My six-player Destiny 2 fireteam fired away because the Deep Stone Crypt raid boss, the hardest enemy of the Beyond Light growth, teleported across the enviornment and roared with rage. We threw all the pieces we had left on the flying monster in a determined try and stave off defeat. Bullets and grenades crammed the air as chunks of orbital particles slammed down onto the panorama, threatening to crush us as we scrambled for canopy. It was now or never–if we did not handle to kill this factor instantly, it might kill us, and we might be again to the beginning of the prolonged combat. And we might sunk greater than 12 hours into the raid over the previous two days already.
But then: an explosion. The boss twisted in ache and a cheer went up from our crew. Finally, we might bested the best problem of the brand new growth, after hours of struggling to work out the mechanics and struggling loss of life after loss of life to its highly effective enemies. It’s moments like this one which hold me coming again to Destiny 2. There’s nothing fairly like powering by way of a Destiny raid, counting on teammates to deal with advanced roles and cooperate by way of a number of the sport’s most artistic designs.
Beyond Light supplies extra of what Destiny 2 is nice at: satisfying first-person capturing, an incredible raid, fascinating locations to discover, and an entire lot of punchy weapons to check out. It additionally maintains a number of the sport’s lingering issues although, like a reliance on repetitive content material and time-sucking grinds to arbitrarily elevate numbers. To put it merely, Beyond Light is basically extra Destiny–if that is a factor you want, you will take pleasure in it, and if it is a factor you complain about, you in all probability will not.
But the final two years have seen Bungie making adjustments to Destiny 2, each massive and incremental, which are bettering the sport, deepening its world, and increasing its experiences. Beyond Light is probably the best-told, most fleshed-out story developer Bungie has but put forth in its sport. The focus is on characters who’ve emotions and motivations, whether or not they’re heroes or villains, which permits them to develop past only a assortment of voices on the radio yelling at you to go shoot one other world-threatening alien. And new additions to the sport, like a number of freezing talents referred to as Stasis, change up gameplay and fight methods in enjoyable and sudden methods.
The new growth takes you to Europa, certainly one of Jupiter’s frozen moons, to uncover secrets and techniques in regards to the newest menace invading the photo voltaic system. This is a godlike alien drive colloquially generally known as the Darkness, carried on pyramid-shaped ships and picked up in angular, metamorphic black artifacts. For the previous couple of seasons of Destiny 2, we have been puzzling out what the Darkness has in retailer for us–while it has invaded (and, these days, vanished) whole celestial our bodies like Mars and Mercury, it hasn’t attacked. Instead, the Darkness is providing seductive energy. It would not need to kill the superheroic Guardians that gamers embody–it needs to personal them.
Much of the story of Beyond Light issues characters determining harness the powers supplied by the Darkness with a view to fight it. The speedy difficulty is that Eramis, a member of the alien race generally known as the Fallen, has gotten maintain of Stasis, the Darkness’s energy, and is elevating a military to wield it. Taking her out is the priority of the primary few hours of the story marketing campaign, however that is principally a automobile to getting Stasis into your fingers so you possibly can run amok with it.
Stasis is the true star of Beyond Light, providing a brand new model of talents that require an enormous rethink of fight methods. The powers of Stasis debuff enemies, doing issues like slowing them down, freezing them strong, or walling them off behind big ice crystals. Where most talents and supers in Destiny 2 are devoted both to doing direct harm to enemies or offering therapeutic to teammates, Stasis provides capabilities for controlling the battlefield, altering the panorama, and altering the percentages.
These powers are a pleasant refresher for Guardian capabilities, since we’ve not seen new subclasses since September 2018’s Forsaken growth. They really feel considerably completely different from all the pieces else already out there, pushing you to determine greatest use them in opposition to enemies and develop artistic options to keep away from getting frozen and shattered into tiny items by opponents. As Stasis turns into a extra common a part of Destiny 2, it is easy to think about methods it may be paired with present talents and weapons to pave the best way for an entire new set of ways. Stasis additionally comes with a bunch of customizations you possibly can earn as you play, amping up the effectiveness of some components of your new capabilities whereas exacting tolls like drops in character stats. Destiny 2 has come a good distance in pushing you to consider spec out your characters, and Stasis deepens that system with extra satisfying decisions that allow you to tune your playstyle for particular conditions and necessities.
However, a lot of Beyond Light is Destiny as standard. The quest to get your new Stasis powers, as an example, largely consists of the standard “go here and shoot x number of this baddie” grind. There additionally continues to be a heavy reliance on bounties, which require finishing minor aims which are principally about racking up kills with particular weapons or talents, and which could be a boring slog to get by way of, particularly as you are battling to unlock the cool new Stasis customization components.
But whereas a number of the gameplay might be predictable, Europa is a powerful new providing. It’s an enormous location with various environments to discover, together with frozen wastes, ravaged ruins, a Fallen metropolis, and large sci-fi services. The vacation spot provides dynamic climate for the primary time, and whereas it is not a drastic change, a blizzard whipping up in the midst of a firefight to kill visibility forces you to alter the way you play simply sufficient to present Europa a harmful and shifting really feel.
