by Adam Nix
reviewed on PC
A New Era
The day has finally come. Beyond Light, the newest Destiny 2 Expansion, has been released. This expansion ushers in a new era for Destiny 2 players. It is more than just an expansion, it is a large-scale refresh of Destiny 2, taking the place of what would have most likely been Destiny 3.
With Bungieís separation from Activision, Destiny 2: Beyond Light is the first of a group of 3 expansions to be released over the next few years. After coming to terms with the fact that the game had become too hard to maintain, Bungie removed the entirety of 4 planets and almost all content associated with them from the game. In its place, Bungie has brought back some content from Destiny 1 and provided a completely new moon and corresponding campaign.
The new campaign takes place on Europa after the disappearance of 4 planets at the hands of mysterious dark pyramids. Europa provides for a snowy landscape with remnants of humanityís old research laboratories. Different houses of Eliksni (AKA, The Fallen), a once great civilization, have grouped together under the leadership of Eramis, an Eliksni who has harnessed the power of darkness. Players work with Varyiks, an Eliksni who has had a change of heart, to take down Eramis.
Let it Snow
The campaign consists of fighting your way through Eramisís ranks while exploring the frozen tundra that is Europa. Europaís landscape is an utter delight to explore. Not only is the campaign much more difficult than previous, but the lack of visibility due to blizzards on the moon forces players to change up their strategies for dealing with enemies. The ever constant weather hazards make it incredibly hard to see enemies around you. One moment you might feel alone, only to walk a few feet further and realize you are surrounded by The Fallen or Vex. This lack of visibility ads excitement and unique combat scenarios that keep on giving.
The major increases in difficulty are a welcome change too. I died so much as I played through Beyond Light, and although sometimes frustrating, I was glad to have a bit of challenge. The original campaigns were just too easy. I could mindlessly make my way through them. On Europa, every encounter had to be carefully considered. This challenge is a nice change to have, especially seeing as the story itself isnít anything to write home about. Although Eramis and Variks are great NPCs, the story is a little basic and interesting lore is hidden away from players. Of course, this isnít much of a surprise to me considering past campaigns, but it is still a little underwhelming.
Although itís fun to fly through Europa, it can get a bit tedious after a while. There are only two launch points on the moon, and many quests and campaign starting points are on the other side of the map. What is exciting at first, gets dull really quickly as you rush past battles and scenery to just get back to that one quest you need to start.
Hello Darkness my New Friend
The other game-changing addition in Beyond Light is a new power called Stasis. With Stasis, you harness darkness for the good of humanity and to defeat Eramis with her own tools. Darkness takes the form of ice; Warlocks can see themselves turn into ice wizards, Hunters get to throw some wild looking ice knives, and Titans get to punch people with ice gloves.
Using Stasis is all about prioritizing your enemies and timing. Stasis does damage, but it is much more focused on slowing the enemy down. Whether you are using your super or throwing a grenade, you freeze opponents and then look to deal damage. This provides for interesting play in PvE as you scan a given room for the most dangerous enemies to freeze first. As a Warlock player myself, Iíve had a ton of fun freezing my opponents with my ice staff and shattering their frozen figures with gandalf-like moves. I havenít tried the stasis abilities out yet for Titan and Hunter, but have seen some mumbling in the community that the Titan abilities are a little too similar to past powers. That being said, the joy pure fun you get from having a new super should not be dismissed, and at least within the PvE environment, Bungie knocked it out of the park.
My Ish with Stasis
With any major change to abilities, there are bound to be some problems, and Stasis is no exception. Although the powers are a ton of fun to deal out to your enemies, it is an absolute drag to deal with when the tables are turned. When hit with Stasis, players are immediately frozen in place and given two options: Wait out a timer that unfreezes you at expiration, or break free and deal damage to yourself in the process. The issue is that it takes a large amount of time to actually break free and the damage done when you do so is so severe that you will usually end up inadvertently killing yourself anyways. On the other hand, waiting out the timer rarely works either. There is usually a big bad boss near you dealing enough damage to kill you as you wait it out. Iíd say about 90% of the time, if an enemy hits you with Stasis, itís a death sentence. I like a bit of challenge, but one-hit kills and options that donít actually mean anything feel like a misstep to me.
These same issues have leaked into PvP. In the end, it just isnít fun to be frozen and have to watch yourself die. It takes the feeling of control away from the player, making them feel like they canít do anything to change the situation that they are in. This issue, paired with the fact that most every player is using Stasis currently, provides for a messy PvP experience.
