The line between light and dark is so very thin, let’s cross it together.
It’s been another year, which means that another big Destiny 2 DLC either makes or breaks the game’s future. While I would consider myself a fan of the series, the previous expansion Shadow Keep really struggled to keep me invested after the story ended on what I can only refer to as a terrible cliff hanger that left me so very disappointed that I almost up and quit right on the spot.
I’m happy to say that Beyond Light is 100% better than Shadow Keep for both the story and what it brings to the table but there’s still some glaring problems that have yet to be addressed and that’s not to mention the additional issues Beyond Light has introduced. Strap in, this is going to be a roller coaster.
Game Name: Destiny 2 Beyond Light
Platform(s): Xbox Series X, Series S and Xbox One, PlayStation 5 and 4, Google Stadia, PC
Release Date: November 10th, 2020
The first thing I’m going to cover is the new campaign that Beyond light brings to the table. The Destiny community has largely agreed that the best expansions have been The Taken King and Forsaken, and one of the things that both these expansions had in common was that they had self-contained story arcs. Even if you were new to Destiny, you could hop into these expansions and finish satisfied because 90% of the info you needed was in the expansion. Beyond Light is one of these expansions, and it’s quite a good starting point for anyone looking to get into Destiny 2. Admittedly that was most likely Bungie’s intention, especially with the updated New Light experience for kinder-guardians. I personally prefer the self-contained experiences more than the cliff hanger expansions because you actually feel like you accomplished something by the end of it.
To break the story down without spoilers for the current season, the Darkness has returned to the Sol system and has taken over Mars, Mercury, Io, and Titan — they’re gone, never to return (maybe). After spending the previous season communing with the darkness, you have been left with a final message “The light cannot save you, seek us out on Europa.” Once you have arrived on Jupiter’s smallest Galilean moon, you receive a distress call from Variks the Loyal (or the traitor depending on who you ask), stating that everyone is in great danger.
After your Ghost pinpoints Variks’ location on Europa, you set out to rescue him from the clutches of an Eliksni (aka The Fallen) Kell known as Eramis the Shipstealer. After rescuing Variks, he informs you that Eramis now knows how to wield the darkness into a force known as Stasis. This means you’re going to be in for a world of hurt, and this becomes apparent when you come against her lieutenants. Eventually, it becomes abundantly that depending on the light alone isn’t going to cut it anymore. In comes the Exo Stranger, a character last seen in the Destiny 1 Vanilla campaign, who teaches you how to wield and control the power of Stasis to defeat Eramis.
During the course of the campaign, you learn more about the Exo Stranger and her relationship to the Darkness and Clovis Bray. You also learn more about Eramis, the Eliksni, and how being abandoned by the Traveller due to the encroaching Darkness had brought ruin to their race. While the revelations about the Exo Stranger were interesting, I honestly feel that it wasn’t worth waiting 6 years to find this stuff out. The backstory we get on the Eliski, on the other hand, stole the show for me because the backstories of the races are fascinating, but outside of the written lore, the player doesn’t often get the chance to explore the races that you’ll come up against.
Overall I was satisfied with the main campaign, which lasted about 4 to 5 hours. I wouldn’t say that it was as good as Forsaken’s or The Taken King’s campaign, but it’s definitely one of Destiny’s better forays into the realm of storytelling. The campaign has a defined beginning and a defined end; while it still does have that element of “wait and see” to the ending, it’s not nearly as in your face as Shadowkeep’s ending.
The next thing I’m going to touch upon is the changes made to Destiny’s engine since Beyond Light released. The day before Beyond Light launched, Bungie released version 3.0 of Destiny 2, which included a change to the file size and some other improvements. Before version 3.0 Destiny 2 was sitting above 100GB, which is quite a lot of space when you consider that the average PS4 and Xbox One had 500GB to work with. While I have an external hard drive that had plenty of space, the performance of Destiny 2 on anything other than the internal drive left much to be desired.
Following the recent update to Destiny 2, the game sits between 59GB and 79GB, depending on your platform. Which is a weight off your hard drive. Additionally, the smaller size seems to have brought some other improvements to the game as well. PC players might not have noticed this much, but those playing Destiny 2 on console sure have. The loading times were abysmal with things like loading into the Tower, averaging about 5 minutes, and in a game where you need to zip place to place, it really takes the fun out of the game. Now, Destiny loads noticeably quicker on PS4, even on external hard drives; I found that I could load into the tower in less than a minute and the presence of loading zones in certain areas has almost been eradicated, and opening your inventory doesn’t take half a bloody dynasty. Of course, the loading times also depend on your internet speed so people with slower internet might not notice the change. Still, overall it’s a good quality of life update that Destiny 2 desperately needed. I can’t wait to see how Destiny 2 performs on the next-gen consoles.
