Cyberpunk 2077’s first and solely growth, Phantom Liberty, introduces a brand new ending to CD Projekt Crimson’s sci-fi RPG, and it’s one I’ve a tough time reconciling with the sport because it already exists. Certain, it’s actually definitive and ends the story in a reasonably profound, subversive manner, but it surely additionally displays so instantly on each different variation of Cyberpunk 2077’s story that it feels extra like a coda to the sport as an entire than a satisfying conclusion to the precise story it tells. Even so, I adore the brand new ending Phantom Liberty provides. It’s not one I’d ever select for my very own model of protagonist V, but it surely’s one thing I’m pondering rather a lot as I replicate on Cyberpunk 2077’s journey from prepare wreck to the most recent dialog level within the “redemption arc” period of video video games.
The factor I wrestle with about Cyberpunk 2077’s new ending is that it, very like Phantom Liberty itself, is inherently disruptive to the principle recreation’s story. V is pulled right into a spy thriller story by Songbird, a netrunner claiming to have a remedy for our hero’s life-threatening affliction. Earlier than the growth got here out, Cyberpunk 2077’s narrative was solely predicated on V not discovering an answer to the truth that Johnny Silverhand’s digital psyche was overwriting their physique, and as an alternative confronting that actuality in one among 5 methods. Phantom Liberty provides a sixth possibility. V can reside with none ambiguity, but it surely comes at such a value that it’s unattainable to view it as a “good,” golden ending. In fact, an ideal, morally weightless escape would appear decidedly misplaced on this planet that Cyberpunk 2077 conjures, and it’s the value it’s a must to pay that makes it so impactful.
Attending to Cyberpunk 2077’s new ending is brutal
The way you obtain this ending will depend on which of Phantom Liberty’s diverging paths you’re taking. However a method or one other, it’s a must to promote out Songbird. In my playthrough, I helped her escape the clutches of the New United States of America, which had used her and her hacking expertise to succeed in past the Blackwall, a firewall that retains rogue AIs at bay. Within the title of the NUSA, she’s ready to make use of superior expertise to wreak havoc on others. She is the nation’s secret weapon, the equal of a technological nuke.
However this work has eroded her, not not like how Johnny Silverhand’s presence wears away at V. The place V has change into a sufferer of an organization’s delusions of life-sustaining grandeur, Songbird has been utilized by her nation, pushed nicely past what any human physique is able to withstanding. She, alongside Idris Elba’s Solomon Reed, illustrates how patriotic devotion is simply as harmful as giving your life to an organization. After all the things I’d seen V undergo in Cyberpunk 2077, it was unattainable to not sympathize along with her. Even when I needed to betray Reed to avoid wasting us each, I knew it was what I needed to do.
Songbird needed out of NUSA’s clutches so I helped her escape, deceptive Reed, saying we’d detain her collectively then giving him the slip. We fought our manner by means of the nation’s army, even hooking our cybernetic implants collectively to control the Blackwall and tear by means of the NUSA’s forces. As soon as we had been safely on a prepare headed to a launchpad, I assumed we had been house free. The rocket would take her to a facility on the moon the place scientists would have the ability to create a remedy for each of us. At the least, that’s what I assumed.
After all of the combating, Songbird is drained. Delirious, even, and in that delirium, she confesses she’s been taking part in me the whole time. There’s just one dose of the remedy, and she or he’s performed everybody to get it for herself. However she passes out, and Johnny factors out that, should you’re feeling vindictive, this could be a first-rate alternative to name up Reed and provide a commerce: Songbird for her remedy. In my “canon” playthrough, I mainly mentioned “gg” to Songbird and put her on the rocket. I had been by means of all the things she had, and even when I used to be a sufferer in her scheme, I couldn’t rob her of her personal life proper on the finish. I’d discover my very own manner.
However I used to be additionally reviewing Phantom Liberty right here at Kotaku, so I knew it will solely serve me to know each variation of occasions. With that in thoughts, I reloaded a save, plugged my nostril, and jumped in. I known as Reed whereas Songbird was unconscious, and we made a deal. There’s a whole lot of hemming and hawing between V and Reed about whether or not or not they’re doing the proper factor, however he’s so dedicated to the NUSA that he’ll inform himself something he’s commanded to do by President Rosalind Myers is the proper choice. In Cyberpunk 2077, programs don’t change, we simply survive them, and Reed is so dedicated to the system that he’s a residing extension of it. So long as it doesn’t change, neither can he.
