Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty – Cyberpunks Not Dead

REVIEW – When Space Force One crashes, NUSA President Rosalind Myers needs Night City’s best mercenary to help her get out of Dogtown alive before local warlord Kurt Hansen kills her, potentially causing an international incident. Songbird, an FIA agent and confidant of the President, thinks V is the right person for the job and also promises a cure for the Soulkiller, but of course it’s never that simple. Dogtown is a dangerous place, but the new allies pose an even greater threat. Will you be brave enough to save the President and yourself? Or does the cure only mean a bullet in the brain?



Our first trip to Night City was far from ideal. Many of you have experienced it, others have just heard the stories: horrible bugs, NPCs with outstretched arms, stuck, unfinishable missions, a sea of glitches, flying cars – and not the Blade Runner kind, the list goes on. Cyberpunk 2077 (2020) initially launched in a state that outraged every gamer – the game was clearly unfinished, and the rush to release came at the expense of the creators.

Fast forward two years, and here’s the 1.5 update. There are still a lot of bugs, but it now resembles the initial state of most contemporary AAA games. It’s still not ideal, but we’re getting there. Today, 2077 has been completely overhauled with the 2.0 update, released alongside the first expansion, Phantom Liberty. This is not the same game that debuted at the end of 2020, so before we dive into the spy thriller DLC, we need to explore the new features in Night City.



Returning to my old hero


Continuing the adventures with the same character with which I first ventured into the night of Night City (although you can start with a new character along with all these updates), it’s pretty easy to see the changes, even if they take some getting used to. All of my level advancements (approaching 50) have been reset, so I had to redistribute my stats and unlock abilities from the revamped trees. Your stats determine how much you can access from the ability trees, with a maximum of 20, you can reach the top of any tree – provided you have grabbed the necessary abilities along the way.

The individual perks are much more exciting, as they also unlock abilities that change the way you play the game. Of course, there are still some that are basic stat tweaks or simply reduce rifle recoil by one percent, but ones like Focus slow down the time it takes to aim certain weapons, allowing you to get that critical headshot at the cost of some stamina. Another ability resets the Focus timer with each headshot. Combine that with Gag Order, which delays other enemies’ alerts once you’ve spotted an enemy when attacking them, and Sensory Protocol, which slows down the time it takes to sense the new relic tree, and you’ve effectively made V invisible – assuming you can land consecutive headshots before being noticed.



Changes and choices


Sure, it feels a lot better to create a brand-new build, and even though I finished the DLC at level 57, I didn’t get to try every perk I wanted to. In the future, I’d like to create a melee character that approaches enemies with my katana, deflects bullets with it, and initiates quick strikes to take them out with a single blow when I get there. I’ve played the game three times over the years, and each time it felt very similar, but this change makes the game much more interesting, more like a role-playing game than a first-person shooter.

In the DLC, you won’t find much loot from the enemies you kill. You can get their weapons, get development shards for some quick EXP in a certain playstyle, and craft materials, but your cyberware is what really matters. It’s no longer your clothes that define your defense; it’s your chrome – along with the rest of your playstyle. You can install a Cyberdeck for some handy quick hacks, or opt for the Sandevistan OS upgrade to slow down time. During kills, you can get a vitality burst, transform your arms into dual mantis blades, unlock the double jump, and much more. Of course, your body can only handle so much cyberware without the necessary perks, levels, and street cred, so you’ll often have to tweak this system to stay on top of things. The developers have done a good job with sensible choices, as you can’t have everything everywhere – there’s no room for it.

The combat hasn’t changed much from a gameplay perspective, but the core systems and everything we just discussed around it, indeed have. You’ll notice that sprinting no longer consumes stamina, which is now used almost exclusively for attacking – both melee and ranged. Even if there’s still ammo in the magazine, without stamina, you won’t be able to deal as much damage. Of course, you can refine this at higher levels, either with more general endurance or by consuming less, but considering your limitations, you’ll need to devise a strategy, often taking cover and reloading when your stamina is low. You can’t just tank everything and survive by stacking healing items either. Besides grenades, there’s a bunch of healing gear with quite a significant cooldown (until you can use it again). This makes Night City much, much more dangerous with criminals confronting you at most street corners, whether on foot or attacking on various cars and bikes, along with crimes and police brutality.


A Cyberpunk 2077 ideiglenesen letilt egy hasznos funkciót egy teljesen más CD Projekt Red játékkal kapcsolatos okokból. Cyberpunk 2077 Xbox Game Pass


My name is V, just V


After you complete a certain part of the story, you receive a call from Songbird. They take you to Dogpit to save the president in an adrenaline-pumping, action-packed opening – which resembles a traditional FPS more than an RPG – but afterward, the events calm down a bit and you can immerse yourself in a spy story filled with various investigations and mysteries. During a part of the mission, you lose contact with Songbird, and your next task as a CIA spy rookie is to find them – after all, they still have your cure. Together with your agent colleagues Solomon Reed (Idris Elba) and Alex Xenakis, you need to track down So Mi “Songbird” (Christine Chang). During the exciting spy story, you encounter many twists and turns, making part of it a spy thriller, yet the whole game remains distinctly Cyberpunk.

