Cyberpunk 2077 has entered the list of games that have rebounded to be something better than when it first launched with No Man’s Sky and Final Fantasy XIV. Cyberpunk 2077 has become a vast world beyond just the RPG game; it now spans comic books and an anime dubbed Anime of the Year at the Anime Awards. It’s been exciting to see the work that the developers at CD PROJEKT RED have put into the game, and with the game’s first expansion, it’s only getting bigger and better. At Summer Game Fest 2023, we got the chance to play a demo that introduced us to about 45 minutes of gameplay in Dogtown. On a mission to find a relic, we work through the demo, fighting enemies and exploring the new zone. We also got the chance to speak with the “Phantom Liberty” Game Director, Gabe Amatangelo, who expanded on elements that players can look forward to when the expansion releases.
To start, the “Phantom Liberty” Game Director Greg Amatangelo explained what rests at the heart of the new expansion and CD PROJEKT RED’s franchise as a whole. He said, “At the heart of everything we do, we try to figure out ways to do new kinds of angles on dynamics on different types of characters. Yeah. And it just kind of felt right, especially given the lore in the background of the corpos, corporations, and the nations. And it kind of fell into place as time went on. Yeah. And we explored it.” But characters are only a piece in the spy-thriller puzzle. Amantangelo continued, “With regards to the feature set, the big thing we wanted to do was kind of lean into making the world feel more alive and breathable. And so we’ve got, and you only saw so much of in the demo, but we have things like vehicle combat dynamic events that happened throughout the world that are all tied to the story and other characters.”
In “Phantom Liberty,” you continue your time as V, only now, the expansion is spy-thriller forward in its direction. We started the demo at the beginning of the expansion when the orbital shuttle carrying Rosalind Myers, President of the New United States of America, is shot down over the deadliest district of Night City: Dogtown. Ruled by a trigger-happy militia, your job is to infiltrate Dogtown in an attempt to save the president. With all the trappings of a political thriller, including espionage and mysterious plays at the highest levels of power, the story promises to keep pace with the non-stop action you get to push through as a player. While the demo offered much in the way of combat and exploring elements of Dogtown, there is still a lot we haven’t gotten to see in our hands-on. With an expansion promising to bring in a bevy of new quests and story options to change how you play the game, I’m even more excited.
If the game is a dystopian sci-fi adventure, “Phantom Liberty” is a spy thriller. And one of the new characters at the core that has had fans excited is FIA agent Solomon Reed, played by the iconic Idris Elba. A veteran New United States of America agent and the only person players can trust to help them fulfill an impossible mission of espionage. But while Reed may have the spotlight, “Phantom Liberty” also gives players Songbird as an option for you to put your trust in. A skilled netrunner who dreams of starting a new life, we got to see the most from her in this hands-on preview. And, of course, you’ll have Johnny Silverhand (Keanu Reeves) on your side too.
But as we all wait for Reed, the”Phantom Liberty” Game Director offered insight into the character, who was written with Elba in mind, “He is a complete badass, like, top-notch. And he’s super cares about the people in his team. And he’s got, he’s a believer, he’s a believer and in NUSA, but he has a lot of conflicts…We’ll see his dynamics with V as well as the other people surrounding him in the story on how he’s kind of a father figure, but also with flaws.”
A Spy thriller first, “Phantom Liberty” is pushing the genre of Cyberpunk 2077 and, in doing so, expanding the game in a way that CD PROJEKT RED has done with the other media in the franchise. This is a feat that not many can say they’ve done, and yet, CD PROJEKT RED keeps knocking the ball out of the park.
Truthfully, you can’t just call “Phantom Liberty” a DLC. With it, you get a new zone, and the choices you make during your playthrough will impact a new ending of the game. This also makes “Phantom Liberty” a perfect entry point for new players and a reentry point for those who stepped away for a bit. One of the things that you can count on from the expansive world that CD PROJEKT RED has built is an ability just to keep playing and evolving your character as V with new choices.
Crafting that replayability for existing players is just as important as making an entry point for the new. Amataneglo explains how the dynamic events in “Phantom Liberty” will help encourage more playthroughs from those who have already invested a lot of time in the game. Amatangelo explains, “Kurt is a he’s a kind of a military dictator, he’s broke off of NUSA. And one of the ways he facilitates his district is through the power in his weapons deals. And so there will be weapons deals and airdrops that come in and stuff like that. You’ll see caravans dynamically throughout the district.”
Amatangelo also added some context to the new Fixers you’ll encounter in “Phantom Liberty” and how interacting with the world’s characters creates dynamic gameplay. Amatangelo continues, “You also have new fixers and one new kind of mission from a fixer that needs certain like hacking equipment, or vehicles and stuff like that, again, very dynamic in the setting and where they’re at. And so we approached the content, the high-quality CD PROJEKT RED styles, story content, but we also added in these layers [to make sure that the] world is alive. There are things that you can choose to interact with and intercept and get in the middle of them or not, and it just plays out there in the world. So, not only is the player an agent but there are also other agents in the world and things going on. Yeah. And so it feels more alive.”
But perhaps the most important thing is that the CDPR teams hopes players will fall into Night City again and see Dogtown as a complex addition to the game. When asked what he wants players to take away after completing “Phantom Liberty,” Amatangelo said, “I want them to really have complex and broadening of their horizons with regards to their relationships with the characters. [I want them to] feel like they were there in that world, and I was in the live world. That is what we are aiming for.”
The expansion will take full advantage of the current generation of consoles, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, and of course, continue to be on PC. It will also allow you to equip V with new tech, cyberware, and weapons and even experiment with a new skill tree that will allow you to tailor your gameplay experience to your play style. With so much more to be revealed, even after getting the Phantom Liberty release date att the Xbox Game Showcase, all I can say is that this is shaping up to be an experience worth waiting for.
Additionally, at the Xbox Games Showcase, gamers got the chance to see more of the game after the initial teaser trailer was shared at the Game Awards. To watch the full trailer for the game, scroll below to learn more about the Phantom Liberty setting, the depth of the spy-thriller expansion, and get a tease of more coming from the upcoming expansion.