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Destiny 2: Lightfall Review -- What Comes After the Fall?

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It would be disingenuous to argue that the Destiny of today is the same Destiny that Bungie released in 2014 (or even when Destiny 2 released in 2017). It is well documented how the original direction for the story changed in the eleventh hour and Bungie launched the game narratively adrift, cobbled together partially using fragments of their original plan. Still, from that tenuous foundation, Bungie has managed to erect something that is truly good -- a conflict between ancient and antithetical forces, stories of loss, grief, and redemption, competing armies and races that stand together as equals, and payoffs for narrative threads that were stitched together from the most meager scraps. In fact, most would agree that Destiny 2 has become a gold-standard for both the live-service model and the looter-shooter genre.

Bungie unveiled their long-term plan for the franchise in 2020 and recent years have seen them present a largely coherent narrative that has built on annual expansions and seasonal storylines, some admittedly more relevant than others. Last year’s expansion, The Witch Queen, was lauded as a new high bar in storytelling for both the Destiny franchise and Bungie. But in the distance, behind that impressive story, the title of this year’s expansion and the penultimate chapter in this ongoing saga loomed as an ominous specter. Destiny 2: Lightfall is finally here and it has the unenviable task of maintaining those expectations and moving the ongoing story into its final act.

As ever, this will be a review of the latest Destiny 2 expansion, a discussion of the previous year, and an examination of the state of the game as it approaches its final arc and enters its ninth year.

And, as is the norm, expect this one to be long~

There was a point when Bungie announced that the Light and Darkness saga would conclude with Beyond Light, The Witch Queen, and Lightfall. However, in the lead-up to The Witch Queen, they revealed they needed another entry to finish the story as they envisioned, and added next year’s The Final Shape as the concluding chapter. Having played through Lightfall, there are a number of ways this can be read. One completely fair reading is that the challenges of game development and impacts of a global pandemic impeded their ability to tell the story on their original timeline. Perhaps the simplest take is that Bungie needed more time to get the pieces in place for this saga’s climax. A less generous spin would be that the decision was driven by the seasonal storytelling, that they needed another four seasons and this expansion exists to get them the time they needed. The most concerning interpretation is that this is the story Bungie wants to tell and we should be concerned about their ability to stick the landing next year. I am going to be upfront, Lightfall was a narrative disappointment. Even removing the high bar The Witch Queen created, Lightfall fails at adequately setting the stage for the final act. And that is especially unfortunate given how much this expansion does right. There are a lot of issues, but I am going to focus my critiques on three areas -- the story, the macguffin, and Strand.

The final moments of Season 19 set the stage for Lightfall and ended with the Traveler rising into space to confront the Witness and its fleet of pyramid ships that had arrived on our doorstep. And the opening moments of this expansion deliver on that tease. Lightfall opens with a cinematic space battle where the Vanguard and its allies, allies we have brought together over the past few years, clash against these forces. However, this is the Witness, the fearsome threat that had previously doomed humanity and crippled the Traveler before the events of Destiny 1. With a flick of its finger, it slices ships and ghosts into pieces, showing the power of our opponent. Indifferent to our forces, the Witness reaches out, touches the Traveler, and receives a vision that motivates it to send Calus and his Shadow Legion to Neptune in pursuit of a mysterious object known as the Veil. Players chase after Osiris who is insistent that the Witness will become unstoppable if it is able to get the Veil, and the story of Lightfall unfolds from there as the focus shifts away from the Witness and the threat it poses to the Traveler and humanity and instead to Calus and his efforts to secure the Veil.

In the lead-up to Lightfall, Bungie presented the role that players would fill as the tip of the spear in the battle against the Witness. Ever since Bungie redefined the narrative of Destiny and reimagined the Light and Darkness as foundational forces, rather than antagonists, the Witness has become an ominous presence, synonymous with all the negativity that previously surrounded the Darkness. The Witness is the long-time adversary of the Traveler. It was responsible for causing the collapse, but for years, we did not know what it was. This entity was finally given a name in The Witch Queen, and after preparing and amassing an army of allies, we were ready to stand with the Traveler to confront this ancient opponent. Except none of that mattered and the entire campaign occurs away from that fight. Players have no direct interaction with the Witness and the events of Neptune feel like they are occurring over an undefined period of time while everything else stands still. Someone on Reddit pointed out that you could string the opening cutscene and the final cutscene together, and they flow perfectly because our actions on Neptune are so immaterial to the actual story.

