Bungie dropped their latest update to Destiny 2 called Beyond Light on the 10 November and with it comes to a bunch of changes, streamlining and improvements to the overall player experience. This is very much more Destiny, so if you’re a fan of the franchise then you’ll likely enjoy the expansion. However, it’s not without its controversy with sunsetting and many old weapons being removed plus the addition of Stasis, the new cosmic ice subclass and our Guardian’s walking the tightrope between the Light and the Dark. The following is my Destiny 2 Beyond Light review.
First of all, we should start up with the campaign. All of our gear has been brought up to the new base power level of 1050 and we start out on Europa, one of the frozen moons of Jupiter. A faction of the Fallen, led by Eramis, have set up camp here on Europa and there in search for their new God, having been deserted by The Traveler many years ago. Eramis is leading a ragtag bunch of Fallen, the Pirate race in the Destiny Universe, and promising to share Stasis with them… a new icy darkness ability that they are going to punish any followers of the Traveler with.
Variks, a returning character from Destiny 1, sent a distress call out and we’ve answered along with an unlikely fireteam of The Drifter, Eris Morn and The Exo Stranger… another returning character from Destiny 1. Drifter and Eris wield the Light, but The Exo Stranger is a new addition, with some very complex lore and backstory that is no doubt going to open up as the content unfolds through the year we have ahead of us in Beyond Light. Our job is to help out Variks and help him rid Europa of Eramis and her evil influence.
The campaign is fairly standard as Destiny campaigns go. We travel around the new and existing destinations, levelling up and beating a variety of bosses. There’s a good amount of storytelling and exposition with the NPCs and this feels like one of the best campaigns we’ve had in Destiny since The Taken King and Forsaken. Shadowkeep last year did feel a little bare-bones, however, Bungie had just been through the split with Activision, who took away a considerable amount of development resources when they left. On a positive note, they left Bungie on their own to take Destiny in their own direction and they’re learning much more into the MMO/RPG elements of the game now. WHere as before the game could be clearly labelled a looter/shooter, now it’s much more of an action MMO.
Back to the campaign. The boss fights throughout felt entertaining and the final battle was satisfying. Much like other campaigns though, we didn’t get too much of a build-up with Eramis, so beating her in the relatively short campaign can feel a little hollow as we don’t know her that well. At the end of the campaign, we get our new stasis ability. Peppered throughout the campaign we have opportunities to use stasis, but getting it for real is saved for the post-campaign.
Once you finish up the main campaign then there’s a little bit of post-campaign work to go through, but it’s entertaining enough in its own right. We get to earn a new exotic stasis grenade launcher through one of the best missions in Destiny history with our ghost doing an entertaining impression of Drifter, plus the exotic reward itself. There are 2 post-campaign questlines too with Variks and The Exo Stranger. Variks’ post-campaign missions open up an activity called Empire Hunts, which are repeatable activities where we face off against bosses from the campaign and give us access to the new Europa weapon set. The post-campaign missions with The Exo Stranger allow us to go after Fragments and Aspects, our new subclass customisation suite of tools.
Stasis is one of the main selling points of the DLC. We’ve been flirting with the Darkness for some time and now we have our first opportunity to wield the darkness in the form of stasis. We only have one stasis subclass at the moment, with more promised in the coming years. We already have 2 more DLCs planned – The Witch Queen in 2021 and Lightfall in 2022 where we’re likely to get more stasis subclasses (poison and earth abilities are currently being rumoured at the moment). Stasis is game-changing… it feels super powerful in PVE, and pretty much game-breaking in PVP, which has reignited the talks of splitting off the sandbox in PVE and PVP. Having one global system that caters for all game modes is very tough, further highlighted this week when only after 7 days stasis was nerfed for the Warlock class, given its overpowered nature across all game modes. The new aspects and fragments system is very good, and the opportunity for new and exciting builds is great… plus it unlocks over time, so there’s plenty to chase and go after each week.
The new location Europa is beautiful. It’s covered with ice and is full of secrets – there’s plenty of lost sectors, hidden loot chests and wide-open spaces to explore. There are new types of public events and even new enemy types too with the Fallen Brigs and the Vex Chickens. Bungie has introduced a dynamic weather system to the location too so the wind picks up and the snow comes in, making it really hard to see. The dynamic weather gives life and variety to the new location. The only thing it lacks is a landing point to the north at the moment. The place is huge too, with Vex and Fallen being the main enemies on this location. There’s a bunch of Braytech ExoScience buildings there, as this is the birthplace of the Exos (although more on the lore with Clovis Bray later on).
Now, let’s have a chat about loot. There has been much talk in the build-up to Beyond Light, due to sunsetting. Bungie decided to implement a power cap system, so a whole bunch of weapons in the game cannot be infused, or their power raised to the current levels… essentially making 50% of the weapons in the game irrelevant. This made a whole bunch of people mad, for good reason… we’ve been collecting for 3 years. However, Bungie promised this removal process was making way for new loot that would be introduced. Currently, in the game, there are about 35-40 new weapons, which seems much less than years before. This is likely due to a resourcing issue. We have the new Europa set, there’s Adept Trials Weapons, plus the new seasonal weapons and playlist specific drops for strikes, crucible and gambit. There was a rapid outpouring of rage when the game was released, with many fans disappointed with the current levels of loot. Bungie responded to this fairly quickly by adding in all of season 10 and 11’s weapons back into the game and acknowledged things weren’t as good as they could be. That new/old loot is being added back into the game on 24th November. As well as some of the weapons being sunset, 4 locations have been removed as well as a bunch of legacy raids too including Titan, Mercury, Mars and Io.
The main playlists have been brought back into focus somewhat now too with Strikes, Gambit and Crucible taking more of a centre stage. One of the main criticisms of Destiny 2 in the past is that to level up in the faster way, players could just grind out bounties. Now, Bungie has placed more emphasis on these core activities allowing players to pick and choose which route they want to go in quests. For example, with the new Pursuit weapon for the season, this is a quest for a Sniper called Adored. To get this you go to the tower and pick a variant from the Gunsmith and you can complete any playlist to get the sniper – where as before it would have been locked behind a specific game mode. This change is seen throughout other quests in Destiny 2 also.
Many of the changes here affect existing players, but another big criticism of the game in a past way the onboarding process for new players. This is called New Light, and it allows new players to get into the action straight away. New Light has initially introduced into the game 12 months ago with the DLC called Shadowkeep and it came in for a lot of criticism because you did a short quest and then were dropped into the Tower, the central hub or home space in Destiny, and players were overwhelmed with quests, NPCs and icons. It was a confusing mess, leading to many players simply bouning out of that experience.
Thankfully the New Light player experience has had a complete overhaul and a new character has been introduced called Shaw Han. He walks you through the opening missions and you get introduced to all characters in the tower in a less confusing manner, although it’s still not without flaws. It does a good job of explaining controls, mechanics, exploration, destinations and systems to new players and hopefully, this will help fewer players bounce from that initial experience. The beauty of Destiny can be found within the end game, but it does take some investment to get there and that isn’t immediately obvious from these player onboarding processes and I can understand why so many players leave confused and frustrated. The breakthrough that initial hard work though and you will be rewarded tenfold.
Beyond Light is full of secrets as you would expect. For example, there are a bunch of dead exos laying around on Europa, and you have to find 9 of them in total for a reward later on. We have Exotic Weapon quests coming, with some really powerful weapons coming soon including the Lament (a chainsaw crossed with a sword) plus Cloudstrike (a sniper that causes Lightning to rain down on opponents on precision kills). There’s even a bunch of penguin collectables to find, although no one is sure what they mean yet.
Lost Sectors have been improved too with Beyond Light, they have a new Legend and Master difficulty and if you can beat them solo then you can have a chance at a drop of the new exotic armour. This is very cool, normally the exotic armour is just added into the world loot pool and you get them at random. However, Legend Lost Sectors were initially tried out in Season 10 (March 2020) and proved to be such a hit that Bungie decided to bring them back. It’d be great for Bungie to expand on this idea. Rewarding solo players who decided to take on these tough challenges can only be a good thing. I’d love to see more of this – specific drops for strikes, crucible and gambit. EVen each lost sector or public event having specific weapons or armour, and if they were themed to that activity then even better. For example, if a big Vex enemy is the boss in a lost sector, then why not drop some armour made from his arms, legs or plating at the end. Trophies of enemies, much like Monster Hunter can only be a good thing especially in a game where you want to show off your achievements visually through the loot.
Another huge plus in this expansion so far has been the lore. This is the storytelling and the narrative weaved into the game. Bungie has not always executed the story elements well in the game, but this is a massive improvement with the re-introduction of The Exo Stranger, Clovis Bray and Ana Bray. Here we have many story elements coming together – The origin story of the Exos, A megacorporation called Colvis Bray headed up by a man with the same name who thinks he’s a god and wants to dabble in immortality. Here within Beyond Light, we have science fiction being told at the very highest level. It really makes me excited for the new 12 months and what we’re going to see. The day I am creating this feature teams of 6 players all over the world are running the new Deep Stone Crypt Raid and it’s possible we could see the world in Destiny 2 change as a result of the winners being declared. We know there are some Exo Training activities yet to be released in the game and I managed to glitch into a secret area earlier in the week, which revealed a massive Exo head… which could be the AI of Clovis Bray himself. All very exciting stuff.
If all that wasn’t enough, we also have Season of the Hunt. Destiny 2 years are broken into 4 seasons, normally lasting 3 months long, although covid may have something to say about that this time. We are currently in Season 12, which is called Season of the Hunt where we get more excellent story… a former dead Prince by the name of Uldren Sov returned to us with the new name The Crow. In his former life, he murdered Cayde-6, our former Hunter Vanguard, as part of the Forsaken Expansion. He was brought back to life by a random Ghost and now he’s ironically working with a Fallen Kingpin of The Tangled Shore called The Spider. This new season also brings with it more story about The Hive and Xivu Arath, a God of War as we look to build up to next years expansion. We have a new activity called Wrathborn Hunts, which is a little like Monster Hunter-lite where we take on a boss when they get low energy they try and run, only for us to hunt them down and finish them off leading to a bigger, harder boss to turn up. It’s a very cool new mechanic and is a refreshing change from the public event-style activities we’ve all been doing for the past 12 months.
There is plenty to be happy about with Destiny 2 Beyond Light. There’s also room for improvement too, primarily concerning loot. So much content has been taken away with weapons, destinations, NPCs and lore. The game was getting massive, and it was trimmed from approx 150GB down to about 70GB. I’d love to see more done with the old subclasses too, they instantly feel out of date and less powerful than the new stasis ability… but I guess that is a good selling point for Bungie. Loot is the main concern at the moment and it’ll be interesting to see what Bungie does in the long term. It’s a tricky one to balance, as they want players to use the new weapons and armour when they come out because a lot of resources, time and effort has gone into creating those. Personally, I’m for sunsetting, but it’s got to be done in the right way and I think we’re at the harshest moment right now concerning sunsetting. From here it’s only going to get better.
Let me know what you think down in the comments.