Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty Hands-on Preview

Cyberpunk 2077’s one and only full-fledged expansion, Phantom Liberty, is scheduled to launch on September 26, 2023, bringing with it an intriguing spy-thriller that introduces Idris Elba as sleeper agent Solomon Reed. It also features a returning cast bannered by Keanu Reeves as Johnny Silverhand, along with new content that’s sure to bring a new experience to the game.

Ahead of its release, I got a chance to play 1 hour of the game during Summer Game Fest in Los Angeles, and it’s an expansion that definitely honors the base game while attempting to elevate the experience with excellent storytelling and engaging gameplay.

Disclaimer – 1 hour of gameplay was not enough to check and see all of the touted changes that CD Projekt Red has planned for the expansion that other previews have reported on. What you will read below is a more scaled-down experience based on limited playing time.

My gameplay session started me off in Dogtown, a new area added in the District of Pacifica. It’s a seedy and gritty area, off-limits to outsiders that will easily keep the weak of heart away. There’s a constant feeling that you’re not welcome, as this city is meant to exist outside of the established order of the world. Players will eventually get to explore the area, but for purposes of the demo, I sped through and focused solely on advancing the quest line.

Your character, V, makes a return, and you’re contacted by a highly-skilled netrunner called Songbird that requests a mission of you – rescue the president of the NUSA, Rosalind Myers, from a plane crash. As I head over to the crash site, I’m met with authorities that urged me to stay out of the area, prompting me to find another way in unless I go about guns blazing. Choice is ever so present in the game, and it still is here in the expansion, giving players the option to go about situations in their own way that can affect how things turn out.

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It’s obviously a big set piece that really sets the tone of the demo – explosive and intriguing, all while looking amazing. Playing it on a 4090-equipped PC really pushed the graphical fidelity of the game, especially with the path tracing options turned on. It’s something I can’t really give justice to by writing about it and definitely needs to be seen to be appreciated.

Myers then sets us up to get in touch with a sleeper agent named Solomon Reed, played by Idris Elba. The way I was supposed to get in touch with him was reminiscent of spy movies that really added coherence to the theme of the expansion, but due to the time limit, I hardly got to see Reed in action. With the few voice lines that I heard, Elba’s booming voice and presence are indeed present and really add another quality layer of strong performances by the cast in Phantom Liberty.

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Speaking of the cast, Keanu Reeves is back as Johnny Silverhand. Reeves doesn’t look to take part in a minor role in the Phantom Liberty expansion, as he will make his presence known with a lot of back-and-forth conversations with your character. Silverhand is looking to play a big role here, and it’ll be interesting to see how much more of the character we’ll get to learn about throughout this mission.

If you’ve played Cyberpunk 2077 before, you can expect most things to be familiar. As mentioned earlier, the Phantom Liberty expansion will see sweeping changes to many systems of the game, all of which I cannot really comment on at the moment, but the base experience of a first-person story-based open-world RPG is still there and if you loved that, you’ll be getting more in a few months.

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In fact, Phantom Liberty takes advantage of all of the improvements that Cyberpunk 2077 has made since it was first released. From all of the bug fixes and tweaks, players will be playing Phantom Liberty at its very best, and seeing how CD Projekt Red have poured their hearts into the game, we can expect nothing less of the expansion as it could essentially be the “final” version of Cyberpunk 2077 that was envisioned when it was released.

If you haven’t played the game yet, does playing it now to get set up before the Phantom Liberty expansion make sense? Due to all of the upcoming changes that the developers have in mind, it might be a wise option to just wait a bit more to soak in the full experience in September. Depending on how good (or bad) these new systems will be, we really can’t give a verdict on it yet. If there’s anything certain, it’s that Phantom Liberty is shaping up to be an absolutely essential addition to Cyberpunk 2077, and fans will not want to miss out.

Related – New Cyberpunk 2077 Game Announced
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Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty is scheduled to launch on September 26, 2023 for PS5, Xbox Series, and PC.

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