Lightfall is here, after much build up and a great Season of the Seraph. Today I want to dive into my first impressions of the latest yearly expansion from Bungie; I’m going to get into gameplay, story, strand, our new location on Neomuna, plus quality of life changes like Mods, Commendations and Loadouts too.
First of all I want to get into the gameplay. If you are a seasoned Destiny 2 veteran, then this is all going to be very familiar. Strand, our new Darkness subclass, offers up the most dramatic change to gameplay through the grapple mechanic, which has been implemented pretty well. We get a taste of Strand via the campaign, but it doesn’t really open up until after the campaign when we get access to all oru aspects and fragments. These are ways to modify our Strand setup, to get the most out of the subclass.
So far I’ve been mainly a Warlock since Lightfall released, this has been working really well for me. I was thinking about going into the expansion as a Hunter, but I always default back to Warlock for some reason, and I’m glad I did given the emergence of the Strand and Necrotic Grip builds that have come out since the campaign wrapped up. This is some of the most fun I’ve had playing as a Warlock. I was late to Stasis, having played through Beyond Light as a Titan. Getting Stasis was a slog, it was slow and frustrating, and took months to open up and get done. I did some of that with my Titan when it first released, but I didn’t open up everything until sometime in Witch Queen. Thankfully, Bungie has taken on the feedback and made opening up Strand much easier and quicker.
Some enemies have been reworked with the Shadow Cabal, however, it’s not a huge change. It’s funny because we’ve been battling against pretty much the same enemies since 2014, and although the Shadow Cabal have minor updates, it’s mainly just cosmetic. We didn’t get a major new variant introduced like we did with the Vex in Beyond Light.
Tormentors are a great addition to the game. They are like minions of the Darkness, mini-rulk like bosses. They grab you and give you a void pulse attack, and drain you of your light and health. The sound design with the Tormentors is very good too with the audio getting all distorted when you get attacked, and this reminds me of the great sound design work in Beyond Light.
Story and campaign
Next up, the story. First, I think there are some postives. The campaign itself was well paced, the cinematics were good, and the final boss fight against Calus was a good demonstration of Strand. But that’s about it. Otherwise, the campaign was underwhelming at best, and a confusing mess if you want to be brutally honest. This campaign felt like filler, it felt like there has been some pivot within Bungie at some point, and those cracks weren’t covered by this campaign. The best moments of the campaign were with Calus and The Witness, however, we spent far too much time with Strand. Strand is great, but it’s a gameplay mechanic or feature, I don’t really want to know too much about the lore of Strand, once cutscene would have been enough.
There’s been a whole bunch of negative feedback about the Cloudstriders. Rohan was a great character, but he died fairly early on, and we didn’t spend enough time with him to be fully invested in his character to really care if he died or not. Nimbus’ tone feels all wrong, and the fist bump attempt with Caital wasn’t good at all. There is a great story to tell with the Cloudstriders, but it’s all post campaign rather than in the campaign itself, which is a shame. Once you get into the post campaign you learn much more about the Cloudstriders, their history, their celebrated heroes, it’s really good story telling. Shout out to the Neomuna Newsreader too, they are very cool.
Lightfall’s campaign didn’t live up to The Witch Queen or even Beyond Light, it sits somewhere around Shadowkeep for me. The mystery of the Veil wasn’t fun, and it calls back to story telling from Destiny 1 days, where we know they went through a major pivot not too long before the release of the game. You can feel it here, nowehre more obvious than the split cutscene with the Witness interacting with the Traveller. While that cutscene was very good, the whole Veil element of the story wasn’t done very well, it felt confused and lacked clarity. Lightfall should be setting up a great conclusion, but it posed more questions than answers and when we’re supposed to be entering the final phase of the light vs darkness saga.
Neptune is our new destination for Lightfall, and while it looks beautiful, it feels very shiny and new, plus it feels empty. This is epxlained away by the story, with the inhabitants of Neomuna uploading themselves to the CloudArk to exist in a digital space. Neomuna looks great and it’s a stark contract to other environments we’ve had in Destiny 2. Much of it reminds me of some of the best locations on Titan. It’s the polar opposite to Savathun’s Throne World, it’s a shiny city, with a beach made of diamond sand. The destructable environments are a great addition to the game, and introduced during the campaign when you have to smash down a door, much to my surprise. While it looks great, it’s empty and doesn’t feel like a City under Seige. Calus’ ship is an impressive structure, and I love the aesthetics of the Darkness Ships, but overall it doesn’t compete with Savathun’s Throne world or even the EDZ.
As always the loot is excellent. I’ve got my hands on the post-campaign exotics, including the heavy Stasis Glaive, the Strand Sidearm and the Void Machine Gun. The Stasis Glaive is my favourite of the bunch so far. I also like teh fact we have Strand Legendary weapons in the game at the launch of the new damage type, where as we had to wait a long time for Stasis Legendary Weapons (I think it was the final season of the expansion before we got stasis legendaries). The loot is a thumbs up from me.
Quality of Life improvements
Bungie have introduced loadouts and commendations into the game, which are good features. Loadsouts have been possible via DIM for many years, and arguably they have been done better. It’s a good and useful feature to be able to save a loadout, especially in game, and quickly and easier swap depending on activity. My only issue with it is you can’t rename a loadout, which seems odd, I’d like to be able to describe what the loadout is for. Commendations are decent, but it feels like you can only give positive feedack, which feels a little pointless after a few times. I do like handing out commendations and getting them, but there are only a few limited options right now. Hopefully Bungie can flesh out this feature in the future.
The mods system had an overhaul and feels like a miss from me. It looks like Bungie has taken this opporunity to reduce the amount of power output we have via abilities, and have taken away some of the major features. Looking postiively at the mod system, I think it’s going to take some time to get used to, and new builds will emerge over time. I have already put together a great Strand, Warlock Necrotic Grip build, and other Light subclass builds are coming very soon. First impressions of the mod system haven’t been great, but it’s something that’s going to have to bed in over time.
Let me know in the comments what you think of Lightfall.