Bungie mixes in its trademark attractive vistas with numerous little crevices to plumb for mysteries, however what makes the brand new panorama stand out is that a lot of Europa feels just like the tip of a a lot bigger story iceberg. In the primary two weeks of the growth, parts of that iceberg have been steadily uncovered. The new Europa Strike is not nearly discovering and killing an enormous enemy; it expands the story each of Eramis within the current as she makes use of an alien portal for her personal ends in addition to the shadowy human industrialist, Clovis Bray, who constructed that portal centuries earlier. Venturing into the depths of the Braytech Exoscience facility would not simply provide you with one other venue for gunfights; it reveals the circumstances that created certainly one of Destiny 2’s participant races, the robotic Exos, and fills of their story as a tragic, misplaced folks.
Bungie has additionally gone a lot additional in creating the story you uncover alongside the best way by way of the growth. The battle in opposition to Eramis is combined up with Variks, an previous Destiny 1 character who has been absent exterior of lore textual content since Destiny 2’s launch, and offers with the 2 characters’ disagreement on how greatest to serve and shield the scattered Fallen race. Finding and harnessing Stasis expands the story of the Exo Stranger, one other Destiny 1 character, and eventually sheds mild on a bunch of questions which have lingered for the reason that complicated and haphazard Destiny 1 marketing campaign. This growth tells a coherent story that is grounded in interactions between characters you have frolicked with through the years, whereas reaching into the lore in good methods to construct on the massive Destiny world. You do not need to have learn a ton of lore to know what is going on on in Beyond Light, however the storytelling will make you need to achieve this, and reward you with extra nuance for the funding.
We’ve additionally seen a bit bit of recent content material for the continued Season of the Hunt, which shores up the drip-feed nature of the season go mannequin with some critical story relevance. The season facilities on Uldren Sov, one of many main antagonists of the Forsaken expansion–he’s the man gamers hunted all the way down to actual revenge on for the homicide of Cayde-6, certainly one of Destiny’s largest personalities. Uldren has been revived as a Guardian, dropping the reminiscences of his previous life within the course of. He sends you on hunts to take down a wide range of bosses to earn particular perk and stat rolls on gear, and people actions are temporary however participating diversions that do not carry the identical frustrations (like counting on different, random gamers) as previous short-lived seasonal actions.
While this season, like others, will principally include replaying the identical few actions to chase varied weapons and armor, the simmering battle of working intently with a man your character executed makes the Season of the Hunt really feel prefer it’s burgeoning with potentialities. Recent seasons have felt as in the event that they did not have been a bit missing in feeling like they actually matter, exterior some temporary flashes, past offering massive chunks of busywork, however the character implications of the Season of the Hunt already present as massive a draw to that content material because the infinite loot chase.
Even after six years, there are nonetheless rising pains with Beyond Light and Destiny 2 at massive. Bungie has eliminated an enormous swathe of content material from Destiny 2 with the growth, whittling down the variety of locations and actions by “vaulting” them, with a chance that they may very well be re-released at some unknown level sooner or later. Europa’s an enormous place, nevertheless it’s true that there is altogether much less of Destiny 2 as we speak than there was a yr in the past. That’s not essentially wholly bad–the sport was getting unwieldy, massive chunks of it have been barely visited by gamers, and simply since you might unlock and use lots of of weapons did not imply they have been all definitely worth the effort. But for a sport that’s each constructed on and hampered by repetition, much less content material means much less selection, and meaning issues can get stale all of the faster.
Destiny 2 has all the time felt prefer it’s being actively molded into the sport Bungie envisions, advancing towards an ideal model sooner or later with out ever fairly getting there. The final yr noticed Bungie making an attempt a brand new strategy to worldbuilding, storytelling, and sustaining participant engagement with seasonal content material, however seasons felt a bit haphazard and unconnected, usually spinning their wheels with limited-time diversions whereas hinting at one thing higher down the road. Beyond Light comes nearer to that imaginative and prescient, nevertheless it’s a step ahead, not a leap. Destiny 2 nonetheless struggles with the identical cyclical, repetitious core of finishing busywork grinds to succeed in the content material you really need to play, and in some methods, Beyond Light additionally feels prefer it’s gesturing at a future level when Destiny 2 will lastly turn into the sport it is all the time tried to be.
It is likely to be considerably smaller and extra streamlined, however that is additionally probably the most alive Destiny 2 has felt, at the least since the perfect days of the Forsaken growth, and possibly ever. This is the closest we have ever been to its story, characters, and lore, and probably the most we have ever seen characters interacting with one another in significant methods. Already, we have uncovered a bunch of deep-cut, fascinating story beats about characters who’ve persevered in Destiny since its beginnings. The Deep Stone Crypt raid was an thrilling, intense, and ingenious problem, and finishing it altered Europa in some vital methods. It not solely looks like Guardians are influencing the world of Destiny 2 proper now, however due to the fixed story underpinning of the hazards of wielding Darkness, that the world is influencing us again.
Beyond Light may not be the largest growth, nevertheless it does really feel like we have entered a brand new chapter within the sport’s life, with new priorities and an strategy that makes the sport extra resonant in a method that goes past satisfying capturing. On the entire, Destiny 2 is likely to be extra of the identical than it’s completely different, however what’s the identical about it–like its phenomenal raids and tight, satisfying gameplay–is nonetheless largely fairly nice, and what’s completely different is generally making the sport all of the extra worthwhile.
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