Impressions : Destiny 2 Beyond Light Expansion

I am the biggest sucker for loot-based role-playing games. Classics like Borderlands and Diablo still live in my mind rent free till this day. Even though we have come so far from both of those games, my latest several-year fix has come from Destiny 2. Despite the flaws at initial launch, the game has come a long way, partly due to its take on solid gunplay. The latest expansion titled “Beyond Light” continues Bungie’s faithful tradition by simply giving you more Destiny to play. 

Bungie found Destiny’s niche within the gaming realm since their departure from Activison, one that has since sent waves though the gaming stratosphere. Bungie doesn’t have to cater to multiple groups of players simultaneously. Instead, they can now focus on delivering experiences in order to appease their current player base, instead of attempting to draw in outside players who won’t truly stick around or consider revisiting the game down the line. In a way, Beyond Light is a testament to their dedication to those who love the game.

Beyond Light rests on the shoulders of neither hardcore nor casual players, but somewhere in between. There is a sense of progression far beyond what we have come to expect out of the traditional campaigns of the past. I could aptly sum this experience up with “if you liked Destiny before, I can’t find a reason why you would hate it now.” Although, plenty of people on forums like Reddit would beg to differ, nitpicking aspects that I have not necessarily noticed. Yet, here we are with the latest experience that promised to shake things up, and it does just that. Not merely in presentation, but in structure. 

Upon starting Destiny, you are immediately kicked right into Beyond Light content, peering out over the new icy planet of Europa. This frost encrusted wasteland is complete with white and blue plains, crag-like fissures, and laser bolts whizzing around. The lights from the new enemy types, called Brigs, can still be seen, albeit dimly, as the planet’s randomly occurring snow storms occasionally cast a cloak of ice and darkness over the battlefields. Enemies you’ve seen become wrapped up in the howling winds while you attempt to regain your footing. It’s not a bad thing and it certainly brings a level of randomness to the world, making it feel just a little bit more alive. 

The mission structure doesn’t differ from what we have experienced before. It is strangely similar to everything else we have played prior, but the way it unfolds makes me ponder. The traditional story experience lasts only a handful of hours, and you will see the same places repeatedly, similar to how Destiny has always been presented. What we are truly seeing though, with Beyond Light, is this dedication to the future. The “Beyond” part is pretty apt, I’ll say. 

As far as the campaign goes, it’s rather dull in comparison to the Forsaken expansion, and the Destiny 1 expansion The Taken King. Beyond Light has you revisiting the same places several times over, but every time you visit these areas and venture onward, you go just a little bit further each time. There are barriers that can be knocked down once you get the proper upgrades via stasis powers (more on that later). The campaign is still filled with it’s share of bastardized filler of “go kill X amount of enemies for X amount of items and come back for some reason.” Just as I said in Godfall, it is uninspiring and dull. I’ll also note that I noticed a lot of shared elements within Beyond Light as it almost followed a more truncated version of Forsaken’s plot elements of killing specific Scorn members in order to get to the big baddie. 

Instead of typical level progression, light still manages to be the measure of power in Destiny. But besides the power you already have, you get the taste of something new, a dark energy called Stasis. Interestingly enough, it doesn’t get handed to you right away. Instead you’ll fight several bosses where you get to use the stasis abilities to finish them off in spectacular ice shattering glory. Each class gains their own special, similar to the current elements and subclasses that have existed in the game since its very inception. Stasis though, has a weight to it.

After you experience these little tastes of dark infused powers during the campaign, they become fully unlocked once you beat the villain of this story, Eramis. The powers themselves are more intricate than what we previously had, as you need to do more in order to unlock additional aspects to the subclass, something I haven’t been able to do with my time in the game. Although, after reviewing the subclass skills, I realized what I thought was the end was merely just the beginning. I know what to expect from a title like Destiny. And if it is anything similar to the past, grinding is going to have to happen.

Despite the campaign lacking depth at face value, there are large, sweeping moments of lore that are rather interesting. There are elements within the lore that make me wonder how all of this came to be. The Darkness was something guardians fought against for years, only to utilize it’s powers for our own needs. Herein lies the problem I have with Destiny, it is rich with explanations, but you need to read it in order to fully grasp some elements. Destiny’s lore is dense and unforgiving to those that don’t care but still want answers. What seems like glaring inconsistent story elements are typically addressed in the lore one way or another. To folks who love learning more, this is incredibly endearing. To those outside of the circle who wish to have more content spoon-fed, this aspect of storytelling will most likely not excite you.

There are a lot of things I love about Destiny, but its inability to grab new players is not one of them. As one of the best “games as a service” titles out there, it still doesn’t make me want to play every day of my life. The tasks get boring, and doing the same thing every day begins to feel rather tedious. Mind you, this is coming from someone whose favorite game is World of Warcraft.

There is a strange absence of additional multiplayer maps, meaning crucible and gambit do not have any additional features from what I have seen in my playtime. Despite the game trying to cater to both PvE and PvP content, I am still left with a sour taste, knowing that any aspect of my PvE experience is going to be overruled by anything that causes upper-hands in the PvP realm. Bottom line, Beyond Light is a short experience. However, as the title suggests, there is more beyond the confines of the campaign experience which still hasn’t fully surfaced yet.

If you are a Destiny fan I’m sure you have already been playing for quite some time, and my thoughts would be deemed widely irrelevant. For players looking to return or first attempting to get into Destiny, well, it’s a good start. It’s even better for those who play on the Xbox ecosystem, as Beyond Light and all previous expansions are currently free via Xbox Game Pass. 

With a new update coming on December 8th, offering enhanced capabilities for next generation consoles, it’s a great time to try to jump in and learn the ways of Bungie’s latest expansion. As they have noted, as time goes on, more content will be added into the world. There are strange things stowed away under the icy depths of Europa and perhaps over time the truth behind all we take at face value will finally surface. 

Due to the nature of Destiny and how this game conducts itself, I cannot offer a full review of the title. The evolution of the franchise on a seasonal basis prevents me from truly giving this game a score. Plus the additional content is so long, that it could take a lot longer for me to offer an educated score for this expansion. As I said twice already, it’s more Destiny. Love it or hate it, that is all there is to it. After six years of this game, you should know what to expect by now.

By Steve Esposito

Steve Esposito is a dedicated content creator with a focus on his love for technology, video games, and the very industry that oversees it all. He also takes part in organizing the Long Island Retro and Tabletop Gaming Expo as well as a Dungeons and Dragons podcast: Copper Piece. You can find him on twitter @AgitatedStove

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