This is going to be an unpopular opinion, but I do not like Thor: Ragnarok. It suffers from narrative whiplash, jumping from emotional and significant moments to humor and quips without giving the characters and the audience an adequate amount of time to feel the weight of the significant events that transpire. The main narrative of Lightfall is similarly plagued by this issue, but made worse when juxtaposed against the stories that happen outside the campaign. Characters who experience loss or defeat during the campaign quickly jump back to humor and jokes, as if there is no emotional weight to the story’s major beats. This is best exemplified by Nimbus, one of the new characters introduced on Neptune. Throughout the campaign, they interject too much humor and ruin moments that should have at least a modicum of solemnity. And yet, during the post-game, Nimbus has an especially poignant storyline where the events of the campaign impact their behavior and decision-making and they emerge with a better understanding of what it means to be a Cloud Strider in service to the people of Neomuna. We have known for a longtime that Bungie has different narrative teams, but when the seasonal storyline can handle similar sequences of events with more complexity, maturity, and depth, it feels like the wrong team was given the responsibility of writing Lightfall’s narrative.

Even with all the complaints against the writing, almost universally, the biggest criticism of the Lightfall campaign relates to the Veil. Bungie has had an overreliance on using lore for storytelling since the start of the Destiny franchise. And while they have gotten better with their storytelling, the lore still does a lot of heavy-lifting. That is not the case here. The Veil has been mentioned in the lore (I think), but it was never prominently featured in the game’s story, so it never needed to be explained. Bungie just put out an entire expansion with the Veil at the core, and I could not tell you what it is. Even the people who make a living discussing the game’s lore cannot explain it.

Players arrive on Neomuna to help Osiris keep the Veil out of Calus’ hands, but at no point does he (or rather Bungie) think to explain the Veil. Players never learn what the Veil is, what it does, or why it matters. In fact, by the end of the campaign, when all is said and done, players still do not have any clarification about why they needed to protect the Veil or what were the consequences of letting it fall into the Witness’ grasp. The problem is not that the Veil is wrapped in mystery, rather, seemingly everyone knows what the Veil is except for players, and that is never resolved. The Witch Queen was built around the mystery of how Savathûn got the Light, and the way it drove the story and was eventually resolved was a huge part of why The Witch Queen was so highly praised.

This review has been a challenge to write, partially due to having to rewrite entire sections because Bungie has been putting out weekly pieces about the future of the game, and somehow the narrative is one of those areas. Just over a week after Lightfall's release, Bungie stated that this year’s storyline would continue to expand over the year, independent of the seasonal stories. There is zero part of me that thinks this narrative continuation is the result of the overwhelming criticism of Lightfall, but rather, Bungie was forced to reveal it months earlier than planned because of the sentiment around the expansion. On one hand, a part of me still has faith that Bungie will do the Veil justice and properly reveal why it was so important to this story. But at the same time, this feels like another case of Bungie being so caught up in wanting to keep secrets to surprise players that they shot themselves in the foot again. I think Lightfall would still have been maligned, but it would not have been so widely condemned if they had said something along the lines of, “This year we're trying something new with the story. In addition to the seasonal stories, players who purchase Lightfall will get to experience a story that expands throughout the year." prior to the expansion’s release.

We have all played games which warn players, "If you proceed past this point, you will not be able to go back.” That prompt signifies it is time to complete any leftover side-quests before proceeding to the final battle. Unfortunately, that is the most apt description of the Lightfall campaign -- a side-quest to acquire a new power before the final act.

