The current story arc found in Destiny 2 seems to have been going on for an age, and the latest chapter of it, entitled Lightfall, is now here, promising to move the narrative along. But can it match the highs of the last expansion, The Witch Queen, or is it more of a damp squib? Well, there’s only one way to find out, and that is to dive in headlong. Grab your ghosts Guardian, we are going in.
Let’s have a look at the narrative first, as here the news is – unfortunately – pretty bad. Without any spoilers, I can reveal that we have a whole new planet to go and visit this time, as there is a city called Neomuna that has popped up on Neptune; one that we were completely unaware of. Yes, that’s right, in a galaxy that it appeared we had explored to the very last asteroid, we somehow managed to miss an entire city.
Of course, the news that it is there has been shared with not only the Witness, the big bad of this story, but with Emperor Calus and his Shadow Legion. What this means is that the once peaceful city is about to have a few unwelcome visitors, and at first, as always, that includes us Light Bearers. We have to stop Calus and The Witness, save the world (again) and try to keep the Traveller safe. Can we do it? Will anyone ever care?
To be brutally honest, the story found in Destiny 2: Lightfall is awful. It is full of cliches, it is very hard to care about the fate of the only two people we can interact with, and much, much more. The whole game this time around seems to be like an extended training montage from an 1980’s action film, as we attempt to learn to use the new subclass, called Strand. We have to learn to go with the flow, to not try to control the subclass, but to move in harmony with it. All in all, it is pretty painful to play through. Osiris, the most powerful Warlock ever, remember, seems to have turned into a needy kind of emo kid, constantly doubting his own powers and trying to guide us; this gets old pretty fast too. However, the story, while a vital part, is not all of the expansion. Thankfully.
The new location, Neomuna, is pretty enough in a neon, Tron kind of way, with a very cool amount of verticality built in. But why, in the name of all that is holy, is there a city with only two living people in it? Rohan and Nimbus are Cloudstriders, a great title, and they are cybernetically enhanced guardians of the whole planet. Yes, that’s right, a city so big that we need to ride our Sparrows to get anywhere, has a grand total of two defenders. The rest of the population? They have been uploaded into the cloud. Yes, really.
Of course, the Vex have a go at this too, so when the Taken turn up, the only thing missing is the Fallen to really make it a party. Still, it all looks nice, and while the voice work isn’t going to win any awards, it all works pretty well. However, with Rohan being the grizzled veteran, and Nimbus in place as the young and reckless character, Lightfall could have been called Destiny 2: Lethal Weapon and no one would have batted an eyelid – it appears the writers have been watching far too many buddy movies when penning this travesty. And Nimbus is so unrelentingly cheerful it makes your trigger finger itch…
So, what else does the Lightfall expansion introduce? Well, there is a new Raid promised for later down the line (you’re looking at March 10th) and to be honest it is going to have to be a good one to make up for the disappointment so far. It also brings in a whole new Darkness subclass, Strand, which for some bizarre reason, despite training with it for pretty much the whole game, you can’t actually have and use until after the narrative is complete.
There are a couple of new activities too, namely Defiant Battlegrounds, which is pretty much the same as all the other flavours of Battleground that are in the game, and Terminal Overload, a kind of huge event in Neomuna that sees you chasing about all over the place trying to defeat waves of Vex and Cabal – while this is a bit of fun, it is punishingly hard.
There is also one new Strike added, but to be honest it is pretty unforgettable. The new expansion raises our Light to 1600, and in order to even make a dent in some of the enemies wandering about the city, you need to have at least 1780 Light. To put that in context, after finishing the campaign and grinding as many events as possible, I’m at 1759 Light; the enemies in the city can pretty one shot me, even now, and this is somewhat galling. The grind is certainly real here, that’s for damn sure.
There is a new season included in the expansion too – the Season of the Defiant – and this brings with it the usual kind of quests that you would expect; playing the new events and so on to earn season rank, which can give you some good gear, including a new Exotic bow called Vergals Curve. Other than that, it is pretty business as usual, and if you have played any of the previous seasons in Destiny 2 you will be right at home.
The overall feeling I am left with after playing Destiny 2: Lightfall is one of disappointment. The Witch Queen set a very high bar for this to live up to, and it just doesn’t. The gunplay and traversal are as good as ever, but it must be said that if they had messed that up, then Bungie may have had a revolt on their hands. I’m not completely convinced by Strand just yet, still preferring to keep my hammers (I play mainly as a Titan, as we all know Titan’s are the best, right?), but I can see with a bit of practice it could become a useful tool in the arsenal. I think the best point I can make about the story here is that I actually don’t want to play it with my other characters as it is such a slog and not very much fun.
Being blunt, Destiny 2: Lightfall is a let down. The blessing is that the gunplay and action are as good as ever, but stupid difficulty spikes (I spawned back into the city after a mission directly into a public event that I had no way of surviving) and poor writing make Lightfall a chore to play. Even the new enemies, Tormentors, appear at random intervals in the story but are never used to their full potential, and it all combines to mean that there are more misses than hits in this expansion.
Destiny 2: Lightfall is on the Xbox Store