Every time a new Destiny 2 expansion arrives, players go through a ritual of sorts prior to actually experiencing it. At first, it’s a question of when the update will go live. After that, it’s figuring out when the game’s expected downtime will conclude and the floodgates will open. Last but not least comes a test of patience: how long will you see “Connecting to Destiny 2 servers” whilst randomly getting booted from your activities? When will the servers stabilize? Which unexpected bugs will you encounter?
This has been going on for years now, yet hordes of players — myself included — keep coming back for more. It’s to the point where these oddities seem almost baked into player opinions — sort of like bugs in Bethesda titles. For that reason, I typically hone in on what I think of an expansion after I’m able to play it. In this case, that’s good for Bungie. There’s a lot to like about Destiny 2: Beyond Light‘s campaign, even though it stumbles in a few areas.
The core gameplay loop is back
Destiny 2 is incredibly satisfying when you’re able to play activities you like while making substantial progress toward power. Expansions always seem to handle this best, and Beyond Light is no different. Everything right now feels rewarding, whether it’s playing Crucible or opening a hidden chest on Europa. You’re bound to get something helpful — that isn’t always the case in Destiny 2‘s seasons, which try to focus you more on Pinnacle loot sources and endgame activities.
If there’s one thing I’m a little let down about at this stage, it’s the number of new and unique weapons I’ve come across thus far. The campaign — which I’ll get to in a minute — hands you a few. They’re merely “good” — nothing earth-shattering. Most of what I’m getting out of loot drops, though, comes from past Destiny 2 seasons. It sort of makes me wonder what my Subtle Calamity died for.
The campaign is a blast for old fans, but may be confusing for newbies
In Destiny 2: Beyond Light, you’ll tasked with taking down Eramis, a Fallen leader who’s discovered Darkness powers and wishes to use them to exact revenge on the Traveler. Did that last sentence make sense to you at all? If you’ve been following the Destiny story since the first game, or even since the start of the second, you might have some general idea of what that means. If so, there’s a chance you are really going to enjoy the campaign and the characters it features.
The missions are pretty well structured. The boss fights are a lot of fun (though Stasis is almost certainly going to get nerfed at some point). The act of gaining your new Stasis powers is at least more interesting than visiting the Traveler shard, as you feel there’s genuine weight to what you’re doing. You are communing with Darkness itself. You are doing this once forbidden thing that everyone around you — including those who’ve already done it — are uneasy about. Even your Ghost doesn’t know how to process this decision. It’s great.
I can’t help but feel, though, that Destiny 2 doesn’t do a particularly good job of catching new players up on what’s happening. I don’t want to get into spoiler territory, so I’ll just say this: there are two characters featured prominently in the campaign who haven’t been seen since the first Destiny. If you’re a new player meeting them now, you might not have any idea who they are or why their presence is significant. Destiny 2 is desperately in need “Previously on…” cutscenes, or even in-game lore books that help players understand the story at large — not just in bits and pieces.
There are some pacing and progression issues
Bungie seems to have a hard time balancing progression with storytelling in Destiny 2, and in some ways, that’s understandable. Not every player will tackle the Beyond Light expansion in the same way. Some may dive head first right into the campaign. Others might play days of Crucible before they ever touch the story. What I typically expect from a campaign expansion, at least, is the ability to play it straight through without having to grind in between missions. That doesn’t happen in Beyond Light.
For some reason, Beyond Light really steps up the power requirements from mission to mission. If you try to play this expansion as a single-player, story-driven experience, you’ll likely get torched at some point by enemy mobs that are way more powerful than you are. This choice seems intentional — it seems as though Bungie would like you to take a break from the main narrative and do some exploring, or perhaps run some Strikes. I personally don’t like this approach, but I suppose it’s a matter of preference. Let it serve as a warning, at least.
Destiny 2: Beyond Light‘s campaign is fun, but is far from perfect
I ran through Beyond Light’s campaign with a friend, and for the most part, enjoyed what amounted to six or seven hours of play. A friend is definitely recommended if you want to play the campaign straight through — as mentioned, Beyond Light really turns up the heat on you in terms of required power. It might surprise you how underleveled you are as you try to tackle the next objective.
Seeing as that’s the issue I devoted the most space to, I’d say that’s probably my chief concern with the campaign and what prevented it from scoring higher with me. I do think Bungie needs to do a better job explaining the Destiny story to newcomers, though that’s not as great a sin as taking them out of the story entirely.
I’m looking forward to everything else Beyond Light and Season of the Hunt has in store. More guides will be going up in the near future, so keep checking back for those.