Strand is a brand new darkness element that exists on Neomuna and is somehow connected to the Veil. Players are the first to discover and learn to wield it (the fact that certain enemies have Strand shields aside), and it is, arguably, just as important to the narrative as the Veil. The Witch Queen campaign was fixated on Savathûn and solving the mystery of how she acquired the light, so every objective was in service of moving that plot forward. Conversely, rather than concentrating on Calus or the Veil, the Lightfall campaign must take detours to understand Strand. Honestly, this is one of those strange scenarios where, while a new element and subclasses can be hugely beneficial and transformative for Destiny 2, I hope Bungie does not introduce one with The Final Shape so they can devote their attention in its entirety to delivering a satisfying narrative conclusion.

When Stasis was introduced in Beyond Light, many players expressed frustration that it took a long time for players to gain full access to Stasis and its kit. Throughout the campaign, players would get tastes of Stasis, but they needed to finish the campaign to unlock the subclasses and then complete several quests to unlock all the grenades, aspects, and fragments. Prior to Lightfall, Bungie stated that they had heard this complaint and factored it into unlocking Strand. And they definitely listened in some regards, but the final execution is still not without its blemishes. Starting with the good, it is infinitely easier to fully unlock Strand. At the end of the campaign, players get access to a nearly complete build (I do not remember if I was able to immediately unlock four fragments or only three) with additional perks unlocked by collecting a currency that drops from defeating enemies on Neomuna with Strand. Mostly playing through post-game content, I believe it took me two days to fully unlock all the options for my Hunter. While that sounds great, the introduction of Strand during the campaign is a series of disappointments. Throughout the campaign, players get tastes of Strand, but it is only for limited stretches. Rather than getting to dive head first into it, Strand feels like a reward for eating our veggies.

So I just spent a few paragraphs criticizing the introduction of Strand, but we have reached the part of the review where I pull a bait-and-switch and praise Strand. To put it simply, Strand is a ridiculous amount of fun. While Strand hurt Lightfall’s narrative, it undeniably helped better define the Light and Darkness. Even before Stasis was introduced, players had imagined how a potential poison-based element would look. Weapons like Thorn and Osteo Striga and the Necrotic Grips added fuel to this fire, and when images of green subclass icons were leaked, players felt sure we were finally getting poison. Instead, Bungie used this opportunity to delineate the elements associated with the Light as those related to the physical objects and sensations while the Darkness comes from the abstract or intangible, such as dreams and emotions (Stasis’ fits into this paradigm requires a bit of a stretch).

Strand is derived from the energy between things that connects them and Strand is about pulling on this energy and using it to create, manipulate, and unravel. Gameplay-wise, this translates to grappling across the map, binding and suspending enemies, and spinning threads into bombs. While Strand has many of the same functions as other subclasses (unique ways to clear the battlefield and immobilizing enemies), its most distinctive feature is the way it is built around repositioning -- both zipping into the heart of combat to unleash damage and cause disruptions and quickly escaping with ease. Movement and gunplay in Destiny 2 has always received high praise, and the way Strand seamlessly weaves these elements together makes it shine. When Stasis shipped, its identity was largely centered on crowd control, but many of its tools were oppressive to the point that they overshadowed the other elements and Bungie needed to drastically rein them in. Yes, there are parts of Strand that feel a bit overpowered at times (both its ridiculous levels of crowd control and its damage mitigation), but I think both of those can be tuned in ways that do not break the identity of the element and subclasses.

This paradoxical evaluation from the narrative perspective versus the gameplay experience does not only apply to Strand, but also the campaign. Given the narrative deficiencies, it is almost jarring how many great set pieces and bombastic gameplay moments are featured throughout the Lightfall campaign. Some of the standouts include a harrowing sparrow escape from Calus’ ship, a race against the clock to escape a building rigged with explosives, swinging through the Vex network (my ongoing reservations on our ability to enter a digital space aside), and my absolute favorite sequence of the Lightfall campaign, fighting alongside Caital and her Cabal army to hold the line against swarms of Shadow Legion forces which eventually overwhelm and drive players back. Bungie finally delivered on a gameplay experience I have been begging them to introduce for years, and it has me hopeful that Bungie can deliver on the promise of this saga. At least from a gameplay perspective.

