and existential dread that only he can master. But it’s not just the big names stealing the show; the actors behind Songbird and the male version of V also turn in stellar performances on par with Hollywood’s finest.
What makes Phantom Liberty genuinely captivating is the perpetual sense of suspense. You’ll find yourself questioning everyone’s motives, never quite sure who the good guys are or who to trust. The entire scenario is easily above and beyond the base game’s story, and I found the narrative to be outstanding, with the performances hitting some incredible highs.
And let’s not forget the treasure trove of new side quests introduced in Phantom Liberty. CD Projekt Red doesn’t disappoint in this department, offering some of the best content in the game. If you appreciated the depth of The Witcher 3 or Starfield’s side quests, you’d be delighted to know that some of Phantom Liberty‘s are on par with those. Upon completion, these quests reward you with excellent loot, making your journey through Night City even more rewarding.
Phantom Liberty is more than just an expansion; it’s a thrilling cyberpunk saga that enriches the Cyberpunk 2077 experience. With an exceptional story, outstanding performances, and engaging quests, it’s a must-play for any genre fan.
But what about the newcomers? You’re going to be okay, but you need to play the base game to get started with the expansion remotely. CD Projekt Red has been recommending a fresh start, but starting from scratch is genuinely difficult when a sea of excellent games are out and continue to be released.
Beyond the expansion, several gameplay improvements elevate the Cyberpunk 2077 experience. Vehicular combat packs a punch, and the revamped police system gives off major Grand Theft Auto vibes. In short, the game feels better to play than ever before. Combat flows well, offering a plethora of playstyles to suit your mood.
Phantom Liberty doesn’t just overhaul gameplay; it takes you on a thrilling ride through the world of espionage. Expect explosive setpieces that pay homage to classic spy tropes with a futuristic twist. Infiltrating high-stakes parties, gathering intel, and even tracking emotions and thoughts is espionage, cyberpunk style.
Yet, there’s a caveat. The game leads you down a fairly linear path despite all the warnings about trust and choice. It’s a bit like a choose-your-own-adventure book with only one real ending. The illusion of undercover operations and identity theft isn’t as expansive as we might hope, but the journey is still worth it.
Phantom Liberty delivers a series of jaw-dropping conclusions. It’s a rollercoaster of twists, betrayals, and high-stakes showdowns. Each ending packs an emotional wallop, a testament to the tough choices you’ll make. Plus, an extra ending ties neatly into the main story, delivering a bittersweet finale to your journey in Night City.
Without a doubt, Phantom Liberty is Cyberpunk 2077 as it was always meant to be. CD Projekt Red rolled with the punches and produced one of the best games ever produced by them. The storytelling and performances are incredible and will stick with you. For those who want to focus on Update 2.0, it’s worth returning to see how different the experience is three years later.
[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]
Reviewed on: PlayStation 5
Review: Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty
Without a doubt, Phantom Liberty is Cyberpunk 2077 as it was always meant to be. CD Projekt Red rolled with the punches and produced one of the best games ever produced by them.
An exhilarting narrative that leads to shocking conclusions
Reworked elements and mechanics make this the experience in line with what was promised