Amid some connection issues, I’ve been blasting my way through Destiny 2‘s Beyond Light expansion.
How are things going? Well, about the same as they have been for a while.
Destiny 2: Beyond Light (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X [reviewed])
Released: November 10, 2020
Destiny 2: Beyond Light starts up with a bang.
We get a new formidable baddie to chase, as well as a surprise appearance by the Exo Stranger (which is all over the marketing, I’m not spoiling it!), and more mutterings regarding “the darkness.” There’s intrigue. But Destiny, as a whole, has mostly been built on light intrigue for six years. Beyond Light has a few fist-pump moments, but only for diehard fans.
Europa, the new planet, is similarly give-and-take. Ice is a very cool effect to gawk at, especially in a sci-fi setting, but much of Europa is an obfuscated, empty wasteland. It’s awe-inspiring to witness “I can’t see” winds and fog during the story: not so cool after the campaign is over and you’re doing the same patrol missions you’ve done for years.
Speaking of, the campaign still injects some busywork here and there before you can get to the cool story missions. Enemies are reskinned (and the new ones are somewhat bland). Bosses still throw plenty of adds at you. You still can’t put manual markers on the world map. People still can’t trigger the heroic public quests correctly (okay, that’s not Bungie’s fault). After finishing a public event alone on launch day and “winning” a bland blue item that’s exactly one power level above the one I had, it hit me: this is mostly the same Destiny 2.
Of course, there is some panache involved to remind people that this is a new expansion. The new Ghost system had me going “why wasn’t it always like this?” Being able to change out your Ghost shell to a cosmetic of your choice and change how it impacts your game is a godsend: though of course Bungie added Glimmer sinks to triggering its abilities instead of just letting players run free with it. The stasis subclasses are a clear standout, as they had me thinking of new ways to approach any given fight.
In that way, the stasis mechanic makes the game feel like I’m not on autopilot. We’ve all grown accustomed to our favorite builds, but now Bungie is finally ready to flip the script on us. I have to relearn everything with each class, which has been its own joy. Stasis saves this expansion from completely sinking into Destiny 2‘s routine.
Yet, I’m reminded of Bungie’s new vision for the game at every turn. After finishing the intro for Beyond Light‘s campaign, I was met with a gross “upgrade now!” stinger screen, asking me to pay for the deluxe edition and the season pass: this is for a $40 premium expansion with microtransactions. It is possible to do games as a service right, but sometimes, studios can overstep. I’m not really sure what their angle is anymore.
My advice? Wait to see how the next-gen upgrade of Destiny 2 shakes out if you’re either on the fence about returning, or jumping in for the first time. Come December 8, it should be a drastically different experience, as the lessened load times and sharper visuals (and performance) should help smooth over some of Destiny 2‘s shortcomings. It still has many.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher. The raid, which is not out yet, is not covered in this review.]