While Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty will be a sprawling expansion for the base game, it’s not the only major thing arriving in the next week or two. CDPR has also crafted an enormous “2.0” update for the game after years of fixes and smaller additions. It’s easily the biggest thing they’ve done to the core game since launch. And…I’ve been playing it for the past week.
While I’ve also been playing Phantom Liberty itself, I’m only supposed to talk about my impression of Update 2.0 elements today, so no, no story content here or Dogtown analysis, that will come a week from today. But there’s certainly a lot to talk about from my time with just the major elements of the 2.0 update. So let’s begin:
This is easily the biggest part of the update, so much so that it’s a little overwhelming. You get all your perk points refunded and you have the ability to reallocate all your base ability ranks one time, given how much has changed. This was admittedly extremely disorienting at first.
My old very overpowered “stand on the curb and spread poison hacks through an entire building” build didn’t really work anymore. But instead, I spent a lot of time spec-ing into a new build that married both Quickhacks and Smart Weapons, as upgrades for those are now placed inside the Intelligence tree. It really made my build a lot more active, but just as strong.
I also began this process on my alternate character, who runs a pure melee build. Here, they have drastically upgraded mobility with ground and air dashes, lunges and a host of wild finishers with all melee damage which can restore health, stamina and RAM. While I haven’t done separate builds for them yet, there are now entire skill trees dedicated to throwing weapons and grenades that simply didn’t exist before. There are far, far more options on the table now, and I am 2 for 2 in builds that feel excellent so far. I have a third “guns blazing” character I’ll probably try an AR/Shotgun/Grenade build with later.
After a solid week of play, I am still discovering new uses for all these new parts. They have added a lot of new cyberware to the mix, including the main deck I’m using that has Quickhacks upload faster if you are shooting the enemy with a Smart weapon, which is the core of my whole build. There are also “iconic” versions of cyberware now, similar to weapons that have special abilities. The tech tree has bonuses for putting cyberware in every slot, and has a “Cyberpsycho” type capstone that allows you to push past your allotted cyberware power level, cutting health but potentially increasing damage and sending you into a frenzy.
It is also clear Cyberpunk very much wants to use at least one of the four Cyberware arm weapons, Mantis Blades, Gorilla Arms, Monowire or Protectile Launcher. The new Relic perk tree is 70% based around those specific pieces of cyberware. For my Quickhack build, I put on the Monowire which can apply hacks on hit. For my blade build, I did, what else, Mantis Blades, which now has an upgrade that lets you leap around like a Zergling after dismembering or finishing enemies. It’s wild. The new cyberware system combines flawlessly with the new perk system, something I didn’t really even think was bad before, but it’s incredible now.
I am not sure this is exactly the biggest upgrade of the bunch here, but more like “yeah, this is how it’s supposed to work.” This is essentially…Grand Theft Auto style police. Which is good! But yeah, it’s what you’d expect, though a significant upgrade past the “police teleport on top of you” system the game had before.
Police will throw up barricades on the street, ram your car instigating the new car combat system. At max wanted level, they will throw MaxTac at you, the scary SWAT-esque unit meant to take down Cyberpsychos. I triggered huge fights with police a few times just to test it out, and did find that I could still handle most police almost endlessly (albeit burning through all my ammo). But when I escaped, they did search for me and actually found where I was hiding, starting the whole thing over again. Eventually, I was able to fully hide and lose my 5 star wanted level with some creative roof jumping. So yeah, it’s good. Not especially revolutionary.
I only recently unlocked cars with actual guns on them, but there are a few aspects to this system, which does differentiate it from GTA a good amount. The game uses an autotargeting system for your pistol and submachine gun, the two weapons you can use while moving. But you can aim precisely if you want and shoot out tires or drivers.
Doing this with my Netrunner build, I have laughed hacking cars to slam on their brakes, speed ahead uncontrollable or just flat out blow them up with my mind. Easy to lose pursuants that way. I’m told on blade builds you can slash at tires or drivers with a sword if you’re on a motorcycle, but I haven’t tried that yet.
A few cars you find, or are eventually gifted or buy, will have either machine guns or rockets mounted in them, which turns the whole affair into Twisted Metal. Good for car chases, yes, but also fun to just barrel toward an enemy gang standing on corner and unloading with your dual mounted MGs.
I will say that collisions are pretty unforgiving in Cyberpunk, and too many things in the environment cause you to come to a dead stop. Other games might have you crashing through barricades or trees as you drive, freeing yourself up for combat more, but here, I felt like I had to constantly slow down to really engage enemies, lest I drive into an immobile pole or fence or something in short order. The base game wasn’t designed for car combat, so not all the pieces fit.
I have a lot to say about Phantom Liberty, and probably even more about the changes above, but I’ll save that for a week from now. In short: They’re great, and as ever, I wish the game launched like this.