Destiny 2: Beyond Light review for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC, and Stadia. Destiny 2: Beyond Light is here, and it’s the game’s “biggest update yet,” but for all the wrong reasons.
The release of Beyond Light isn’t the only significant change to come to Destiny 2 recently. We also got the wombo combo of the Destiny Content Vault and gear sunsetting. Yes, you can now spend $40 for a few hours of a new campaign and a few new activities and get the disappointment of losing 20 hours of story content, having the majority of the game’s locations removed, and seeing most gear rendered useless for free.
As Destiny 2 is now wholeheartedly a live service title, something it only flirted with at its inception, there’s no real separating the expansion release and the state of the game as a whole. When you buy Beyond Light, it’s assumed you’re buying into the Destiny 2 ecosphere. So, I’ll be examining both the expansion and the general state of the game as of writing.
We come from the land of the ice and snow
The arrival of the Darkness has been teased for a while, and now they’re here. The harbinger of its coming is the consumption of Io, Titan, Mercury, and Mars (this happens off-screen). The player journeys to Europa at the Darkness’s invitation and finds Variks, the Fallen who led the breakout at the Prison of Elders. Variks brings news that a new Kell of Kells, Eramis, has united the Fallen into the House of Salvation to fight against the Light.
Eramis wields the power of Darkness, and her forces are too strong for the Guardian to beat. Fortunately, the Darkness wants to help defeat Eramis for some reason and leads the player to a Ziggurat where Eris Morn, the Drifter, and the Exo Stranger are fighting Fallen. This leads to the player accepting the Darkness’s help and gaining the power of Stasis, which joins Solar, Arc, and Void as a new damage type.
Unfortunately, most of Beyond Light’s six-hour campaign is made up of busywork. There’s a lot of “kill x enemy to get a boss to appear” or “kill x to attune whatever.” After having the Darkness hyped up over multiple years, the focus on Eramis was irritating. It seems odd to posit the Darkness as the cause of the Collapse and the mortal enemy of humanity and the Traveler only to have your Guardian be completely cool with tapping into its power on the word of some Exo you’ve met a handful of times. No wonder the Traveler is sitting there above the Tower doing nothing with how trifling the Guardian is.
Forsaken told a much more engaging story involving the Fallen, and the bosses in that expansion were more enjoyable as well. Eramis’ motivation boils down to her wanting to help her people, but it’s difficult to feel empathetic to her plight. Sorry, Eramis, you’re like the hundredth Fallen to form a horde dedicated to my destruction; I don’t really care why it’s happening anymore.
The fights are similarly unengaging. The big hook the bosses all have is that they can freeze you with Stasis, which is more annoying than challenging. As each boss battle also ends with the Guardian getting to power up their Stasis continuously, most conclude with you waling them with supers with relative impunity.
Stasis itself is relatively dull as a new power as its concentration on freezing makes it more defensive in nature. Players don’t even get access to its full range yet, so I assume Stasis will gain subclasses over the next year as part of seasonal content. Unfortunately, Stasis builds are the new meta in Crucible, so if you want to play PvP, you basically need Beyond Light to not be at a disadvantage. Also, Bungie vaulted 11 Crucible maps and introduced no new ones with Beyond Light, so if you love that mode, you lost out on a lot.
FOMO, oh no
The issues with the Beyond Light campaign are just a symptom of a larger ailment facing Destiny 2. Since parting ways with Activision, development has swung more and more toward tapping into “Fear of Missing Out.”
Instead of soaking up all the content when an expansion releases or whenever we feel like it, we now have four seasons a year, all with items, activities, and quests that are limited to a three-month span. Of course, to get the most out of seasons, you have to buy the $10 season pass, which adds up to an additional $40 a year on top of paying for expansions.