Phantom Liberty’s new ending examines all the things we learn about Cyberpunk 2077
After you enter Cyberpunk 2077’s new ending, the sport is virtually hitting you over the pinnacle with a lead pipe to let you know, “This isn’t how issues needed to be.” It begins with a dialog with Johnny, who is totally excised and destroyed on this ending path. He’s not thrilled with this alternative, feeling like he’s being extinguished with no hint. At the same time as a digital facsimile of the rockerboy-turned-terrorist, he desires what everybody in Night time Metropolis desires: to be remembered. However even together with his second shot at life, he didn’t get to exit on his personal phrases. V can argue that that is them selecting a assured answer, moderately than merely one thing that may work, like the unique endings.
At that time, the brand new ending feels prefer it’s in direct dialog with the outdated ones. Not one of the unique endings, by which V raids Arasaka Tower to succeed in a knowledge fortress known as Mikoshi, definitively save V’s life. There’s some hope they will discover one other answer in or out of Night time Metropolis, however there is no such thing as a certainty that V can survive the injury already achieved by the Relic. By promoting out Songbird and dealing with the NUSA, V has some certainty for the primary time in the whole recreation. However Johnny tells V the price of that certainty is simply too excessive. Because the NUSA docs put our hero to sleep, Johnny asks if we will forgive one another, him for consuming away at my physique till it was practically lifeless, and me for destroying him to avoid wasting my very own pores and skin. I mentioned I hope so.
Then I wakened. The surgical procedure to take away the Relic was a hit, however as Reed stands over my mattress to ship the information, he appears totally different. Gone is the military-grade tools I’m used to seeing him in; as an alternative, he appears dressed for an workplace job. He says that’s as a result of he’s doing extra paperwork today. However that looks as if an enormous change for simply the few days for the reason that surgical procedure, proper? I’ll survive, he tells me, however the price is much larger than anybody anticipated. My physique can now not preserve cybernetic implants, so my life as a Night time Metropolis mercenary and Afterlife legend isn’t any extra. And on high of that, I’ve been in a coma for 2 years.
I name Kerry, my boyfriend, and he’s out touring the world together with his band. I can’t see him for at the very least just a few months. Judy bought married whereas I used to be underneath and now not lives in Night time Metropolis. Panam doesn’t need to converse with me, and River bought cop secrets and techniques to criminals to get out of a foul state of affairs.
Each cellphone name was extra heartbreaking than the final. I’d misplaced my livelihood for an opportunity at life, and in these two years, I’d missed so most of the issues that made life price residing. I might have been there to listen to Kerry’s comeback album come collectively. Perhaps I’d have been within the bridal celebration for Judy’s marriage ceremony. Had I been there, might I’ve stopped River from shedding his manner? Would Panam and the Aldecaldo nomads nonetheless be in contact, even when they left Night time Metropolis?
Cyberpunk 2077 usually posits that there’s a distinction between residing lengthy and residing nicely. That’s the crux of why Johnny Silverhand’s digital soul persists a long time after the man was murdered by Arasaka. Corpos and their terrified lackeys confuse the concept of a digital model of your self being saved on a tough drive with immortality, regardless of it solely being a replica of your consciousness, moderately than you persisting past loss of life. However Night time Metropolis legends just like the one V aspires to be can even confuse writing their names within the stars to encourage strangers lengthy after they’re gone with taking advantage of your life with those that love and care about you.
Even earlier than V returns to Night time Metropolis, Cyberpunk 2077’s new ending tells you that surviving at any value can imply lacking out on what’s essential to you. V spends all this time looking for a remedy to their affliction, and the one route by which they achieve this means shedding out on each connection you constructed within the course of, in addition to having to go away the life that helped you forge these connections behind. However even after it lays on what you’ve misplaced as thick because it presumably can, Cyberpunk 2077 brings it round to one of many extra hopeful conclusions it provides.
V returns to Night time Metropolis and finds that even Viktor Vektor, the type, honest Ripperdoc who has been a continuing for you thru the sport, has additionally been by means of some large modifications because you had been final awake. He’s partnered with an organization to maintain his clinic afloat, and it comes with all types of laws and necessities, from uniforms to not with the ability to drink on the job. He confirms what Reed informed you: V’s days as a mercenary are lengthy behind them. Your reunion is interrupted by a demanding affected person waltzing in and virtually pushing V out of their chair. However I informed Vik I’d be again, even when it wasn’t to benefit from his Ripperdoc providers.
