This week’s release of Destiny 2: Lightfall saw a massive influx of players on Steam and console to check out Bungie’s next expansion for its online shooter. As the penultimate story of its Light and Darkness saga, which paves the way for The Final Shape in 2024, Lightfall moves the larger plot toward the closing chapters of its 10-year history while overhauling the game systems. However, the general reception from the community seems to tell a different kind of story.
Following its launch on February 28th, players on social media, the Destiny 2 reddit and on YouTube have been actively voicing concerns with the current state of the expansion. While the Destiny community has not been shy about sharing opinions, there has been a wave of criticism about the core narrative of Lightfall, the new setting of Neomuna, the complex methods of unlocking Strand, and how difficult it is for new and returning players players to return to a changed experience.
Currently, Steam reviews on Lightfall have a “mostly negative” rating, with players disliking the game’s narrative and its general approach to an annual reset. For now, we’ll break down some key takeaways from the community and what Bungie covered in their recent This Week At Bungie blog post.
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The main narrative
A lot has happened in the Destiny universe since it debuted in 2014. After major conflicts with the Fallen, Hive, Vex, Cabal, and Taken factions, the Guardians have now formed alliances with splinter groups from their opposing armies, and have even embraced some limited forces of darkness . All the while, a new threat in the form of The Witness, an emissary of The Darkness and the current big bad of Destiny 2, who seeks the Traveler for his own nefarious purposes.
At the end of Season of the Seraph—a now-retired event that ran throughout December and into late February—we saw The Witness lead his black fleet to Earth to capture the Traveler. With The Traveler having left to remain just off course, the Guardians and their allies clashed with the Black Fleet, leading to the events of Lightfall. In this current expansion, the Guardians and allied forces travel to Neomuna, a hidden city on Neptune that The Shadow Legion has invaded. Led by Emperor Calus, a returning D2 Year 1 villain who is now a servant of The Witness, he seeks to obtain a hidden source of power in the hidden city.
I’m old enough to remember when The Veil were a new enemy race coming out of the pyramid ships https://t.co/SFtzOBe8Jg
— Paul Tassi (@PaulTassi) March 2, 2023
In the beginning, Neomuna and its new characters, The Cloud Striders, showed promise. However, the general reception cooled significantly when the scale of the campaign and story was revealed to be less than expected. Moreso, the sense of urgency displayed in the opening act of the campaign was tempered once players settled into Neomuna and began interacting with characters like Nimbus, the comic relief of the story. This has led some players to view the campaign as less serious than it was set up to be, and it comes more in line with previous expansions.
What’s more, this expansion’s plot details and lore have left fans confused—so much so that popular Destiny 2 content creators like Paul Tassi and D2 lore expert My Name is Byf have released videos explaining why the campaign’s light-hearted tone undermines the larger story and how many of the the essential plot details and events are introduced without much explanation. A point of contention was the inclusion of Strand in the plot, and how the game doesn’t offer much explanation of its origins.
“Strand’s whole introduction to the narrative just doesn’t help, it feels like it’s just putting obstacles in place to use this new subclass, and it’s a huge disservice to the larger [invasion] plot because [Strand] is what Lightfall ends up being about,” popular D2 content creator My Name Is Byf said in a recent video. “As a season-long story, this would be amazing, but as an expansion story when there’s a literal attack on Travelers — I mean, come on? [Strand] appears out of nowhere, and it’s not explained at all in the story.”
One of the more common complaints among the community focuses on details regarding “The Veil”, a mysterious force that the game presents as a long established detail, but has only recently been discussed. This shift in plot has also led to memes and internet jokes, which have become a common sight on Destiny 2’s Reddit.
While Bungie is of course tight-lipped about details regarding The Veil and other narratives, developers have expressed that Lightfall’s story will develop in the coming weeks, and that the current Season of Defiance event launching alongside Lightfall will also add more important details to history.
“I’m the quote from the ‘lore daddy’ of Destiny 2,” My Name is Byf said in their video, “and I can’t tell you what the veil is because I don’t know.”
