Is Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty Worth It?
It’s been quite the journey since CD Projekt Red first unleashed Cyberpunk 2077 onto the gaming world almost three years ago. Amidst all the controversies, patches, and updates, the big question has always been: Can Cyberpunk 2077 make a comeback? Can it redeem itself and win over the hearts of those who were once so eager to dive into Night City?
Well, it might not be able to erase the initial sky-high expectations, but Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty feels like a fitting farewell for this beleaguered yet captivating RPG.
Phantom Liberty is the sole expansion CD Projekt Red has released for Cyberpunk 2077, and it arrives alongside a significant 2.0 update. These two pieces of the puzzle come together in crucial ways. The 2.0 update addresses many of the game’s notorious flaws, while Phantom Liberty injects a burst of fresh content through its campaign, new quests, and the introduction of the vibrant Dogtown area.
Spy Thrills and Cosmic Spills
Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty embraces the spy thriller genre and nails it. The story kicks off with a netrunner named Songbird (played by Christine Minji Chang) contacting V, informing them that they’re in possession of the President of the NUSA, whose ship, Space Force One, is on the verge of crashing right into the heart of Dogtown.
This tale weaves into Cyberpunk 2077’s existing narrative, where V, an up-and-coming mercenary, is grappling with the soul-stealing Relic in their head that’s gradually erasing their consciousness and replacing it with the essence of Johnny Silverhand. CD Projekt Red justifies this escapade with a simple yet effective carrot on a stick: Songbird possesses knowledge about the Relic and promises a cure in exchange for V’s assistance in rescuing NUS President Rosalind Myers.
Dogtown, however, is far from a serene location. It’s a walled-off Combat Zone unofficially governed by former NUS colonel Kurt Hansen. Chaos reigns here, with explosions, gunfire, and even a colossal mech battle thrown into the mix. V soon finds themselves holed up with the President, searching for an escape route, which they find in the form of former master spy Solomon Reed (portrayed by Idris Elba).
What follows is a compelling spy tale, filled with double-crosses, lingering tension among spies and operatives, and V caught right in the middle of it all. The opening is action-packed, refusing to let off the throttle for several missions. But it’s the conclusion of Phantom Liberty that steals the show, with gut-wrenching decisions, epic set pieces, and a deep dive into the lives of battle-hardened soldiers questioning their sacrifices.
Characters Shine Bright
Solomon Reed and Songbird particularly shine in these moments, with Idris Elba and Christine Minji Chang delivering exceptional performances. Songbird, in particular, became a standout character in Cyberpunk 2077 ‘s universe, holding her own even against the game’s stellar companions. Elba, initially feeling understated, gains more depth as tensions escalate. Both actors add gravitas to the dramatic moments and monologues within Phantom Liberty.
Keanu Reeves returns as Johnny Silverhand for the expansion, delivering a solid performance and offering compelling insights into his history as an NUS deserter. The ever-present conflict and the impact of years of service in the shadow of their flag resonate strongly.
In the Midst of Night City
However, some of Cyberpunk 2077’s historical issues make a comeback. The middle portion of Phantom Liberty falls into the pacing trap of “waiting for a call.” Several times, the story abruptly halts, which, while potentially a signal to engage in other open-world activities, can be jarring.
Fortunately, Dogtown offers a wealth of activities to keep you engaged. It’s a bustling area, thanks to several new elements introduced by CD Projekt Red. One notable addition is airdrops: when a ship drops a crate of goods along with a red smoke signal, it’s an opportunity for savvy mercs like V to swoop in, fend off other would-be raiders, and claim the supplies for themselves.
These encounters aren’t overly complex, and depending on your level, they may be a bit too easy. Nevertheless, airdrops provide a consistent source of cash, components, shards, and high-tier gear. It’s reminiscent of Destiny’s loot system, adding a layer of loot-hunting excitement to the game.
Weapon Arsenal and Combat
Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty introduces an impressive arsenal of weapons, especially for endgame players. Some of these weapons encourage different playstyles, promoting variety in combat tactics. The “Her Majesty” silenced pistol and a tech sniper rifle, for example, provide options for stealthier approaches. Combat overall feels more refined and diverse, making it a more satisfying experience than just a straightforward shooter.
Side quests in Phantom Liberty also shine, offering well-paced, contained stories that delve into some of the more intriguing aspects of Cyberpunk’s dystopian world. They’re well-written and provide follow-up content after they’re completed.
An Additional Ending
In addition to the expansion’s conclusion, CD Projekt Red introduces a new ending specifically tied to a choice made near the end of Phantom Liberty. While the expansion has its own ending and resolution, this extra ending adds another layer of depth to the game’s overarching narrative. It’s a tantalizing option for returning players, marking a bittersweet conclusion to V and Johnny’s journey and the entire Cyberpunk 2077 saga.
A New Perspective on Night City
Phantom Liberty is closely tied to the 2.0 update, which reworks the game’s skill trees, offering fewer incremental upgrades and more impactful perks. This refreshing approach makes character progression feel more substantial and interactive, encouraging players to experiment with different playstyles.
Night City continues to impress with its visuals and sounds, maintaining its allure. However, some bugs still persist, although they are less game-breaking than in the past.
In the end, Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty, in conjunction with the 2.0 update, marks a significant step toward redemption for the game. While it may not fully erase the turbulent history of its launch, it’s in a state where CD Projekt Red can confidently move forward.
Phantom Liberty serves as a satisfying expansion, offering a gripping spy thriller, memorable characters, and a fresh perspective on Night City. It feels like a fitting farewell to Cyberpunk 2077, leaving us curious about what CD Projekt might have in store for this adapted world in the future.