Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty Review | A Shot At Redemption

88
Story
9
Gameplay
9
Visuals
9
Audio
8
Value for Money
9
Price:
$ 71
Clear Time:
12 Hours
The 2.0 update and the Phantom Liberty expansion gave the game a much-needed redemption arc from its disastrous launch back in 2020. It comes with big improvements to combat, skill systems, cyberware slotting, and more. The game feels like it's finally reached the point where it was initially promised back then and I’m fully glad that CD Projekt Red gave it the time and polish it so desperately needed.

Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty was released along with the 2.0 update which brought the game back to life from its less-than-desirable launch. Read our review to see what it did well, what it didn't do well, and if it's worth buying.

Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty Review Overview

Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty Pros & Cons

Pros Cons
Checkmark Vastly Improved Combat
Checkmark More Impactful Progression
Checkmark Emotionally Gripping Story
Checkmark Story May Be Confusing At Times
Checkmark Getting Hit Isn’t Clear

Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty Overall - 88/100

The 2.0 update and the Phantom Liberty expansion gave the game a much-needed redemption arc from its disastrous launch back in 2020. It comes with big improvements to combat, skill systems, cyberware slotting, and more. The game feels like it's finally reached the point where it was initially promised back then and I’m fully glad that CD Projekt Red gave it the time and polish it so desperately needed.

Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty Story - 9/10

The expansion’s story starts off with a bang. A dangerous premise and task was given to you and an even greater reward for you to be rid of your deadly condition. It all comes to a head as the characters and their motives will make you question your actions multiple times. The expansion even adds a brand-new ending available after finishing the expansion with the correct decisions as well as enhancing the main game’s already amazing story. It takes multiple inspirations from many spy-thrillers that it unapologetically is one. Missions that will have you guide an ally using a sniper, sneak into a party with disguises, and more tap into that “Bond-esque” side that Cyberpunk was honestly not offering too much of.

Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty Gameplay - 9/10

The expansion came with a complete overhaul of multiple systems in the game including combat, progression, and AI. With the new perk tree and cyberware changes, it feels like a completely new game with the upgrades that you can choose and you can clearly see the progression of how your character will play based on the perks and cyberware that you’ll upgrade and equip. The game used to be a cakewalk with unimpressive AI, a near-unlimited amount of healing via consumables, and more. Now, the AI makes moves to flank you all the time, healing is limited via cooldowns, and the stamina changes become a balancing act since your movement options are limited by it. It’s definitely more challenging than before but never truly unfair, you can’t just steamroll everything as before and will have to use your tools to get through encounters.

Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty Visuals - 9/10

The game’s visuals have always been one of its strong points. It features a dark, dystopian, cyberpunk world which is probably one of the best depictions of what it could look like. The character designs and settings are amazing as the new location, Dogtown, is a little different than the original Night City as you would know. With sprawling streets, vibrant lights, and not-so-desirable goons, it's hard to not get distracted just by walking around.

Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty Audio - 8/10

The audio design of the game is fantastic. It amplifies uncomfortable and tense situations with amazing music and sound design. The game has a lot of range when it comes to music and is normally in theme during a playthrough. Where it falls flat however is some hiccups in voice acting. Don’t get me wrong, Idris Elba, Keanu Reeves, and Minji Chang all did a great job with their characters, but there is something to be said about some of their lines falling flat as a minor grievance throughout the game. It’s all overshadowed however by how great their performances are and how they make their characters come to life.

Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty Value for Money - 9/10

This update and expansion is absolutely worth it. Although it’s still slightly pricey at $70 including the additional content, the amount of new things and changes it offers makes it a great game to dive in. It is also a great option to wait for a sale as well, as being a relatively old game makes it go on sale often during big sale seasons. Night City will keep you busy for a long time and with its branching paths with different outcomes will have you replay it again and again.

Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty Review: A Shot at Redemption

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Cyberpunk 2077 promised a lot of things and some of those things were even blown out of proportion due to the community. However, the game definitely had one of the worst releases out there for a triple-A game ever back in 2020. Performance issues across platforms, numerous bugs, and even having Sony take the game off the PlayStation store due to the multitude of refunds people were asking for. CD Projekt Red persevered with additional updates, quality of life changes, and it all culminated into the successful package we have today. Additionally, the anime, Cyberpunk Edgerunners, also did a great job in introducing and renewing itself by telling people how good the storytelling and the world-building were despite its shortcomings with performance and bugs.

The Phantom Liberty update overhauled the skills, cyberware, and combat which turned it from a middling experience that lets you steamroll the opposition into a more calculated, well-paced, and amazing first-person RPG shooter. Without going too much into it, the combat is more challenging and feels fresher than before. The nerfs to healing items, stamina rework, and AI improvements makes combat a lot more challenging and fun as you now have to actually juggle your dodges and movement along with your limited healing in order to stay safe from opponents.

