The teaser trailer for Cyberpunk 2077’s upcoming expansion Phantom Liberty was a brisk 58 seconds, and left fans scratching their chrome-plated heads over some key, unanswered questions: Why is V pledging allegiance to the New United States? What does “Phantom Liberty” even mean? And who is that woman who looks like another engram (the only other being Johnny Silverhand)? Well, some fans think they may have deduced the answer to two of those questions, or at least pinpointed a particular side-quest that might be related to the DLC.
Yep, you guessed it, all this hubbub concerns the spine-tingling Peralez quest, “Dream On.” Right now it’s all just speculation to be sure, but I’m finding the fan theories pretty convincing, and entertaining to contemplate while we all wait for more answers.
Of course, to talk about this we’ll have to get into some serious spoilers, so if you haven’t played this quest, you might want to freeze this tab, go play it, then delta back to here so you can debrief, choom.
On the r/LowSodiumCyberpunk subreddit a few days ago, user Kyfigrigas brought up the strange connection between the title of Cyberpunk’s upcoming DLC, Phantom Liberty, and a seemingly unimportant name in a computer interface sequence at the end of “Dream On.” What’s more, the creepy political thriller vibes of the Peralez quest-line feel very resonant with what little we know about Phantom Liberty’s apparent focus on the political drama of Cyberpunk’s world. Still, nothing is certain and, as one commenter put it, there are a lot of “interesting” connections, but not necessarily evidence just yet. All that said, read on for some interesting theory-crafting brain food to munch on while we wait for more about Phantom Liberty.
It all starts with the name of an NPC: Liberty Patel, who is briefly seen in a flurry of computer visualizations as one of a number of victims. As you may know from playing “Dream On,” someone is out there warping the minds of people, particularly the Peralez political power couple, in hopes of completely controlling people, possibly replacing their entire personalities with new ones. Liberty Patel is, according to information you glimpse at the end of the quest, one of these victims. The effects of the technology in play here feel very reminiscent of the way V’s consciousness is being overwritten by Johnny Silverhand throughout the game’s main story. This Liberty character, it seems, is one of the victims of the efforts to control or erase minds, so we can assume that her mind has been erased in some form or fashion. Beyond the obvious mention of “Liberty” in this character’s name and the title of the DLC, there’s a bit more. Fans are drawing visual comparisons between Liberty Patel and the mysterious engram character seen in the Phantom Liberty trailer.
“Her hair even matches the engram we see in the trailer,” noted one Redditor. “All the other faces that appear [during this sequence] are pretty nondescript, whereas she has an eye patch and brightly colored hair, and distinguishing makeup.”
The engram in question appears around thirty seconds into the Phantom Liberty trailer. The glowing visual artifacts that surround her look nearly identical to the ones that surround Johnny Silverhand (though they’re a different color, red—a prominent color during the entire Peralez story). This unidentified character is seen very briefly, so it’s difficult to say for certain the appearances are the same, but, as the comment says, the hair is rather similar, and it’s hard to make out whether or not this character has an eyepatch. And, if this is a digitized version of someone, appearances could be deceptive.
Okay, similar names, a character who looks like she has a bit more intentional design than the other NPC randos, and who looks similar enough to the unidentified, alleged engram we see in the DLC trailer? Interesting stuff. But that’s not all. If you’ve played the “Dream On” quest and have fished around a bit in Jefferson’s computer, you’ll learn that someone named Patel had worked with Jefferson’s election campaign, but was randomly fired by Jefferson—despite him having no memory of firing her due to the slow brain-erase process that unidentified actors are putting him through. As another Reddit comment points out, this character’s name is Lea Patel. Not quite Liberty, but not too far off.
Similar names are one thing, but as many other Redditors noted, there are some thematic and narrative ties between “Dream On” and what, at least from the trailer, we know about Phantom Liberty.
“When you go to the roof from the hidden room and look at the transmitter, Silverhand mentions Militech used this kind of tech during the corpowars, [and] militech is in bed with NUSA,” said one commenter. (NUSA means the New United States of America, the power that V swears an oath to in the trailer.)
A follow-up comment from the thread’s original poster also brings up something Johnny says about the whole memory loss and replacement theme of “Dream On.”
“Not only does Johnny mention militech,” the OP states, “but he also mentions how similar his and V’s situation is to the Peralez’s, with their brains being messed with, which seems like just a straight hint towards the engram in the trailer being related to this imo.”
There are some other speculative comments in the main Reddit thread, including one that dives into a potential name for an unidentified symbol flashed at least twice in “Dream On.” While this is all speculation, we do know that the “Dream On” quest ends without a complete resolution.
That said, we also know that this mystery is intentional, as per comments from Cyberpunk lead quest designer Paweł Sasko, as well as a tweet reply from Patrick Mills, the author of “Dream On,” who stated that, while the nefarious scheme at the heart of the quest may not be neatly resolved by the end, V’s part in this particular thread of Night City life is over.. Maybe that shoots a giant hole in this theory that Liberty Patel has something to do with this. Maybe not.
If we don’t get any answer here soon—Cyberpunk 2077’s Phantom Liberty expansion isn’t due out until sometime next year—hopefully in the meantime we’ll see some light shed on the game’s seemingly impenetrable FF-06-B5 mystery.