Before Cyberpunk 2077 arrived, CD Projekt promised Witcher 3 levels of post-launch support, which implied two meaty expansions and smaller bits of DLC, alongside the plans for a multiplayer mode. The disastrous launch scuppered all of that.
Multiplayer was scrapped pretty quickly, but I can't say I lament that—it's a singleplayer RPG and that's what I want more of. But then came the announcement that Phantom Liberty would be Cyberpunk 2077's sole expansion, and now that I'm playing it, I'm really bummed. 2.0 and Phantom Liberty will be the last major updates, and the studio is now moving on. I'm not ready to join it.
Cyberpunk 2077 has been in a really good state for a while now, but with the 2.0 update it really hit its stride, overhauling so many of the weaker systems and letting all the good stuff shine brighter. I've paused my second playthrough of Baldur's Gate 3 and completely abandoned Starfield to give it all of my attention, I'm having so much fun with it. It's now a lot closer to the game I hoped it would be, and even going through the same quests and fighting the same gonks a second time around has genuinely been a delight.
Phantom Liberty, meanwhile, shows that CDPR hasn't lost its magic, giving us plenty of brand new quests and characters, and they're just as compelling as their predecessors. It's also given me so many great V and Johnny moments, developing their relationship with more opportunities for friction and friendship. So while the main storyline feels like a standalone diversion, it elevates the rest of the game, and is only going to make replaying the climax all the more satisfying.
Dogtown's been a fantastic addition, too. It's quickly become my favourite part of Night City, with its juxtaposition of humongous hotels and casinos and the street-level devastation. A playground for the rich and powerful transformed into a ruined warzone ruled over by a militant dickhead, every inch of it reinforces not just the expansion's themes, but those of the whole game.
And it's a looker. Sure, it ain't pretty, what with all the burned-out buildings and streets covered in detritus, but it is an incredibly striking space that feels gargantuan despite being considerably smaller than most of Night City's districts. It's dense, and the way that it's cut off from the rest of the city makes it feel like a whole new world. The set dressing and lighting make every second I spend inside it a treat, and I'm so glad I nabbed myself an RTX 4090 a while ago, letting me see it at its best while still enjoying a mostly smooth experience.
This has been a brilliant comeback for Cyberpunk 2077, and while there's something to be said about going out on a high note, Update 2.0 also feels like a strong foundation on which to build yet more Night City adventures. The team clearly has more stories it wants to tell, or it wouldn't be working on a sequel, so why throw out Cyberpunk 2077 when it's just peaked?
It's in a good position to be iterated on, then, just as Hello Games did once it figured out what to do with No Man's Sky. It's had 6 years of expansions, transforming it into one of the best sandboxes around. Just think what Cyberpunk 2077 could be like in a few years time, if it wasn't being given the heave-ho. I'd be happy with some DLC that simply added more side jobs and gigs, because those smaller stories rank among the best the RPG has to offer. But the Cyberpunk setting is so rich that I have no doubt that the team could come up with something much more significant and even experimental. Geralt got a vineyard, so maybe V should have been given a chop shop, or a gang to run.
CDPR wants to move on because it's also bidding farewell to its engine, jumping over to Unreal Engine 5 for its next games. But nothing is ever going to make me care about what engine a game is using—I just want more great quests, more shootouts, and more time spent with V and Johnny, which REDengine is more than capable of giving me.
So I find myself in the weird position of wanting to absolutely devour Cyberpunk 2077, but also putting on the breaks so that I don't hit the credits too quickly. I want to savour it as much as possible and stick around Night City until there's nothing left to see. And while I'm so glad that CDPR stuck it out and fixed so many of its issues, I'm also really gutted that it had to spend so much time doing that, when it could have been working on more expansions. The spectre of the botched launch sadly perseveres, robbing us of what could have been.