Traversing the cold, quiet wasteland of Europa is zen-like in Bungie’s newest expansion for Destiny 2. Beyond Light sees the player character finally delving into the heart of the mysterious force that has propelled their enemies for millennia: The Darkness.
The story centers on Eramis, a new Kell of Kells who has united the Fallen race under one banner, that of House Salvation.
Using the power of Darkness, she’s granting her people powers that look like a dark mirror of the Guardians’ own Light. This power, Stasis, is a new element that can be used by both enemies and Guardians, as the player character finds a way to turn the power of Darkness against their foes.
Returning characters Variks and the Exo Stranger are welcome sights in Europa, and the progression of the story is one of the most satisfying developments in recent memory for Destiny.
Let’s address the elephant in the room: Beyond Light’s launch deleted several destinations from the game. While new destination Europa and returning destination Cosmodrome have been added, Mars, Mercury, Io, and Titan have all been removed from the game entirely.
The storyline addresses this by telling you that the Darkness has consumed those planets. This is frustrating, in part, because it means older questlines are now simply gone from existence.
This has raised questions about the ethics of a company charging you for a video game that they can then, essentially, “remove” from the world later.
In practice, very few players were actually adventuring in those destinations or playing the older content. Bungie has stated that, in their original plans with Activision, Beyond Light would have actually been Destiny 3, so this is hardly a different scenario than simply leaving everything behind for a brand-new game.
This makes the expansion function largely as a soft relaunch of the game, with the company promising that things under the hood have changed dramatically to increase overall stability.
Under the Hood
It’s no secret that Destiny is sort of a janky game, from a programming standpoint. Thankfully, Bungie seems to have addressed that to some degree. In our time with the expansion so far, we’ve experienced only a few incidents of good, old-fashioned Destiny bugginess.
The one disconnect we have seen was actually remedied in moments and the player was added back to the activity they were doing.
The new element, Stasis, is awesome. The three new Guardian subclasses it introduces are fun and wacky, making PvE content an interesting balancing act of freezing enemies in the right order to get the maximum damage out of shattering them.
However, the new element is actively unfun in PvP playlists, as being slowed and frozen constantly when you’re fighting other players is abysmal.
After this expansion removed many PvP maps and modes from the game, some PvP players are beginning to feel as though Bungie doesn’t view them as being important compared to PvE players. Others are embracing the chaos, arguing that Destiny is not a competitive eSport, but a wacky, wild space game.
Beyond Light is a great narrative experience, a visually-stunning journey through a frozen wasteland, and an exciting step forward for the franchise. It also introduces a controversial new mechanic to PvP, removes several PvE destinations.
This seemed to have been an inevitable consequence of a live service game that had ballooned to an over 100 GB file size, but it does raise some questions about the future of these types of games-as-a-service models.
In any event, we’re still sinking hundreds of hours into Destiny, so the new content is certainly welcome. What this expansion gets right, it really nails.
If you’re a die-hard fan, you’ve already got it. If you’re new to the franchise, this is a great time to jump in. Either way, you’re in for countless hours of shooting, looting, and being an awesome space wizard.