Phantom Liberty Finally Gives Cyberpunk 2077 A Cyberpunk Ending

Cyberpunk 2077 has many endings, so it’s quite impressive that I didn’t particularly like any of them. There’s one fake-out ending, which results in a game over but still has you play through the rest of another ending, and that’s the best one. V, deciding she will never be cured of the suffering inflicted by the malfunctioning relic, discusses her fears with Johnny and he convinces her to jump off the roof, killing them both. It’s dark, but it fits their characters and fits the dystopian tone Cyberpunk 2077 aims for aesthetically but rarely pulls off thematically. Phantom Liberty brings a new ending for the base game, but it’s the finale of the expansion that offers the best version of what Cyberpunk 2077 wants to be.



Obviously, this article contains spoilers for Cyberpunk 2077 Phantom Liberty’s ending. And also the main game, but you can only blame yourself if the roof thing was a spoiler. I mean, look at the headline. My colleague Andrew King reviewed Phantom Liberty and wrote a breakdown of the new ending it adds to the base game, but he and I have altering views. Personally, I didn’t care for the final ending, but was a big fan of the expansion’s ending itself – Andrew meanwhile didn’t like the rush of the expansion’s closer, but found depth in the new wrap-up for the base game. It probably depends on who your V is and where you think their story should go.

Related: Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty’s Opening Is Too Needy

In one of the original endings, V can join the corpos and head to space in a confusing and drawn-out segment. There’s obviously something chilling about joining the bad guys, but this is no ‘do it to Julia’. It doesn’t fit V or the story at all. You can also run off with Panam, which may mean freeing yourself of Johnny or becoming Johnny. The first is too hopeful and the second is too weird. You can team up with Rogue, taking down the bad guys by freeing yourself or becoming Johnny, which feels too clean (or too messy if you ‘become’ Johnny). There’s also a secret ending where you solo Araska as Johnny, but it’s more of a gameplay challenge than a true ending narratively.

Panam riding a bike in the badlands of Cyberpunk 2077.

The problem with these is they misunderstand the genre the game is named after. There’s the ‘bad’ ending (becoming a corpo) and a ‘good’ ending (escaping with Panam), as well as the ‘video game’ ending (defeating the bad guys hooray). It lacks balance. There needs to be light in the dark, shadow in the light. I don’t want to get away clean, but I also don’t think the game committed enough to the nihilistic worldview it was trying to create via Johnny for the corpo ending to work. Thankfully, Phantom Liberty manages to balance the bitter and the sweet.

There are a few choices you can make throughout Phantom Liberty. The expansion begins when you get a call from Songbird, who says she can remove Johnny from your neck without harming you in exchange for a favour. However, when Songbird is taken prisoner midway through said favour, you need to rescue her. As the conspiracy unfolds, it appears Songbird is a traitor who played everyone against each other.

There is a pretty classic ‘video game’ ending in all of this. Songbird becomes the villain, and you work with Solomon Reed (Idris Elba) to bring her in. But if you go through extended conversations with her, you’ll see that she is dying, just like you, in a remarkably similar way. She wasn’t lying – she does have a cure. But to get it, you both need to get it. I sided with Songbird, and so became a traitor too. In being able to make that choice and having me be in the dark about the consequences of either outcome, the expansion immediately raised the stakes and made them matter.

During the final mission, you are pursued by Reed and can loiter during his conversation with the President to learn they plan to kill Songbird. Later, Songbird passes out from her injuries, and Reed finally catches you. He tells you he will take care of Songbird if you hand her over, but you know this is a lie. You can hand her over anyway in exchange for your own freedom. Or you can shoot him, staying loyal to Songbird. Again, more depth than the base game offered – and there’s yet one more twist.

Cyberpunk 2077 Solomon Reed carrying Songbird-1

While Songbird drifts in and out of consciousness, she becomes delirious and apologises to V. You can dismissively tell her everything’s okay, or you can press further – if you do, she will explain that everything she has told you is true: there is a cure, it will work on V, and they are going to get it. The only catch is there’s only a single dose.

Songbird is dying. Not in the slow, inevitable eventuality way V is. She is presently dying in your arms. She needs this cure now, or she needs a pine box. Do you let her have it, even though she’s now at least three lies deep leading you along? Is V that good of a person? Or rather, is V at least good enough to not turn her friend over to the man who will execute her? I decided my V was not. Once bitten, twice shy, thrice ready to turn over a traitor for execution to save my own skin.

I watched Reed carry Songbird off in his arms in the rain, her metal carapace glistening in the night-time noir, and I finally felt as though I was in a cyberpunk story. No heroes, no villains. A little hope, but mostly despair. V wasn’t a corporat or a Night City legend – she was just a desperate person in a desperate situation who took desperate measures. Finally, it was a resolution.

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