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REVIEW – Destiny 2: Beyond Light

Destiny 2 is born again...again.

Destiny is a famed story in gaming, a series that’s a household name, but has had several rises and falls in popularity over its history. Destiny 1 launched in 2014 and was updated until 2016, it had 4 solid DLCs, the third of which is what convinced a younger me to join the community on my dusty 2nd hand Xbox 360. I was just as hyped as everyone else for the release of Destiny 2 in 2017 and consistently played it until late 2018. But when Beyond Light released a month ago, I thought what the hell, let’s give it another go. Boy am I glad I did.

Allow me to provide a quick recap of the story so far, in case you’ve forgotten or never played, skip to the RECAP OVER point if you don’t want any spoilers, I’ll be as concise as I can. Context; you are a guardian, a resurrected warrior imbued with the ‘Light’, cosmic energy that gives you customisable superpowers, this is provided by a spherical intelligent monolith called The Traveller, it’s been watching over humanity for the last few centuries, defending it from its cosmic rival, a force called The Darkness, and the legions of aliens that come with it.

DESTINY 2 BASE GAME (2017)
A big angry alien warlord named Ghaul turns up and destroys the social space from the first game, he also puts a net on The Traveller and steals your superpowers. All the survivors do some soul searching and then get your powers back and kick Ghauls butt, The Traveller reawakens and kicks off a new golden age.

CURSE OF OSIRIS (2017)
A mysterious space wizard named Osiris returns from exile or something and tells you time travelling robots are using a giant simulation inside Mercury to plan the conquest of the galaxy. You go and blow it up. It’s pretty forgettable as a DLC.

WARMIND (2018)
The last living relative of the Destiny version of Elon Musk returns from exile or something and tells you that creepy aliens called The Hive are digging through mars looking for a way to destroy the grand-daddy of all AI’s. You blow them up and start working on building a better relationship with said AI. It’s also pretty forgettable as a DLC.

FORSAKEN (2018)
This is where it gets good. An evil space prince breaks out of prison with his squad of baddies, he kills the best character in the game and the entire community of Destiny has a reason to get the DLC. Space Prince tries to use your superpowers to resurrect his Sister but it turns out its a Spaghetti Monster controlled by an alien dragon pretending to be his sister. You blow them both up. It’s great. I didn’t do it justice.

SHADOWKEEP (2019)
A creepy space witch comes back from whatever it was she was doing since the first game ended and says those pesky Hive have started doing weird stuff on the moon again. You find a giant Pyramid that seems to be related to that Darkness stuff I mentioned earlier, which is bad news. You fight the ghosts of all the best bad guys from the series and then have a creepy conversation with you but it’s actually the Pyramid.

RECAP OVER! If you hated how I did that, you can check out the official recap, and see what is coming to Destiny 2 next HERE. We pick up in Beyond Light after the events of Shadowkeep, and a lot has changed. At the beginning of the Season, The Darkness pushed in on the galaxy and destroyed several of the planets we could once visit. Say goodbye to Mercury, Io, Titan, Mars and The Leviathan. Although I think it’s weird that The Leviathan got destroyed and Nessus didn’t since they orbit each other, fear not, you can still visit Nessus, the Moon, The Tangled Shore, The Dreaming City, Earth and the brand new area, Europa!

Europa is a barren new planet with a strong connection to the Darkness. The largest pyramid we’ve seen so far rules its horizon

In Beyond Light, a new leader of our favourite Alien pirates, The Fallen, has found a way to wield Darkness in the form of strange ice called Stasis, and she plans to share that power with all her followers, which would be very bad for obvious reasons. The story features some screentime from the gallery of Destiny’s least trustworthy good guys, