DLC Review – Destiny 2: Lightfall

It’s been almost ten years since the Destiny franchise has been with us, and I’ve been playing since its very inception. All the way from the game’s beta, I’ve been through the peaks of the game with Witch Queen and The Taken King. This means I’ve also been through some of the biggest blunders, such as Shadowkeep and Curse of Osiris. That said, I’ve always stuck around; the addictive core gameplay still plays so well. It’s such an easy game to pick up and play with friends.

Now we are a couple of months into the latest large expansion: Lightfall. Just as we thought that Bungie had found its footing and that we would get some consistency, we get one of the biggest blunders so far. As we approach the end of the light and dark saga, this was supposed to be a big one.

Destiny 2: Lightfall The Witness

The Witness arrives. Just got to wait for him to do something.


The Destiny 2: Lightfall story picks up where Season of the Seraph left us. The Witness and his forces have arrived on Earth in a desperate attempt to save the Traveller Ana Bray sacrifices, Rasputin and the Warminds, before Eramis can trigger Abhorent Protocol. Leaving the vanguard forces without the protection of the Warminds, a full-scale invasion is imminent.

As the darkness forces arrive at their full capacity, it’s hard to feel completely underwhelmed by what was happening here. We very quickly move away from the conflict on Earth to travel to the city of Neomuna on Neptune. It’s a utopian Cyberpunk city that was hidden away during the collapse and home of The Veil; a mysterious relic that could turn the tide of the war. The problem is that Witness also wants it and sends his latest disciple to go retrieve it for him. The returning Cabal Leader: Calus.

Destiny has lost all the momentum that was built up over the course of Witch Queen. Characters like Osiris are completely butchered, and the tonal shift from a darker tone to a more Marvel-esque “comedy” can be at times really painful and pretty jarring. Especially with the stakes so high. Nimbus, one of the cloud striders who acts like a sort of guardian for the city, is one of the most annoying characters in the series so far. Even Thor Love and Thunder was funnier than this expansion. It’s an overall disappointing story that raises way too many questions for a penultimate episode, and an ending that just feels pointless.

Destiny 2: Lightfall Art Design

Bungie’s art team is still carrying the franchise.

So with the darkness finally here (again), do we get a good glimpse at their forces? What new threat awaits us? Well… there’s nothing here. Hopes for an entirely new enemy are completely gone now. The Cabal takes centre stage in this installment, with Calus returning as the central antagonist. Does this game really need more Calus content? Does the Witness just roam around with empty ships? Unlike the Lucent Hive of last year’s expansion, the Shadow Legion faction feels almost identical to the Cabal we’ve already been facing for years. The only difference is this time they drop a small canister that gives them shields, and that’s about it.

It’s pretty disappointing we are coming up to the end of the light and dark saga without a brand new enemy type. Instead, Bungie is simply reusing one we’ve been fighting for years with very few changes. At least the Scorn, Taken, and Lucent hive have unique mechanics, even if they aren’t totally new. The only real addition is the Tormentor mini-boss, which provides an interesting threat, but with only one kind of Tormentor ends up overstaying their welcome.

How about the campaign and level design? After the Legendary campaign of the last expansion, I had plenty of faith here as it’s also a returning feature. Unfortunately, it’s largely a mixed bag not quite reaching those heights, but still being far from the worst campaign we’ve seen in Destiny. It focuses a little too much on being an extended tutorial for Strand. There are some great levels here that show Bungie can still do some really good campaigns, but it falls just short. I only find myself replaying certain missions if they are on the weekly rotation, whilst skipping other weeks entirely.

Destiny Stranding

Using Strand to grapple onto a speeding sparrow to travel around is an absolute blast. Even better, you can do it to random players.

A new patrol zone has been added in the form of Neomuna. This lifeless and barren city is under Cabal siege. There are no civilians around to rescue, as they have been uploaded to the cloud ark. This is a digital space for them to exist under relative safety and comfort whilst waiting for the conflict to resolve. It’s a pretty thin excuse for a city environment to feel so empty. Of course there’s a variety of open-world public events and activities that are decent, if enough people join them. Which wasn’t a problem in early expansion but not many really bother anymore. It’s mostly just…. fine.

