Cyberpunk 2077's Phantom Liberty Expansion is ready to usher Night City into the future
Heading into our Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty appointment during this year's Summer Games Fest, it's hard not to think about the launches that came before this. Despite all of the issues that plagued Cyberpunk 2077 at its 2020 release, it's easy to forget if you took the chance to sit down and play the game now, on modern platforms, and with all of the patches it has received to add new content and improve performance across the last 3 years. The current state of Cyberpunk 2077 is a game that CD Projekt Red can be truly proud to showcase, and never has that been more clear than with how the press sessions for the Phantom Liberty expansion have been handled. We had the chance to spend an hour in the new Dogtown area, and tackle the story involving NUSA President - and the plot that revolves around her attempted assassination.
Fundamentally, Phantom Liberty is more Cyberpunk; the difference is that this time around - not only has the game had years worth of polish through updates, but CD Projekt Red has made the decision for the DLC to be exclusive to current-gen consoles and PC. Accordingly, the scope and scale of the world and the setpieces feel a step above those from the basegame.
As far as the expansions' story is concerned - it slots in during the middle of the game, with titular character V counting down the days until they'll succumb to the Relic when they're enticed with the possibility of a cure; with a catch. A new wave of change has come to Night City, and with the NUSA's Space Force One shot down into Dogtown players are tasked with securing the President, activating Sleeper Agents, and exploring the new areas of Night City.
An hour-long demo is, of course, still not enough to be able to judge the quality of the expansion ahead of time - but we did walk away from our session impressed at what appears to be the scope for the expansion. Even within the opening hours players are afforded plenty of autonomy for how they want to engage with the story, and the voice acting from both newcomers Idris Elba as Solomon Reed and the returning Keanu Reeves as Johnny Silverhand.
While we didn't get the chance to experience all of the changes for ourselves, Phantom Liberty will come with a number of gameplay changes and additions. One thing to note is that with the upcoming expansion's launch, CD Projekt Red will be changing the recommended and minimum system requirements for playing the game on PC - chief among those changes is the axing of support for playing the game on a traditional HDD, requiring the use of an SSD in some form.
Going by the system requirements for the game running RT Overdrive, and the fact that we were able to confirm that the game was running on a test system with an RTX 4080 for our demo, it feels safe to assume that what we managed to play should be representative of what players will experience when running the game on an equivalent system themselves. We did not have a chance to test the expansion on any other platforms during our session.
Cyberpunk 2077 might have had a rocky launch, but CD Projekt Red seems confident in the expansion that they've crafted for the game - and we're eager to see more. We might be heading into a crowded release schedule for RPGs, but it feels like there's never been a better time to try out the game for yourself. Look forward to our further coverage of Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty, as we get closer to the expansion's September 26 release date.