Like The Witch Queen before it, Lightfall offers a legendary difficulty that is again a satisfying and challenging experience. I know a lot of people thought this campaign was harder than The Witch Queen’s, but I disagree. Context is important and I believe Lightfall’s campaign feels harder because players are weaker than they were three months ago due to overall adjustments to player power (more on that in a little). Conversely, my perspective might be skewed by the novelty of experiencing this level of challenge in a Destiny campaign during The Witch Queen. Lightfall also introduces a new challenging enemy type, the Tormentors. These towering servants of the Witness are the first new enemy species(?) added to the game since The Taken King in 2015 and are a welcome addition. Tormentors are like the Lucent Hive in that they require your attention whenever one (or more) enters the battlefield. These opponents can fire off powerful attacks, quickly close the gap, and even suppress players’ abilities. Personally, I found the most challenging encounters occurred in small spaces that were clearly designed to provide an advantage to their toolkit, so I favor the Lucent Hive, but only by a little. At the same time, a lot of the impact of the Lucent Hive faded because of how criminally underutilized they were outside The Witch Queen campaign, so hopefully Bungie does not repeat that mistake.

One area where the gameplay underperforms the narrative is in the latest raid, Root of Nightmares. This raid occurs across the Witness’ pyramid ship which was damaged by the Traveler’s terraforming power in Lightfall’s opening cutscene and is a visual and auditory spectacle. Over the past few years, and especially in last year’s Vow of the Disciple raid, Bungie has defined the Witness’ aesthetic motif. The cold stone structures, dim orange lighting, and straight lines of the Witness’ ship are broken up by chaotic white roots and organic growths. Even the audio cues players hear as they traverse the raid, the sounds of creaking and breaking, tell the narrative of two opposing forces struggling to coexist. It is not just sensory, the narrative build-up to the release of Root of Nightmares was one of the best Bungie has done. Nezarec, recently revealed to be one of the Witness’ disciples, has been reborn and prior to the raid’s release, was tormenting the dreams of the people of Neomuna. Running around Neomuna, players could hear mysterious whispers what could only be understood by equipping older pieces of gear connected to Nezarec. I am not sure if this is still the case, but Nezarec spent the week and a half leading up to the raid taunting and antagonizing players in an attempt to draw them into the raid.

While all of that made the new raid shine, the gameplay experience might be one of the most disappointing Bungie has produced. Historically, Destiny raids have featured multiple encounters and mechanics that build in complexity from one to the next. The first encounter might introduce a simple mechanic, but that is the basis of the next encounter which adds complexity and also features a boss that serves as a damage check. Some raids, like Last Wish or Vow of the Disciple, are mechanically heavy, requiring players to memorize and call-out symbols. Other raids are not at that level of complexity, but what has been consistent across all raids is the need to work with your teammates.

Root of Nightmares consists of four encounters, two mechanical puzzles (using the term as generously as possible) and two boss encounters. My biggest issue with this raid is that the mechanics are so simplistic, with most requiring no coordination between teammates and only the third encounter actually requiring any communication. But even that encounter can be done by two people while the rest of the group just kills adds. There are entire encounters where I have found myself completely disengaged with what was happening as my teammates dealt with mechanics while I just shot waves of adds. Root of Nightmares launched on March 10, and when I started working on this section back then, my fear was that there would be a lot of players who only knew how to add clear. That fear has become a reality. In the weeks since, I have been in groups where every single person has double-digit clears, but I was the only player who knew the mechanics.

There are a lot of players who do not like the mechanical complexity of raids or find them too challenging. Many of those players have heaped praises on this raid for how easy it is to finish and how much more welcoming it is, especially since so many players can just kill adds. Look, I am all for more players experiencing raids and getting clears, but raids are supposed to be the pinnacle of endgame content. Yes, it is super frustrating to not get a clear, it sucks to spend your night struggling against a tough encounter, and I am sympathetic to players who feel intimidated by complex mechanics. But raids were the one thing that offered that experience in Destiny 2 and we get one new raid a year. I am not saying that every raid needs to be on the level of complexity of Last Wish or even Vow of the Disciple, but this game already features copious amounts of accessible content, I do not think it is unfair for one activity to have a higher bar to success. What is especially discouraging is, as far as I am aware, amidst all the conversations they have had recently, Bungie has made no comments about this raid’s difficulty, so it sounds like they do not share my sentiments.

