Since it was revealed earlier this summer, Destiny 2: Beyond Light was positioned as a new beginning for the three year old game. When you think about it, a lot has changed in almost two years. Bungie broke up with Activision and basically started handling everything itself. Shadowkeep was the studio’s first real expansion by itself and over the months we’ve seen a massive list of big time changes like Cross-saving, Steam support, and so much more.
Now with Beyond Light, we’re getting a brand new destination and a new darkness-based subclass which has certainly made its presence felt in modes like the Crucible. Outside of new content, the expansion and corresponding update also saw Bungie make one of the most dramatic changes the franchise has ever seen through weapon sunsetting and the Content Vault.
There’s an absolute ton to digest here and while I’m slowly nearing the max power level of this season, it’s time to talk about the Beyond Light expansion, massive game changes, and corresponding Season of the Hunt. Let’s dive in.
Okay, before we get into the meat and potatoes of this thing, let’s take a quick moment to discuss story and world buildings. Beyond Light brings back everyone’s favorite Eliksni traitor, Variks. Traitor may be a strong word, especially once you meet up with him and he explains his side of everything, but if you remember, Variks was the one who helped Uldren and the Barons escape the Prison of Elders who ultimately murdered ya boi Cayde-6.
So yeah, he has some crimes to atone for. Putting that aside, it’s good to have Variks back, once again voiced by the massively talented Dee Bradley Baker. On Europa, Variks is trying to stop the new Eliksni Kell Eramis from turning the House of Salvation Fallen population towards the Darkness and ultimately the Vanguard sees it as an important enough mission to get involved.
Sub-plot, the Exo Stranger, confirmed to be Elsie Bray finally (the missing half sister of Ana) shows up to try and influence current events away from her timeline in which the Darkness ultimately wins out. Her previous attempts have failed so she tries a few different tactics here, namely helping you control the Stasis subclass. Naturally, this doesn’t sit well with everyone *cough*Zavala*cough* but it gets the job done.
Europa is also the home of the Deep Stone Crypt and the Clovis Bray Exo facility so players will get a ton of lore and details about this side of the game. There’s some really unsettling things going on with Exos and I have to admit it’s pretty fun to be able to dive into these previously unknown mysteries. You may also even get some answers as to who Clovis was…and currently is.
Stasis is extremely fun to use, especially as a Revenant Hunter. Seeing enemies freeze and shatter really never gets old. It’s been a controversial addition to PvP modes like Crucible where getting hit with these powers ultimately freezes you in place. While you can break out of it, being frozen or slowed is basically a death sentence. While it was a shock at first, I think the new subclass phase is over with it as people have shifted back to old standbys like Dawnblade, Gunslinger, and others. Honestly, it’s no where near as bad as it was.
The other thing I really like about this subclass is how customizable it is, something which Bungie detailed earlier this year. Unlike the Light subclasses, Stasis lets the player pick and choose the abilities they want to use instead of grouping them into clusters. After finishing the admittedly short, but fun campaign, a whole slew of new quests and unlocks start appearing. Part of that involves unlocking new Stasis grenades as well as different aspects and fragments.
These are really where players can experiment and make some cool Stasis builds. These can be best described as swappable perks, typically granting an ability or bonus to the player when equipped. In an effort to keep things balanced, some of the more powerful ones may also have a slight drawback such as a reduction in a certain stat. One that I love using is called Shatterdive, which lets my character dive at the ground and shatter all ice in a radius around me. Pairing this with the glacier wall grenade works wonders as even if you miss the enemy with it, diving down into it and shattering it still does significant damage.
I also love that Bungie has made Lost Sectors (at least on Europa) a viable option again, placing all of the new exotics in them inside of Master and Legendary activities. Speaking of loot, Bungie has also created even more ways for players to target the gear they want through special quests from Variks that can be obtained. He even has a ton of new subquests players can work through to unlock more and more bonuses on Europa.
Players will really be swimming in things to do on Europa after finishing the campaign from Variks, the Exo Stranger, Exo Challenges (weekly rotating activities similar in scope to Ascendant Challenges), as well as new exotic quests like the ridiculous chainsaw sword called The Lament. Both that quest and the just released Hawkmoon exotic quests are pretty fantastic from a lore and story telling perspective.
Season of the Hunt starts off with a bang with an impressive cinematic reintroducing Uldren Sov, who now goes by the name Crow. While his story has been covered off and on through Dawning flavor text, he’s wound up in the service of Spider on the Tangled Shore. Uldren also has some personality to him, a far cry from what he was prior to his reawakening as a Guardian.
Also, the reason for Osiris to be getting mixed up in all of this is really interesting, though I really wish Bungie would have shown it rather than placing it inside a lore story on their website. It involves a major character’s death, which is disappointing that we, as players, don’t get to experience that. Perhaps it would have helped establish a stronger connection to the activity and danger these enemies present.
From a gameplay perspective, players will be taking part in Wrathborn Hunts, targeting (at the time of this writing) four targets: Two Fallen and Two Hive. More are going to be added soon, which will be good because after running them a few times, they get kind of old. Thankfully, these present another way of targeting the loot you want as not only can you select the enemy to hunt but the game will show you what reward you ultimately get if you choose them.
There’s more to come as the season progresses, so I’ll keep you all updated if big things come along as we head towards the end of the season in a few months. For now, I’m pleasantly surprised by the amount of stuff to do outside of the normal, everyday activities.
That said, this season has also pushed players to think different about their loadout as all weapons expect for ones earned over the past year (give or take) have been sunset. While they’re still usable, they can’t be infused beyond 1060 making them hard to recommend for most activities. On one hand, I’m glad that Bungie has made me look towards other weapons as I found myself pretty set in on certain gear. On the other hand, and the company has addressed this, they removed too much stuff and didn’t have a ton to fill the gaps with. It’s better now thanks to an influx of weapons in recent updates but I understood the community disappointment.
Beyond Light also saw five destinations and a ton of activities essentially removed from the game as well. As a longtime player, I’m fine with this as most of the stuff they removed I’ve been done with for a while. I can understand why for newer players, it may not be great as some really good content was removed. However, from a tech standpoint, I’ve noticed that with less content, the game seems to load WAY faster than ever before. I’m running Destiny 2 on a semi-launch PS4 and there’s a big difference. I can’t say for sure if the two are related but I certainly appreciate it.
As I mentioned to someone a few days ago, Destiny 2 has its hooks in me real bad. After taking a month off in advance of the Beyond Light expansion, I’ve completely fallen back in with the game, shunning my backlog completely. Perhaps it’s a good thing I don’t have access to a next-gen console and all of the new experiences on them.
Overall, I’ve really enjoyed the Beyond Light expansion, even if it’s not going to rival a classic expansion that you’d see in a game like World of Warcraft. For those of you who spend many hours in the game each day, you’re probably going to blast through it fairly quickly. However, if you’re only able to put in 1-2 hours per day, it seems to be the right mix without feeling too sparse or full. I can’t wait to see where Bungie takes the game next.