I told myself when I got my new rig, almost 3 years ago now, that I’d revisit Cyberpunk 2077 to see if the combination of patches and more horsepower would make the experience better. Long story short, it didn’t, so I uninstalled it and went on my merry way. The news about it’s generally improving state kept coming my way, the combination of mods, patches and newer hardware generations making it something that was probably worth revisiting. Enter the Phantom Liberty DLC, the culmination of the redemption arc that CD Projekt Red has been on the for the last 3 years. This is the game that we were all hoping for on release, it just took its time getting to us.

Phantom Liberty picks up part way through the main campaign where you’re contacted out of the blue by someone calling themselves Songbird. She tells you that the president’s transport, Space Force One, has been hacked and is gunning for the lawless part of Night City: Dogtown. The deal? She’s got access to a cure to the Relic that’s eating away at your brain so if you save her, and the president, you can continue to live to fight another day. Like everything in Night City everything is not as it seems with this bargain and you’ll dig up your share of ghosts following the trail that Songbird has set out for you. So what about it choom?

Visually the game is much the same, but the optimisations and bug fixes make it a much more streamlined experience overall. It still took a couple tweaks to get everything running consistently smoothly as both the in-game and GeForce Experience optimisations seem to think my rig is much more capable than it actually is. This in turn makes many parts of the game feel a whole lot better as you’re not battling random FPS drops, something that was all to common before. The environments of Dogtown are more closed in with a rundown aesthetic which is a shift away from the bright, open neon world that the original game went with. I’m sure this also helps with keeping frame rates steady too.

Phantom Liberty brings a raft of changes with it with all the ones I was aware of being a positive for the game experience. The talent tree has been completed reworked and your points refunded, enabling you to rebuild your character from the ground up. The relic now has its own talent tree with a separate progression system, adding a little bit more flavour and build variety. Armor and cyberware have been shaken up as well, defocusing the former to prioritise the latter. Vehicle combat is now a thing, along with associated talents to go along with it. Finally the enemy AI has undergone an overhaul, although depending on your build that might not be entirely noticeable. Whilst these changes might be enough to tempt some to start with a completely new playthrough I wasn’t one of them and honestly I don’t feel like there was much I was missing out on. There’s certainly enough content in Phantom Liberty by itself to make it worth playing from your favourite save.

Logging into Cyberpunk again after so long it took me quite a while to get my bearings with everything, not least of which was due to my absolutely bonkers build I’d finished up with. Not the good kind of bonkers mind you, it was clear that I’d found a couple good weapons and simply built quality of life talents around them. So based off the talents I liked I went with a katana build and instantly I was having a lot more fun. It was just absolutely hilarious how quickly I could dive into combat, take out basically all the enemies I could see, then just hoof it back out of there while I figured out where the rest of them were. It also didn’t take long for the sandevistian to go from an absolute necessity to a simple “oh shit” button when I needed it, the amount of health regen I’d get from slapping fools around was enough even when I was being deliberately dumb.

The changes to the amour and cyberware systems are a welcome change too as I didn’t really look into the latter at all during my original playthrough. This time around though it was much clearer the options I had available, what would work with my build and what was needed to get that next power spike. The good news here is that the whole system is designed to grow with you as an organic part of game play, I.E. if you just go about your business doing missions, side quests or whatever you’ll be moving the needle in some way towards the next upgrades. Need more augment points for that next bit of cyberware? No worries, go level up. Feeling like you’ve topped out your current build? Again, go and level up, those next tier of mods will become instantly available once you crest the required level. As someone who was pretty under levelled going into this (like, 21ish from memory) this new progression system actually felt meaningful, enough so that I did a bunch of missions I’d usually skip just because I knew it’d get me to that next upgrade I was chasing.

Going a katana build puts netrunner perks and builds out of reach however, which is something I was relying on quite a bit in my original playthrough. I’d be interested to hear people’s thoughts on how that plays out now as it seems that it’s much more action oriented rather than it’s stealth bent it had previously. That and stealth too as swinging a katana around isn’t exactly about subtly.

Glitches and bugs are way, way down on what they were originally but a few still pop up from time to time. Thankfully they’re more in the hilarious/weird category rather than game breaking, a kind of cheeky reminder that this is a huge game and it’s not really possible to chase all the ghosts away. It also now feels like the broken builds are more intentional than emergent, I.E. the developers know what’s good and have put those items there for you to exploit to their fullest. Whilst this does mean it’s relatively easy to drain the challenge out of the game that doesn’t detract from those still being an incredible amount of fun.


The narrative stuck with me a lot more than the original did, the shared, platonic journey you have with Songbird serving as a great core narrative element to build around. Whilst the choices presented to you didn’t feel as morally troubled as say Armored Core VI‘s were they still felt meaningful. The endings too felt deserved as well, depending on the choices you made. For what it’s worth I’ve found myself among a very small minority of players who decided to send Song away, something I was expecting to be a more popular option. Reading up into the other endings though I’m still happy with my choices and, given the ending I previously chose it feels inline with the V I had curated.


Cyberpunk 2077 Phantom Liberty is the redemption arc we didn’t know we wanted. It redeemed the developer in spades, turned a once garbage game great and now serves as a reminder that games can get better. It’s the kind of DLC I like, ones that are akin to the expansions of yore, that brought with them whole new experiences making the game worth coming back to. With the bar that CD Projekt Red set with this one though it’s a shame we won’t see another as this has me wanting so much more from this universe. I’ll have to be content with another instalment in the Witcher IP.

Rating: 9.5/10

Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty is available on PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S right now for $44.95. Game was played on the PC with a total of 21 hours spent in Phantom Liberty and 45 hours overall with 38% of the achievements unlocked.

About the Author

David Klemke

David is an avid gamer and technology enthusiast in Australia. He got his first taste for both of those passions when his father, a radio engineer from the University of Melbourne, gave him an old DOS box to play games on.

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