One polarising thing that came from the 3.0 update though is removing 4 planets and their respective activities. As previously mentioned Mars, Mercury, Io, and Titan have now been removed from the game, which is what made way for the smaller file size; in addition to the removal of the aforementioned planets, the Leviathan has also been removed.
For players who are new to Destiny 2, the Leviathan is the personal pleasure craft of the exiled Cabal emperor Calus. Most importantly, it was the location of 4 raids, the menagerie, and the tribute hall. As someone who likes to raid a lot in Destiny 2, I am disappointed to see these locations go. Another raid, Scourge of the Past raid, which was my personal favourite, has also been removed. That leaves the game with just two raids, Last Wish and Garden of Salvation — though we will be getting the new raid soon and the Vault of Glass raid from Destiny 1 will also be returning as well. I can somewhat understand the Leviathan’s removal as the raids involved with it have been seeing less use, and updates to the game have made the older raids unstable. However, Scourge of the Past was a relatively newer raid, newer than Last Wish at least, that was still seeing a lot of use so removing it doesn’t make much sense to me really, especially when a lot of the assets you come across on Europa are directly from that raid, most notably the “new” Briggs unit that is literally the raid boss but smaller.
I’m not going to go in-depth about the moral implications of the removal of paid-for content, as that can be an article in itself; all I will say on the matter in this review is that I’m not 100% comfortable with some of the stuff they’ve removed from both a monetary and fun perspective.
The biggest addition to Destiny 2, besides the inclusion of Stasis abilities, is the new location, the moon of Europa. A location that has been mentioned in the lore of Destiny before as the place where Clovis Bray created the Exo race. The Exo’s being one of the more interesting bits of lore that we still don’t 100% know about as Bungie has kept a lot of their origins rather secret. While exploring Europa, you get some interesting little tidbits about the Exo race, but I doubt players will find out anything major until the new raid set in the Deep Stone Crypt comes out on November 21st.
On a visual level, Europa is very nice to look at. While most of the planet is covered in ice, it has that feeling the Mad Max game had where an environment that would normally be boring due to the visual limitations has been made interesting by great design and attention to detail, which is great because Europa is where you will be spending most of your time this expansion. One feature that has been a bit hit or miss for me was the inclusion of the dynamic weather effects. While it is cool for a storm to randomly blow in every now, and again all it really does is obstruct your vision and blow your sparrow around like your walking on ice. Overall it doesn’t really affect how you play, and I feel like this was an addition that needed a little more work. To be honest, most of the time I fail to even notice that a storm has blown in.
Another polarising change that came with Beyond Light was the addition of equipment sunsetting. To put it simply, sunsetting is when certain equipment is locked to a light level. Thus they are unable to be leveled up beyond that; for example, the Mountain Top grenade launcher cannot surpass the light level 1060, which means that it will not be usable in higher-level activities such as new raids, Nightfalls, Trials of Osiris and Iron Banner. To increase your light level, you will need to make use of the new seasonal equipment, exotics, and certain weapons and armour that haven’t been sunset. You can find a full list of all sunset weapons here courtesy of Blueberries.gg. A bit of good news is that Exotic equipment will not be affected by sunsetting so if you spent last season grinding for Anarchy, you’ll be fine.
While I do see sunsetting as the most effective way to combat power creep that MMOs usually encounter, I can’t help but notice that Bungie may have shot themselves in the foot a little with the execution. Currently, the loot pool isn’t nearly large enough for the current season. Players have also reported that they’re sometimes “rewarded” with sunset weapons when they finish an activity that is quite frankly worthless. For sunsetting to actually work, Bungie needed to put the work in to make the current loot pool much wider than it currently is, and understandably people who grinded for days to get the pinnacle weapons are also upset because outside of non-level based PVP playlists, the weapons that they worked hard for are now worthless.
