There’s a kind of sweet sadness in going back to your old MMORPG or looter shooter games. On the one hand it’s like slipping into an old pair of shoes, comforting in their familiarity even if they’re aren’t exactly up to your standards anymore with their frayed edges and tattered soles. On the other coming back to a game like this, at least for me, is because there’s a new expansion out that means everyone’s gear (including mine) is worthless again and now’s my chance to come back into the fold. However I’ve found myself shying away from the grind more and more, no longer really interested in the end game for its own sake. So unless there’s a driving force, like in say World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth with it’s great story, I’m unlikely to make it very far. Such is the case with Destiny 2’s latest expansion, Beyond Light, which whilst engaging enough at the start quickly went right back to the grind that I’m no longer looking forward to. Given I’m also in the middle of no less than 3 other time sink games right now I don’t think I’ll ever see the raid in this game and that’s honestly a damn shame.
The Darkness has finally arrived in our solar system, taking with it Io, Titan, Mercury, and Mars. But whilst on the one hand it takes away it beckons all who listen with the promise of the one thing it knows they all seek: power. This power is called Stasis and the Darkness has chosen the new Kell of Kells, Eramis, as their first to wield it. Your powers of the light are seemingly unmatched against it, sending you down your own path with the Darkness. You’re not alone in this fight however as there are many who’ve walked this path before you, namely The Stranger and The Drifter, both of whom walk the fine line between the darkness and the light. What this means for you, a guardian born of the Traveler’s light, is only something you can uncover.
I don’t believe there’s been any significant graphical improvements with this expansion but Bungie has made a name for themselves when it comes to crafting beautiful, larger than life worlds that you’re left to explore. Much like Shadowkeep before it Beyond Light does a great job of revamping old worlds and levels to the modern era, this time around the old Cosmodrome areas getting a significant rework. It was kind of interesting to run what I thought were old strikes coming back again, of course with changes here and there to make the experience fresh once again. So all in all, it’s the same as what I’ve come to expect and the only thing to improve it will be a new gaming PC (when I can order parts for it, that is).
The changes from the last expansion to this one feel a lot less drastic and getting back into the swing of things wasn’t a nightmare of different events all clambering for my attention. Part of this is due to the content vault removing a lot of things and other activities expiring in the interim. For a player returning after a year this is an ok thing to do from my perspective, keeping things a bit simpler for those of us who don’t have time to explore it all, but I do understand the communities’ concerns around it. If pushed I’d definitely say I was more in the camp of making older content relevant more than removing it, especially considering how little (by comparison) the new expansion added.
Of course the biggest change here is the addition of a new subclass which is based around the Stasis power granted by the Darkness. I have to say initially I didn’t really have any clue what was going on with it as it seemed like a weaker version of my Titan’s arc super. However once I understood that shattering icicles was the main source of damage things got a lot more interesting, especially in the mayhem crucible matches where things could quickly get out of hand with a few well placed walls. Again I’ll side with the community here in saying that stasis pretty much ruined PVP for anyone not using the subclass as it was clear that there was a slight advantage to using these new powers over the old ones. As someone who can remember a time when there were only 2 subclasses though this is the exact same thing that happened then as well, it’s just that everyone had a different element so there wasn’t as much synergy as we’re seeing now.
I’m a little disappointed in the gearing up process in Destiny still being such a pain in the ass, given that they had it sorted out pretty well in some expansions in the past. If you’re like me and coming back after a long hiatus you’re going to need to spend some time grinding out gear levels so you’re not woefully underpowered as you go through the campaign. Thankfully there’s a rather easy solution to this and that’s to grind the crucible like there’s no tomorrow. This will get you a bunch of blue gear every time you complete a match, ensuring that you’re able to churn through to the soft cap without too much trouble. Now I didn’t know this when I started out and went back to my old habits of grinding public events. To be clear that’s probably one of the slowest ways to do it so unless you happen across one that’s already in progress with a bunch of other guardians I’d recommend getting into the crucible and grinding those matches. Especially if mayhem is on.
The power grind to the hard cap is the same as it always was and therein is the problem for me. Whilst it’s pretty easy for someone who’s running all 3 characters to make some rather significant progress within the first couple weeks for players like me it’ll take at least twice as long to do so. I’m not advocating for multi-character people to be punished or something, they put in the time so they get the rewards, but it is a bit of a downer to do all your weeklies and then only find yourself 10 or so power levels up whilst everyone is within arm’s reach of the hard cap. This is where Forsaken was really good though as the evolving story was enough to keep me coming back long enough to fully max out my light and even run the raid multiple times until I completed it. For Beyond Light though there’s really no such thing, or at least the game hasn’t made me aware of it.
Whilst PvP is basically just a festival celebrating the new stasis power at the moment I did actually enjoy my time in it whilst I was grinding out gear. Even the weirdly rolled weapons and gear I had felt somewhat competitive and the current weapons of the meta didn’t feel that overpowered by comparison. Like I can remember a time when Thorn was the absolute bane of any matchup and now, whilst it’s still powerful, it’s not the gun I find myself dying to repeatedly every match. I didn’t really pay much attention to my mods or anything like that but judging by some of the builds I’ve read online there’s a lot of room for customisation here and, should I ever find the will to go back and grind again, I can see build min/maxing being one of the fun things I’ll enjoy.
The story is pretty mediocre, especially with the incredibly long build up to the reveal of the Darkness and what it means for the characters in the world of Destiny. Speaking to one of my mates who was around for the lead up to the expansion it sounds like there was a lot of pomp and ceremony put into it, something which a casual like myself would unfortunately miss. That’s probably the main issue I’ve had with Destiny’s story over the past couple years with the transition to more and smaller content drops: there’s just so much of the story that passes me by. The traditional expansion model was a lot better for me in this respect as it meant I was getting the same lore drops as everyone else. Now though? It’s clear I’m missing a lot and the story feels a lot weaker for it. I know that’s really a me problem but I can’t help but pine for the good old days.
Destiny 2 was best summed up by one Steam review I read: “If you like Destiny, it’s more Destiny. If you don’t like Destiny it’s more Destiny”. There’s nothing particularly new or novel for long time players here, it’s very much more of the same. But that’s what a lot of us are coming here for anyway and, being honest about it, I did enjoy my time with it. It’s just that once the grind begins in earnest there’s a very hard limit of how long I’ll keep on with it unless there’s something else to drive me forward. Destiny has lacked that X factor for me since I put it down after Forsaken, the micro content drops and mediocre expansions not being enough to reignite that raiding spirit in me. I still have hope it will though, one day.
Destiny 2: Beyond Light is available on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 right now for $59.95. Game was played on the PC with a total of 204 hours spent in Destiny 2, approximately 14 of those spent in Beyond Light.