Destiny: Lightfall, what to say, what to say.
Those who know the Cottage, know I’m the resident Destiny fiend. But over the latter part of 2022, new content was a tad light and I had been jonesing for some new Bungie goodness. The ‘new goodness’ finally arrived in a new expansion Lightfall and it is overall, excellent. Full of new weapons, new locations and a new Campaign. Not to mention the swath of quality-of-life improvements that have also been dished out. So let’s dive into some details, Guardian.
I guess the first thing to do is get my ‘gripes’ out of the way. Lightfall is the crescendo of 10 years of lore development and storytelling in the Destiny universe. The traveller is about to go to battle with the darkness and the new antagonist “The Witness”. To say Destiny players were rewarded with an event worthy of this auspicious occasion, would be sizably inaccurate. The campaign, which for the most part occurs on Neptune, in the new location Neuomuna. Was absolutely fun to play, however it was confusing, if not totally non-sensical from a narrative stand-point.
I just need to know where to shoot.
By that I mean the campaign missions are fun and well-designed gameplay experiences, but I never really knew what was happening. Even now, I have massive questions about what has just occurred in this universe which has been part of my life for 10 years. Bungie was a bit too economical with information and a bit heavy on the use of ‘technobabble’. I shouldn’t finish a single player campaign, in a game universe I have been immersed in for a decade, and have to go to youtube and watch a “Destiny: Lightfall: Explained” video.
So, major gripe aside, the rest of the expansion is sublime. The new area Neuomuna is a futuristic city, bathed is neon and importantly, totally different to the spaces that have come before. A civilisation that split off from human kind before the ‘Great Collapse’. In fact, it is what the human cities on earth could have been. But instead of light imbued Guardians defending it, it has cybernetically enhanced silver surfers called Cloud Striders.
What limited narrative that does occur, I won’t spoil. But our Guardians end up battling the Witnesses forces and the already entrenched Vex, on Neptune. Cloud Striders and Guardians fight side by side in what amounts as a failed attempt to thwart The Witness. BUT the bonus for this battle, is a new class type called “Strand”. A power that draws from the threads of reality and includes the ability to trade out a grenade slot for a grappling hook!
Destiny: Lightfall, new class, new hook.
The “Strand” powers and specials are new and exciting to play with, but the grappling hook totally changes how Guardians can move through the world. In some cases it totally breaks the game, meaning jumping puzzles and impassable areas are no longer an issue. It was a very brave decision by Bungie, so credit to them indeed.
Destiny is an MMO at its core, so game systems are crucial to the experience. With Lightfall, Destiny receives some of the biggest quality of life changes it has seen in over 5 years. Many, many changes have been rolled out, including the ongoing balancing of the sandbox. But I will just touch on a couple of the major changes though.
First off, the ability to have saved loadout slots. Set up a build, have your armour set, mods, guns, shaders and transmogs all saved. A quick flick of the D-pad on the character screen, it can be changed. Have PvP, PvE, Gambit, Raid and Nightfall loadouts all set and saved. Experienced PC MMO players will sigh and role their eyes, but for Destiny players this has been a longtime coming.
The other is the massive overhaul is to the mods system.
The build crafting Bungie has been trying to support has always run into issues due to the overly obtuse mods. But no more! The new ideas and class verbs run through the new mods system, it’s just vastly simplified the path to class building depth. The removal of elemental wells has also meant that each subclass variant has its own language. Firesprites, Ionic traces etc… all make sense and are more intuitive in the actual benefits. The 3.0 Verbs the classes are then built around also carry over to some exotic weapons too…once again, to help in custom build crafting. For example, the solar sub-class is about creating ‘Scorch and Ignitions’ and in-turn making firesprites. But you can put exotics in the build mix now, like Sunshot, which in a way buffs all these solar verbs.
The options are logical, but essentially limitless!
Another refinement that’s worth mentioning is the changes in how builds need to be adapted to deal with “champions”. The anti-barrier, overload etc… enemies still need specific weapons and mods unlocked in the seasonal artifact to handle them. But once unlocked, the ‘mod’ is just intrinsically unlocked on a character. So there is no need to take up a valuable mod slot on an armour piece. Just equip the right weapon class for the right Champion, and it will do the job.
Raid: Root of Nightmares, more like Root of mildly disturbed dream.
The other massive addition to Destiny is the long awaited new Raid, “Root of Nightmares”. I have delayed my review so I could spend some time in the new activity. The community is a tad torn, but I think its a great Raid. Not in the top 3 mind you, but it fills a gap in the games “Raid Repertoire”. What I mean is that Root of Nightmares is an endgame activity that will not feel overly challenging to new Destiny players. But I suspect this is by design. A Guardian who has never Raided before can come in, contribute to the teams success and doesn’t need to have watched “how too” videos or cruised Reddit before venturing in. ‘Ads’ control is a legit job in Root of Nightmare.
Two experianced Guardians can easily pull the remaining four through without too much stress, which certainly can’t be said for the majority of the other Raids. To give you a measuring stick. One of my favourite Raids, Garden of Salvation, in the ‘Global Day One’ race. Only 549 teams finished it, many teams taking the full 24hrs to get it done. Root of Nightmares had 90,000 teams finish it in the 24hr period. But the race winners completed it in a mere 2hrs. This was controversal, as the community felt that it seemed way too easy. But think of the extra 89,500 teams who are now ‘Day One Raiders’! When the “Raid Catalogue” is veiwed in totality, this new Raid filled a gap. It has created a jumping off point for new Guardians to get use to Raids and their menutias.
If new Raiders then get brave and want more taxing content, there is plenty there in the other Raids, and each has legendary difficulty versions for the core players.
Destiny still reigns.
The refined Raid, the streamlining of buildcrafting and the overall tuning of game systems has made Lightfall one of the most important expansions in Destiny history. A MMO only survives with a solid player base. Bringing new Guardians into the world is crucial and this expansion has made this game I adore, more approachable than ever.
I totally accept Destiny has had its issues over the years, no doubt, but nobody can dispute that Destiny right now, is the one and only king of the MMO shooter space. Long may it reign!