‘Destiny 2’ has broken records in the number of players and community morale with ‘Lightfall’

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Destiny 2 just launched its latest Lightfall expansion this week, which on launch day managed to break the game’s concurrent Steam record, despite being five years into this live service sequel. That’s impressive, and speaks well of how much hype there was for Lightfall heading into release.

And yet, I’ve never seen a community start ripping off new content so quickly. And this is Fate, where complaining is pretty much the game’s national pastime, albeit much worse than usual. While yes, there is reddit, full of thread after thread of negativity, there is also Twitter, across content creators and in the replies to official accounts. It’s on Steam, where despite these record numbers, Lightfall user reviews skew “mostly negative” near launch here.

I posted my own list of positives and negatives about Lightfall yesterday, but instead of just my own views, I’ll zoom out and capture why everyone is so angry and/or disappointed. Is this one bit of an overreaction? Probably. Does Lightfall have a lot of real, really big problems? Absolutely. Here’s what players are upset about:

  • The campaign’s story pales in comparison to last year’s The Witch Queen in a number of ways, namely rushing to give us two brand new Cloud Strider characters without really any introduction or explanation (Cloud Strider story and lore and more story from Nimbus and Rohan actually coming later in the campaign).
  • Nimbus, in particular, is a character that has sparked particular interest, as their carefree attitude and constant banter is reminiscent of an 80s surfer, which seems out of place given the supposed seriousness of the story.
  • Strand is woven into the plot to such an extent that it works against the story. While Bungie said they wanted Strand to be a bigger focus of the narrative, it actually comes off as a negative, as huge chunks of the story are devoted to Strand alone, including missions that are just literal “training exercises”. Not exactly compelling content.
  • Lightfall’s campaign macguffin, “The Veil” has already become a meme. (spoilers follow) We are supposed to find The Veil and protect The Veil and The Veil seems to be a key mystery that holds the entire campaign together. But after getting through hours of campaign missions to discover the truth we get…nothing. Veil is never explained, as it’s just some sort of luminescent structure that serves as the final boss arena. Attempts to find out what The Veil is continue after the campaign, and no answers seem to be on the near horizon.
  • The ending where the traveler is supposedly “killed” is confusing and abrupt. NPCs are talking about the traveler’s death one moment, and the next we’re saying we don’t actually know what The witness did it with the traveler after cutting a triangular portal into it, but we still have our light. It is profoundly strange.
  • Strand himself has landed clumsily. While the cooldowns are low in the campaign, they increase dramatically in the live version of the subclass afterward, and this fantasy of zipping all over the place doesn’t really work when you have a 1:45 base cooldown on the grapple, and have to bend over backwards for a build that does that it feels like the cooldown is remotely close to where it should be.
  • Generally speaking, aside from a few oddities (Stareater Strand Hunter), the Strand seems a bit underpowered at launch, which is exhibited in the legendary campaign where even on low cooldowns it can’t compete with most light 3.0 subclasses.
  • Neomuna is an oddly playable space and feels different from what Bungie promised about gliding across the rooftops (there’s not really anything interesting even on the rooftops), and it’s not very vertical at all.
  • All of the season and expansion weapons outside of the raid are either reprized or re-shined weapons.
  • The new armor charging system, which combines elemental wells and charged with light buildings, does not fare well. Many of the most interesting mods have been deleted or heavily nerfed, and it feels like a less interesting, less fun version of the system we just had last week, although the new mod application screen is good.
  • Guardian Ranks feels pointless right now because everywhere you look everyone is level 6 whether you have 50 hours into the game or 5000. I’m not sure how it works as an onboarding system as it just feels like modified triumphs and it doesn’t seem to reflect the veteran’s time spent right now, as many aspects have to be repainted every season and almost everyone starts at the same level, regardless of their history.
  • The new praise system is a great idea in theory, but in practice everyone is just trying to spam what they can before people leave so they can get a top drop associated with giving out 20 praises a week.
  • Beach fragments are both timed and must be bought back on all three characters with slow farming currency. And the new campaign jumping feature to unlock Strand instantly is $20 per character.
  • The new strikes that have been updated are now forced slow strikes through escorting payloads and disabling sparrows.
  • Hardly anything has been added to the Crucible at all outside of the new Strand sandbox. Of course nothing was added to Gambit. Bungie seems to have forgotten to make a new core game list this year too.

Is that all? Probably not, but that’s the bulk of it, and a lot of it seems avoidable. A lot of it can’t be fixed though, as you only get one chance to get a campaign right, and they didn’t get it right here. More to come, but this launch is definitely lacking, and we’ll see how Bungie responds soon enough, I guess.

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