In the center of Phantom Liberty indeed are the characters, and my most urgent questions during the game are less about where Songbird is, but more about whether these “incredibly sympathetic” people will backstab for their country. It’s impossible to know whom to trust, and I questioned every decision, even after the additional credit points, and even after the new ending of the base game. (Which feels both grindingly annoying and emotionally shocking at the same time. I will never get over this emotionally). Cyberpunk 2077 clearly has a unique message, but it took a while until I truly experienced it. Phantom Liberty, although a standalone story, feels like an extension of these themes and ideas, and as a result, this message is particularly strong here too.”

Of course, not everyone is as “emotional” as I am, and the events and gameplay of Phantom Liberty are still fascinating. You’ll be playing in high stakes, trying to keep a few netrunners talking without arousing suspicion, and assuming someone else’s identity to trick Hansen without him noticing. You can really feel like a real super spy… Not “Bond, James Bond” but “simply” V, the super hacker turned spy.


A Cyberpunk 2077 Phantom Liberty kritikáiból sugárzik az az elismerés, amit a CDPR hányattatott sorsú játéka végül is kiharcolt magának...


Dogtown, the Roughest Part of Night City?


The new area, Dogtown, although not very expansive, is densely populated, showcasing a much more unique aesthetic compared to the majority of the cyberpunk genre, which often fetishizes Japanese aesthetics (the base Cyberpunk 2077 is particularly “guilty” of this). Dogtown rather evokes a futuristic, at times dilapidated, post-apocalyptic yet in other places ultramodern Vegas, embellished with casinos, hotels, and neon lights. Unfortunately, except for the ruins and the stadium, the area is quite flat, which makes transportation less thrilling compared to the multi-layered cities found in other parts of the game, but its relatively small size means you won’t be driving long stretches.

Nonetheless, I adore its aesthetic, and find the missions here much more substantial than the base game’s missions. Mr. Hands quickly became my favorite fixer, primarily because the jobs he provides are genuinely interesting. I’ve been an international assassin at a funeral, assisted a few Brazilian spies in uncovering a conspiracy, helped an addict out of a BD-induced personality change, saved some foolish, corrupt cops from a pickle in a mission reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino’s films, and participated in many other intriguing tasks. Every element of Phantom Liberty is meticulously crafted, making every single second enthralling.

Yet, there are still some glitches that need to be addressed. After all, what would Night City be without a cyberpsycho emerging from the ground, obsessively wanting to kill you every now and then, or a pedestrian who comfortably walks over your parked car as if nothing happened? So, bugs are still present, but the situation is much better than before. Regarding stability: I tested the game on Xbox Series X and although I missed out on the maxed-out path tracing – in fact, the latest update dialed back even the basic ray tracing – the visuals are still captivating. The menu system is somewhat chaotic at times, which manifests when you visit a ripper, install a new cyberdeck, and can’t retrieve your software because the button that should open that submenu instead closes it. Once, I picked up a unique sniper rifle, but it only appeared in the inventory after a quick save and reload. It’s also worth mentioning that although the acting is still excellent (Keanu Reeves is even better than before, the star: not to mention Idris Elba) there are still awkward pauses in certain dialogues, or instances where multiple characters speak at once. Some of these are bugs, others probably just clumsiness.



Too Much Loading and Sometimes We Too Spend Much Time Doing Nothing


There are numerous minor issues that distract, but the biggest problem that arises during the main mission is the length of loading times while staring at the loading screen – at least on Xbox Series X. I also tested the game on Steam Deck, where the real issue was the fps drop that occurred after the latest update.

On the other hand, due to the story, sometimes you have to wait a while for the events to progress. Although at certain points in the story, “things work out” in a way that you have to do some side missions for a while, but these quickly ran out for me. Near the end of one mission, I had to wait about 5 in-game days for things to progress, and that’s simply too much.

Nevertheless, the frustrations fade next to the incredible cyberpunk role-playing experience. Although theoretically this is the only expansion for 2077, it’s a great pity because I’d love to see more, but this is an excellent addition to the base game. The narrative surrounding Cyberpunk 2077 finally feels complete here. From the roughest beginnings to a completely reworked and fuller game, it was a great journey with CD Projekt Red. Nice job, cyberpunks.



+ Fascinating main story
+ Reworked RPG game mechanics with lots of options
+ Great aesthetics


– Still wrong
– Too many charging
– Sometimes the story stops, you have to wait for it to move on

Publisher: CD Projekt

Developer: CD Projekt RED

Style: Action-RPG/Adventure

Release: September 26, 2023.

Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty

Gameplay - 9.2
Graphics - 9.4
Story - 9.2
Music/Audio - 9.4
Ambience - 9.4



Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty represents the best of the game. The main mission is tense and exciting, with amazing characters portrayed by fantastic actors, and twists at every corner. Each mission offers something unique and interesting, including the side missions. Dogtown is fearsome, captivating, uniquely beautiful, and deadly.

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BadSector is a seasoned journalist for more than twenty years. He communicates in English, Hungarian and French. He worked for several gaming magazines – including the Hungarian GameStar, where he worked 8 years as editor. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our impressum)

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