The next expansion for Destiny 2 is here! 9 years of guardians defeating the forces of darkness, and recently wielding that dark power for the good of mankind. The Witch Queen expansion had been the pinnacle of story and gameplay combined for the Destiny universe. Will Bungie do the same with Lightfall?
During the Witch Queen campaign, guardians learned not only that they aren’t the only ones who can wield light powers, but that it was given to their enemies by their own god-like being, the Traveler for unknown reasons. Savathun, the Witch Queen, held secrets such as who she worked for, betraying them for the Traveler and hiding something on the planet Neptune so the real villain cannot find it. She had saved our planet hundreds of years ago doing so. It’s then revealed that all who were at war now have a common enemy. The big bad. It’s called, The Witness. A mysterious figure with strange, powerful dark powers. Seeking the Traveler for who knows how long, for a secretive purpose. We now fight side by side with other former threats such as the Cabal and Eliksni species all to save our solar system and the Traveler from the new threat.
The former campaign left us with a lot of questions but ultimately gave players strong storytelling and lore. It ended strong with some questions answered. What were some questions left? Who is The Witness, what does it want, what are its capabilities, and why is it after the Traveler?
Short and sweet of it
Players will kick off the new DLC immediately into the campaign. They learn something called The Veil has been long hidden in a secret city in Neptune. The Witness has been searching for this Veil the whole time. So as guardians, we try our best to beat it to the Veil and stop whatever plans they have for the Traveler.
We are introduced to two new characters, The Cloud Striders. Nimbus is a smart-ass one-liner machine that never takes anything seriously. And Rohan, a stoic veteran who has Nimbus under his wing. They are augmented by machinery that reduces their life span to 10 years. A sacrifice that all Cloud Striders are willing to accept to protect Neptune’s only city. The Veil keeps the city powered so they must protect the Veil as well.
Throughout the campaign, we find specific points of green energy. This is the guardian’s new darkness power called Strand. The origin of these powers is unknown aside from it possibly originating from the Veil. Here’s where things go downhill when it comes to story content and pacing.
A story never told
There is barely a story. Plain and simple. The entire campaign has guardians finding Strand and trying to “master” it to use against The Witness. When it’s convenient, you wield Strand, then become “exhausted” so that it goes away, you then continue bits and pieces of the mission without it. The entire campaign felt like an excruciating tutorial. This is especially true for those who try to complete it in legendary mode with friends. You don’t get to unlock Strand until the completion of the campaign. Bungie could have easily allowed Strand to be unlocked, give players a side mission to test out powers then continue. Leave the experimenting and fun to the players time, not the campaigns time.
Aside from Bungie drip-feeding us Strand, without spoilers, there is no resolution nor answers to the story. Only more questions. We see a lot of cinematics after each campaign mission, but I think Bungie confuses the cinematic experience by throwing a bunch of cinematics and cool action scenes. Give us a progressing story and lore. Not more mysterious events, MacGuffins, and more questions. The same questions kept repeating in my head after every mission. That question is…. what?!
Osiris, one of our guardian friends continuously repeats how important it is to protect the Veil. Yet, no one knows what the Veil is, including the Cloud Striders. We also don’t know why The Witness needs the Veil or why it’s after the Traveler. Things just simply…happen. Including the end boss. Not one of those questions mentioned before are answered. Nimbus is another character consistently talking while saying nothing. His cheesy one-liners are akin to Cayde-6 with none of the charisma. More of an annoying youth. Call me a Cayde-6 Stan but no one can replace him. Bungie, please stop him from talking.
Even the new enemy type, the Tormentors are a confusing addition. Are they serving Calus, the Emperor that serves the Witness? Or do they serve The Witness? Where did they come from? Why are they so damn hard to kill? Granted their difficulty is a welcomed addition, but they have no back story. They’re only a threat.
The campaign itself is very short but can be challenging if you play with others. The game scales in difficulty if you play in legendary mode and gets harder with the more players in your fireteam. I, myself played with one other person and still found the game easy aside from a few difficulty spikes towards the end of the legendary campaign. It was completed in less than 10hrs after launch. If you’re in it only for the story, you will be sorely disappointed. I hope Bungie redeems themselves throughout the year with their seasonal content and storytelling. I do, however, don’t accept the reliance on a year of content to drip feed story when the Witch Queen didn’t have that problem by the end of its campaign. Lightfall is poor storytelling with a year to fix things used as a crutch.
The game is where it’s at
So, is the game still fun? I can emphatically say yes! Strand is a great addition to our powers and plays very differently from the rest. You can choose to throw some special grenades that release little critters called Threadlings, grapple around maps like Spiderman, or create tangles. Those are balls of energy that can be used to grapple to without expending your cooldown, shoot it for explosive damage, or grab it and throw it like it’s a grenade.
This allows players to create some crazy fun builds and experiment with the grapple mechanics. Imagine throwing a rocket, grappling it, and having it thrust you to the next map area. That’s how crazy things can get. To get all you need to fully customize your character with Strand, players will need to play with their barebones class first while collecting strand meditations. This is the currency used to buy more perks/powers for Strand.
Additionally, the game has changed its mods structure. Before, players would have to make their armor pieces a particular element to use certain mods they wanted. That’s done away with now. Now you can use any mods on any armor that’s been unlocked via guardians’ ranks. A new system to help guide new and old players throughout the enormous amount of content Destiny has to offer. It’s also used to show off how seasoned you are in Destiny.
Loadouts are the biggest welcome. Veteran players have been asking for this feature since the days of vanilla Destiny. It makes your builds easy to manage and equip everything, immediately ready for a particular encounter. Do you have a specific raid set you equip compared to your PvP setup? No problem. You can make up to 8 custom load-outs for all cover all your basis.
Another great addition is the commendation system. After every mission, event, PvP match, etc completed with other players, you can give them a commendation to reward their participation.
This helps players gauge whether another player is worth playing with or not when Bungie implements their LFG system at some point this year. At the moment, it gives no other purpose other than zeroing in on griefers and AFK’ers.
What a Skybox
One thing Bungie knows how to do consistently is the environment. The new planet Neptune and its city Neomuna is an amazing sight. Giant skyscrapers, neon lights, battles being fought in the background, and a giant ship menacingly landed, awaiting exploration.
There are the usual patrol side missions to do, lost sectors, public events, and global events to choose from. Even the Helm, an old location that changes throughout the year, has a new skybox of an amazing view of the Traveler and all that occurs throughout the campaign. I found myself staring in awe at how they could make such a massive scale in design.
Lightfall worth it?
If you’re into customizing characters, Destiny has lots of microtransactions that are all cosmetic and fun to use. I, myself have a few builds that look like Spiderman, Peter Quill, Dr. Doom, and Starfox. There are tons to buy if that’s what you’re into. Ghost shells, sparrows, weapon and armor skins, and a ridiculous number of emotes. Microtransactions aren’t something new, and some players may be put off by them, but the option is there. It’s not forced upon you. It’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
Unfortunately, if you’re a new player looking to try Lightfall, I would not recommend it. It will leave players confused and put off by all the mysteries and setups for what’s to come during the year. It’s also overwhelming with content if you come in alone. This is not a game to play alone. Once the LFG system is put into place, my views of the DLC may change. But for now, save your money, and wait 6 months to a year to see what develops.
For old guardians looking to come back, please do. There are some welcomed changes and lots of content to dive into that is new and familiar. Just don’t expect any answers to the story if that matters to you. It’s a lot of fun but it doesn’t give that same thrill it did from the last DLC.
This review is based on a retail digital copy of Destiny 2: Lightfall.