When Destiny 2: New Light launched, players could play through the Red War, Curse of Osiris, Warmind, and all the activities in Year 1 for free. This allowed new players to gather up a decent set of gear and dive into some of the lore before committing to a purchase. Now, new F2P players get a lackluster mini-campaign in the Cosmodrome, and most of the content given for free with New Light is now gone.
Content being vaulted wouldn’t be as big a deal if new paid content were compelling. However, for $40, you get yet another five-hour-long story that ends right when it’s starting to get interesting, a few exotic quests, and access to Empire Hunts. I had the same frustrations with Curse of Osiris and Warmind’s campaigns. Still, at least back then, you got to play any new content released between expansions without an additional purchase. Now, without a season pass, you’re locked out of story content, the seasonal artifact, and whatever else Bungie decides.
My personal sunset
It occurred to me when I finished up the Beyond Light campaign that my problem with it, and with Destiny 2 at large, is that the player isn’t supposed to be satisfied by design. I don’t think that was always the case. I believe Bungie genuinely tried to make the best game it could up through Forsaken’s release. However, at some point, I believe the studio realized that people didn’t necessarily need to be happy with the game to continue playing it. In fact, the constant need for more and the feeling of being unsatisfied seems to be the goal of Destiny 2 now.
With gear sunsetting and content vaulting, Bungie doesn’t even have to worry about making new assets. No equipment, save for exotics, is safe, and even then, it’s not like Bungie is making a ton of new exotics. You don’t get a single one during Beyond Light‘s main campaign, and there are only 12 that are being added, counting the expansion and Season of the Hunt.
All this has killed any interest I have in the game. Few games have disappointed me as much as when I opened my vault when I started Beyond Light to find every single one of my Legendary rarity items (save for Drang and MIDA Mini-Tool) were power capped at 1060. Of course, Bungie hasn’t changed the gear upgrade system to reflect sunsetting, so you’re putting the same amount of work into maxing them out. Trying to find a weapon or armor I like, grind for rolls, then masterwork it, takes too much time when you only get a year of use max before it’s worthless.
At least when Bungie released an expansion previously, I could play through the campaign, get a few new pieces of cool gear, level up my old gear to the new max power level, and dabble in side activities before I got to the quests that required hours of grinding. Now, why bother? If I like a piece of gear, it’s just going to be gone by the time the next expansion releases.
But what about Beyond Light?
The endgame loop of grinding for gear and materials to upgrade that gear is severely less appealing due to sunsetting. Unfortunately, with how little actual story content is on offer, that’s really all Destiny 2 has now.
All you get for $40 is the Beyond Light campaign (including access to Stasis), Empire Hunts, a strike, and access to the Deep Stone Crypt raid. Europa and most of its activities outside of the campaign are free to everyone. You don’t even get a free season pass with the purchase of Beyond Light, so you immediately need to pay $10 more for the Season of the Hunt pass.
For all this shelling out, there’s relatively few quality of life improvements for the game. Once again, Bungie didn’t add any Looking For Game tools or matchmaking for raids, so I haven’t played Deep Stone Crypt. It looks cool, but no one I know plays Destiny 2 anymore, and most people on LFG sites want someone who can flawlessly run the raid with a particular build. Bungie continues to ignore solo players and emphasizes repeating activities that require a fireteam over and over, but also refuses to put the tools to matchmake in the game outside of regular strikes. There’s not an option for players like me who don’t want to close the game and hunt down strangers to play with. There’s not even an in-game browser to ease a bit of the burden.
Destiny 2: Beyond Light Review | The Final Verdict
With the release of Beyond Light, Destiny 2 struggles to give players to continue investing time into it. Any content you buy or items you earn in the game are subject to removal at Bungie’s whim; we’re just buying a license to play the content, not the content itself.
Beyond Light is the first note in a dirge for Destiny 2, and major steps need to be taken by Bungie to fix the issues caused by sunsetting and content vaulting. But regardless of what Bungie’s next steps are at this point, it’s difficult to feel excitement for any future expansions given the direction Destiny 2 is headed in.