I mentioned that part of the challenge of the Lightfall campaign came from the need to recalibrate since players are not as strong as we were prior to Lightfall. When I reviewed The Witch Queen last year, I praised the Void 3.0 update that allowed for better customization, build-crafting, and for the seasonal mods that made the Void subclasses feel powerful. At the time, it felt like a needed change to bring the old subclasses to the same footing as the more recently introduced Stasis subclasses. But that sentiment started to fade the more time I spent with Void 3.0, and the flaws that were hidden by the initial excitement became more and more glaring as Bungie continued to update the remaining Light subclasses. Players embraced the build-crafting and created powerful builds that could perpetually tear through armies by spreading explosions from one target to the next, infinitely chain abilities so that gunplay became largely irrelevant, and even stand against the toughest foes and survive their strongest attacks without flinching. This increase in ability usage permeated the game, and even the Crucible was plagued by invisibility, overshields, and overwhelming regeneration.

There are some players who want games like Destiny 2 to be easy so they can feel like powerful beings, flying across the battlefield, throwing out explosive abilities, burning through hordes of enemies, and emerging on the other side without a scratch. That is not my idea of fun. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely spent time in Sarutabaruta pulling trains of Crawlers that I could burn down with a single high-level -ga spell. But there is a big difference between doing that in a starter area versus that level of power in endgame content. I came to Destiny from a Halo background, so I was in love with the gunplay from day one. I have not enjoyed the previous year because of how easy it was to become over-powered and for guns and gunplay to feel unimportant.

Lightfall is a drastic turn in the other direction. The biggest change is shifting the game to put players at a power-level disadvantage for much of the content, meaning that things generally take more shots to kill and dish out more damage. This has even expanded to the world, with enemies on Neomuna being set to always be at a higher level than players, making that planet feel like it is always a threat. Personally, I love this change. I am relying on my guns again, I actually have to pay attention to the environment and cover, and the game does not feel as mindless as it has for the past few years. But, as you might expect, this drastic a change and recalibration has not made everyone happy, and a lot of players have expressed frustration at this new difficulty. Prior to Lightfall, a frequent complaint from players was that they had to compete against their allies to have fun in a lot of activities. In fact, Bungie was praised last year for the enemy density in some of the more recent activities because it meant there was plenty to fight and players were able to utilize the builds they had crafted. Those conversations make it feel at least a little contradictory to then complain when one player cannot burn down an entire room of enemies in five seconds.

Another huge part of this shift in power is the result of overhauling the game’s mod system. There is no denying that this new system is far less complex than the previous system. Warmind Cells, Elemental Wells, and a lot of the functionality tied to them has been removed and replaced by more straight-forward stat buffs and a choice between on-demand or temporary buffs. The best way I can describe it is, the old system was a froyo shop where you had dozens of frozen yogurt choices that you could mix and match with tons of toppings that you could pile on, resulting in something that could be amazing or could be a mess; The new system is more of a traditional ice cream shop with a handful of flavors and fewer toppings that have been chosen to deliver a more cultivated experience.

The old mod system offered a lot more creativity, but it could be daunting for new players who were not around to learn the basics when there were fewer options. Assuming they could even acquire all the mods. The previous system was built around a suite of basic mods that were available to all players, with additional mods sporadically introduced during different seasons. The only way to acquire missing mods, if you skipped a season or joined the game late, was from a single vendor who would offer a random selection of mods each day. As a result, players would often be stuck waiting months for important mods or a key mod for a specific build. The new system gives players to almost everything up-front, but is far more limited. Still, I would be remiss if I ignored the near-infinite Threadling build I have going on my Warlock currently and acted like the current system does not allow for some powerful builds. If I am not mistaken, the previous iteration of the mod system started in Shadowkeep and Bungie built on it over three years. I would be surprised if we did not see new mods introduced over time that help players develop even more creative builds.

