Phantom Liberty didn't change my mind about the best Cyberpunk 2077 ending

Cyberpunk 2077
(Image credit: CD Projekt Red)

I've just made a series of phone calls in Cyberpunk 2077, and each conversation I have is like getting punched in the gut over and over. My choices in Phantom Liberty have led me here, so I've only got myself to blame, but I purposefully chose them in the name of experiencing the new ending introduced in the expansion. In the lead up to the release of the spy-thriller adventure in Night City starring Idris Elba, nothing excited me more than the news that the expansion would open up the way to a new ending for V. With the tease of a possible life-saving "cure", I wondered how it could bring the story to a close, and whether or not it would change my mind about what I consider to be the best Cyberpunk 2077 ending

I thought, rather hopefully, that Phantom Liberty might give V a better send-off than some of the conclusions we already have in the core game. But nothing could have really prepared me for how affected I'd be by the ending it actually does deliver. As it turns out there really is a cure, but for me, the cost of it is just too damn high, and it's only made me all the more convinced that the best ending in Cyberpunk 2077 is the first one I ever experienced that's been there from the very beginning.

 Warning: Cyberpunk 2077 and its Phantom Liberty expansion spoilers ahead

Stranger in the crowd  

Cyberpunk 2077 Phantom Liberty

(Image credit: CD Projekt Red)

When I wrote about the possibility of a new ending last year, I thought about the question fixer Dexter DeShawn asks us at the start of Cyberpunk 2077. Do we want to aim for a quiet life, or go out in a "blaze of glory"? Little did I know that I would get to see what the quiet life would actually mean for V, because in a sense, that's what Phantom Liberty offers. I just never considered that to get it, you would lose so much in the process. As an expansion that's all about subterfuge, who you can trust is constantly called into question and every single decision in Dogtown is morally grey; I never once knew whether I was doing the "right thing". What I did know, though, was that no matter how I felt about it, I'd have to make a deal with Soloman Reed and help capture Songbird to get the much-promised cure.  

Once everything had wrapped up, I called Reed from the rooftop and it wasn't long before I was whisked away for surgery to rid myself of the life-threatening engram lodged in my head. After bidding a bittersweet goodbye to Johnny Silverhand, V awakens two years later in a hospital bed, and while they're alive, the life they once had is over. You're essentially stripped of everything you know. Gone are the implants and the merc lifestyle, and all of the people you became acquainted with in the lead up to this point have moved on. Returning to a Night City V is no longer familiar with – alone and without the street smarts they once had – just felt so heartbreaking to me. It may be the closest you can get to a quiet life, but as V faded into the crowd just before the credits rolled, I kept thinking the same thing: what does a happy ending really look like for V? 

Good night and good luck 

Cyberpunk 2077

(Image credit: CD Projekt Red)

For me, the answer to that question is companionship. Night City can be a very lonely place. After losing their best friend, V is then faced with the constant threat of the engram and all of the dangers of the metropolis itself. It's why having people you can rely on makes all the difference, and there's no other group that will have your back quite like the Aldecaldos. My favorite questlines in Cyberpunk 2077 all revolve around the nomads. Over time, Panam and the Aldecaldos really do begin to feel like V's found family, and they offer a place outside of the city that feels like home. They offer to help you, no questions asked, and there's such a sense of community and camaraderie about them. I became so attached to Panam, Mitch, Carol, and the rest of the immediate group, and turning to them at the end of my first run felt like the natural choice.

It's not the perfect sunset ending by any means, with some of the members of the family getting hurt in their quest to help you, but it's about as close as you can get in my eyes. Since I romanced Judy - who says she never really felt safe, or that she belonged in the city - it also feels fitting to leave NC behind together. The Aldecaldo's ending may not cure V, but it's such a hopeful, open conclusion. With the promise of a fresh start with your found family and Judy, there's also the chance Panam's contacts might be able to help. I still remember the moment V and Panam looked out over the "city of false promises" and bid it farewell for good. I didn't feel sad. I felt optimistic about their future, which is not yet written. 

I quite like the open-endedness of it in truth. Their path might not be set, and it's not clear how much time V has left, but I like to imagine they all find a sense of belonging – far away from the city that chewed them up and spat them out. Just before the final scene, Panam talks about what's next, and says "you're no longer alone, V". After facing so much by yourself, what could be better than the promise of a future where you're "no longer alone"? That's what I call a happy ending. 

Baldur's Gate 3 convinced me to finally try out Larian's last critically-acclaimed RPG, and it's fast becoming my new obsession.

Heather Wald
Senior staff writer

I started out writing for the games section of a student-run website as an undergrad, and continued to write about games in my free time during retail and temp jobs for a number of years. Eventually, I earned an MA in magazine journalism at Cardiff University, and soon after got my first official role in the industry as a content editor for Stuff magazine. After writing about all things tech and games-related, I then did a brief stint as a freelancer before I landed my role as a staff writer here at GamesRadar+. Now I get to write features, previews, and reviews, and when I'm not doing that, you can usually find me lost in any one of the Dragon Age or Mass Effect games, tucking into another delightful indie, or drinking far too much tea for my own good.