The good and bad of Destiny 2: Lightfall so far

Destiny 2 launched its Lightfall expansion yesterday, breaking concurrent player records for the game on Steam, despite this marking the game’s fifth year of existence.

The hype has been high towards the expansion, and now we can see how it compares to others in Destiny history. Early impressions are… mixed, even in my own opinion. In terms of where I am now, I’ve beaten the Lightfall main campaign, I’ve essentially done as much live post campaign stuff as I can without farming a few dozen more power levels, and I have the intro made to the season of defiance.

Here are my impressions of Lightfall after day one and most of the campaign content:

The good

Season of Defiance – Maybe it’s a bit strange starting with the attached season, but I got an overwhelmingly positive first impression of it, between a hilarious Amanda/Crow cutscene and a pretty good introductory rescue battlefield. I can also already see this season being intentionally less tricky with minimal vendor upgrades and currencies that should be a little “maxed” in just a few weeks.

Craft – These changes are already visible. Hardly any red frames, and when they appear, just extract the pattern and that’s it. Almost all crafting currencies have been banned and even in these early stages it feels less complicated than before.

Early gear – Armor and weapon design here is top-notch, at least visually, as far as I can tell. It’s a little early to say how Good everything is, but I know that the Stasis seasonal arc has already quickly become a favorite among players.

Mod selection – This is not the new mod system (more on that later) but I really appreciate the screen that allows you to swap out all mods at once across all gear easily and quickly.

Neomuna’s whole mood – I like that. It’s different. I’m curious to learn more about the location itself and the Sky Striders. I think one problem is that the game doesn’t really delve into all of that until the campaign is over above, leading many people to believe that it is too hasty in its establishment, which may be true. And in the debate over whether Nimbus is annoying or funny, I land in fun camp, although I have to admit it took me a while to get there.

tormentor – You win Bungie, they’re scary. Easily one of the best enemy types they’ve ever introduced in terms of skill and AI and I still have nightmares about them.

strand (campaign version) – I really loved the prospect of Strand during the points in the campaign where it “empowers” you. Loads of grappler and melee attacks made it look like it was actually going to be fun, and it has a lot of potential based on the insight the campaign gives you. The problem is…

The bad

Beach (live game version) – Once you leave the campaign, Strand really feels like a burden. Gone are the ultra-fast cooldowns that made campaign segments harder quiet pretty hard, even with those. Now the grapple’s cooldown is so long that it hardly feels like a traversal tool, unlike pretty much every game that’s ever had some sort of grappling hook in it. The cooldown is the baseline, what, one minute, two minutes? And you can maybe get it down to 30 seconds? It feels bad, as does the triple melee charges, which fill up so slowly across all classes you’ll barely have one. I think aspects of Strand are fun, Threadlings, Tangles, Suspension, but the grapple/grenade/melee cooldowns feel crushingly awful.

Neomuna as play space – It’s a bit strange. Of a design Perspective I love the visuals, but this idea we had of dashing around on rooftops with Beach just doesn’t really exist because of the cooldowns mentioned above, and it feels pretty sprawling and empty most of the time, especially the one zone with an audience Event that essentially wipes out every other enemy from the entire play area, except for the one target area where it spawns things.

armor charge – My first impression of this system is … I don’t like it. I’ve really, really enjoyed elemental builds, and this just feels like a heavily neutered version of that, trying to track down tiny little orbs to activate armor charge abilities that aren’t that powerful or interesting. I agree that simplifying mods was a good decision, and I love changes like element-neutral armor, but I’m not sold on armor charges and the new subclass “sprite” things are a good substitute for the much funnier builds that I just used it a week ago.

Lightfall story – We will enter the campaign spoiler here now, inevitably, but Lightfall’s storyline compares pretty badly to Witch Queen, and when I scale it down, I really didn’t like what they did here for a number of reasons. First, having the extremely cranky Osiris as the main NPC all the time felt exhausting. Second, as a villain, with his very pointless and obvious motivations (power! wealth!), Calus was a far cry from the complexity and trickery of Savathun. Third, it was just way too easy to see Rohan’s death coming, which I figured would happen just based on the trailers. It finally needs its own category…

The veil – What on earth is the veil!? How do we spend the entire campaign finding and protecting the veil, and at the end of the campaign we’re now in a “well, I guess we need to keep trying to figure out what the veil is” storyline? This should have been the finale of the campaign! Instead, we only get vague references to the Black Heart and the concept that The Witness did something to the Veil that… killed the Traveler? The whole Traveler is dead finale was bizarre as the NPCs started talking like it was dead when all we saw was the witness cutting a portal in (his pale heart holds the key I suppose ?). I had to read in a single line of text how spirits felt their connection to the traveler severed even though we and they still have the light, which even with Ghaul doesn’t make sense contain the traveler, we have lost our light for a long time. It felt like it was meant to be a big, cataclysmic moment (LightFALL!) and it just didn’t land with any weight.

It’s day one again, but having experienced at least most of the campaign we can judge at least most of it. And no, it just doesn’t do Witch Queen justice. Maybe not even Beyond Light? But it’s a long way to go in this live game, so we’ll see what else is on deck in the future.

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