During Gamescom Opening Night Live 2023, a new Cyberpunk 2077 trailer premiered that serves as both a sneak peek at the game’s upcoming Phantom Liberty DLC expansion and also a chance to reflect on how far the open-world RPG has come since its disastrous launch in late 2020.
The game that is available to play now on PS5, Xbox Series X and PC is hugely different from the one that launched on PS4 and Xbox One almost three years ago. But developer CD Projekt Red isn’t quite done with its efforts to redeem the reputation of its latest creation yet.
When Phantom Liberty lands next month, it will be paired with Update 2.0, which the Polish developer claims will “overhaul the entire game” and be made available for free to all owners of the base game. In fact, between the new expansion and this flagship update, Cyberpunk 2077 could finally become the game we were promised prior to its launch.
Phantom Liberty and the 2.0 update are set to release simultaneously on September 26 and will bring some seriously significant changes to the game. So, if you skipped Cyberpunk 2077 the first time around, or are just itching to give the RPG a second chance, here’s what you can expect when Phantom Liberty launches next month.
Redesigned skill tree and perks
Perhaps the single biggest change is a complete redesign of Cyberpunk’s skill tree and perk system. In the base game, V’s upgrades were primarily percentage increases for various stats. However, in Update 2.0, the skill tree will consist of more tangible character enhancements including new abilities such as being able to air dash or pick up the bodies and toss them at your enemies just like in Crackdown.
Plus, there will also be new “Relic” abilities as well. These are exclusive to Phantom Liberty — whereas the skill tree rework is applicable to the base game as well — and will give you access to seriously powerful upgrades like the ability to pounce on enemies with your Mantis Blades or turn your Gorilla Arms in a massive earthquake producing hammers.
New police system
Cyberpunk’s police system was much maligned at launch with dozens of internet memes springing up at the expense of the game’s teleporting cops. Update 2.0 will at long last rework the game’s police AI and make getting a wanted level a genuinely white-knuckle experience.
The NCPD (Night City Police Department) will now react more realistically to any crimes you commit and will give chase if you attempt to invade arrest. This will involve setting up roadblocks to halt your speedy getaway, and even calling in a specialist MaxTac if you cause too much criminal chaos. So be careful you don’t fall on the wrong side of the law, because you’ll have a much tougher time escaping your pursuers now.
Buying new vehicles was a pretty large part of the original Cyberpunk 2077 experience, but despite having a plethora of slick wheels at your disposal, the driving aspect of the game always felt a tad underdeveloped. Update 2.0 is looking to improve that by adding dynamic car chases to the game, and also giving you the ability to fire a weapon while driving.
Plus, Phantom Liberty will introduce new vehicles that have various armaments mounted to their exterior, so it seems that vehicular combat may play a role in the DLC missions. Plus, if you prefer a more civilized approach, V will also be able to hack other vehicles and even take control of pursuers in order to crash cars remotely.
New location and new missions
While Update 2.0 is aiming to rework many of Cyberpunk’s core systems from the skill tree to enemy AI, Phantom Liberty is bringing what many existing players desperately crave: more content.
This seemingly sizeable DLC expansion will add a new area to the game’s already fairly large city. Known as Dogtown, it’s located within the Pacifica district of Night City and is a walled-off section of the Megapolis teeming with danger. Naturally, V doesn’t hesitate when given the opportunity to venture into the city’s deadliest district. And, while there, the merc-for-hire must recover the President of the New United States of America who has gone missing in the area.
Phantom Liberty will come with a new main story campaign and will introduce new allies and enemies. Plus, it’ll also pack a host of new side activities and optional quests to undertake. It’ll also feature a new character played by Idris Elba which is a killer selling point itself.
The perfect time to play Cyberpunk 2077
The one-two punch of Update 2.0 and Phantom Liberty makes September the ideal time to take a trip to Night City. There was a lot to love about Cyberpunk 2077 even at launch, but its numerous strengths were overshadowed by a tidal wave of technical issues and several systems that were poorly implemented.
Credit to CDPR who have spent the last three years working hard to patch the game into a stable state, and also rework critical aspects of the base game. At the same time, the developer has created a DLC expansion that will add even more content to a game already brimming with things to do. Even if you already played Cyberpunk 2077, Phantom Liberty is making a compelling case for returning to the seedy underworld of Night City.
Cyberpunk 2077 has enjoyed a much-deserved critical re-evaluation in recent months — thanks in part to the release of the excellent anime Cyberpunk: Edgerunners on Netflix — and the impending launch of Phantom Liberty could well put a fitting cap on one of gaming’s great redemption stories.