The mod system rework has also come with an oft-requested feature, loadout management. Players can finally create a build, save it, and then swap to it at anytime with a press of a button. Previously, unless you used a third-party tool, switching loadouts was a manual process that was tedious and cumbersome. I can personally attest that I would play every subclass, but only ever had one or two optimized builds because of how difficult it was to switch gear and change mods. Plenty of games have successful loadout management systems, so this might not seem worth a ton of praise, but Bungie delivered on something that players have been begging for, and it works pretty much flawlessly. The system is intuitive to use, easy to navigate, clean, and it is one of the best implementations in recent memory. You can even save ornaments, so players can easily swap their appearances when necessary for things like Iron Banner weeks. My only complaint is that we cannot save artifact unlocks, but that is a minor complaint that will become even more minor next season.

For all the good of those systems, the other side of the coin is the mediocre Guardian Rank system and the abysmal Commendation system. Bungie has a habit of seizing on annual releases as an opportunity to reinvent systems. In addition to the mod system, they have also introduced Guardian Ranks, a reimagining of the Triumph Score system that was introduced in Forsaken which was itself a reimagining of Destiny 1’s Grimoire Score. When it was announced, Bungie discussed their intention behind the system and stated their goal was for Guardian Ranks to denote a player’s mastery of the game. However, because of how it has been implemented and the types of tasks required to increase a player’s rank, it just quantifies how much a player is willing to grind, rather than serving as a metric of skill or mastery. Still, Bungie has acknowledged some of the flaws with the system, reduced some of the requirements, and already started moving around some of the tasks, so there is a world where Guardian Ranks eventually functions as originally described.

Conversely, I have a hard time seeing the Commendation system ever serving its described purpose. When Lightfall was announced, Bungie also revealed that they were finally introducing an in-game Looking for Group feature and the hope was that commendations would work hand-in-hand with that system to reward helpful players. If a player guided a raid, you could give them a commendation for being helpful; If a player slayed out during a Crucible map, there would be a commendation for being a skilled player. The Looking for Group feature has been delayed until a later season, but that is not the problem with the Commendation system. When Lightfall released, a weekly reward was tied to giving twenty commendations and there were steep requirement for both giving and receiving commendations to climb the Guardian Ranks. Rather than serving as a way to acknowledge helpful or high-skill players, it became a mandatory thing that players had to engage with after every activity.

Bungie has already made numerous changes to the Commendation system since Lightfall's release and I am sure they will continue to tweak it. However, I think the damage has been done. I did my weekly raid clears earlier this week, and in two of the three runs, someone reminded the group not to leave without handing out commendations. It was not because there was something exceptional about either of those runs, rather, commendations are a thing we just do after activities. To really hammer the point, I could not tell you what the actual post-raid commendations were, I just went down the row and gave everyone a commendation. All that said, taken together, I think these two systems are functioning, not as described, but as intended. Guardian Ranks and Commendations are not systems to show mastery of the game or praise other players, respectively, they are systems to trick the part of our brains that like seeing numbers go up. All the conversations about these two systems, systems that have very little bearing on the game, highlight how successful they have been at achieving that goal.

For all my complaints about Lightfall, there is no denying that I have been playing a lot of Destiny 2 since it released. Still, I do not know how long that is going to last. This week, I knocked out my three raids early, played a few rounds of Iron Banner, played a few Gambit matches, and have not touched the game since. At the start of this review, I mentioned I also planned to use this space to evaluate the previous year of Destiny 2 and express my sentiments about the game’s future. This is the point where I have to come clean and admit that this past year has been the least engaged I have been with Destiny 2. While Bungie has done a lot to improve Destiny 2, they continue to neglect the competitive experience, part of a broader neglect of the core playlists. I am pretty indifferent to the stagnation of the Strike playlist, partially because PvP is more interesting to me, but also because, even if Bungie never released another Strike, they continue to support the PvE side of the game with new content every season.

On the other hand, the competitive gamemodes, the Crucible and Gambit, receive barely any attention from Bungie. Bungie has, as recently as a month prior to Lightfall, insisted that PvP is a core part of Destiny 2. There are a lot of players who will say that Destiny 2 will never be a balanced competitive game and PvP players should play Valorant, or Overwatch, or any number of shooters that exist to offer competitive gameplay. To the first point, they are probably right, but I do not think the majority of players who enjoy PvP in Destiny 2 are asking for that. Destiny 2 can offer a thriving PvP scene while not being an e-sport. Not only has Destiny 2 supported a vibrant PvP community in previous years, there have been points throughout the franchise’s history where the competitive side of the game kept the game alive during its content droughts. Lightfall is the big annual release and Bungie could not be bothered to create a new PvP map. If that does not tell you how Bungie prioritizes the Crucible, I do not know what will.

