It might have taken CD Projekt RED another two and a half years after release to get there, but Cyberpunk 2077 DLC Phantom Liberty is such a substantial addition to the PS5, PS4 RPG that it finally feels like it can meet those colossal expectations of 2020. This is more than just an expansion with a new story, quests, and characters — it's a hefty slice of content that has ramifications for the base game too. The original endings are different, the UI is updated once more, perks and skill trees have been rebuilt, and the police system has finally been updated. You can think of this as a re-introduction to Cyberpunk 2077 because boy is it throwing a coming-out party.
Our hands-on demo at Summer Game Fest Play Days spanned roughly 45 minutes and documented multiple quests from the expansion. We began with the opening scene, where the New United States of America president Rosalind Myers is shot down out of the sky aboard a ship. A section heavy on combat, it provides the perfect opportunity to showcase what Polish team CD Projekt RED has been working on behind the scenes. An updated UI allows you access to more items and abilities at any one time while shooting and melee action have both received a facelift. An army of goons stands between you and the downed aircraft, so these improved mechanics and features immediately come to the forefront. A clear and noticeable upgrade has taken place here, allowing you to forget the glitches of the past.
After successfully reaching the vessel, the first time skip in our PS5 demo takes place. We've teamed up with President Myers and are on the run, searching for somewhere to lay low. This sequence is heavy on dialogue, but it's a neat reminder of what Cyberpunk 2077 got right at launch: its conversation system. Having ditched the static camera angles of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt that track back and forth between characters talking, that dynamic, free-form movement during chats with NPCs returns. It works well in this particular scene, with many objects to interact with and optional dialogue that fleshes out Night City. Eventually, some guards stumble upon you and the president, and you'll need to carefully handle the situation to achieve the best outcome having just accepted your new role as a government secret agent.
CD Projekt RED then jumped us forward again to when the new area of Phantom Liberty is unlocked for exploration, named Dogtown. This is a sandy, dusty place with a fair amount of verticality to it. Our mission is to eventually meet up with Idris Elba's new character Reed. The approach we took involved shutting down the power in one building, heading to a basketball court, and then meeting the famous face in a car parked on the pavement. Our time was unfortunately up a handful of sentences into the conversation, but Elba's unmistakable voice boomed through Reed, ensuring another memorable performance for the RPG.
Our limited time with Phantom Liberty meant we were unable to see too much of what Dogtown had to offer, but we immediately picked up on how it's a much quieter location on the streets, with fewer cars hitting the roads while robots little the pavement along with the dead-beats living there. It probably seems like more Cyberpunk 2077 without playing it for yourself, but that familiarity is what will make you appreciate the tweaks and additions made under the hood to the entire experience.
With some story spoilers removed through time skips, Cyberpunk 2077 DLC Phantom Liberty demos excellently, giving PS5 players more than enough reason to return to Night City no matter whether you haven't played since launch or kept up with every update since. You'll need to ignore other RPG heavyweights (Baldur's Gate 3 and Starfield) to make time for it this September, but Phantom Liberty appears to be introducing the ultimate Cyberpunk 2077 experience. It's an expansion primed to do all that excitement of two and a half years ago justice.
Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty releases for PS5 on 26th September 2023 for £24.99 / $29.99. Shall you be returning to Night City in a few months' time? Prepare in the comments below.