You can’t judge a book by its cover and you can’t judge a Destiny expansion after the first few days. But two weeks into Beyond Light now, the raid has been cleared, unlocking the end of a few different major questlines and revealing the full power of stasis, along with most of the exotic arsenal for the season. So yeah, time to pass some official judgements.
Beyond Light is great.
Now, you can be upset about what has been removed from Destiny 2 as of late. Four zones, five raids, loads of strikes and Crucible maps and about 75% of legendary gear which is no longer viable due to sunsetting. All of this has saved space and made the game load faster, even on last gen consoles, and yet I’m mainly here to talk about what was added with Beyond Light.
Europa is a fantastic new zone, the game’s first in over two years now, a frozen wasteland with horizonal icicles covering both dead human cities from ages past and a worryingly alive Fallen city in the north. But Europa is as much about what’s under the ice, namely a sprawling Clovis Bray facility, the man and company that built the robot exos, embedded with human consciousness, which are a major thematic focus of the season. Europa now has a weather system which periodically blankets the map in whiteout blizzard conditions. Annoying for combat perhaps, but it makes it feel like a living world, and I’m wondering what EDZ thunderstorms or moon meteor showers might look like in the future with such a system.
The story of Beyond Light is one of the most coherent told in-game I’ve seen from Destiny. Yes, the fundamental “revenge” storyline of Forsaken was good, and yet that got into pretty weird territory (Uldren is being fooled by an Ahamkara who herself is Taken). Here, it’s more straightforward. Fallen Kell Eramis wants revenge for the Traveler, the supplier of our light powers and protector of earth, for abandoning her people and devastating her world. So she turns to the Darkness, the ominous Pyramids that have invaded our solar system as of late, for new powers, powers which the Darkness is also happy to give to us and watch us duke it out.
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Those powers are “Stasis,” a new ice-based element in the game, and something unlike anything Destiny has ever done before. Stasis is probably the star of Beyond Light, and an absolute blast to play with in PvE, even if it’s proven to be something of a nightmare in PvP. Stasis is so good it’s kind of hard for other subclasses to even compare to it anymore outside of your usual necessary wells and bubbles you need for certain encounters. The new system has set up slowing, freezing and shattering as new mechanics that you will utilize in combat alongside your weapons. This has resulted in some crazy new abilities across classes like Hunters throwing down an ice wall them slamming into the ground to shatter it, or Warlocks deploying their rift to freeze everything around them, as well as heal themselves.
Stasis has unbalanced the game in a weird way where we are waiting for the other subclasses to catch up. And now with new Darkness subclasses coming in the future, Bungie promises, the game is about to get a lot more complicated. In a good way, but balance may prove to be harder than ever soon enough.
Speaking of balance, Bungie has been content experimenting with some truly wild stuff this time around. Not just Stasis, but new ideas like a certain pair of exotic Warlock gloves that pair with a poison spewing hand cannon that amplifies the effects of both for one of the most potent combos in the game. And as of yesterday, players now have access to a sniper rifle that shoots lightning bolts and a chainsaw sword, both of which, so far, are proving to be some of the craziest, strongest weapons the game has seen in ages.
While we have lost a lot of loot due to sunsetting, even outside of the exotics, I have enjoyed what I’ve found so far, with new Europa and Wild Hunt weaponry feeling solid with interesting new perks. But no weapons seem to have more significant perks than what players are now finding in the Deep Stone Crypt raid, as Bungie has delivered on their promise and made raid loot “aspirational” again with rad looking armor and unique weapons with abilities you cannot find anywhere else.
The Deep Stone Crypt raid is an incredible work of art. We can debate where it ranks in the overall raid list of Destiny history, but (spoilers) any raid that features one encounter as a space station plummets to earth in a fireball while the next encounter takes place in the wreckage down on the ground is doing something right. Bungie’s raid race went off without a hitch this weekend, and it was a joy to watch, and will be a joy to play, no doubt, when I finally get a team together.
The raid unlocked the “final” stage of Beyond Light, new quests from Variks, the Stranger and the exotic quest for the chainsaw sword that led to one of Destiny’s most unpredictable story revelations I’ve seen. The story and lore here, especially everything surrounding Clovis Bray, is top notch, and Bungie’s in and out of game storytelling has never been stronger.
All of this is Beyond Light, but I should probably also touch on both New Light and Season of the Hunt. The New Light experience has been redesigned top to bottom and is far, far more logical in terms of how you progress and learn the systems of the game through new mentor Shaw Han and the integration of both old and new quests in the Cosmodrome. I don’t love that the Cosmodrome arrived and has almost no relevance to veteran players short of a single Beyond Light mission and strike, but perhaps that will change over time.
Season of the Hunt has yet to unfold in a meaningful capacity, but I am middling about what I’ve seen so far. Again, the story stuff is great with Uldren now being a captive henchman for Spider who we will probably end up freeing. The aesthetics of the hunt weapons and armor are cool, but the hunts themselves are a bit…lacking, with boss encounters that try to emulate Monster Hunter but instead end up being 20 second affairs that don’t pose a challenge as soon as you’re a reasonable power level. I’m hoping this seasonal content will evolve in time, but for now, it seems almost even lighter than Undying, and it’s being sold separately.
I could go on. There’s plenty still to rave about like the new ability to farm Lost Sectors for specific exotics. Or complain about, like how there’s no fast travel point in the north of the map. But overall, Beyond Light is an incredibly solid addition to Destiny. I do wish so much of the game wasn’t removed or locked away, but what they have added is among the best content they’ve produced, and they did it all working from home during a pandemic, which is probably the most incredible part of all of this.
Beyond Light is an easy recommend for any avid Destiny fan, but also it’s time for new players to hop in as well now that New Light content actually makes sense as an onboard to the rest of the game. I’m heading back in, and even in a crowded release season, there’s nothing else I’d rather be playing.