Quick Pit Stops
When youíve had enough of the bad weather or finished the campaign, there are a good chunk of activities Beyond Light offers. From icy caverns to ancient R&D laboratories, Europa has lots to explore. Traversing these little nooks and crannies of Europa promises interesting environments, fancy loot, and secret lore.
If exploring old ruins isnít your thing, a few public events are scattered throughout Europa as well. Jumping into random encounters with other players has always been a fun experience in Destiny 2, but the experience doesnít really differ much: Protect *thing*, destroy *thing*, stand near *thing*, rinse, repeat.. Itís a grind that I would tend to only interact with if I needed to level up. Donít expect anything different in Beyond Light.
If youíre itching to play in team settings outside of the campaign, Iíd look towards the new Strikes or Raids. Beyond Lightís raid, Deep Stone Crypt, does not release until the 21st, but ďThe GlasswayĒ is a fun Strike to help bide your time until that release. WIth some easy platforming and a refreshingly challenging boss fight, this Strike is one of the best Iíve played. Bungie has also brought back an old location from Destiny 1, the cosmodrome, that offers its own Strike. Unfortunately, other content on this location is sparse at the moment.
To be honest, Iím not the person to go to for info on the best new gear, changes to the meta, and the knitty gritty of Destiny 2. That being said, there are some obvious changes Iíve seen since Beyond Lightís release that have made Destiny 2 a more pleasant experience, so letís list emí out:
1. Less quests!
Ok, I know having less content usually isnít a plus, but Destiny 2 was bloated. So many old quests that didnít provide good or interesting loot increased the amount of useless grinding new players ended up falling into. With most of those nonsense quests gone, you can rest assured that anything in your queue will provide for new experiences and solid loot. Beyond Light offers 4 new exotic quests (Quests that provide for ďexotic weapons,Ē the most powerful weapons in the game) to keep you busy. Besides that, there are further Europa campaigns you can participate in once the story is complete, giving you a chance to experience an epilogue of sorts and further test your skills on the frozen moon.
Something that Destiny 2 should have had from the start is Transmog, an action that allows you to change the look and appearance of your gear. This is purely cosmetic, but it is something players have been begging for. If that old piece of gear just isnít relevant anymore, but looked super cool to you, you can now take that gear design and morph it into your new and improved weapon. This provides players with the freedom to look exactly as they would like, without affecting their power level or general game strategy.
3. The Exotic Store
One major concern players had was the removal of old exotic weapons. Fortunately, Bungie has provided a new store called ďThe Monument to Lost Lights ExoticĒ where you can buy any old exotic weapons. Any exotic missions that were removed will not be an issue as the exotic reward is still accessible through this store. It is going to be a grind to get the material necessary, but you can still get that cool exotic weapon from the past.
4. Weapon Sunsetting
This is one of the more controversial things Bungie has done. In an effort to decrease the Destiny 2 bloat, they have sunset lots of Legendary weapons. What this means is that they can not be leveled up past 1060. With a level cap of 1250, once you are a higher level, these basically become obsolete. To be honest, I know so little about the Legendary weapons catalogue, that I donít mind at all - I actually appreciate it. I think this decrease in meta knowledge will be extremely helpful for new players and players coming back to destiny after a multi-year break. That being said, I understand the frustration of having your favorite weapons suddenly deemed useless. Especially seeing as they were not exactly replaced with too many new weapons.
Destiny 2: Beyond Light is a new foundation for the game. Bungie is looking to build on that foundation in a way that is more future-proofed than Destiny 2 ever was. I think this was a great start. Not only does it allow for easier access to new players, but it provides for a cleaner experience for everybody. Sure, this is nowhere near the fantastic content brought to Destiny in the Forsaken expansion, but Beyond Light still has a lot to offer.
The frustrations the community is having with Beyond Light are fair, but they are completely worth it for everything the community will enjoy in the future. I have only touched the tip of Europaís iceberg with my Beyond Light Journey so far. The release of more content like Deep Stone Crypt, The Trials of Osyris, and the plethora of content and mysteries not yet discovered by players leaves me excited to play more. This is the best time for new players to jump in and existing players should be able to find a lot to love with this new direction Bungie is taking.
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Fun with Stasis, Decreased bloat, a little more accessible to new players, Unique environments
Issues with Stasis, Fewer legendary weapons, Boring Public Events