Since its disastrous launch in 2020, developer CD Projekt Pink has delivered essential updates to Cyberpunk 2077 to align it extra intently to the unique imaginative and prescient, however Phantom Liberty, coupled with the free Replace 2.0, is its greatest but. This new enlargement trades within the high-octane mercenary vibes of Cyberpunk 2077 for a extra subdued spy thriller, and gives a well-made trove of latest methods to expertise Evening Metropolis. The enlargement options an important forged of personalities, all well-performed, even when some are underused. Interacting with these characters throughout new gigs and jobs within the added Dogtown district is sweet enjoyable all through. Just a few twists and turns, narratively and mechanically, make Phantom Liberty really feel distinctive inside the broader swath of tales to expertise in Cyberpunk 2077.
Regardless of all that, the brand new ending to V’s journey added by Phantom Liberty steals the present, distilling the essence of the cyberpunk sci-fi style into an emotionally charged message of what it means to exist on this dystopia.
After Rosalind Myers, president of the New United States of America, crash lands in Evening Metropolis’s Dogtown, V is contacted by netrunner Songbird to save lots of her. Doing so will not be straightforward as Dogtown is managed by Kurt Hansen, a former NUSA colonel with ties to Myers and her operation, and his personal military. And that is why Myers asks you to get the assistance of Solomon Reed, a former NUSA spy performed by Idris Elba. Given their historical past, the connection between Reed and Myers, their data of Hansen, and some different characters launched in Phantom Liberty, it does not take lengthy for the enlargement’s spy net to be spun.
This net brings the twists, turns, and surprises I anticipated out of a spy thriller, and whereas I used to be not often caught utterly off guard, I nonetheless loved following its varied paths. However the enjoyment I obtained out of Phantom Liberty’s narrative was much less concerning the precise beats and extra about how they turned Cyberpunk 2077’s gameplay on its head. Phantom Liberty does not drive any gameplay strategy on you, however it closely nudges you into stealth and reinforces that with varied new weapons and mechanics.
I beloved relying totally on a silenced pistol to weave out and in of canopy and enemy sightlines. And I beloved secretly interrogating topics so I may then turn into them utilizing particular masking expertise much more. Phantom Liberty succeeds most when it absolutely embraces the “spy” a part of its pitch.
The spy facet lends itself properly to the roleplay of Phantom Liberty, too. Whereas the few setpiece shootouts are memorable, I am going to keep in mind most fondly the time I spent analyzing a goal’s persona whereas enjoying roulette, guiding Reed by way of an enemy-infested hideout by way of the lens of a sniper, and sneaking into an airport.
Exterior my spy escapades, I loved Phantom Liberty’s new gigs and jobs, whether or not securing airdropped packages full of helpful loot, delivering a automobile throughout city, or partaking with Evening Metropolis’s eccentric residents all through varied aspect missions. That each one of this, and a lot of the important story, is housed inside the new Dogtown district, which mixes Vegas-esque low cost luxurious with vertical slums, is one other plus.
Just a few cases of synthetic padding, like ready a day for Reed to name V, typically threatened the in any other case thrilling and tense tempo of Phantom Liberty, however it admittedly pushed me to discover extra of the enlargement’s aspect choices (and that was in all probability the purpose). By the point I rolled credit, it felt like I had simply skilled a brand new 007 or Mission: Unattainable film starring V.
The spotlight of my time with Phantom Liberty, nevertheless, arrived as a brand new prolonged ending to V’s narrative in Cyberpunk 2077. Attending to this ending compelled me to take Phantom Liberty’s story in a path I did not like, however what awaited me was value it after which some, packing a superb narrative punch to the story of this enlargement and the bottom recreation. The brand new ending is reflective, heartfelt and heartbreaking, and a very good distillation of why the cyberpunk style exists within the first place.
Phantom Liberty succeeds as one other 20 hours of nice journey in Evening Metropolis and, coupled with Cyberpunk 2077’s new Replace 2.0, a end result of three years of laborious work. It makes a robust case for a return to Evening Metropolis for knowledgeable mercs and rolls out the purple carpet for CDPR to showcase to newcomers all it is finished to enhance Cyberpunk 2077. From a disastrous launch in 2020 to now, CDPR has lastly made good on the promise of this futuristic, dystopian RPG. Whereas Phantom Liberty does not stand head and shoulders above the remainder of the Cyberpunk package deal, it slots in properly, like a preem piece of cyberware you’ve been ready to be in inventory.