Destiny 2 Lightfall Review

Destiny 2 has changed since last I’d played it. I already wrote as much when I first talked about my experience with the recent Lightfall expansion, but it bears reiterating. Not only does only a small fraction of the game I’d reviewed all the way back in 2017 remain, but almost every aspect of the experience has seen an overhaul. It’s simply a different game entirely than what I had experienced way back when. Even with the apparent downfalls of Lightfall’s additions to the formula, the game as a whole is arguably better than it’s ever been, despite all of the baggage inherited from Bungie’s decision to continually vault content from previous updates.

Admittedly as a returning player, it took some time to parse what was actively new with Lightfall, and what had been added in the years since my last journey in the Sol system; the Armor Mod system has been rebalanced for one, but I never really had the chance to explore the previous iteration. The general consensus seems to be that the new options are streamlined, meaning that while it’s easier for players to get to grips with them - there’s less granularity for players to contend with.

The new Strand subclass is the most obvious new addition, with much of the campaign centered around your Guardian learning to wield it. It feels truly unique compared to the rest of the classes in the game, and while having access to a Grapple to slingshot through the world is fun, what’s even more entertaining are the options you can unlock following the conclusion of the campaign; grenades that can suspend enemies, for one, but also the number of different Fragments that players can equip to slightly modify how you’ll actively be playing the class.

I’d mentioned earlier that the buildcraft aspect of modern Destiny 2 was one of the most striking changes that the game has made since I had last played it, and the combination of mods, armor stats, and all of the various customization options for your specific subclasses have made it abundantly clear how players could sink hundreds if not thousands of hours into the game; as someone that has spent over a decade tweaking loadouts in Monster Hunter in quite the same way, it feels like I can grasp how the game has maintained such a passionate playerbase.

The same can be said for the new Root of Nightmares raid; I’d always enjoyed Destiny’s raiding experiences, and Lightfall’s addition is no different. Bungie’s environmental designs have always been striking in Destiny, and consistently the raids have been where the company has continued to stretch their muscles here. The whole light and dark mechanic used throughout the whole raid was welcoming for a number of reasons, not least of which by slowly teaching players the mechanics that they’ll eventually need to master in tandem for the last encounter of the raid against Nezarec. It seems to be an easier raid than most of the active playerbase has been used to, but it’s no less engaging as far as I’m concerned; and at least from my perspective, it was the perfect refresher after such a long absence from the game.

The current seasonal activity is similarly engaging, but I find it hard to write about considering the knowledge that they very well might be gone by the time the next Destiny 2 expansion launches. Defiant Battlegrounds have been offering a steady stream of new Vanguard Ops for players to contend with, and the rewards for engaging with the seasonal storyline are worth the effort. While Lightfall’s main scenario seems to have fallen flat by most accounts, the drip feed of story with Season of Defiance has seemed to garner a much rosier outlook, at least so far.

Of course, there's plenty of other new activities - many of them linked to the Neomuna patrol zone, while some have been added to areas like the European Dead Zone. The Vexcalibur exotic mission re-uses mechanics from previous seasons alongside offering a mission that brings to mind the quest that unlocked the Whisper of the Worm exotic sniper from back in Year 1 of the game; Terminal Overload very much reminds me of Escalation Protocol, also from Year 1, and offers a reason for players to continue engaging with Neomuna far after they've completed Lightfall's campaign and exhausted its many secrets.

All in all, it feels like - even if Lightfall isn’t perfect by any means, it’s a perfectly capable entry point for new and returning players, or at least as much as you could expect with the current state of the game. Longtime Destiny 2 players have assuredly already been playing the expansion for themselves over the last month, but for anyone that was already on the fence, Lightfall delivers a solid if not flawed update to the Destiny universe.