Time to wrap up Bungie's epic adventure, eh? Destiny 2: Lightfall is a near-final step in the game’s saga. It’s one of the four expansions that’s become a norm for the series since 2017. From Beyond Light to The Witch Queen, and still to come, The Final Shape. Alongside the expansion, Bungie will release seasonal updates throughout the year, starting with the three-month Season of Defiance that launched at the same time as Destiny 2: Lightfall and three others to come. But, this is old news for most gamers, seeing as Bungie’s racked up an intense following over the years. For me, the Witch Queen was the ultimate expansion and is partly why fans flocked over on Steam, setting an all-time peak record for concurrent players with the launch of Destiny 2: Lightfall.
The trailer didn’t lag behind either, setting the pace for what would potentially be a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, the reviews so far haven’t been the most pleasing to the eye, frankly, thwarting many gamers' hopes and dreams for the series. Turns out, the fight against The Witness doesn’t quite deliver the same caliber of gaming we’ve come to expect from the series. Why is that? Is there a particular element that is a hit and others are a miss or is it the whole game that fails to meet expectations? Just how worthwhile is it to play Destiny 2: Lightfall? Well, why don’t you stick around till the end of this Destiny 2: Lightfall review to find out.
The End Draws Nigh
If you’re a newcomer to the game, you should know that Destiny 2: Lightfall is the penultimate expansion for the epic Light and Darkness saga. Although that means there’s definitely some catching up to do, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should have a hard time doing so. Unfortunately, Destiny 2: Lightfall offers nothing but a hard time grasping what the hell is going on.
The stakes are so high. Literally, the end draws near as far as the fight against the Witness is concerned. Yet, Bungie barely gives Destiny 2: Lightfall the sort of grand near-wrapping-up moment it deserves. To be fair, the first few cutscenes are a tasty bunch. They truly send chills down your spine, picturing what torture The Witness was going to be to defeat. I loved it. But, for what seemed like just a flick of the finger, everything went downhill from there.
Little Do We Know
The Witness is portrayed as this powerful antagonist that makes up a huge chunk of Destiny 2: Lightfall. Yet, we don’t see him again, save for chats with Calus, and up until the final cutscene. Neither do we see the traveler or the black fleet until the end. It’s exactly the “show, don’t tell” adage at its best. That is Destiny 2: Lightfall seems to be a war story, yet none of the hopelessness of such a setting is explored and thus, felt.
Instead, gamers dive right into another story. In fact, we’re whisked off into another city altogether. So, this is a city we’ve never heard about in the series that happened to be developing in secret during or shortly before the collapse. It’s called the Neptunian city of Neomuna, which is essentially a human city on Neptune. The story here is that you need to find and protect something called the veil. It’s something very important that The Witness shouldn’t get his hands on. If he does, it's, um, bad. Very bad.
Show, Don’t Tell
So, like the diligent gamer you are, go on and find the veil. You make some new friends, partner up with them, and even get this new power called Strand. But there are so many lingering questions, even as we embark on this new journey. Why are we in this new city? Where is everyone else? Why is this “veil” so important to recover? I mean, there’s some light reference to the Witness using it to connect to the traveler, but that’s never really clear. And, my favorite one, how come this city didn’t help us all this time?
Nothing is ever clear or delved into. To tell you I know the story here and to watch out for spoilers would be a fabrication because I just honestly have no idea what the hell is going on, or why the little I know even matters. How did we end up from The Witch Queen to this? It can’t have been the same team working on both, can it? Although Destiny 2: Lightfall isn’t the worst, so far, it definitely is the most disappointing full expansion in history.
The characters don’t do much to save face. While the norm is to develop characters enough, so we care what happens to them, Destiny 2: Lightfall couldn’t care less, which is kind of funny when Rohan dies, and it’s like this fatal event, but all I find myself thinking about is the guns he leaves behind. Calis is underwhelming and boring compared to Savathun. Nimbus comes off as cocky, and pretty annoying. Even Osiris constantly throws tantrums for no reason.
Bleak and Lifeless
Apparently, all the life you’re sworn to protect has uploaded itself to the metaverse (seriously, speaking). So, there aren’t any living, breathing citizens in this neon-lit cyberpunk city. It’s utterly empty and lifeless, which really stinks given the potential the open-world environs hold. Without life, Neomuna lacks character or personality.
At Least You Have Strand
Combat is the highlight of Destiny 2: Lightfall. Legendary difficulty delivers on its promise, and crafting has stepped up its game. You should find some decent fun to be had, switching between the variety of melee and ranged weapons on offer and the Stasis. Oh, there aren’t grenades, so you’ll need to grapple into close range. Generally, if you play Destiny 2: Lightfall for the gameplay, then you should have a pretty okay experience.
Strand is a new subclass denoted by glowing green threads that are a lot like Spiderman’s abilities. You only unlock Strand after the campaign, which doesn’t make any sense. That aside, Strand was a main selling point for Destiny 2: Lightfall, which also makes a new skill a last resort to save face. It was still pretty hard to wrap my head around the last-minute reveal, but it turned out to be well worth the wait.
It’s pretty fun to use, albeit still rather weak at the moment. Its highlight is the ability to fly around using an all-new grappling hook. Though the cooldown is too time-gated. Not to mention, grappling on walls shares the same minute-plus cooldown as in combat, which doesn’t exactly motivate you to use Strand. Hopefully, Strand gets buffed up in the future, and unlocks earlier, because, at this point, Destiny 2: Lightfall needs it to do great.
Destiny 2: Lightfall feels like it’s in desperate need of a plot writing masterclass because everything fails as early as the first missions. The expansion suffers from a bad case of “show, don’t tell,” which would leave you uncaring of the story and anything that goes down. The characters don’t do much to save face, either. They’re mostly forgettable, not because their stories don’t matter, but because they aren’t given enough time for us to care about them. Even when an important character dies, you find yourself caring more about the guns they leave behind.
Almost everything doesn’t make sense. Neither does it emulate a war story’s emotive aspects of despair or hopelessness, which is just sad, given that this expansion plays a significant role in the climax of going into The Final Shape, which is the last chapter of the epic Light and Darkness saga. I doubt even Bungie knows where Destiny 2: Lightfall is headed because every seemingly important storyline is all over the place.
The combat, though, is pretty okay, and there’s the new Strand ability to spice things up. But, to have a “pretty okay” element as the strongest feature, especially for an epic saga, is highly disappointing. While Destiny 2: Lightfall isn’t the worst expansion ever, it definitely can give the “most disappointing” expansion ever a run for its money.
Destiny 2: Lightfall Review (Xbox Series X/S, PS5, & PC)
A Sub Par Penultimate Chapter to the Light and Darkness Saga
A lot of high hopes pegged on Destiny 2: Lightfall came crashing down a mere few hours into the game. That’s because the story chooses to tell rather than show, and it leaves you with more questions than when you came in. That said, if your goal is to uncover the campaign and new location’s mysteries, you may want to hold off on that, at least until there’s a sale or some patch updates. However, if you only care about the combat, then you’ll definitely have a fun time, especially with the new Strand ability, albeit with some unpolished mechanics. Destiny 2: Lightfall is out now on PlayStation 5, Microsoft Windows, and Xbox Series X and Series S platforms.