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20th Sep 2023

REVIEW: Phantom Liberty is the game that Cyberpunk 2077 should’ve been all along

Rory Cashin

Phantom Liberty

This might just be the coolest a video game has ever been.

Hot on the heels of another sci-fi action RPG, spending a few hours in the world of Phantom Liberty revealed something pretty much immediately: Starfield wants to be your friend, but Cyberpunk 2077 fucks. There is an indelible energy to getting lost in Night City that simply doesn’t exist in the majority of other games, one which was definitely present when the game first arrived in December 2020, but has been polished to a perfected sheen between the new 2.0 update and the unmissable DLC.

Taking place within the confines of the militia-run, walled-off Dogtown, which has a much more post-apocalyptic feel to it than the Blade Runner-esque aesthetic of the rest of the game, you control V as he’s given a brand new mission: protect the President of the New United States.

Yep, in a plot ripped directly out of Escape From New York, the President’s space shuttle has been shot down from the sky and has crash landed in the city. You’re contacted by the President’s leading hacker Songbird, who will hook you up with Solomon Reed (portrayed by Idris Elba), a former government agent who has been hiding out in Dogtown for years. And you’ve still got Johnny Silverhand (Keanu Reeves) along for the ride too, there to provide a sarcastic response to pretty much every single event you get involved with.

Phantom Liberty features Idris Elba and Keanu Reeves caught up in a futuristic government spy plot

Before you play the game, if you’ve already owned and played the original Cyberpunk 2077, make sure to download the 2.0 update, which will massively rejig the skills tree, as well as the overall visual capabilities within. Without wanting to ring that bell too much, this is absolutely the game that everyone expected when Cyberpunk first launched nearly three years ago.

The new and improved RPG elements give a complete overhaul to the gameplay style, while the Phantom Liberty addition provides 13 new main missions, 17 new side missions, as well as two endings to its own DLC story, as well as providing an alternative ending to the game overall.

By melding the worlds of hard sci-fi and political action thriller, Phantom Liberty makes you feel like you’re playing an impossible mix of Ghost In The Machine and In The Line Of Fire, filled with some jaw-dropping set pieces and properly pulse pounding action. The fact that it slots so seamlessly into the now-near-perfect overall world of Cyberpunk 2077 makes it an absolute must-play and revisit for those who felt hard-done-by when that game first dropped.

This is a gaming world absolutely overflowing with personality and oozing out the kind of inherent coolness that most other games can only dream of.

Cyberpunk 2077 2.0 update is available to download from 21 September, and Phantom Liberty will be available on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S and PC on 26 September.

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