Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty Review
- Story And Setting
- Story And Gameplay
- Visuals And Performance
With the release of Phantom Liberty, CD Projekt Red has finally delivered the grand RPG they promised all those years ago.
- Developer: CD Projekt Red
- Publisher: CD Projekt
- Release Date: September 26, 2023
- Platforms: PC, Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5
- Tested On: Xbox Series X
- Engaging Storyline
- Character Performances
- Update 2.0’s Improvements
- Captivating Soundtrack
- New Skill Tree & Weapons
- Demanding PC Requirements
- Dogtown’s Presentation
It’s hard to imagine that Cyberpunk 2077’s initial release was almost three years ago at this point, and despite being the most hyped RPG of that year, it would soon have the most controversial reception at launch.
But given CD Projekt’s track record for not letting their fanbase down, the game would receive tons of updates, along with an anime adaptation, that would help pave the way for the game’s comeback.
So, after what seemed like a total failure, Cyberpunk 2077 has since then made a staggering comeback with its first and only paid expansion, Phantom Liberty, which I’ll be discussing in my review along with the 2.0 update that introduces a plethora of changes and reworks to the core gameplay mechanics.
Story And Setting
Without delving too much into spoilers here, the main setting of the Phantom Liberty is the desolated district of Dogtown, which is restricted from the main boroughs of Night City. And it’s this district that our protagonist V visits to learn about a potential cure for their terminal illness via a tip from a female Netrunner named Songbird.
But knowing Night City, there’s always a mysterious catch with these Netrunners, and Songbird tasks V to rescue NUSA’s President Myers after she crash lands in Dogtown. We won’t reveal how the job actually goes down, but as we said earlier, things are never simple in the city of sin and Songbird disappears soon after.
The main narrative of the DLC however is far better than what I imagined, as it grips you tight for a slow yet over-the-top ride of events.
Soon after we’re introduced to Soloman Reed, who is voiced by none other than Idris Elba himself. Soloman has a mystique yet stoic personality at first glance, one which, like other side characters in Cyberpunk 2077, slowly gets fleshed out throughout the main story of Phantom Liberty.
While the story of the base game was fairly lackluster, the characters and world-building were the true highlights of the experience. The main narrative of the DLC however is far better than what I imagined, as it grips you tight for a slow yet over-the-top ride of events.
It was marketed as a sort of spy-thriller, and the entire narrative and presentation lives up to that despite a few missions giving way to open gunfights. Overall though, there are a lot of sections where you’re gathering clues and dissecting pieces of information with Soloman to learn the truth about Songbird.
The rockstar and anti-corpo Johnny Silverhand also returns as V’s companion to offer his usual cynical opinions and viewpoints which I absolutely loved on most occasions. And the buddy cop dynamic with Soloman almost makes you think it’s an episode of a police procedural, with the exception of some ridiculously insane moments towards the end that had me in disbelief.
Ultimately, remember that the major choices in Phantom Liberty all play a pivotal role, leading you to experience one of the 2 main endings as well as an additional one that you can unlock back in the main campaign of Cyberpunk 2077.
Aside from the new side Gigs, Relic skill tree, enemies, and loot to collect here, it is hard not to appreciate Phantom Liberty’s gameplay being backed up by Patch 2.0 and its several changes and reworks to the core gameplay systems.
To be brief, the update completely revamps the main skill trees, along with introducing vehicular combat, a new police system that allows the MaxTac militia to chase after you with ruthless efficiency, and your Cyberware being overhauled to fit in with your armor stats and new abilities.
As someone close to obtaining the Platinum Trophy on PS5 for the main game, this update made me want to start up a fresh character to fully experience all the new changes.
As mentioned earlier, the new Relic skill tree primarily focuses on enhancing your Cyberware’s traits.
My favorites are the Spatial Mapping in the Jailbreak tree that allowed me to cripple enemies after performing a leap attack on them, along with the Emergency Cloaking that grants you invisibility if you’re using an Optical Camo in your combat gadgets.
The new options are extensive when you combine them with the base game’s revamped skill trees, and I can’t wait for players to experiment with their respective builds. The revamped Cyberware system also completely changes how gameplay works and introduces new gear for V to acquire across the various Ripperdocs of Night City.
The options are extensive when you combine them with the base game’s revamped skill trees, and I can’t wait for players to experiment with their respective builds.
Cyberware is now capped at a certain limit, and going past that limitation will result in some negative properties. In the game’s own terminology, it allows you to go ‘Cyberpsycho’ for a fully risk-reward playstyle.
Aside from that, you can still use your favorite Cyberware from the main game, such as the Monowire and Gorilla Arms, but this time, they are greatly finely-tuned, making each one more drastically unique than ever.
Lastly, there are a variety of new unique weapons that you can collect via secret missions and side missions throughout the district of Dogtown.
There were also a few tweaks made to how different weapon types work, along with their special traits, via the 2.0 update. So, I would strongly encourage you to ditch any previous weapons you previously had in favor of trying out any new arsenal you acquire in this DLC.
Visuals And Performance
Cyberpunk 2077’s cutting-edge graphical fidelity is perhaps one of my favorite visual directions of any recent game in the modern era. There’s no better guilt pleasure feeling for me than to fire up the game randomly and cruise around the neon-personified streets of Night City in Johnny’s Porsche 911.
Going from that to Dogtown’s rural and oddly intense atmosphere, which resembles something straight out of the Mad Max universe, felt eerie, but at the same time fun to explore and sightgaze, even if it felt too basic compared to Night City.
However, does that excuse the game’s initial lackluster performance, especially on PC? Well, I’m happy to say it has since been massively improved in terms of game engine optimization and stability.
Going from that to Dogtown’s rural and oddly intense atmosphere, which resembles something straight out of the Mad Max universe, felt eerie.
I had a relatively smooth experience playing the DLC on my Xbox Series X in Performance mode. But PC users must be mindful of the new requirements introduced by CDPR since running the game on a high preset may now require you to invest in a heavy-duty GPU such as the Nvidia 30 series or above.
Thankfully, with the addition of upscaling technology enhancements introduced in previous updates, such as AMD’s FSR 2 and Nvidia’s DLSS, you shouldn’t face too much trouble in rendering the forbidden territories of Dogtown and its vile inhabitants.
In a year where we’ve had what may possibly be the best lineup of video games in a long time, CD Projekt Red has left no stone unturned and no effort wasted to make Cyberpunk 2077 the true RPG they promised all those years ago.
With the release of Phantom Liberty, they’ve truly made their presence felt again in the industry by crafting a remarkable expansion that features a captivating story, rich new and returning characters, and a plethora of gameplay aspects that have been significantly improved to make it feel fresh and superior.
It’s a must-play for any fan of the game, both new or old, as there’s enough content present here to not only justify your purchase of the DLC but also make you admit how, underneath all those deep layers of controversy at launch, Cyberpunk 2077 truly was a fantastic and underappreciated game.
This has been our Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty Review. While you’re here, consider checking out some of our other articles.
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