Elsewhere we have the best strike that Destiny has seen in quite some time, a new exotic mission that is thoroughly entertaining and some solid lost sectors that provide some brief but fun combat encounters through more unique zones across Neomuna. There’s also the new raid, Root Of Nightmares, that takes place in one of those pyramid ships. It’s pretty typical as far as Destiny expansions go and Bungie haven’t lost their touch in this aspect.

For the first time since Stasis in Beyond Light, we are introduced to another subclass. This time taking the form of a strand; a darkness power that allows us to manipulate the threads that connect everything together. A visually striking and really unique ability set compared to what we have seen before. The campaign of Lightfall often feels like a tutorial for Strand giving you a supped-up version of what to expect that when you finally get the completed version it feels underwhelming. Until you get the fragments and a feel of the gameplay loop.

As a hunter main, Strand is a lot of fun and possibly my favourite class, just behind Void. Having two grappling hooks saved up allows you to cross massive distances with ease. Then dropping down into the ground, causing a Strand shockwave that tangles enemies into the air for easy pickings, is an experience that makes this class a standout. Strand is a blast and absolutely the best thing in this expansion.

Destiny 2: Lightfall Seasonal Story

The seasonal story still mostly consists of standing around and watching a conversation take place.

We also have some more systematic changes to the game and progression. There’s a new guardian rank system that is meant to showcase where you are in the game compared to other players. The problem is that 90% of players I’ve seen are still Guardian Rank 6 or 7. A commendation system feels half-baked. The best new addition is the in-game load-outs that allow you to quickly swap between gear sets. Whilst DIM and Braytech do this stuff better, it’s nice to see it in-game and not have to load up a third-party website to change weapons.

The biggest changes lie in build crafting and approach to difficulty. Since Lightfall, the game is much harder, and this is a good thing. For a long time, the difficulty floor in Destiny was pretty mind-numbing, requiring little effort and thought to complete most of the content. Here though, it’s been moved up. Some argue that this may be a bad thing, but I disagree. Although it’s been overturned, it also made some content feel a bit more refreshing. It’s now possible to die in playlist activities. Champions have also seen some changes that don’t require you to adjust your entire loadout. Whilst you do need to use certain weapon types as is typical, champion mods are now universal and abilities can also deal with them.


Alongside the expansion comes another Destiny season, in Season of Defiance. Something Destiny has always struggled with is its seasons. They often come down to repeating the same repetitive activity for three months as it drip feeds a minimal amount of content, with another battle pass XP grind that feels completely unrewarding. Season of Defiance is no exception. Despite a solid enough start, the increased difficulty once again makes Destiny feel more refreshing to play, whilst still being accessible, not needing to go to external sites to find players. The seasonal activity overstays its welcome pretty quickly.

The story of Defiance takes place on the earthside conflict in Lightfall. The Cabal is now taking prisoners and taking them to the pyramid ships. Its story starts strong with some much-needed focus development for Amanda Holiday and Mara Sov, the latter of which has been getting a lot of great attention and I’ve been enjoying her character arc. It’s all letdown by a cheap final mission that was just incredibly underwhelming, with an undeserved cheap emotional finale that feels forced in.

Destiny 2: Lightfall Storefront

The storefront is where the cool stuff is.

There’s also that same heavy emphasis on the Eververse store. What once could have been cool rewards for gameplay achievements to make the gameplay more rewarding, are once again relegated to the storefront. There’s also the recent news that seasons will be increasing in price, which is absolutely baffling, considering the current state of seasons. It’s even worse when you consider you can’t buy seasons outright and instead have to buy silver, where you will always have some left over. Destiny is getting more expensive without giving more in return, and from what we’ve seen, worse quality with more technical issues than ever. Even dungeons are now separated from the main expansion and current season. It’s also worth noting that whilst expansions aren’t being vaulted anymore, seasonal content still is. This includes fun stuff like exotic missions.

Destiny 2 Lightfall was an important expansion for Bungie to get right. Just as faith was being rebuilt with the phenomenal Witch Queen expansion, it’s a shame they couldn’t keep the momentum going. Lightfall feels like a huge step backwards. There is some fun to be had and the changes that have been made to the core formula but it’s not enough and I feel my time with Destiny is about to come to its end unless we see some massive improvements in the coming year.


Final Verdict: 5.5

Destiny 2: Lightfall is available now on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.