Phantom Liberty represents the biggest incentive to return to Cyberpunk 2077 (or give it a try for the first time) since the game’s rough launch in 2020. CD Projekt Red actually recommends just starting over or you can skip right to the Phantom Liberty content early in the game. For many, however, you will likely be revisiting a save you haven’t touched in a few years. Below are just some important refreshers to take with you back into the game, as well as some details about some of the new elements of Night City.
Put Your Gun Away
This is a simple one that likely used to be second nature, but to put your weapon away, just double tap the weapon change button (Y on Xbox, triangle on PlayStation). In Cyberpunk, having your weapon out or holstered represents two very different personalities that NPCs will react to differently. It would be a shame if you forgot how to put away your weapon and accidentally started a gunfight when you meant to start a conversation. I speak from personal experience.
How To Hack
Hacking is a frequent, worthwhile activity in Cyberpunk 2077, and I was good at it in 2020. Looking at it in 2023, however, I just saw a grid of intimidating numbers. You will undoubtedly get the hang of it again quickly, but just remember that you are trying to select the numbers seen on the right in order, and you do that by alternating between horizontal and vertical rows. What you want to do is look ahead and plan your path before you begin hacking.
Don’t Forget Scanning
Much like holstering your weapon, this is a very easy mechanic to execute but one that is easy to forget if you haven’t done it in a few years. To scan, you hold LB on Xbox or L1 on PlayStation. This is how you activate various items in the environment, hack your enemies, or just learn more about what you’re looking at.
Get Ready To Look At Menus For Awhile
CD Projekt overhauled Cyberpunk 2077’s leveling system as part of its release of Update 2.0. What that means is if you’re returning after a years-long break, you will have to go in and reset all your upgrades. I don’t really have any tips for making that an easier experience but just know that it is a bit time-consuming, and you will have to read through all the upgrades and try to remember what you prefer in terms of playstyle.
Also, make sure you go to a nearby Ripperdoc after you square away your upgrades. Similarly, you will have to reorganize and remember what you like, and it will take time, but it is necessary to get yourself in a position of power and reinstall your quickhacks.
Quickhacks And Queues
And speaking of those! Quickhacks are one of the mechanics that sets Cyberpunk apart from other action shooters, but remembering how to use them can be tricky.
You have a total quickhack load and it’s determined by your OS cyberware piece. For example, if you have a total load of 22, you can only perform quickhacks that cost up to 22. One quick hack might cost you seven of that total 22, while another might cost you eight. Using the new quickhack queues feature, you can stack both of these onto a single enemy to hit in quick succession. Doing so will cost a total of 15 (of your 22). Those 15 will eventually replenish, but until they do, you’ll only be able to use a quickhack costing eight or less (or a combination that equals eight or less).
You can install various quickhacks into your OS, including, for some reason, ones that you don’t have enough load to use. So just make sure you’re wary of that.
To actually use them in combat and stealth, hold down the scan button on enemies and machines, and you should see a list pop up that you can use.
When Is Phantom Liberty?
There are a few ways to access Phantom Liberty. Though we wouldn’t really recommend it, you can fast-forward to Phantom Liberty straight from a new save. If you do want to start over (or maybe you never played to begin with), you will need to play through at least Act One (look out for the Transmission main quest) before Songbird calls you asking for help. If you have a save file, you’ve already started, and you’ve played at least past Act 1, you should get a call from Songbird right away. So, to answer the question in the header, the events of Phantom Liberty take place sometime after Act 1 but before the end of the game.
What Is The Blackwall?
The Blackwall is a complicated part of Cyberpunk’s fiction and an important element of 2077’s main story. Here’s a link to the game’s wiki explaining it in detail, but for your purposes heading into Phantom Liberty, know that it is a scary, potentially world-ending thing. In Cyberpunk’s online connected world, there are rogue A.I.s floating around, eager to set off the events of The Matrix at any moment, but The Blackwall is a digital firewall that prevents them from crossing over and running amok. Poking The Blackwall is taboo in Cyberpunk, even among its most fearless hackers.
What’s Johnny’s Deal? Who Is Arasaka?
Just to offer a refresher on V’s situation, famous rockstar Johnny Silverhand’s (played by Keanu Reeves) psyche (A.K.A. engram) was placed on a Relic (A.K.A. a biochip) that is in V’s brain. Arasaka, an evil corporation, developed the Relic technology in the interest of letting wealthy people live forever on the net. Arasaka also wanted to use the technology to immortalize popular celebrities and personalities for commercial gain, which is why they shoved Johnny onto a computer chip against his will. The Relic in V’s brain is slowly killing them and Johnny. The driving plot of Cyberpunk 2077 is trying to figure out how to survive with Johnny in your head, and that intersects with Phantom Liberty. Obviously, there is a lot more to it than that, but that should at least help jog your memory as you explore Dogtown.
New Things To Do In Dog Town
Once you get the call to begin Phantom Liberty proper and you’ve entered Dogtown and gotten your bearings, know that there are a few new types of activities. As you explore Dogtown, you will see billowing pillars of red smoke in the distance. These are supply drops. Sometimes, you may even see them actively fall to the ground. It’s a good (and fun!) idea to investigate those. You will typically have to fight a collection of enemies, but the rewards are often fruitful. Also, it makes you feel like you are stealing from Phantom Liberty’s antagonist, Kurt Hansen.
You will also see steering wheels on your map, which will give you a mission to deliver stolen cars to Muamar “El Capitán” Reyes and his absolutely atrocious haircut. Sometimes, getting the car to its destination is a race against time. Other times, armed combatants will chase you, giving you a chance to try the new car combat. In any case, it’s an enjoyable mission type that lets you try out different vehicles and doesn’t feel too samey. Completing these missions also unlocks a discount for the specific vehicle you’ve delivered in the store, so if you fancy a vehicle during one of these missions, completing said missions will net you an easier way to purchase it.
For more, read Game Informer’s Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty review by following the link. You can also read Game Informer’s original Cyberpunk 2077 review, as well. And finally, you can read our giant feature on the Phantom Liberty expansion where we spoke at length with CD Projekt here.