Cyberpunk 2077's first and only expansion is out next month, but arguably the bigger deal is a larger "Update 2.0" coming along with it. CD Projekt Red has been talking about the ways it's reworking the 2020 RPG's skill trees, armor systems, and police AI since Summer Game Fest, but it was today's Opening Night Live stream that gave us the first look at Update 2.0, as well as the new toys in the Phantom Liberty expansion, in action.
Probably the single biggest overhaul to Cyberpunk's guts is the skill trees, which will have new perks to complement playstyles that take the place of the old minuscule percentage upgrades. We see a few of these in the trailer—a bullet-deflecting skill for katanas (a godsend if you previously tried to play a blades build), new executions for melee weapons, an air dash, a strength ability that lets you literally toss bodies, and a snazzy revolver skill that looks like Cassidy's Deadeye ultimate.
Those new perks, which will be implemented into the vanilla Cyberpunk experience, are separate from a new tree of "Relic" abilities exclusive to Phantom Liberty owners. These look overpowered, to put it mildly—a Mantis Blades upgrade that lets you leap toward targets like a Left 4 Dead Hunter or a Gorilla Arms equivalent that turn your fists into gravity hammers.
If you've been deliberating whether or not to start a new Cyberpunk 2077 save in anticipation of Phantom Liberty, I'm officially convinced it's a good idea. It sounds like it'll be possible to respec an existing character to the new perk trees, but the skills sound different enough that it'd be less jarring to unlock them gradually.
Not to mention the other changes that will, in theory, make old missions feel new. Update 2.0 also adds car combat, which actually means a few different things: V can now use guns while driving, hack other cars Watch Dogs-style to make them out of control, and some cars are actually outfitted with guns themselves (though that last one might be a Phantom Liberty thing). Filling those car chases is the newly enhanced NCPD AI that will give chase, set up roadblocks, and attempt to ram V off the road. CDPR has come a long way from teleporting cop ambushes.
While the Update 2.0 improvements sound invigorating, I don't think I'd be signing up for playthrough three without that new Phantom Liberty expansion in the mix. Players will apparently gain access to Phantom Liberty content at around the middle of the main story. I wouldn't push too far past that point before going to Dogtown, because CDPR says that's where you'll find "new clothing items, weapons, cyberware, and more."
I played the beginning of Phantom Liberty at Summer Game Fest and was psyched to discover the expansion's new district, Dogtown, is actually an add-on of Night City's tragically underused Pacifica region. Though we don't know how long the expansion is, my 90-minute demo gave the impression that it's a standalone story similar to The Witcher 3's Blood and Wine.
Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty is out September 26.