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The story of Phantom Liberty is more than meets the eye, and even then that initial setup is a massive bombshell. It transitions quickly from high-octane action to subtle spy thriller vibes with the different missions in the expansion. The events in the expansion will have you constantly questioning your morality and will blur the lines of what’s right or the correct thing to do. Even with the side missions, the game will constantly be in a moral gray area and will have you wondering if there ever was a happy ending to begin with.

All in all, Cyberpunk 2077 has redeemed itself with the Phantom Liberty expansion and 2.0 update. I think that it’s one of the must-play games of this decade, especially because the amount of variety in builds, choices, and outcomes leaves you wanting to play even more.

Pros of Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty

Things Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty Got Right
Checkmark Vastly Improved Combat
Checkmark More Impactful Progression
Checkmark Emotionally Gripping Story

Vastly Improved Combat

As I’ve already stated earlier the 2.0 update adds more nuance to the game rather than just a steamroll in the past. The new stamina rework will limit your shooting, dashing, and sprinting. It changes the way you fight enemies as it becomes a moment-to-moment thing since there’s a constant back-and-forth between fighting and recovering. Shooting drains your stamina per shot while dashing drains a whole chunk after one dodge. Having low stamina will increase the recoil of guns and will not allow you to dash and move freely so you will be forced to back and take cover from time to time. Of course, this can be changed by the new perk progression, but we’ll get to that later.

Healing has also been effectively nerfed since most of the encounters in the past can just be healed through without really caring much for the opposition. With the added cooldown and limited charges, healing is infinite but is only available after a cooldown. Which means you can’t heal through everything anymore without a care in the world.

The AI also attempts to flank you almost all the time now which is a big step up from the previous time where they would just stand still or stay in the same place for most of the fight. With the constant juggling between stamina, health, and the AI’s movements, the combat feels fresh and engaging for most of your playthrough.

More Impactful Progression

The recent changes to the skills and perk trees allow for a greater freedom of customization with the limits being the attributes of your character. The perk tree allows for experimentation and making specific builds has become a lot easier due to the simpler UI and progression of perks. Cyberware is now the determining factor for armor as well as other actions you can do. Before, you had to mix and match really bad-looking clothes to get higher armor, and now it's now dependent on the cyberware upgrades that you equip. Having different cyberware and perk combos completely changes the way you move and fight on the battlefield.

Emotionally Gripping Story

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This expansion is a great spy thriller inspired by many media that is part of the genre. More to this, CD Projekt Red has always been great at showing the consequences of your decisions and the storylines that play out based on these choices. Cyberpunk 2077 is no different as the Phantom Liberty story is a direct addition to the game and not a continuation of anything. It adds an additional ending but does not disrupt the flow of the entire game’s amazing storyline. The characters are great with how they’re fleshed out and introduced. It’s amazing how the game pushes you out of your comfort zone with some of the decisions you will have to make and subsequently, the characters make as well.

Cons of Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty

Things That Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty Can Improve
Checkmark Story May Be Confusing At Times
Checkmark Getting Hit Isn’t Clear

Story May Be Confusing At Times

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As good as the story may be, I will admit that it may be confusing to understand most of the things that the characters are saying. It’s no secret that the lore and story of Cyberpunk 2077 is convoluted and may need more "reading between the lines" involved, but it’s not a story where you can put down the game and still remember the events that have happened, at least to me.

Getting Hit Isn’t Clear

A common complaint about the gameplay of Cyberpunk 2077 is that getting hit isn’t clear. You might need to pay close attention to your health from time to time. It may just go from 100% to 40% quickly, but you don’t feel that your health is at a dangerous level until it gets supremely low.

Is Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty Worth It?

Yes. After years of updates and improvements, absolutely.

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The game has finally reached its peak performance and is now delivering what was initially promised to the millions of fans who were hyped back in 2020. It’s not totally perfect, but it’s a far cry from the failure it was back then. Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty is worth the price with the added bonus that it goes on sale quite often as well. The amount of content and variety is on par with some of the best RPG games of all time and it may be time for you to experience it yourself.

Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty Overview & Premise

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Return to Night City as cyber-mercenary V and embark on a high-stakes mission of espionage, intrigue, and action to save the NUSA President. Uncover the truth of a deadly plot and choose your allies carefully as your decisions will have consequences.

Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty FAQ

In Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty, how long does it take to finish the additional content?

The main story will take around 13 to 15 hours to beat and around 30 hours to 100%.

When do the events of Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty take place?

The expansion itself takes place in the middle of the events of the main story of Cyberpunk 2077. Some events like flashbacks take place around ten years before the start of the main game.

Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty Product Information

Cyberpunk 2077 Phantom Liberty Cover
Title CYBERPUNK 2077: PHANTOM LIBERTY
Release Date September 26, 2023
Developer CD PROJEKT RED
Publisher CD PROJEKT RED
Supported Platforms PC (Steam, GOG), PS5, Xbox Series X
Genre First-Person RPG
Number of Players 1
ESRB Rating 18+
Official Website Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty Website
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