Destiny 2 Lightfall currently sits at ‘mostly negative’ on Steam. Twitter and Reddit are awash with posts complaining about, highlighting issues with, and outright mocking the latest expansion. Even MyNameIsByf, a longstanding Destiny loyalist with a razor sharp eye for criticism and commentary, has expressed his profound disappointment with Lightfall and the future it sets up for Bungie.
But, all that aside, Lightfall isn’t wholly bad. In fact, in my opinion, I think the mission design of the legend campaign reflects one of the best Destiny experience I’ve had in years: challenging, curated, climactic, and creative. A really intense way of introducing lapsed players back into the game, and a timely prod for those getting too comfortable with their end-game gear sets. It’s just a shame that, beyond that, there’s little to compliment.
This is the penultimate story beat before Destiny’s long-teased, highly-anticipated Light and Darkness climax. It’s a finale 10 years in the making, and – if handled well – has the power to deliver one of gaming’s most cathartic and impressive gameplay/story combinations. It could be the sort of thing that’ll be referred to by devs, players, and business execs for years to come: the pinnacle of service game design, a bastion for devs that want to prove long-term, crowd-shaped games can really deliver.
But right now, most of the game’s fans (yes, even the hardcore, here-since-the-alpha vets like yours truly) don’t think Bungie has what it takes to come good on this decade-long promise. Let’s take a look at why – beginning with some light praise where it’s due.
Legend Campaign: I’ve already alluded to this above, but the Legend campaign difficulty is hard – and all the better for it. It all kicks off with aplomb: The Witness reveals its true nature, we’re taken on a breakneck stowaway mission, and separated from our mates on Earth. Story stuff aside, this campaign is awesome: some real Halo-like moments, some nice intentionality in how it makes you play, and a rip-roaring final couple missions (not you, though, Calus) really drove home how much I miss ‘classic Halo’ encounters cooked up by the masterminds at Bungie.
Some missions felt like raid encounters for babies: a wonderful gauntlet and testing ground designed to show new or lapsed players how to play these end-game, high level encounters properly. Others were… less encouraging, but we’ll get to those in a minute.
New exotics: Full disclosure here, I’m writing this after playing around with the new bow and my lovely Warlock boots for a few hours, and spending basically days using Quicksilver Storm. You can see why this gun is the headline of the season: it’s versatile, can control large groups of adds with its baked-in missile launcher with ease, and hot-swapping to the grenade launcher can do frankly obscene damage to bosses. It can be hard to use, but in good hands, it feels very powerful – that infamous Destiny line between power and risk utilised to amazing effect. It’s the best Exotic weapon since Osteo Striga – and that’s saying something, if you ask me.
Strand subclass: I will start this section by saying that I play Warlock, so popping on my special booties, getting the catalyst for Quicksilver Storm, and becoming a horrible green brood mother feels exceptional. Without too much effort, I’ve been able to craft a build that can swing momentum into my fireteam, control crowds with ease, and quickly and easily recharge my abilities. For me, it feels good – I have taken off Grapple and replaced it with a grenade that makes Threadlings. My Rift generates Threadlings. Popping any Thread Tangles I see gives me Threadlings. I’ve sort-of made a build that just kills things around me, turning my character into its own embodied version of Osteo Striga.
I feel for Titans: there is some decent utility to Strand, but having some pissy Wolverine claws pop for your Super isn’t amazing, and moving away from the shields and buffs of your other subclasses – only to be replaced by a melee-focused subclass that has appalling tracking – is a bit of a duff trade. Hunters, from what I hear from my Hunter friends, are happy because they can just pop a flail and go brrrrrr – and still have a fair amount of utility. I think Strand is decent (once you address that appalling Grapple cooldown, what was Bungie thinking?!) but it’s going to take a little while to settle into its groove. Hey, at least we have Strand-shielded enemies now… I wonder when/if Stasis is ever going to get that…
The final boss (and the Vex washing machine): What on earth were you thinking, Bungie? The first half of this boss encounter is actually really compelling: smart, tough, and packed with enough randomness to keep you on your toes and raise your heart into your throat. Played on Legend (which feels like the point, let’s be honest), the second phase of the fight is one of the most misguided attempts at difficulty I’ve seen in Destiny over the past nine years… and we know there’s a long list for it to top, there.
Strand Grapple does not feel good in the middle of a battle, and by this point, you’ve not had much of a chance to test it, either. Yes, there was that horrible Strand grapple/washing machine level that came just before, but that felt more like a desperate amateur Spider-Man snuff film, not a cool activation of new powers in a triple-A video game. The bizarre off-pad training montage didn’t count, either. So, without the opportunity to really get to know Strand, you’re expected to beat a hyper-hard final boss – bullet sponge mode activated – whilst trying to save your ass from his horrible boops of death by spaffing out a shit grapple hook that glitches out 50% of the time? That’s how you want us to see out the end of the campaign, Bungie? Frustrated and resentful of our new powers? Mind-boggling.
