Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty review for Xbox Series X, PS5, PC

Platform: Xbox Series X
Also On: PS5, PC
Publisher: CD Projekt Red
Developer: CD Projekt Red
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

I think most of us are aware at this point that Cyberpunk 2077 was sort of a mess when it originally launched in 2020. I reviewed the game on Xbox One/Series X at the time, and while I don’t think I encountered nearly as many technical issues as some folks did, I also wasn’t completely enamored with the game either. Since 2020, developer CD Projekt Red has continued to patch, update, and introduce new elements into the base game. With each update it seems like public support for the title has grown, and every time there was a sizeable improvement I told myself I’d give it another shot, but never really found the time to do so.

At least until now, with the release of Cyberpunk 2077’s expansion Phantom Liberty. Introducing a new zone to the game in the form of Dogtown, Phantom Liberty also comes in hot on the heels of Cyberpunk 2077’s big 2.0 update, which overhauls the skill and perk system into something that feels infinitely better than the original experience in my opinion. Perks are more meaningful and varied, running cyberware is more engaging and fun, and they even managed to improve car combat, traversal, and other functions that have made Cyberpunk 2077 feel like a different, and much better experience, than the original release.

It also helps that Phantom Liberty is a top tier expansion too. The storyline is great, and kicks off with a bang, introducing you to the new zone and a mission to rescue the President of the New United States of America who has crash-landed in what is essentially the seediest, most lawless zone in Night City. You’ll be introduced to some of the most memorable side characters, like Songbird and Solomon Reed, the latter of which is portrayed by Stringer Bell himself, Idris Elba. There’s a number of new side missions and gigs, which are more thoughtout and intriguing than a lot of the base game content. There’s also new vehicles, a whole lot of new and unique clothing options, and the end of Phantom Liberty can have some impact on the overall ending of the base game depending on the path you choose.

I initially rolled a new character and had intended to play through the early parts of Cyberpunk 2077 in order to reach the new expansion, but quickly realized I’d have to play through a significant portion of the game in order to get there, so I eventually abandoned that idea. Phantom Liberty does give you the option to create a new character and jump into the expansion more or less right away if you want, but since I still had a save prior to the end of the original game I went back to my first version of V and jumped into Phantom Liberty from there. Honestly any of these three options are fine if you’re either a returning player, or new to the game overall. If you’ve been away from the game for a bit you’ll likely have to get acclimated to the new perk/skill system, but outside of that, Phantom Liberty does a pretty good job with onboarding you either way.

So, if you’re like me, and were initially a little lukewarm on Cyberpunk 2077, then definitely give Phantom Liberty and the new 2.0 patch a shot. It makes for a much better experience overall, and the Phantom Liberty storyline is a blast to playthrough. This gives me a lot of hope for what the next entry in this series will end up being, and has reignited my interest in a possible follow-up in a way that I didn’t think was possible.

Note: CD Projekt Red provided us with a Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty DLC code for review purposes.

Score: 9