As I go away, Cyberpunk 2077 takes one other probability to essentially drive house simply how a lot has modified. A thug confronts me, claims I have to be a corpo rat as a result of I got here out of a corpo Ripperdoc workplace. Two years in the past, I’d have made quick work of this asshole. The sport brings up a number of dialogue choices that reference stat checks and my Streetkid origin story. As soon as, every of those would have been a viable choice to get out of the combat, however now my cybernetics are gone, and so is my means to combat again. The dickhead knocks me down a flight of stairs, and after I come to, Misty, my tarot-reading normie buddy, is the one who finds me. She’s leaving town, however is thrilled to see me in spite of everything this time. We discuss my new circumstances, and she or he offers some frank recommendation about how one can navigate Night time Metropolis whenever you’re similar to all people else. You don’t prepare for a brawl whenever you hear gunfire. You run and conceal. You don’t spend your evenings doing crimes to achieve notoriety, you convene along with your shut pals within the security of your personal house.
Even when this ending provides dialogue choices, V exudes an air of dissatisfaction with the hand they’ve been dealt, which may convey some friction to the roleplaying should you’d wish to play a V who’s greater than prepared to go away behind their lifetime of crime to simply have a life once more. However thematically, I discover the dialog with Misty to be probably the greatest reflections on all the things Cyberpunk 2077 has to say about being a legend in Night time Metropolis. She says there are perks to simply being a face within the crowd, and we don’t all need to aspire to change into items of Night time Metropolis’s folklore. There’s really a whole lot of freedom in now not holding your self to some imagined story arc. With out the should be one thing particular in Night time Metropolis, now, V can go anyplace and be something.
The ultimate shot on this new ending, presumably the final one Cyberpunk 2077 will ever get, exhibits V with out their cybernetics and in probably the most generic-ass outfit my fashionista merc has ever worn, mixing into the gang strolling on Night time Metropolis’s streets. There’s a short second of hesitation, adopted by acceptance as V begins strolling to who is aware of the place. You possibly can inform Misty the place you assume you may go subsequent, however I opted to decide on the dialogue that mentioned I didn’t know but, and that open-endedness is engaging to me, even when I don’t assume this ending is the proper match for my V.
Cyberpunk 2077’s unique endings at all times took V to a reasonably definitive conclusion, even when there was some ambiguity as to what the longer term held. They both go away Night time Metropolis with the nomads, go on yet one more large job that is likely to be a suicide run, entrust their life to Arasaka, or give Johnny their physique. What comes subsequent is as much as your creativeness, however even should you’re coloring contained in the traces with your personal palette, the define is already drawn. That’s true of the brand new ending, too, however now that V has been forcibly faraway from the highway to Night time Metropolis glory, there’s new potential not discovered within the different endings
By design, Phantom Liberty is disruptive to Cyberpunk 2077’s narrative, taking a number of tales and characters off the desk to make room for its personal, however that very same disruption is what permits it to subvert and touch upon all the things that’s come earlier than. V may not see it in the meanwhile, however excising Johnny and all their cybernetics forces them to take away themself from a system they’d beforehand purchased into, the one V and Jackie endlessly romanticize within the recreation’s opening hours. The dream of Night time Metropolis legend standing is what bought them into this mess within the first place, and now that they’ve been forcibly faraway from it simply as Johnny was faraway from their head, possibly they will begin to view the world in another way, as nicely.
I really feel a mixture of feelings about it; as somebody who considered my V’s need to be remembered within the face of his personal mortality as paramount to what made his story so impactful, it doesn’t resonate with me in the identical manner the opposite endings do. However as a special approach from which to view everything of Cyberpunk 2077, it fucking hits. It carries items of every present ending with it, combining and retooling them to look at what we all know. You facet with the NUSA very like you facet with Arasaka within the Hanako ending, you reckon with the price of residing an extended life vs. a great life such as you do within the Rogue route, and just like the Nomad alternative, you’re given the chance to take away your self from this life solely. The brand new ending hits on each theme of the unique narrative whereas additionally supplying you with a few of the widest roleplaying choices. It places all its playing cards on the desk and asks you to resolve for your self what it means to you in the long run.
My V would by no means betray Songbird to get right here. He wouldn’t belief the NUSA to have his greatest pursuits at coronary heart to get the remedy. And he certain as shit wouldn’t go away Kerry and everybody else in Night time Metropolis behind. However even when it’s not my story, I love the boldness of Cyberpunk 2077 giving us a “V lives” ending with out it ever entertaining the notion that that is the golden path ahead. As a substitute, it creates an ending that examines all of the others, and even should you don’t select to maintain it as your conclusion, it’s one of the vital thought-provoking the sport has to supply.