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In 2020, Cyberpunk 2077’s launch faced significant issues, particularly on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, owing to their outdated hardware. The game’s ambitious nature clashed with these limitations, leaving a mark on CD Projekt RED, despite some players, including myself, enjoying relatively stable experiences on newer systems through backward compatibility.

The journey to redemption began in February 2022 with native releases on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series, accompanied by substantial updates that brought the original vision to stability. Now, with the 2.0 update and Phantom Liberty expansion, I believe the game has fulfilled its promise, cementing itself as one of the best RPG titles I’ve ever played. Here is our review of Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty.

Story

*Minor Spoilers Ahead* – In Cyberpunk 2077’s main storyline, Phantom Liberty kicks off late, post V’s dealings with the Voodoo Boys. A mysterious figure named “Songbird” contacts V, claiming to fix the Relic Chip lodged in their head. V hastily heads to Dogtown, Night City’s secluded stronghold, where they encounter an unexpected event. A missile strikes the Presidential flight transport, carrying President Rosalind Myers of the New United States of America. V rescues Myers, and together, they unravel the motives behind the attack. Myers enlists the help of sleeper agent Solomon Reed, portrayed by Idris Elba, to lead the investigation.

Idris Elba’s portrayal of Reed matches Keanu Reeves’ compelling performance as Johnny Silverhand. Elba embodies the stoic agent, counterbalancing Reeves’ edgy rockstar persona. Both characters are exceptionally well-written, evoking a range of emotions through their actions.

Amidst the ruins of the stadium, V navigates Dogtown’s marketplace, a prominent location in Night City. Phantom Liberty unfolds a gripping narrative, featuring meticulously paced missions, blending intense combat sequences with captivating dialogue-driven moments. Each mission raises stakes and seamlessly builds on the established tension.

Crucially, the plot offers impactful narrative choices, especially a pivotal decision near the conclusion, determining the final mission. This choice yields multiple endings, reflecting your decisions throughout the game.

However, the main issue lies in the pacing between missions. Several missions necessitate waiting for instructions, occasionally extending to days. While these delays serve narrative purposes, they can be tedious for players. The game encourages exploration, allowing players to skip time to progress, yet the waits, whether real or simulated, become a frustrating compromise to endure.

In Dogtown, just like in every Night City district, V undertakes side gigs orchestrated by Mr. Hands, the proprietor of Dogtown’s primary club, who oversees much of the district’s affairs.

These gigs epitomise CD Projekt Red’s signature side quests, offering diverse narratives involving the local community, underground enterprises, legal matters, and more. Players engage in tasks like investigating crime scenes and infiltrating clandestine locations, contributing to the quests’ intriguing variety.

Phantom Liberty exemplifies CD Projekt Red’s exceptional storytelling, a hallmark of their reputation. Many gigs prompt follow-up calls from Mr. Hands, discussing the choices made during these missions. These conversations leave a lasting impact, underscoring the strength of the storytelling. When a narrative, regardless of its scale, leaves such a profound impression, it signifies a compelling story.

Gameplay

This expansion introduces a major gameplay element centered around the new Relic Skill Tree. Relic Attributes offer V powerful options for Tactical, Stealth, and Cyberware combat. Tactical fighters can target highlighted weak spots for potent critical hits, while stealthy players can swiftly end combat. Cyberware enthusiasts can utterly dismantle opponents.

Players can utilize Mantis Blades to leap, extract five rockets from a single Projectile Launch System use, employ quickhacks with the Monowire, or channel their inner One Punch Man with Gorilla Arms. Notably, Tactical players benefit the most, as these skills don’t require any Cyberware. However, the ones demanding arm Cyberware are especially striking.

Despite being limited to nine distinct upgrades, V transforms into a cyber-demi god. The Relic skills enhance combat dynamics significantly, especially when combined with the updated Skill Trees. Most Relic points are not handed out freely; V must locate Terminals scattered throughout Dogtown for most Relic Perk Points. This approach maintains balance, as many Terminals are guarded by formidable enemies.

Visuals

Cyberpunk 2077 Phantom Liberty is a stunning visual showpiece. The neon-drenched and rundown zones of Dogtown’s streets are a graphical delight, and the character animations intricately draw you into the game world. The facial animations are exceptionally crafted, enhancing immersion. Particularly, the lighting effects, especially amidst rain-soaked alleys, form a visually captivating ambiance, really engrossing you in this gritty biome of Night City.

Dogtown’s landscape juxtaposes luxurious clubs and skyscrapers against squalid slums, accentuating the glaring wealth disparity. Attending lavish events near literal landfills highlights this divide, although Night City itself exhibits class distinctions within its districts. The City Center, inhabited by most Corpos, boasts a breathtaking skyline, while Kabuki features more modest architecture. Night City’s disparities are evident when driving along the main freeway, but within Dogtown, a minute’s drive exposes stark contrasts.

Dogtown’s gameplay design excels due to its verticality. V navigates ramshackle stairwells and construction scaffolding, encouraging players to climb and explore higher points in the district. The area urges players to scale elevated structures, ensuring a more immersive experience rather than merely sprinting through the surroundings.

Conclusion

Phantom Liberty is a brilliant addition to the world of Cyberpunk 2077, with the intriguing narrative and exciting missions playing to the game’s strengths perfectly. Add to that the fact that the recently released 2.0 update has brought an impressive evolution to the core gameplay experience and it’ll be easy to see that Cyberpunk 2077 is better than ever right now.

Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty is available now as paid DLC for Cyberpunk 2077 owners for €29.99 on PC, Xbox Series X|S and PS5.

REVIEW: Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty
  • Story
  • Gameplay
  • Visuals
4.7

Summary

Phantom Liberty is a brilliant addition to the world of Cyberpunk 2077, with the intriguing narrative and exciting missions playing to the game’s strengths perfectly.

John Reilly

John is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheEffect.Net. His favourite gaming series is Uncharted and his favourite film is Interstellar. He is also known to quote 'Father Ted' and Keith Lemon more than is normal. John@theeffect.net