A year ago saw Bungie release what was arguably not just their best expansion to date, but the best content Bungie has ever put out, in The Witch Queen. We sit here twelve months later craving more of that level of quality as the seasonal drip of content we’ve had since has grown stale. Bungie themselves have acknowledged this and while that won’t change for a few seasons, the major expansions are always far more exciting for us Guardians. So it is time for us to jump into Lightfall and with it the many major changes coming to the game.
The Witness is finally in our sights, but his disciple and our old friend Emperor Calus stands between us. We have to travel to the newly discovered Neomuna on Neptune to join the Cloud Striders and face off against a new enemy Tormenters and Calus’ Shadow Legion to stop them from using a secret buried within the city.
After a full play through of the story I was left with a lot of questions rather than the answers big expansions like these are meant to provide. That’s not to say it’s outright bad, but more that The Witch Queen last year set a really high standard and Lightfall sadly hasn’t hit that mark. I know that, as a whole, the community felt let down by the writing and story telling in this release.
Bungie haven’t directly addressed the criticism but they have come out to say that over the next few seasons some of those questions would be answered. I’m not sure wether that is a direct reaction or wether this was planned all along but I’m glad that context is on it’s way.
Legend difficulty for the campaign is a welcome return as it was a soaring success when it was introduced with The Witch Queen last year. A challenge to actually make the stakes in game feel on par with the action.
I don’t want to reveal any spoilers if you haven’t got into it yet so we’ll leave it at that, it’s just a shame that we aren’t seeing the same quality we’re now expecting.
With a new expansion usually comes a new destination and this year we have the neon soaked cyber city of Neomuna.
It was presented to us as a city being attacked by the Shadow Legion which may have led you to believe that would be filled with life to attack. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case here, although Bungie did come up with a neat way to explain it by saying that all the citizens were uploaded to a cloud system and therefore we wouldn’t see them out in the world but instead as virtual sprites dotted around.
The location itself is stunning, Bungie have nailed the cyberpunk, neon city as usual. Along with the ability to traverse it in a whole new way with Strand, it really does make Neomuna feel unique to other destinations within Destiny 2. Last years Throne World was a murky swampland where as Neomuna is this bright, bustling city with so much to explore and discover. There is the Terminal Overload public event, Vex Incursion Zones, the weekly Partition missions, new lost sectors which are lot’s of fun, secrets to find all over the planet and fun mini games to earn collectables.
Speaking of Strand, it is the brand new darkness subclass and the first new subclass since Stasis in Beyond Light over two years ago.
The Hunter Threadrunner, Titan Berserkers and Warlock Broodweaver are all welcomed into Destiny 2 and you gain these news powers via the Lightfall campaign.
As usual, the three subclasses all have their own strengths with Titans being especially effective up close and personal, Hunters being able to attack from distance and Warlocks being a little bit more mystical.
To be completely honest, in the previews leading up to Lightfall, I felt Strand would feel potentially quite gimmicky. I’m very pleased to say I was completely wrong. Strand has completely changed how you can play the game, not just in PvE but in PvP. Using a grapple to fly over your enemies and catch them off guard is actually pretty exhilarating when you can pull it off. If you can’t then sure it’s can be a little embarrassing but it’s high risk high reward!
There is so much to Strand to experience I don’t want to list everything here but I think Strand alone is worth the price of admission to Lightfall.
You get tastes of it during the story but only fully unlock it once you finish. If you finish the campaign on one character you can skip it on alternates but this unfortunately comes at the cost of Silver which can only be learnt with actual monies.
QOL Game Changes
Lightfall has brought with it an impressive amount of quality of life changes wether you buy the expansion or not. We have Guardian Ranks, a new progression system introduced to help guide new players through the game, a system sorely needed. For existing players, It’s a way to show off your achievements in game by displaying a high rank. The system gives a useful set of objectives to complete in order to rank up and take you onto a tougher set of objectives. The “New Light” experience in Destiny 2 has long since needed a refresh as it’s always been far too confusing for fresh guardians unless they started playing with a friend who was already up to date. This will be a feature that on the surface is very welcome, but only time will truly tell wether or not it works. Your Guardia Rank has also replaced your Season Rank next to your name when you are seen out in the wild.
