The launch of Cyberpunk 2077 was a troubled one. While we loved our time with the PC version, those hoping to play on PS4 and Xbox One well and truly got shafted. It’s no surprise, then, that those versions have been left behind when it comes to the game’s expansion, Phantom Liberty. And thanks to a wealth of updates and improvements to the PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC versions since launch, there’s never been a better time to jump into this thrilling open world adventure.
As you’d expect of an expansion, Phantom Liberty adds a substantial amount of content to Cyberpunk 2077. Accessible part way through the game’s main campaign, it finds V being contacted by a mystery agent who desperately needs their help. The President of the New United States of America is in trouble. Her craft has been brought down in a war-torn district called Dogtown, an area where the President has a political enemy. You’re asked to go in, secure the President and extract her, if possible. And why should you do this, aside from serving your country? Well, the agent that contacted you, Songbird, might just be able to help you with your unfortunate predicament: the chip in your head that’s effectively a death sentence.
Your first task in Phantom Liberty is gaining entry to Dogtown, a whole new district for you to explore thanks to this expansion. This ravaged area is desolate, with ruined buildings and debris everywhere. It’s also an area riddled with danger and crime. Despite all this though, when the sun is shining down in the middle of the day, it’s also quite picturesque. Thankfully, after finding a way into Dogtown, you’re then free to move in and out of it without any fuss, allowing you to delve back into the content of the main game quickly and easily. Once you’ve started the Phantom Liberty story, however, chances are you’re going to want to finish it.
The opening hour or so of Phantom Liberty well and truly captures your attention, with some action sequences that can only be described as epic. It’s hard to go into any further detail without spoiling anything, but things soon settle down when you’re out of immediate danger, and it’s then that you’re tasked with meeting Solomon Reed, an NUSA federal agent played by the one and only Idris Elba. Along with Keanu Reeves reprising his role as Johnny Silverhand, there’s some serious acting chops on display here. Needless to say, it helps get you invested in the expansion’s story, even if it never quite reaches the heights of the main campaign.
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The main questline of Phantom Liberty unfolds over 13 new missions. And alongside that there are 17 new side jobs and gigs to complete, too. In true CD Projekt Red fashion, many of these side jobs and gigs are quite meaty, too, offering more than just cookie-cutter content to pad out your playing time. We got quite invested trying to secure some prototype tech, for example, only to find it implanted in someone. Were we to hand him over to our fixer to undoubtedly be hacked apart for the goods, or would we try to bargain to save his life? It’s choices like this that really make you feel a part of the game’s world.
In fact, along with updates made to the base game for free arriving at the same time as the Phantom Liberty expansion, Cyberpunk 2077 feels more like a fully-fledged RPG than ever before. A new Relic skill tree accessible via Phantom Liberty allows players to gain new Relic skill points and unlock a variety of powerful abilities, perhaps changing how they play. Meanwhile, all skill trees have been given a refresh, making choices more impactful and builds more varied. Even the Cyberware system has been redesigned, with your enhancements now determining your armour rather than the clothes you have equipped. It makes for a game that feels quite different in play from what we experienced over two years ago.
With Phantom Liberty, CD Projekt Red has taken the opportunity to effectively re-launch Cyberpunk 2077. New features such as being able to shoot from inside vehicles and a police wanted system enhance not only the expansion but also the main game, making it deeper and more immersive. Meanwhile, the new story further rounds out the game’s world, adding more relationships for V to form, and opening up a new ending depending on their choices and actions. And this really is where Cyberpunk 2007 on the whole excels – its characters. It does such a great job of fleshing them out and making them feel like real people with their own motivations and beliefs. And it’s here where the most important decisions need to be made: who are your people? You can’t please everyone, after all.
Ultimately, whether or not you should pick up Phantom Liberty depends on whether you want to immerse yourself in yet another engaging Cyberpunk story, this time with more of an espionage tinge. You certainly get a lot of bang for your buck here; completing everything that’s on offer will surely take a significant amount of time, and there are rewards and additional items that you can carry over to the main game. But even if you don’t pick up Phantom Liberty straight away, it’s worth jumping into Cyberpunk 2077 if you haven’t already done so thanks to the changes introduced via update 2.0. And if you’re revisiting the title, it might even be worth simply starting again from scratch. Cyberpunk 2077 may not have had the best start, but CD Projekt Red has taken criticism to heart and not only delivered an outstanding expansion, but also improved the base game into a state that should have even its harshest critics paying attention.