One of the standout additions to Lightfall is the Strand subclass, the first new playstyle since the Beyond Light expansion in 2020. The new subclass allows players to manipulate a green web of energy to grip across areas, bind enemies, summon green energy beings to deal extra damage. So far the class has been well received and there have been a number of stunt videos showing how far players can take the fight.
Gripper feels great!#MOTW #destiny2 @DestinyTheGame @Bungie pic.twitter.com/Qfla8VK3x7
— Senseileon (@Senseileon_) 1 March 2023
The community’s problem with Strand, however, is that it feels minimal at launch. Much like Stasis from Beyond Light, Strand’s progression and power-ups were meant to be tied to weekly challenges, with future story beats added in updates. Essentially, this means that progression was tied to a fixed schedule dictated by Bungie’s release of new content. This led to concerns that the new class would be limited for an extended period of time – concerns that were exacerbated by players unlocking Strand for permanent use after the campaign and discovering that the signature grapple ability had a long cooldown, and that other unlocks had to be purchased with large amounts of resources that will take time to earn. It was on top of being quite weak, and dampened the feeling of having a chaotic and unknown element.
In an effort to fix this issue, Bungie announced a new update launching on March 2nd that will allow players who have the subclass to unlock all available fragments. This new update will unlock Strand proper, giving players still making it through the force press new options and opportunities to experiment with the game.
“We have decided to release a live update that will unlock the ability to earn the full pack of Strand Fragments for all players,” Bungie wrote. “While these additional Fragments will be class-specific to unlock, and you’ll need Strand Meditations to obtain them, this should be a great way for everyone to experience more of what the Strand has to offer before we head into next week’s raids. »
A refocused gear system
Along with the new story content and location, Destiny 2 also added a revised gear system and resource management. Previously, mods for armor pieces were set to specific items and were also linked to unlocks from seasonal activities – with new ones resetting progress. If players wanted to participate in certain events, some artifact mods—such as anti-barrier, overpowered, and other combat buffs—were critical to success and required players to keep them aligned with their gear. With the new expansion, the build layer has been overhauled, and many seasonal artifact mods have now added perks to a character that don’t need to be set.
While the scope of crafting has expanded, the Destiny 2 community has expressed concerns about the best options for equipping characters in light of many of the revised mods. Additionally, this has also rendered some favorite community builds unusable, requiring extra effort to adjust character load. In addition comes the new armor charge system, a revised version of the phased out elemental wells mods that are now designed to increase your character’s defense. A new system brings back an underlying problem of making sure you have specific game-specific buffs added to your character, otherwise dealing with overly difficult encounters.
In another video, popular Destiny 2 content creator Datto chimed in with his thoughts on modding. Although he said he still needs more time with it, he remained more optimistic about the system than most other fans. But he expresses concern that it could fall into narrow building trends in society.
“It’s a good foundation to build on [mods] now, and I hope that Bungie plans to introduce more as the year goes on. But those who understood the system earlier are now left with a less interesting mod and building world. The equivalent of these staple mods are now back in the season unlocks, and my concern is that buildcrafting is going to consist entirely of what’s in the artifact mod and not much else.”
So far, Bungie hasn’t addressed concerns with the mod systems yet, but the studio did add an update to adjust recurring issues with specific buffs from the game. So far, it’s still early days and the community is still experimenting with the possibilities of the new class updates and mods. In the weeks ahead, we will have a clearer picture of how the new armor mod system has handled itself.
The way forward
While Lightfall’s launch has been relatively smooth on a technical level, its expansion content has come under scrutiny from the Destiny 2 community. Apart from these major issues, the response from the community regarding the annual update has been positive. But given Destiny 2’s nature as a live-service game that will evolve over the next year before The Final Shape’s release, there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
It’s still too early to tell how Lightfall will fare among the Destiny 2 expansions after just a few days. But with the upcoming launch of The Root of Nightmares raid on March 10, we’ll start to see where Lightfall’s story and its implications on the larger plot of Destiny 2 will go from here.
Stay tuned with IGN for more details on the current state of Destiny 2: Lightfall, along with our upcoming review of the game.
Alessandro Fillari is a news writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @afillari.