Destiny is now entering its tenth year of release, and that journey has been filled with plenty of ups and downs. Following the wildly successful release of The Witch Queen expansion last year, Bungie’s decade-long journey is quickly approaching its conclusion.
With Destiny 2: Lightfall being the penultimate expansion in the light and dark saga, there were plenty of questions left to be answered as the final clash with The Witness drew near. With an all-new subclass, the return of an old foe, and a brand new neon-soaked destination, expectations were at an all-time high. The big question here is: does it live up to it? Read on to find out.
What The Veil is Going On?
Destiny 2: Lightfall picks up immediately after the end of Season of the Seraph. The Witness has arrived in our solar system and is mounting a full-on assault on the Last City. Rumors of an all-powerful weapon hidden away on the surface of Neptune have reached the Vanguard. Osiris, along with the Guardians, makes for a last-ditch effort to secure The Veil and fight back against The Witness. When they arrive, they discover a secret civilization in the city of Neomuna, along with a mysterious new dark power known simply as Strand.
Any review of Lightfall must begin with Strand. This is the second new Darkness subclass Bungie has introduced and, by far, the most exciting addition to the game. With its mysterious thread-weaving powers, the subclass is highly focused on mobility and weaving powerful weapons from the threads that surround us.
Strand is a blast. As the old saying goes, “any game is better with a grapple,” and that rings true here. Zipping around Neomuna is exciting, and finishing things off with a powerful slam ability into a large group of enemies never gets old. It adds a whole new dimension to the game and, with its powerful build crafting potential, is a genuinely viable addition to your arsenal for even the most difficult of activities. The Warlock’s Broodweaver subclass focuses on summoning a threadling army to attack your enemies, while the Hunter’s Threadrunner is hyperfocused on mobility with a powerful new roaming super. Titans, as usual, are all about meleeing everything in sight, but new builds, such as the infinite suspend build, are a potent option for endgame activities. Strand is the single biggest highlight of LIghtfall and is a fantastic addition to the game.
Much has been made about Lightfall’s story since its release. It’s certainly a step down from The Witch Queen and even some of the seasonal storylines we’ve had over the past year or two. “What is the veil?” has become a running joke at this point, and it’s true that this all-powerful object that everyone seems to be going after isn’t explained a single time during the main campaign. Given that most of the campaign is spent chasing after this mysterious object, it certainly would have done some good for Osiris and the new Cloudstriders Nimbus and Rohan to take a few minutes and explain what exactly it is.
With that said the criticisms of Lightfall’s story have been a little overblown in my opinion. Part of it is due to just how good The Witch Queen’s story was. On the other hand, though, I enjoyed Lightfall’s campaign for what it was — an introduction to the Strand subclass, the city of Neomuna, and to the story beats we’ll be seeing over the course of the next year. I’ll admit, there isn’t enough doom and gloom for how dire the situation is at the start of the campaign, and there are certainly some questionable decisions throughout the story. Lore buffs and people who are really into Destiny’s story will likely be disappointed, and there are a lot of questions still left unanswered -– some of which will likely be revealed in the lead up to The Final Shape next year. On the other hand, if the gameplay is important to you, then I think Lightfall’s campaign delivers on that front.
Lightfall’s campaign has some of the most enjoyable and creative mission design and gameplay in the series yet. The addition of Strand unlocks tons of possibilities. I would go so far as to say that I enjoyed playing through Lightfall more than The Witch Queen on a gameplay front. It’s just unfortunate that the story doesn’t quite meet the high bar that Bungie has set over the past year or two.
Some other big shake-ups introduced with Lightfall are the quality of life and systems additions. The new Loadout system has been an absolute godsend, allowing you to customize and save your own personally tailored loadouts, and swap between them on the fly. There have been ways to do this in the past with third-party tools like Destiny Item Manager, but these were clunky, and it’s just way more convenient to have them built right into your inventory. This is perhaps one of the most useful additions Bungie has added in years and will be an invaluable tool for both new guardians and veterans alike.
On the flip side, Bungie has also added the Guardian Ranks and Commendations system. Guardian Ranks are a sort of pathway to becoming the ultimate guardian and were introduced as a means to guide new players on what they should be doing next. It’s an interesting idea in theory, but the implementation leaves a lot to be desired. Because the ranks reset every season, there is little sense of long-term accomplishment and almost no reason to grind them out aside from a little number next to your name.
Commendations are a similar story. After nearly every activity, a new post-action report allows you to give your fellow fireteam members a commendation, with awards like “Patient” or “Thoughtful,” acknowledging them for being a good teammates. On paper, they’re a nice idea, but Bungie has decided to attach progression systems like the aforementioned Guardian Ranks to them. To hit Guardian Rank 9, one must hand out 1290 commendations (and that’s after the amount was quickly lowered due to negative feedback). Making these a requirement for things like powerful rewards and long-term progression systems utterly defeats the purpose, and players are already finding ways to game the system to get as many as possible quickly. Again, it’s a nice idea on paper to give players a way to acknowledge good teammates, but as it is now, it is simply a means to an end.
Destiny 2 Lightfall is somewhat of a mixed bag for me. While the Strand subclass is incredible, and I’ve been really enjoying actually playing the game, the story leaves a lot to be desired, and some of the new additions seem a little half-baked. The new Vow of the Disciple raid feels more like a strike due to how easy it is while exploring basic patrol zones on Neomuna feels like a death trap. If a new player asked me if this is the time to jump into Destiny 2, my honest answer would probably be no. The Guardian Ranks system is a step in the right direction, but there is still a lot of work to be done to make the game easier to get into. As a veteran player, I’ve been enjoying my time, though, and hopefully, Bungie can get things back on track in time for The Final Shape.
- Strand subclass
- Enjoyable and creative mission design
- Gameplay additions like the loadout system
- Commendations and Guardian Ranks system
- Difficulty balance