After the impressive Witch Queen expansion and an overall good year of live-service support, it seemed like Destiny 2: Lightfall was finally picking up speed as it headed toward the end of its epic story. After spending 80 hours with Lightfall, the latest expansion for a game we have spent thousands of hours on, my hopes for it have crashed like a Cabal drop pod. The story is so shockingly confusing that even someone like me who has spent a lot of time reading about Destiny’s history couldn’t make sense of it. The new destination on Neptune feels as lifeless as the real planet, and the passable endgame and seasonal activities have so few surprises that they make me feel like we have seen them all before in the worst way possible.
Destiny 2: Lightfall: Description
There are a few things that Lightfall does well, though, like the new Strand subclass, which is a great addition to Destiny’s sandbox. Many of the expansion’s new campaign activities and Nightfall Strikes are also fun and challenging, and the most recent set of quality-of-life changes have mostly made it easier for me to shoot space rhinos in the face. Still, even the best parts of Lightfall can’t make up for this big step back from The Witch Queen.
Some of the best parts of Lightfall happen right at the beginning, when Destiny’s final bad guy, The Witness, comes to our solar system to attack humanity and our allies. But any excitement is quickly sucked into the void of space as you are strangely and inexplicably pulled away from the action to do a sidequest in the Neptunian city of Neomuna that seems to have nothing to do with the main story. The story is not only a low-stakes distraction that takes you away from the real war going on on Earth, but it also makes no sense. That’s not just what I’m saying, either. Some of the best storytellers in the Destiny community have been completely stumped by Lightfall’s story, which makes no sense at all.
Destiny 2: Lightfall: Pros and Cons
- Legendary campaign is (mostly) fun
- Gorgeous visuals and score
- Strand subclasses are fantastic
- Powerful new weapons and Exotics
- Story is unbelievably bad
- Neomuna feels lifeless and empty
- New raid is boring
- Many new weapons are reskins
|CPU||Intel Core i3-3250 / AMD FX-4350|
|Video Card||Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 2GB / AMD Radeon HD 7850 2GB|
|Dedicated Video RAM||2048 MB|
|Operating System||Windows 7 64-bit or Windows 8.1 64-bit or Windows 10 64-bit|
|Free Disk Space||68 GB|
|CPU||Intel Core i5-2400 / AMD Ryzen R5 1600X|
|Video Card||Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 4GB or GTX 1060 6GB / AMD Radeon R9 390 8GB|
|Dedicated Video RAM||4 GB (AMD 8 GB)|
|Operating System||Windows 10 64-bit|
|Free Disk Space||68 GB|
Destiny 2: Lightfall: Long live the Queen
We have been here before. Both Shadowkeep and Beyond Light hinted at good story beats, but they were hard to make work with the way Destiny 2 tells stories. But The Witch Queen gave the impression that the studio had turned a corner. It was a good story that fit well with the game it was in. This makes things worse. Given all of that, we don’t mind that the tone of the campaign is leaning toward an action movie from the 1980s. we like the training montage because it gives us a chance to spend time with the game’s characters before they send us off to defend another “macguffin.” And at the end, we fight with Caitl and her army in a big set piece. It’s great, and a satisfying payoff for all the work we’ve done as allies over the last two years of season-long stories.
In fact, a lot of the encounters in the campaign’s missions are well-thought-out, at least in the missions where you have enough freedom to choose how to handle things. The third mission to destroy the Radial Mast? Even though the story is frustrating, the tour of Calus’s ship is interesting. It looks a lot like the Pyramid Ships, but it has its own gaudy style. There is a good mix of arena size and enemy density throughout the game, which makes missions feel different and satisfying to complete.
Bungie also makes use of the new Tormentors, which are a type of miniboss that show up in a few missions. The trick is that they can’t be hurt until you destroy the weak spots on their shoulders, just like Rhulk in the Vow of the Disciple raid from last year. They work well enough in a few missions, usually in smaller arenas where their tendency to charge you down makes for frantic kiting. In general, though, their presence seems less important than that of The Witch Queen’s Lucent Hive, whose threats were more varied and interesting. Strand is the new subclass for the Lightfall class.
Destiny 2: Lightfall: Neomuna
Developer Bungie promoted the futuristic city of Neomuna as a busy patrol space with a lot of verticality that would go well with Strand and its grappling hook ability before Lightfall came out. But the Neomuna we got is not at all like this. Outside of where the Terminal Overload Public Event is happening (which changes every day), there is not much to fight or do as you walk around the city. You also never see any Neomuni citizens. The easy explanation for this is that they have all uploaded themselves to the “CloudArk,” which is basically Destiny’s version of the metaverse. Because of this, Neomuna feels like a complete ghost town.
The post-campaign quests that take place in the city are also a drag. Most of them give you background information through audio logs or walls of text, and then you have to kill random Vex minibosses in places you’ve already been through multiple times. Not all of these are bad one of them takes you to a Lost Sector set in an arcade that the Vex have taken over but almost none of them stand out for the right reasons, either.
Destiny 2: Lightfall: Loadbearing
The most important thing we want for loadouts is to be able to add seasonal artifact bonuses to them. For Lightfall, the artifact has changed. Instead of a mod that you have to put into your armor, it is now a passive bonus that is always on once you unlock it. But you can only choose 12 of the 25 options at a time, which is a compromise made because some of the effects are so strong. The problem is that for a Void build, I naturally want different benefits than for a Solar build. The artifact can be reset for free, but the system is awkward.
This isn’t just because I’m lazy, either. Switching loadouts in the middle of an activity may be quick and easy, but going into the seasonal artifact and trying to remember which pattern of perks you used for that build makes the process much slower. Instead, I’ve been unlocking the best perks for both Strand and Void loadouts and just not using the other subclasses. Even if you could just turn perks on and off instead of having to completely reset and reapply them all, it would make a big difference. But what I really want is for my artifact choices to be tied to my loadouts, so that they are part of that instant swap.
Less exciting to me are the new Guardian Ranks and commendations in Lightfall. Guardian Ranks were supposed to show how experienced and good at the game a player is, but I’m not sure if that’s what’s happening in practice. Still, two weeks later, most players I meet are at level six, which is the default level. We’ll see how that goes as the season goes on, but the fact that ranks reset every season seems like a mistake on its own. Even if a player hasn’t done the required amount of grinding for a new seasonal activity, that doesn’t mean they can’t complete a master raid or a dungeon on their own.
In the end, Destiny 2: Lightfall is a very disappointing and unimpressive expansion that will leave most players feeling very unhappy. Even though the new Strand subclasses are great, the gear is good, and the campaign is fun to play through, Lightfall’s story, post-campaign content, new patrol space, and raid are all some of the worst that Destiny 2 has had in years. What happened between The Witch Queen and this?
If you are already committed to playing Destiny like I am, you will probably buy this expansion or have already done so. If you’re a new or returning player looking for a good way to start, though, you should get the Destiny 2: Legacy Collection and play through all the old expansions until Lightfall goes on sale. Don’t worry about FOMO; other than Strand, there’s not much to miss here.
This makes Lightfall the DLC with the lowest rating on Steam, even lower than Beyond Light’s rating of 50%. Bungie has a huge job ahead of them to try to change how people see the game and how it’s rated.
Yes, it was fine for new players to jump into Lightfall. I’ve always wanted to try out Destiny 2, and jumping in while everyone was still excited about a new expansion felt like the perfect time. Things got off to a great start.