The new characters (and Osiris): Imagine if Otto from The Simpsons was the Illusive Man in Mass Effect. Imagine Iggy Pop in place of Bruce Willis in Armageddon. Think of the bright-eyed, young (and stoned) Owen Wilson in place of Sandra Bullock in Gravity. That’s what Bungie has done with vendor newcomer and all-round feckless idiot, Nimbus, in Lightfall. This budget Silver Surfer is the defender of the new location, Neomuna, and your point of contact on this otherwise lifeless planet (more on that later). He’s obnoxious, quippy, and patently unfunny – and paired with “one day until I retire” trope machine, Rohan. These two are horrible, paper-thin characters that exist purely so Bungie can wrangle emotional story beats out of them… but paired with the character assassination of Osiris, they’re nothing.
A bitter, misanthropic man with declining mental health and a narcissistic desire to over-explain concepts he himself knows precious little about… that doesn’t entirely stack up with the Osiris we’ve known up until this point. He’s always been odd – spending lifetimes in the Infinite Forest will do that to you – but his single-minded and ‘off’ obsession with Strand undoes a lot of good character development in Lightfall, and succeeds in making him one of the most aggravating people you’ve had on your radio in the entire Destiny experience. I’m sorry you lost your Ghost, mate, but could you please stop taking it out on me?
The Storytelling: It’s so… unimportant? Coming hot off the heels of The Witch Queen and some of the most menacing hours of Destiny lore to date, this whole thing – where we’re introduced to a war on two fronts, where we’re told the universe is under threat, where we see the very heart of the Traveller ripped open! – is casually cast aside as we’re booped onto Neptune to run errands for a California surfer bro whilst all our pals on the Tower fight for their lives? What? A baffling decision, poorly executed and explained.
What adds insult to injury is the way the story is told. There’s a macguffin – the Veil – that is apparently some unlikely and impossible source of paracausal power that’s essential to The Witness (the Big Bad, if you follow) and its plans to undo the Traveller (the corresponding Big Good). At no point in the game are we told what The Veil is. At no point are we clued in as to why it’s so important. Even that blurb I’ve given you there is more than the information you get in-game. If you want to have some real fun, take a shot every time a character says ‘radial mast’ – another device you’re not really clued in on. You’ll probably die from alcohol poisoning within one mission.
I’ve said before that Destiny is one of the best sci-fi stories in gaming, but told in the most frustrating and irresponsible way. Witch Queen began fixing some of these elements, and Lightfall has shortchanged them drastically. It doesn’t bode well for The Final Shape, and what comes next.
Neomuna: The big new location that we’re supposed to be pumped to explore was promised as this big cyberpunk city in the sky – a cloud-swaddled utopia where a race of mega-intelligent super people fled to as The Collapse tore through the solar system. What we got was a deserted tech demo of a level where the lights are on but no-one’s home. Canary Wharf running on a PlayStation 3. A network of straight-forward streets and enemy cupboards strung together with few places of interest. Strand energy leaking through the floors like smelly lines of visible sewage, the whole place feels odd – and Strand feels thumbed into it all, an energy clearly once designed for Mara Sov or Savathun wrangled to fit into Neptune for no other reason than appeasing the content pipeline.
Combine this with the aforementioned dullard characters and a series of hateful NPCs that chatter to you over the Patrol intercom, and you’ll spend most of your downtime on Neptune wishing you were literally anywhere else. Even dealing with the Throne World and its oppressive goth grimness was more uplifting than whatever tonal migraine Neptune has ended up being. The whole place feels like a tribute to the worst bits of the MCU: an absolutely hateful concept, given those facile action romps are xeroxes of xeroxes themselves.
I come at Lightfall from a place of frustration: I like Destiny 2, I have over 600 hours in the series at this point. I know Bungie can be the best of the best: just look at the way the legend campaign works when it’s firing on all cylinders. Look at how good The Witch Queen was. Pick up any exotic – or listen to the firing noise of any gun in the game – and tell me a title that does it better. I was told by a very high profile developer from a major, triple-A studio this week that they and their team refer to Destiny whenever they need to work on making their guns feel good. That says so much about the status of this game.
If – and what an ‘if’ – Bungie can get its act together and really target something special for The Last Shape when it launches in 2024, I think it’ll be one of the most impactful and impressive events we’ve ever seen in gaming. Even at its worst, in the past (House of Wolves, D2 launch, Warmind) I thought Destiny could still pull it all together and deliver on its last big beat.
As things stand, right now, I do not think that it can. I hope Bungie proves me wrong.
Denial of responsibility! insideheadline is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.