Destiny 2: Lightfall released a few days ago, and any Destiny fan, who hates this game so much that it’s their favorite game, knows this was a momentous occasion. It’s new content, including a new destination and campaign, new characters, a brand new element with three sub-classes, new activities and new loot. On top of this is the fact that it’s coming after The Witch Queen, one of the most acclaimed Destiny expansions of all time.
Along with including a Legendary campaign like The Witch Queen, Lightfall is handled by the same campaign lead. Of course, it also didn’t hurt that Season of the Seraph, which directly led into Lightfall, was well-received with strong writing for characters like Rasputin, Ana Bray, Osiris and many more. It ended on a cliffhanger that The Witness, the long-standing enemy of the Traveller, had finally arrived in the Guardians’ Solar System with the Black Fleet, and there was nowhere left to run.
If all of that wasn’t enough, Lightfall was the penultimate expansion in the Light and Darkness saga, with the next one, The Final Shape, promising the conclusion. Suffice it to say, expectations were huge, and the hype was palpable.
When Lightfall was released, Destiny 2 broke its all-time peak concurrent player record on Steam with over 316,000 players. Such was the rush that players were initially placed in a queue due to the heavy load on servers. It doesn’t get any bigger than this.
Cut to two days later, and Lightfall’s Steam page has gone from Positive to Mostly Negative – out of 2597 user reviews, only 29 percent are positive. Even the Destiny subreddit, which has over 2.738 million members, is full of overwhelming criticism against the expansion.
What exactly happened, and where did things go wrong for Bungie? Why did one of the most anticipated releases suddenly result in an overwhelming backlash by its most loyal fanbase, like its Year 1 all over again?
We won’t go into story spoilers, but surprisingly, the campaign has been heavily criticized. It started well enough, but traveling to Neomuna, the new destination on Neptune, and meeting the Cloud Striders caused the cracks to appear. Rallying to the latter’s cause to stop Calus and his Shadow Legion, many found Nimbus to be insufferable as a character. Many of his lines were dubbed “Marvel-esque humor” of the worst kind, and the treatment of characters like Osiris wasn’t well-received either.
Granted, Year 1 had characters like Cayde-6 and Failsafe that were too over-the-top for many people’s tastes. But Destiny 2 had moved away from that through the years, telling a darker story with plot points more fitting in tone with the inevitable arrival of The Witness and the potential end of everything. To see it suddenly return, that too when Neomuna is under siege, felt off-putting for many.
Aside from the characters, the overall story is considered much lower-grade than Lightfall, with many unresolved questions. I went into it expecting this to kickstart the next year of Destiny 2 story-telling, but when there’s such a long-running narrative already, this felt like the time to answer some major questions. The Witch Queen did this while building interest for the future, but Lightfall didn’t.
Even in terms of gameplay, the reactions are less than ideal. For a looter shooter, there isn’t much new loot to chase. Neomuna gives a few weapons (with perks that aren’t exactly amazing) and a new armor set per class, but you’re mostly getting the same weapons and gear as the previous year of content as random drops.
The armor system received a huge revamp with Lightfall, with armor pieces no longer having energy types. You could thus slot in whatever mods there was space for. While meant to be more freeing, certain mods were still restricted to some gear types, so you couldn’t just have Ashes to Assets or Grenade Kickstart wherever you pleased. The new Armor Charge system, which rolled Elemental Wells and Charged With Light mods into one system, has streamlined things.
However, many beloved mods like Powerful Friends and its +20 mobility, Seeking Wells, and so on were removed, limiting build choices further. Stasis builds are reportedly gutted, reducing players’ desires to mess with the same. At least the new Loadouts are convenient.
This is the expansion for using new stuff, though, and Strand looked incredibly cool throughout the marketing for Lightfall, especially the new Grapple mechanic. The reality is slightly less appealing, though. While you had great freedom in grappling throughout the campaign, the cooldowns are pretty high once you unlock the subclass. Grappling also isn’t very well suited for high-end content compared to, say, blinding from Jolt effects, instant health regen from Devour, etc. Bungie was also criticized for time-gating Strand Fragments, so it quickly unlocked them for all players recently.
There are many more complaints to go through, like the two updated Strikes becoming longer and more annoying or the new Guardian Ranks system, which automatically places everyone, regardless of playtime, at Rank 6. Only one new Crucible map, one new Strike, and no new core armor for vendors. Despite looking gorgeous, Neomuna is fairly lifeless, and you’re not exactly zipping across skylines, as suggested in many trailers leading up to Lightfall’s release.
Perhaps the biggest complaint among fans is the quality of story-telling heading into The Final Shape. Fans expected more in this ultimate battle against The Witness and The Darkness. Seeing how things have progressed makes them worried about whether Bungie can deliver on the epic conclusion of the saga.
Make no mistake – there is a lot that Bungie has yet to reveal as part of Lightfall. The upcoming raid, The Root of Nightmares, could result in massive changes for Neomuna and new activities for players to complete, not to mention new non-raid loot. Season of Defiance has also been getting praise for its story and activities, and there’s still a full year of seasonal content to go. The narrative still has plenty of room to improve, but starting it on such a sour note has rubbed many the wrong way.
You could argue that for as many fans complain about Destiny 2, they’re still pouring hours upon hours into the game. There’s always a fine balance to it all, and if Bungie can implement feedback in the right way, which it does more often than not (as seen with the seasonal model getting some changes in Season of the Deep), it should result in a stronger game.
The jury is still out on The Final Shape, especially since it’s not the conclusion of Destiny 2. However, the response from fans is clear: Bungie has to go all out. It can’t continue holding its biggest narrative cards to keep things chugging along.
Will it finally lay everything out in grand fashion and bedazzle fans? Hopefully, it will, because right now, it just doesn’t have time to explain why it doesn’t have time to explain, and that is the very worst of Destiny’s story-telling.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.
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