Next week sees the long-awaited launch of Phantom Liberty, CD Projekt Red’s one and only expansion for the controversial and divisive Cyberpunk 2077. If you’ve got an existing save game, you can jump into the expansion as long as you’ve complete the main game’s Voodoo Boys questline.
But just because Phantom Liberty’s new, story-driven missions become accessible then doesn’t necessarily mean you should play them right away. The best time to jump into Phantom Liberty is a bit more complicated, and based on how you’re coming into Cyberpunk 2077 years after its initial launch. But no matter what your existing relationship with the game, here’s a breakdown of how and when to dive into this spy thriller of an expansion.
You should play through all of Cyberpunk 2077 before Phantom Liberty
I tackled Phantom Liberty with a near-completionist save. I’d already gotten Cyberpunk 2077’s original ending, made my peace with it, and was able to examine the expansion through the lens of it being a new, standalone story that was complementary to the main quest rather than a part of it. I think this is the ideal way to play through the new expansion for a few reasons, the biggest being that it helps you contextualize Phantom Liberty’s story within the larger narrative of Cyberpunk 2077.
Without getting into spoilers, Phantom Liberty adds a new ending to Cyberpunk 2077, and while it ties into V and Johnny Silverhand’s story, the new conclusion takes a lot of characters, plotlines, and events off the board to make it happen. You won’t see a lot of stories wrap up properly if you opt for Phantom Liberty’s new ending, and if you don’t have the broader understanding of how it fits into things, you might feel a little let down by the lack of closure and clarity in those other storylines. The new ending itself is substantial and stands tall as one of the game’s most interesting finales, but it’s best seen and understood in context.
Plus, seeing companion storylines like Kerry’s, Judy’s, Panam’s, and River’s through to the end elevates the new ending, so if you haven’t yet completed those questlines it will lessen the impact of some moments. Kerry specifically doesn’t show up until Act 3, so if you jump into Phantom Liberty as soon as you can, you will miss out on some of the new ending’s most meaningful moments.
Don’t skip to Phantom Liberty when prompted
If you’re jumping back into Cyberpunk 2077 and starting a new playthrough to see Phantom Liberty, it will give you the option to skip straight to the expansion. While that is convenient and probably a fine option for players with minimal investment in Cyberpunk 2077’s storylines, it will make a story decision for you and you won’t have all those established relationships, nice equipment, etc. If you’re really eager to just hop in and see what’s going on the option is there, and I give CDPR credit for thinking of it, but it’s probably not the experience you want for $30 of your hard-earned money.
For more on Phantom Liberty, check out Kotaku’s review.
Buy Cyberpunk 2077: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop