Season of the Risen Review in Destiny 2

Season of the Risen is coming to a close, and it’s been a pretty good season, considering normally the seasons that release with major expansions tend to be lacklustre. Season of the Risen appears to have bucked that trend, delivering on story, activities and loot. Today I’m going to be looking back at Season of the Risen, and looking at the highs and lows and what Bungie could improve in the future.

I’m going to look at the story, activities, weapons, armour, events, how Risen compared to other seasons, plus what Bungie could improve in the future. Before we jump in, I’d love to hear what you thought of Season of the Risen, what you liked, what you’d improve, plus what would you score it out of ten?

Without further delay, let’s start off with the story.

Story

Seasons that arrive with a major expansion always have a tricky task, given the main focus of the audience is normally on the campaign. I think Bungie did a good job with Risen, as the seasonal story was interweaved with the story of Witch Queen.

In terms of a brief summary of the story, we’re working with The Cabal to study Hive Lightbearers to find out more about their plans now they have attained the Light through Savathun. The main focal point of the season from a character development point of view are Crow, Lord Saladin and Caital. Crow doesn’t like the fact we’re studying the Hive Lightbearers, but Saladin insists sometimes in war you have to do what needs to be done.

In one of the narrative highlights of the season, we see a cutscene, looking back into Lord Saladin’s past. Here we see Lord Saladin having mercy for a young theif, who grows up and turns out to be a killer. Saladin swore he’d never make the same mistake again. The right path isn’t always easy to find, the only question is whether you are strong enough to walk it.

We had a new area in the H.E.L.M. built at the back, and this is where Psions sit in their equipment and explore the minds of the Hive. Crow took it upon himself to unplug one of the Psions mid-mind-exercise, and the machine broke and killed the Psion. Caital, didn’t take this news very well and wanted revenge on Crow. A life for a life. However, at the last moment, Lord Saladin stepped in and offered up his life. Rather than take his life, Caital spared him and assigned Lord Saladin (as Braccus Forge) to the Cabal. Saladin would leave behind his Axe, his Iron medallion, plus also the promise he’d be back for Iron Banner next season.

The story this season was much shorter, although we’re coming off the back of a very long season in Season of the Lost. Normally, we’d get around 10 weeks of story, this time we only had 4. That’s not surprising considering this Season was delivered alongside the Witch Queen expansion. I liked the story developments with Crow, Saladin and Caital – I felt like we got to know them even better. We’ve spent a lot of time with Crow since he returned in Season of the Hunt, and it looks like Bungie is going to continue building up his character.

Caital got some interesting story developments this season, flirting with Zavala quite a lot. There’s also friction in the Cabal ranks, with some Cabal defecting to Calus, who appears to be a Disciple of The Witness, and perhaps on his way back to our Solar System.

Lord Saladin’s exit from the Tower was a big surprise, with the Iron Lord stepping in to save Crow. Crow is losing his mentor once again, first time it was Osiris, now Saladin… he’s going to need someone to keep him on the straight and narrow. Saladin seems to be doing just fine in the Cabal ranks, already getting promoted and starting his own Iron Banner-style tournament there. He’s now Valus Forge, since Cabal kept challenging him, and he’d split them in half with his Iron Axe. Overall, it was a good story albeit a little shorter than we’re used to. I’d give it a 8/10.

Activities

The main activity this season was the PsiOps Battleground. As far as these matchmade activities go, I think it was a good effort. There were 3 variants, released week over week. We had different variations of Lucent Hive to fight, and the battle at the end with the Echo of Savathun was good fun. This was better than Astral Alignment from Season of the Lost for me, plus we had the mechanic of the Synaptic Spear.

Another activity this season was the Vox Obscura Exotic mission on Mars. It was good to see old Destiny 1 Mars come back, but this mission didn’t really make we want to come back week over week and keep playing. I think I only did this a few times and then never returned to it.

I think Bungie set the bar pretty high with previous seasons, especially in Season of the Lost with the Shattered Realm. The huge areas, exploration, mixed with loads of secrets and triumphs. It may be I didn’t engage enough with the activity, and it was there for me to discover, however, I didn’t feel that pull to come back.

It’s another case of the activities feeling a little light when you judge Season of the Risen on its own merits, but you have to remember it launched alongside one of the best expansions in Destiny 2. Overall, I’ll give the activities 7/10.

Weapons

There was a whole bunch of weapons added this season, much that came with Witch Queen, as had a shake-up to the world loot pool for the first time in a long time. Looking at the Legendary Weapons from PsiOps Battleground they were pretty good. If I had to pick a few favourites I’d say the Piece of Mind Pulse Rifle, Sweet Sorrow Auto Rifle and also Under Your Skin, an Energy Combat Bow.

We had a couple of Exotics for the season including The Dead Messenger and the Wave Frame Energy Grenade Launcher. We also had Grand Overture, a new Cabal styled Machine Gun. It may have been a season too early for a new Machine Gun given the buff they are going to get next season, although I think Grand Overture may miss that buff. I enjoyed the Grand Overture more than Dead Messenger, having not really played with Dead Messenger after I did the weapon review.

Nightfall weapons this time we are from Destiny 2, with the Duty Bound and Silicon Neuroma. This felt like a bit of a regression from the Destiny 1 weapons returning. I’ve been playing long enough to still have versions of those weapons, so they didn’t really get me excited to run Nightfalls and get them again. Playlist weapons were pretty good with the Fortissimo Shotgun being my favourite. Iron Banner had one stand out weapon this season with the Razor’s Edge, a Void Power Sword.

Overall, I thought the seasonal weapons were good, however, the Exotics and the Nightfall weapons were a bit of a letdown. I’d give the weapons 7/10.

Events

This season we had Guardian Games. I, unfortunately, missed the first two weeks, so I didn’t get to engage in the class-based competition. In terms of what happened in-game, I thought the Tower looked good, the armour was great and the new Title Submachine Gun was very cool. The activity had a strike scoring from Destiny 1 feel to it, and there was matchmaking on 1550 Nightfalls. These are quality of life updates that should be rolled into the main Vanguard Ops playlist in the future. Guardian Games always descends into the rigged conversation on social media, which is all very tiring. The events also tend to come at a time when the Destiny community is most frustrated and bored with the content, so I think some of that frustration boils over onto social media and through the feedback channels. Overall, I’d give the event 8/10.

How does it compare to other seasons?

When comparing this to other seasons Bungie has released in Destiny 2, I don’t think it’s up there with the best of them, for example, Season of Chosen, Opulence and Dawn. They stand out as some of the best seasonal content Bungie has put out. It’s not really fair to judge Risen against these ‘full seasons’, given this arrived alongside Witch Queen.

Comparing Risen to Undying and Hunt, which arrived with the launch of Shadowkeep and Beyond Light, then I’d say Season of the Risen is the best season we’ve had to release alongside an expansion. They managed to make it feel part of the story, the activities were good fun, and the loot was rewarding. We didn’t get any game-changing lore, like in Season of Dawn, or a ground-breaking activity like the Menagerie from Season of Opulence, but we did get a coherent season, with interesting story beats that complimented the expansion’s release.

What could Bungie improve?

In terms of improvements, I like the format of the Shattered Realm, and the week over week discovery aspect, when comparing it to something like Vox Obscura. Something like the Glykon mission, which was found on the Tangled Shore was one of the most successful Dungeon-like experiences in Destiny, it would be great to see more of that.

The matchmade 3 person activities do feel like they are getting old now, and it’d be good to see Bungie mix them up a little bit. I think we’ve been doing these now for many, many seasons… PsiOps was a good variant of these, better than Astral Alignment, but not as good Contact found in Season of Arrivals for example.

I’d prefer to see Destiny 1 weapons come back into the rotation rather than Destiny 2 weapons. Or even better, new weapons and designs. Events appear to be changing for the better, with Bungie announcing some major changes to the event model last week in their This Week At Bungie Update. Overall, good effort, and a massive improvement over other seasons that have been released with expansions. I’d give the whole season a 7.5/10.

Let me know what you think in the comments, what did you think of Season of the Risen, and what would you score it out of 10?