Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty – All The Major Changes Explained

Following Sunday’s Xbox Games Showcase, ever-patient Cyberpunk 2077 fans could breathe a sigh of relief as the title’s one and only upcoming expansion, Phantom Liberty, finally received a release date of 26 September. Fans of CD Projekt Red’s (initially) controversial action-adventure-RPG experience will be pleased to know that not only are core gameplay mechanics being reworked – entirely new systems will be implemented to further augment and improve your time in Night City.

Speaking to Video Games Chronicle in a recent interview, Cyberpunk 2077’s quest director, Pawel Sasko, made it very clear that nearly every single aspect of the base game’s underlying mechanisms have been altered in some way, and that the team is determined to end V’s saga with a bang. The rest of the interview reads like Sasko running through a fan-made laundry list of dream features, some foundation-shaking additions actually dropping totally separate from the DLC – likely in the form of an upcoming patch. Let’s break these revelations down, one by one.

READ MORE – Capcom Showcase June 2023 – When and Where to Watch

Timeframe and Access

Cyberpunk 2077 Phantom Liberty Expansion All Major Changes

You’re probably wondering if Phantom Liberty will be immediately accessible for those with existing saves or if you’ll need to begin a new game entirely for the best possible experience. Thankfully, the events of the expansion transpire during the original campaign, and new game creation is not compulsory. I would expect, however, that due to the intense surgical procedures Cyberpunk 2077’s mechanics have undergone, a fresh start will be something many players opt for.

Personally, I know I’ll be hitting that big restart button. In a way, all of these updates could be seen as CDPR finally releasing the closest possible thing to their initial vision for the game, without the hardware constraints of the now last-gen consoles. Wouldn’t it make more sense, then, to embark upon the long, winding journey once more instead of jumping in from a pre-existing save? Though unconfirmed, it’s plausible that doing so may rob you of observing changes in content you’ve already cleared.

Vehicle Combat and Reworked Skills

Cyberpunk 2077 Phantom Liberty Expansion All Major Changes

Now we’re getting into the juicy business. Pawel goes on to explain that Cyberpunk 2077’s perks and skills have been fully overhauled in a big way, focusing on adding unique abilities with optional modifiers over mere stat adjustments. The new Relic upgrade tree serves as your ticket to further Cyberware improvement and optimisation, including somehow making the mantis blades even more gloriously deadly than they already are. Relic points found while exploring Dog Town are how you’ll further the Relic tree’s overall progress.

In addition to this skill rework came the confirmation of the inclusion of vehicular combat. Now that one cinematic trailer from a while back featuring V firing from a speeding car is no longer a total lie. Whether you’re physically firing from your car’s door or window, slicing an enemy to bits with a sword while riding a bike or using the built-in weapons within the vehicle itself, this truly sounds like a game changer in how encounters and quests can play out.

Naturally, with shiny new car-based gunplay, it stands to reason that the NCPD will, in all likelihood, employ these tactics in their pursuit of you. That’s right, you read that correctly. Not only has police AI been drastically improved, car chases can now occur in real time – the exact nature and degree of your committed offence directly influencing what type of response and enemies you’ll have to deal with.

Cyberpunk 2077 Phantom Liberty Expansion All Major Changes

Thanks to the new police hierarchy system, no longer will every run-in with the law feel the same. Pawel implies here that, depending on where you are in Night City when you incur the wrath of the cyber-fuzz, the NPC’s behaviour towards V could vary. The example given in the VGC interview mentions Dog Town as an area where this system could perhaps work differently, as opposed to somewhere more orderly like, say, the City Centre.

Without going into many specifics or details, Sasko assures players that enemy types, loot placement, game difficulty and even the user interface have likewise not evaded the tides of change. Rival gangs, taking full advantage of the already mentioned AI improvements, can now engage in car chases of their own when gunfights simply aren’t enough. You may have noticed by now that these enhanced NPC engagements tend to only apply to hostiles, and you would (almost) be correct.

Sasko clarifies that aside from enemies and followers, basic pedestrians roaming the streets will receive “mostly bug fixes”. It seems that those of us out there expecting considerable depth and growth in the routines and actions of generic Heywood guy number 312 are headed for disappointment. That’s not too big of a deal, though, considering the rest of the details that have emerged thus far.

New Activities and Purchasing Vehicles

Cyberpunk 2077 Phantom Liberty Expansion All Major Changes

A new piece of side content, Mama Welles will inform you of vehicles scattered throughout Night City that she wants stolen. Each target has specific obtainment criteria, like avoiding any damage or having to hack into the vehicle’s systems before getting behind the wheel. Mama Welles has also set up a website where she regularly places cars up for sale (weaponised variants sometimes included), completely replacing the annoying fixer mail system from vanilla Cyberpunk. Now buying a car feels more natural and realistic.

Another mentioned, but less fleshed out explanation-wise, side activity sees V racing to loot a dropped cache of goods – presumably before another party gets their hands on the merchandise. These Airdrop missions sound, to me, like something left over from the scrapped multiplayer aspect of the game. But who’s to say, really?


Cyberpunk 2077 Phantom Liberty Expansion All Major Changes

A much-talked-about and requested feature from before Cyberpunk 2077’s release date was even announced, excited players were hopeful for a built-in cyberpsycho feature or player state. Unfortunately, this never made it into the game, as we all know now. Phantom Liberty, on the other hand, will see the mechanic in all its blood-soaked chaos come to life.

Cyberpsychosis can be attained by surpassing the given Cyberware installation limitations for V’s body, and it’s unclear at this point whether you’ll still have any semblance of control over your character, if it triggers a unique questline, or if it simply results in an instant game over. Either way, this long-awaited feature is a welcome and immersive addition to the title.

As touched upon at the start of this piece, it seems that most of the features associated with central or core gameplay mechanics will be added to the base game, free of charge, with the new storyline and district being the major focus of Phantom Liberty. While we have no immediate timeline for the patch, this is indeed fantastic news for those patient souls who stuck with the game through all the post-launch insanity.

CDPR truly seems to be making amends and giving back to their community by basically offering people what they’ve been clamouring for since launch day. I’m maintaining a positive outlook towards the future of the Cyberpunk franchise. With early development of the sequel beginning sometime next year, I’d say it’s a pretty good time to be a Cyberpunk 2077 fan.

Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty launches on 26 September 2023 for PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC.

Source: Video Games Chronicle

Written by Ryan Pretorius

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