After spending 30 hours in a Phantom Liberty hole, I think it works better if you start early and don't binge it

Idris Elba in Cyberpunk in snazzy jacket leaning forward
(Image credit: CD Projekt)

Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty once again returns us to one of life's great questions: when should I play the expansion pack? The super spy adventure comes a whopping three years after the original game's release, but can be unlocked fairly early into Cyberpunk 2077's main quest.

For my Cyberpunk: 2077 Phantom Liberty review, I tore through the DLC on an old save I had at Cyberpunk's endgame. I still loved it, but I'd recommend making a new character, taking your time, and weaving Phantom Liberty into the original main quest. Cyberpunk 2.0's new character building and loot is worth experiencing fresh, and Phantom Liberty is better paced as another pillar of the main quest as opposed to some kind of post-game episode.

Cyberpunk 2077 2.0

Everybody's abuzz with how good the base game's 2.0 update is, and it's not just hype⁠—this really is the time to play Cyberpunk 2077. Cyberware is more central to character building now, and CD Projekt defied all my expectations in how good of an RPG system it managed to wring out of 2077's original mess of piddly perks.

It's the RPG I always wanted it to be, and that's worth making a new character from scratch for. Now that I've finished my review, that's just what I plan on doing⁠—once I can decide between making a sneaky hacker, future cowboy gunslinger, or just yet another cyborg ninja.

Cyberpunk 2077 Phantom Liberty pacing

(Image credit: CD Projekt)
Explore Dogtown with these Phantom Liberty guides

Cyberpunk 2077 Phantom Liberty

(Image credit: CD Projekt Red)

How to start Phantom Liberty: Enter Dogtown
Cyberpunk 2077 Restricted Data Terminals: Get Relic Points
Cyberpunk 2077 airdrops: Loot unique rewards
Cyberpunk 2077 Iconic weapons: The best guns in Dogtown
Cyberpunk 2077 1R-ONC-LAD photo locations: Help the robot

When I reviewed Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty, I felt like the expansion was slightly off in how it was situated. Everything was largely relegated to Dogtown, but I could come and go as I pleased. It also felt strange that it didn't directly involve some of the strongest characters from the main story, particularly the romance interests.

That might be a question of expectation though: three years on, I anticipated a high-level coda to the main story, a standalone farewell to Night City like The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine. Initiated earlier in the game, though, and Phantom Liberty slots in pretty well with the other main quests, which similarly don't see a ton of character overlap between their various strands⁠—Takemura never really weighs in on what's going on with Judy and Evelyn, for example.

I still loved Phantom Liberty when I played it all in one go as a post-game sendoff, but I don't think it fits best there. I recommend approaching it less as a discrete expansion, and more as an extra pillar to the main quest, one with plenty of built-in downtime for pursuing side missions in Dogtown or other stories in Night City proper.

Associate Editor

Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister's copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he's not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.