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Cyberpunk 2077

Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty Hands-on Impressions - Returning to Night City

We've been hands-on with CD Projekt Red's first and final expansion for Cyberpunk 2077 all at Summer Game Fest in Los Angeles.

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There's no denying that despite its major woes at launch, over the past few years, Cyberpunk 2077 has grown to become a great reflection of the gritty RPG CD Projekt Red originally promised. The constant cycle of updates, patches, bug fixes, and improvements by the Polish powerhouse have turned a once catastrophically received title into a very comprehensive and thrilling experience, and in the upcoming Phantom Liberty expansion, the one and only expansion for Cyberpunk 2077, we're seemingly getting more of just that.


As part of CD Projekt Red's appearance at Summer Game Fest Play Days in Los Angeles, I had the opportunity to play a chunk of the promised expansion to see how it is looking to bolster Cyberpunk 2077. The gameplay I got to test revolved around a portion of the story where V is tasked with rescuing a high value person, NUS President Myers, and then working with this very individual to help defeat a growing and dangerous faction. Unlike the vast majority of the base game, Phantom Liberty isn't about gang warfare or surviving the urban metropolis of Night City, no this expansion presents a tale of espionage, and this is precisely where Idris Elba's character of Solomon Reed comes into play.

Reed is a sleeper agent that previously served for a spy agency known as the FIA. However, he has been dark and inactive for years, and it's only with this growing threat in mind that he's returning to action. Alike Keanu Reeves' Johnny Silverhand, Elba's Reed is a compelling and scene-stealing character that makes you want to keep playing to see how his story unfolds. And speaking of Reeves and Silverhand, the fan-favourite character is back in Phantom Liberty as the mentally-invasive sidekick you didn't ask for but couldn't live without.

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In terms of the gameplay in Phantom Liberty, this isn't a whole lot different to what we're familiar with in the base Cyberpunk 2077 game. The gunplay and build-crafting works similarly, and the enemies and bosses, some of which are new foes, provide plenty of targets to shoot at or punch/slice when getting up close and personal. Fortunately, Phantom Liberty does have a few other additions up its sleeves, including the entirely new explorable region of Dogtown.

This slum-like area is one of the most rundown parts of Night City, and because of this, you can expect to come across all manner of scum. As this is Cyberpunk 2077, the way your character has been designed can allow you to talk your way out of some conflicts, but if the passive route isn't your cup of tea, violence is always an available option. Aside from having the main espionage-themed story set in Dogtown, the region also brings a bunch of new side quests and activities to crack on with, each presenting another way to extend and continue your Cyberpunk journey. While I only got to experience a slither of Phantom Liberty, it was pretty clear that this expansion won't be a minor or concise one.

Then of course comes the typical expansion additions of new weapons, abilities (set in an entire new skill tree), and Cyberware, all of which combine to allow V to further pick up and try some new playstyles. As the demo I tested was only short in comparison to the full Phantom Liberty expansion, it was difficult to tell just how impactful these will be on how Cyberpunk 2077 plays, but regardless, the extra additions are welcome.

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If you haven't had a chance to experience Cyberpunk 2077 yet, or have been unsure about the game following its launch, the work CD Projekt Red has put into the game leading up to this expansion has been such a monumental and successful effort that Cyberpunk 2077 is now a fabulous RPG. In a way, it's a shame that CD Projekt Red is wrapping up this game with Phantom Liberty, as it feels like the game that the Polish team wanted to deliver originally is finally here and now it's almost time to move onto the next one. Regardless of this however, if you are a Cyberpunk 2077 fan, Phantom Liberty is definitely not something you want to miss when it arrives on September 26.

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