And I hate saying that because the Crucible is where I have spent countless nights. For years, I would get on and play with friends and clanmates who were invested in PvP. Sometimes we would do it to pass time before a raid, sometime that is all we would do. That stopped happening last year. Bungie has been horrendous about supporting PvP for years, but the shift away from gunplay and the over-use of abilities in PvP has made the game less fun. Bungie put out a blog post detailing a number of changes they planned to make to the Crucible experience, and a lot of it sounds good, but I am tired of words and not delivering. I had hoped that updating the Competitive playlist last year would reinvigorate my Crucible spark, but somehow Bungie managed to even drop that ball and made a ranked playlist where the ranks are again meaningless. I have reached the point where, rather than investing my time in a part of the game that Bungie may or may not eventually prioritize, I would rather spend my time in other games.

But for all my issues with how Bungie has mishandled the Crucible, it is still miles ahead of Gambit, Destiny’s PvE/PvP hybrid gamemode. I am not going to spend a lot of time discussing Gambit because it feels like is barely an afterthought to Bungie at this point. The best evaluation of Gambit is that it is in roughly the same neglected place it was last year, but a more realistic evaluation is that it is in a worse place because the full suite of 3.0 upgrades has continued to tear at its wounds. I am admittedly spending more time in Gambit this season, but that has more to do with the reintroduction of my favorite Hand Cannon in the franchise and less to do with Gambit itself. Gambit started as an interesting idea of a competitive PvE gamemode with occasional disruptive PvP invasions, but that was years ago and it has not kept up with the rest of the game. There are so many issues with Gambit and a lot of players, myself included, do not know if there is a way to save this gamemode.

There have been a lot of sentiments that Lightfall is the worst Destiny expansion ever. I cannot disagree with this reaction more strongly. There is no denying that Lightfall was an enormous narrative disappointment, but beyond that campaign, it is actually a really good expansion, as evidenced by the spectacular player numbers in the weeks since. One of the issues for Bungie, however, is the divergent impressions of players who play the campaign and leave versus those of the players who stick around. And this is especially problematic because, I would venture that the majority of players who stick around are players who have been playing for years. We have been waiting in line to ride the roller coaster; we are not going to get off ten minutes before our turn. The other players, the ones who maybe picked up Lightfall because of praise around The Witch Queen, they do not have the same level of investment as older players.. but are also at the same distance from the ride as us.. Okay, look, this is not a perfect metaphor. The point is, players who have been here for nine-years are not going to leave right before the end of the ten-year journey.

Are you familiar with the sunk-cost fallacy, the tendency of people to stick with an activity, even when they can get more enjoyment elsewhere or might not even enjoy the activity, because they have already invested time and money? I am sure most of us can relate to sticking with a television show or series just to see the ending. That is kinda the point I have reached with Destiny 2. This is the ninth year for the Destiny franchise and Destiny 2 is going into its sixth year of content and service. Over the past few years, I have repeatedly asserted that Destiny 2 knows what type of game it is and it is difficult to see the Destiny experience undergoing a drastic transformation. I still think Destiny 2 is a great game, but I can also admit that it is not a great game for me anymore. And it is hard for me to disconnect my evaluation of Lightfall from that growing sentiment. Still, not many games could have kept me this engaged over this many years and although it has its flaws, I think the good parts of Lightfall outweigh the bad. As the franchise approaches the final year of the Light and Darkness saga, I can feel my time with this franchise approaching its end and I just hope that Bungie is able to deliver the satisfying conclusion this saga deserves.

You will fail, you will fall, and then you will get up.

All images owned by Bungie.


  1. 6souls -
    6souls's Avatar
    I am not sure if this is still the case, but Nezarec spent the week and a half leading up to the raid taunting and antagonizing players in an attempt to draw them into the raid.
    That content was removed after the first raid clear.


    Where does this take place?