Since Bungie began to independently publish Destiny 2 in 2018, the developers have been hard at work refining the game as a freemium title. The crown jewel of the Year 4 content is the new paid expansion Beyond Light. Guardians are going to Europa as part of a tenuous truce with the Fallen vandal Variks as Eramis holds the power of Darkness in her hands. She now threatens the entire galaxy with her mad plot to bring the Fallen back to their former glory.
Destiny 2 was never a great entry point for players new to the franchise. It offered a ton of lore without providing much explanation. Players had to rely on playing the first game or doing external research to understand the full depth. While Year 4 and Beyond Light are taking big steps to address the issues, new players currently find themselves in an awkward transition period. The original campaign and DLCs have been archived and replaced with a short mission chain to introduce the very basics of the lore. Right now, there isn’t enough to set players on the right path to appreciate the lore. Bungie have not completely given up on bringing in players into the universe, but it can feel like it at times.
For those willing to just enjoy Beyond Light’s ride, the new expansion offers a very straight forward save the galaxy story with enough unique flavour to keep things interesting. The story is structured after a small war and has a good rhythm to it. Ghost is still a love it or hate it character. Ghost’s obnoxiously chipper and slightly black and white view of the world combined with his endless need to worry about the Guardian can wear on some people’s nerves, but his role as replacement dialogue for the Guardian who only utters two lines throughout the whole campaign is necessary.
Beyond Light is a refinement of Destiny 2, part of Bungie’s march towards finally releasing the game that should have launched in 2017. Returning players will find a lot of unbalanced old content was finally archived earlier this year. It killed a lot of unnecessary bloat and focused the experience. Several quality of life changes have also been added to the game, making Destiny 2 a lot more pleasant to play. The ability to grab old lost quests has been long awaited, and Destiny 2’s bank system continues to be a more refined system than what most MMOs have to offer.
At its core, Destiny 2’s gameplay has not changed significantly. The core gameplay loop is still there. Bungie is looking to lure back players who had issues with the quality of life in Destiny 2. They are not looking to convert the non-believers with Beyond Light. The campaign is unfortunately short, and the gameplay still leans heavily on PVP, raiding, and efficient grinding after the campaign is done.
The most noteworthy addition Destiny 2: Beyond Light is the first Darkness powered sub-class: stasis. The new system seems to offer higher potential flexibility compared to the Light abilities, which leaves me to wonder if a Light overhaul is in the plans. Considering the more restrictive nature of Destiny 2’s build system, anything that brings more flexibility is welcomed.
Beyond Light is mainly set on the new Europa map. Size wise, it is in line with the other locales. The campaign focuses heavily on Europa, so players will see the same sections repeatedly with only a few new hallways opening up each run. The campaign’s difficulty level is on the higher end of mass market shooters, emphasizing slower and more methodical gameplay. The map design reflects the design decision, as there is ample cover placed throughout.
While I am not familiar with the original Destiny’s version of Europa, Beyond Light’s take on Europa is a fun mix of open frozen wastelands, towering ruins, and high-tech labs. The map is visually distinct from the other locales while still being a Destiny 2 map thanks to common symbols and recognizable environmental assets.
The game’s graphics has aged well in the last three years. While it is no longer the sharpest game out there, the graphics are still enjoyable at high graphic quality. The longevity is probably attributed to a visual style that stops just short of hyper-realism.
The audio experience hasn’t changed too much in Beyond Light. The sound effects and soundtrack continues to be enjoyable. The voice acting is excellent. I am still mourning the loss of Nathan Fillion as Cayde-6, but Destiny 2: Beyond Light has a strong case of voice actors returning to the franchise. Dee Bradley Baker does an excellent job as the main voice of Beyond Light as Variks, even if the writers seem to throw in his chattering without much rhyme or reason.
Destiny 2: Beyond Light is not going to change the mind of people who just plain hated Destiny 2’s gameplay, but it may bring back a few players who were just turned off by the bloat and lack of focus that plagued the game’s early years. Unfortunately, Beyond Light hasn’t cured all the ills. The campaign is short and repetitive. The story is still a work in progress. The gameplay loop is still grind heavy. On the other hand, some good quality of life additions have been made, and Bungie seems to be committed long term to moulding Destiny 2 to match their original vision. Beyond Light isn’t the definitive fix Destiny 2 needs, but it’s a good step in the right direction.
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