Before we get into the view I just wanted to add my voice to the numerous ones who are greiving the loss of Lance Riddick, prolific actor and the voice of Commander Zavala. I was a huge fan of his performances in many of the games I played and to lose him so suddenly definitely came as a major shock. The outpouring of love for both the man and his art has been great to see and I’m glad we’ll get to see just a little bit more of him in the coming months.

Vale Lance Riddick.

I found it kinda hard to believe it’d been a full year since the last Destiny expansion. Granted I gave up on playing any of the following seasons, even though I foolishly paid for them all by getting the deluxe edition. So I’m sure the community has been well hyped about this next injection of content for a while but for me, it came totally as a surprise. Despite my desire for end-game content now reaching an all time low I still enjoyed the campaigns, story missions and other solo-first content that the game put out. So I decided to give this expansion a go and, whilst it really hasn’t changed my perspective much, I got to enjoy it for what it was before putting it down (probably for another year).

The ominous Black Fleet descends upon Earth’s orbit. With the fate of the Traveler hanging in the balance, the Vanguard launches a desperate offensive against the overwhelming enemy force. But their efforts prove to be in vain as the mysterious Witness emerges from its Pyramid, obliterating most of the Vanguard’s forces with ease. As the Traveler unleashes a powerful beam of Light in a last-ditch effort to repel the Black Fleet, the Pyramids surrounding it suppress the attack, leaving the Vanguard reeling in defeat. To make matters worse, the Witness then receives a vision from the Traveler, revealing the location of the enigmatic Veil on the distant planet of Neomuna. In a bold move, Emperor Calus and his Shadow Legion, alongside the Witness’s own elite Tormentors, are ordered to embark on a dangerous mission to retrieve the Veil from the icy depths of Neptune. With tensions at an all-time high, Osiris makes the fateful decision to pursue Calus and the Shadow Legion, fearing that the Witness has already discovered the Veil’s true location. The fate of the Traveler hangs in the balance, and the stakes have never been higher.

Destiny is looking as good as it always does, this new cyberpunk aesthetic really fitting well into the game’s overall art direction. There’s been no engine upgrades that I can find out about and so everything is much the same as it always is. I have to admit that the level design this time around didn’t feel as intuitive as it used to as I found myself reaching for the compass far more often than I usually did. That’s not to say it’s bad, far from it, just that the visual language used to communicate the right path to the player is probably more subtle than it should be. Performance is good, even with HDR and all the trimmings turned on, which probably isn’t saying much given the age of the game. But it’s still nice when a game’s performance doesn’t degrade severely under the weight of its own legacy codebase.

The core game loop hasn’t changed much, still revolving around the same solid gunplay and good old fashioned gear farming that we’ve come to know and love. Much like Witch Queen there’s a legendary campaign to try your hand at, one that will give you enhanced rewards and a nice boost past the first 20 light levels of grinding if you complete it. Most of the core systems that have been introduced over the last couple expansions have been streamlined significantly with things like certain currencies being removed and replaced by regular stuff (glimmer and enhancement cores), simplified difficulty structures for higher end content and the inclusion of a number of quality of life upgrades. All in all, it’s once again more Destiny, just a more well rounded version of itself.

Despite my struggles last time around with the legendary campaign I figured I’d try my hand at it again, just for the sake of it. After looking at a few builds and noting that I had some semi-decent gear I could use for some of the ability based builds I finally settled on an old favourite: fusion grenade spam with the solar titan class. This was my go-to when the elemental wells first came out and, thanks to the streamlined modding, I didn’t have to find a bunch of mods to make it workable. This made the legendary campaign very approachable, still challenging, but at least I knew when I died it was due to either bad RNG or me making some kind of mistake. The only exception to this was when I was forced to use the new Strand based class which didn’t benefit from my gear at all, making me severely underpowered by comparison. This did get rather annoying towards the latter part of the game where the challenge ramped up a bit and so resulted in me doing what I always do in Destiny.

Cheesing shit.

There were 2 encounters that I fully cheesed because they were simply brick walls for me otherwise. One of them was simply because of the strand class and not having any kind of gear that supported it and the other was one that I just didn’t feel super enthused about completing normally because of the numerous 1 shot mechanics that kept killing me. Other than those 2 parts though I felt like Bungie managed to strike the right balance of challenge and reward, even when they piled on the enemies to absolutely absurd levels.

Some of the quality of life changes are noticeable right off the bat. The new modding system is amazing, enabling you to easily identify which bits of gear aren’t fully modded and apply them quickly. This goes hand in hand with the loadout feature which makes it super easy to have a couple sets of gear on hand that’ll allow you to switch up your build without all the clicking back and forth between Destiny Item Manager. The post-campaign mission quests setting up for the rest of the season could use some work though as they weren’t 100% intuitive and required a bit of googling to figure out what I actually needed to do. Once I was past that point though I came face to face with my old friend: the grind.

That’s where I left things as, in all honesty, without that little voice pushing me to get raid-ready at some point in the distant future I really don’t have any motivation to go through the grind. To be sure I’d probably like to play the weekly story missions at some point as it was pretty clear a lot had happened in the time between when I played and when I came back. However the gear grind got to me even before I got fully into it, one of the post-campaign missions basically telling me to grind for an indeterminate amount of time to get certain items before I could progress it. So I sat there for a minute or two, looking at the progress bar that’d take a good while to fill, and just thought I’d be better capping it there.

Which probably also speaks to the story somewhat because whilst it starts off strong it doesn’t stick the landing at all, leaving a ton of things up in the air and deferring a lot to the weeks of upcoming story missions. Given how much has been put into building the world up to this point it definitely felt like a letdown and given my lack of interest in gearing up to any level I don’t know if I’ll get around to seeing some closure on it. I dunno, maybe I will given how it’s gnawing at me, but suffice to say this does feel like one of the weakest campaign endings Destiny has done in a long time.

Looking back at my review of the last expansion I’m kind of puzzled how I scored it. To be sure the core of the game is the same, but I feel like I’m in much the same place with Lightfall now and I don’t really feel like being as generous with the scoring this time around. Usually a new subclass, streamlining of gameplay and all the other trappings would usually be enough for me to give this a thumbs up, put the same score down and move on. But this time I don’t feel that way, even though I feel like the compulsion to go back for the story missions is stronger. This is the dichotomy of feelings I seem to have with Destiny these days, that fire I once had for the gear grind gone means so much of the game is just not valuable to me anymore. Should they be making Destiny more for people like me? Hell no, if the recent raid is anything to go by they’ve managed to get more people playing high end content than ever before so obviously they’re onto a winning formula. It’s just a shame my tastes have move on from what they’re providing.

Rating: 8.0/10

Destiny 2: Lightfall is available on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S right now for $74.95. Total playtime in this expansion was 13 hours with a total of 285 hours playtime overall.

About the Author

David Klemke

David is an avid gamer and technology enthusiast in Australia. He got his first taste for both of those passions when his father, a radio engineer from the University of Melbourne, gave him an old DOS box to play games on.

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