Cyberpunk 2077 Phantom Liberty accessibility review

Carlos Moscoso4 minute read

CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 is a game I reviewed 3 years ago. Despite it receiving a lot of backlash on its release, I found it had potential to become an instant favorite. The 2.0 update was marketed heavily alongside the release of the Phantom Liberty expansion is free and addresses nearly every accessibility shortcoming I encountered when I first reviewed the game.

Inventory screen showing the characters weapons, cyberware, quick access items, and equipped clothing.

The story of the Phantom Liberty expansion follows the player character of V. They are recruited by the FIA intelligence agency to rescue the president after her plane goes down in the seediest district of Night City. The district, known as Dogtown, is a new content-specific area run by a violent Militech colonel named Kurt Hansen. The colonel has agreed to give the government’s best hacker access to his experimental AI that will rid both her and the player of their terminal illness in exchange for using the president as a pawn in their plans to take over the rest of Night City and influence international politics.

A more intuitive skill tree

The changes from the 2.0 quickly become apparent. When you start an existing save file all of the previously earned level ups are placed into a pool so that they can be redistributed. The skill tree in each category is smaller now but the abilities are much more streamlined and intuitive. For example, emergency cloaking allows the player to become invisible for a limited amount of time. The more points you place into the skill, the longer it lasts. Since it makes you invisible to everything including cameras, it’s very useful to players like myself who don’t excel at stealth. A skill called Vulnerability Analytics allows players to see enemy weak points. Any damage that hits while the spot is highlighted will result in a 100% chance to cause critical damage. 

The skill tree of the technical ability skills. Skills are shows as icons and highlighted in a bright yellow instead of muted blue when unlocked.

The biggest issue was having no way to regain health when you run out of medical inhalers, consumables which restore large quantities of health instantly as opposed to waiting for regeneration. The new update places the inhalers on a cooldown which essentially works to the same effect of regenerating health. The cooldown can be sped up by investing points into the proper skill, as can regeneration of health during combat. Before the update, players could only do so when they weren’t being attacked. The cooldown is also applied to grenades but is much slower, making using them much more strategic.

Improved, but some friction remains

My initial review stated that smart weapons were a nice foil for the title’s unresponsive aim-assist but were still a drawback as they prevent experimentation with other weapons. It seems the developers realized there was an issue because the aim now snaps to targets more than ever. Firing from the hip even follows moving targets. Furthermore, my criticism of not being able to aim when driving has been addressed. The previous system is replaced with one that automatically locks onto attackers when driving.

First person view while aiming at a police officer. A red HP bar is visible above them, and their right foot is highlighted in red.

As wonderful as it all is, the accessibility is still not perfect in Phantom Liberty. The DLC has one mission that is particularly inaccessible for players with limited mobility. This mission plays as if it’s taken straight out Mission Impossible. V must remotely hijack the vehicle of two eccentric millionaires to impersonate them, infiltrating an opulent gala attended by Night City’s elite. The idea behind the mission is fantastic, however you are only given roughly 90 seconds to drive approximately 800 meters. This doesn’t seem like much at face value, but when the timer reaches the half-way point, the driver attempts to counter the hack. This sequence is difficult enough on its own, as time-limits are the Achilles Heel of many motor-impaired players. The counter-hack is simply there to rub salt in the wound. It nearly ruined my experience and it’s a shame there is no way to skip it.

Conclusion

To conclude, Cyberpunk 2077 Phantom Liberty is an impressive achievement. It is rare seeing a team of developers address nearly every criticism leveled against them in impactful and meaningful ways. The fact that so many of the changes in Phantom Liberty benefit accessibility is truly impressive. The DLC’S story is well-acted albeit predictable, but this game’s comeback is one players won’t soon forget.

A review copy of was provided by the developer / publisher.

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