Another new addition to Destiny 2 is the inclusion of Stasis, as a new damage and subclass type. Players won’t be able to play around with Stasis fully until they finish the campaign properly, but when you get your hands on it, by god, is it fun. All Stasis abilities focus on freezing your enemies and doing damage over time rather than the instantaneous damage that players will be used to. At first, you may fall into the idea that Stasis is useless, but as you get used to how it works you begin to notice that Stasis has far more utility than any of the subclasses we’ve had thus far. For example, the starting Stasis grenade creates a wall of ice where it lands so you can either use it to freeze an enemy solid and deal some damage that way, you can use it to block off an area for entry denial, or use it for cover while you revive a teammate. You can even use it for traversal or to gain some height on your enemies and strike from the high ground. Stasis also sounds great with the sound design team really outdoing themselves this time; freezing an enemy has a satisfying hiss to it, and I’ll never get over the sound of shattering a dreg into a million little pieces.
On the PvE side of things, Stasis seems like a great addition to the game, yet on the PvP side of things though, Stasis is an absolute nightmare. I’m going to be brutally honest with you here — the PvP in Destiny 2, for me at least, is (and always has been) the worst part of Destiny and I feel that the Crucible and Gambit are what’s holding Destiny 2 back. Anything that’s fun to use in PvE, gets nerfed because it’s broken in PvP, and I can see a Stasis nerf coming down the road because Stasis is just way too strong in PvP right now. Grenades and melee attacks can freeze players and while you can break out of your icy prison, be aware that it take a few seconds, meaning that enemy players have plenty of time to finish you off. On top of that, upon breaking free you also take damage, so even if you do manage to break out of the icy prison, a random or well-placed shot will end you. Basically, if you get frozen, accept that your death is guaranteed because there is rarely an escape. Topping it off, a well-placed Statis attack can freeze you right in the middle of performing your super ability *cough* Warlocks *cough*. Statis in PvP is not worth touching because it is just so broken right now and it’s just not fun. Though, if I’m being sincere, PvP has not been fun for some time, but I would call it unplayable right now. This isn’t anything new however as the release of a bit DLC with new subclasses always breaks the meta for a while (Forsaken being a clear example), but this time it’s a lot more obvious and unbalanced.
The issues with PvP does bring into light the biggest shortfall of Destiny as a whole in that it’s a game of two parts; PvE and PVP. Destiny 2 will never excel in either aspect because the other aspect is just around the corner to ruin the fun. PvP can never be balanced because it would make grinding for loot in PvE worthless and PvE can never really go nuts with weapons and abilities because it will unbalance PvP. Right now, we’re seeing the cycle that we’ve seen so many times in Destiny’s history where the PvE players get something enjoyable and trust me, Stasis is the most fun I’ve had in Destiny 2 in a long time. Yet, as history has shown us, once PvP enters the picture, a nerf is bound to happen. Bungie will be forced to nerf it to appease the PvP players, but the PvE players will lose out on the fun. Destiny will never reach its potential while it’s forced to do this eternal juggling act.
Overall as a PvE player, I found Beyond Light to be an absolutely fantastic addition to Destiny 2 with the inclusion of Stasis and the changes to the system. Beyond Light has brought back the fun I used to have when Forsaken came out. Sure, there have been some missteps with the inclusion of sunsetting and removing a bit too much content, but the planet Europa is fun to explore, and there are enough little secrets sprinkled in to keep players keen until the next season comes out. The addition of the Cosmodrome in Destiny 2 is a nice bit of nostalgia — perhaps too much if you’ve played Destiny 1. The weekly grind is now a more focused experience with weekly bounties and raids being the best way to progress, which is an improvement over the previous seasons. However, if you’re a PvP player, I would hold off on Beyond Light right now and see what Bungie does to make PvP compelling again but if history is anything to go by, you’ll be waiting a while.
Destiny 2 has been at a tipping point since Shadowkeep was released, with many players being concerned about the franchise’s future. I believe that beyond Light is a step in the right direction, with Bungie fixing many criticisms that people have had about the series in the past. Destiny 2 Beyond Light isn’t perfect; there’s still a lot that can be done to improve the experience but right now, the game is in a lot better place than it used to be.
Destiny 2: Beyond Light
Prepare to wield the darkness in the latest Destiny 2 Expansion, Beyond Light where you must the Fallen Kell Eramis for control over the moon of Europa. This fight will take you through some revelations about your relationship with the darkness and the horrid experiments that Clovis Bray have performed on the moon.
- Great New Powers
- Satisfying Campaign
- New Location
- Quality of Life Improvements
- PvP Completely Unbalanced#
- Sunsetting Poorly Implemented
- Too Much Content Removed
- Destiny 2: Beyond Light