I loved Cyberpunk 2077. The initial release left a lasting mark on the gaming world. Although in more ways than one, and not all positive. Phantom Liberty is here to try and wipe the slate clean, and it kinda does…..
Thanks to its sprawling story and thematic depth. The game’s core message, embodied by the iconic Johnny Silverhand (Keanu Reeves), emphasized that self-centeredness and cynicism are dead-end paths, while real rebellion lies in helping friends.
Now, with the introduction of the Phantom Liberty expansion, the world of Cyberpunk 2077 expands further.
Having played through the entire thing, with a billion screenshots to prove it (my goodness, it looks amazing!). I wanted to share some thoughts on the experience.
V may not be heading to Washington, but Washington comes to V with a bang in this new chapter. Taking us to a new district, introducing a cast of intriguing characters, including the President of the New United States and the enigmatic spy played by Idris Elba.
The core themes of friendship and rebellion persist, but now the challenge is even more complex: how can you help your friends when you don’t even know who they are, and their objectives seem mutually exclusive?
Early in the expansion, you’ll encounter Songbird, a government hacker, who offers you a job in the previously unexplored district of Dogtown. It’s controlled by Barghest, a private army led by the formidable Colonel Kurt Hansen.
The allure for us/V is Songbird’s promise to fix the chip in your head, the one enabling your interactions with Keanu Reeves’ character and also slowly causing your demise.
Easy on the eye
Dogtown itself is a revelation, arguably the most densely populated Cyberpunk district yet. Stepping into its vibrant market felt like a momentous experience, reminiscent of City 17 in Half-Life 2.
The atmosphere is teeming with life – street hawkers, braindance salesmen plotting revolution, and cyber-enhanced individuals showcasing their wares. People engage in various activities, creating a vivid and immersive environment. Phantom Liberty, and more specifically Dogtown, felt much more alive than the rest of the game and Night City.
As you venture further into Dogtown, you’ll encounter the glowing pyramid housing a nightclub and a floating barge adorned with Kurt Hansen’s visage, a constant reminder of your ultimate destination.
The story takes over as you meet the President and Solomon Reed, portrayed brilliantly by Idris Elba. Much of your time in Phantom Liberty is spent in engaging conversations, often as thrilling as the combat scenarios.
There are some new, cool-looking Iconic weapons, which is a personal hobby of mine. Collecting them and seeing their funky perks is always a dream!
If you can, put it into overdrive mode for a little bit, just to see how it could look! I ran Phantom Liberty on my RTX 4060 and whilst I could stretch it to the max settings, it wasn’t stable and smooth. That’s a limitation of my kit, though. The ray tracing looks amazing, and even if you just pop it on for some quick photos, it’s a sight to behold.
One mission stands out as a peak Bond experience, involving infiltrating an exclusive high society party, outwitting a suspicious villain, and engaging in high-stakes roulette to extract information from arms dealers. The tension builds with each conversation, and even a musical performance disrupts the suspense, rather than a gunfight.
But what impressed me the most was the natural and human portrayal of Cyberpunk’s characters in intimate moments. I got to know the NUSA President over beers and radio tunes, and I shared dreams with a spy the night before a critical operation. The exposition seamlessly blends into personal interactions, making the world-building, level design, and writing a cohesive and immersive experience.
When the time comes for action, the combat, stealth, and hacking systems benefit from Update 2.0’s improvements. The new perk system offers substantial enhancements, allowing for more meaningful character development. It’s now easier to create a coherent character build, and you can dress your character without worrying about armour stats.
Phantom Liberty introduces the Relic perk tree, offering diverse playstyle options, including auto-cloaking and vulnerability detection. It also allows for punching foes with your cybernetic arms until they burst, which adds a fun twist to combat.
My change in playstyle was as surprising to me as it was fun. No longer hacking everything. I’m now a Sandevistan and gorilla arms beast. Running around as the world struggles to react, and just beating the pulp out of every one.
While the expansion, as well as Update 2.0, significantly improves Cyberpunk 2077, it’s important to note that the game is not without its flaws. I definitely had visual bugs, quests needing to be re-started and the usual chaos. It was all much smoother, but they haven’t gotten all those bugs out, still.
Phantom Liberty’s narrative seamlessly weaves into the larger Cyberpunk 2077 story, allowing players to revisit old friends and make new ones in Night City.
This was a little disappointing, to be honest. Being able to play the expansion during the main story meant that actually, I knew how it was going to ultimately end.
Phantom Liberty do so much right, made me re-engage with a world I loved and thought I might get some different closure than from my original play through.
This isn’t set post-game, though, so the outcome was inevitable and ultimately a little disappointing. Having said that, the acting, the dialogue, the overall narrative and set-pieces more than made-up for it.
Whether you’re a newcomer to the game or a returning player, this expansion offers a rich, thrilling, and captivating 20-hour adventure that complements the Cyberpunk 2077 universe in the best possible way.
I couldn’t recommend Phantom Liberty any more highly. It was £24 new on release and honestly, tied-in with 2.0, that’s a steal.
Get in there choom. You’ve got a president to save…..