Commendations is the other big system coming into play in Lightfall. This will allow you to commend fellow players at the end of activities for their, and this part is important, positive contributions to your fireteam. For very good reasons there isn’t a way to push negative feedback towards players bar the existing reporting/blocking tools. Receiving positive commendations also helps to boost your Guardian Rank.
A huge update which we’ve been hoping would come for a long time is the new in game Load-out system. You can save up to 10 load outs per character, although not all slots are unlocked immediately as you’ll unlock them as you unlock Guardian Ranks. You can instantly change your entire load out from your menu, even if items are in your vault provided you have space in your inventory, but anything brought into your inventory will have to be put back into the vault manually if you want to free up the space. It’s a very useful feature but I can’t see it entirely replacing tools like Destiny Item Manager which are key to how most players interact with their inventories.
There have been big updates to Build-crafting, some good and some not so great. A new Mod Manager to make managing your mods easier with them all in one place which so far I’ve not actually felt I’ve needed to use too frequently but is nice regardless.
Updates to mods meant to streamline the process and bring new and exciting build potential but in reality has, in my opinion, severely dulled the previous system.
A great new change is that Champion counters are being spread throughout Seasonal Artifact perks, subclass abilities, weapons. This means I could, for example, run a chill clip fusion rifle and be able to deal with both Unstoppable champs via shatter damage and Overloads via slowing. It makes picking weapons for champs incredibly versatile.
One thing we were meant to see that sadly we aren’t anymore is an in-game LFG. This was due to release with Lightfall but was recently pushed back to the end of 2023. This is a sorely needed feature as if you’re a solo player you’re required to go out of the game to find people to play with in order to play the very best content in the game in Raids and Dungeons.
Bungie has always, and I mean always, knocked it out of the park when it comes to their soundtracks. Lightfall is no exception and the OST actually was released just before the expansion to give people a sneak peak so I’ve been enjoying it for a while now. It’s available on all streaming platforms or you can buy it from the Bungie Store. Special mention to the track “Discipline” which is absolutely stunning.
Bungie also released a Developer Dairy detailing how they came up with some of the new sounds and music within the game which was absolutely fascinating and I highly encourage you to check it out here.
Loot in Lightfall has been a bright spark with there being some very cool new perks on the weapons that have been released. Neomuna has it’s own armour and weapons sets, then you have the new raid gear and of course new world drops and weapons for Trials, Iron Banner etc.
There are new Strand weapons being introduced as part of the previously mentioned sets which have strong integration with the Strand subclass. The perk Hatchlings stands out as a must have. If you defeat an enemy with a precision blow you spawn a hatchling that attacks near by targets.
We’ve also seen a host of new exotics. Each class has two new exotic pieces of armour and there are five new exotic weapons introduced in Lightfall, although one is a Deluxe Edition order bonus. You can earn one of the new exotic armour pieces by completing the legendary difficulty of the story, or you can get both via Legendary or Master Lost Sectors.
Root of Nightmares shipped a few weeks after Lightfall and was one of the driving forces behind why we waiting to put out our review. Destiny has lived and died by its raid experiences. Root of Nightmares is the best and also at times, the worst of this experience. We have a raid that is rich with lore and story but arguably one of the easiest raids ever in the franchise.
Whilst I personally enjoyed the raid thoroughly, I know many really wanted a more challenging experience. The mechanics in place were easy to pick up and execute, sometimes allowing you to completely ignore other parts of an encounter if you execute them well enough. The “Planets” encounter, while incredibly cool, definitely felt out of place among the other encounters, sharing none of the systems we experienced and learnt in earlier encounters and then again on the final boss.
All in all though, the story of Nezarac and how the light and dark mesh together is one worth experiencing and it’s still a very fun raid with some very cool loot to get.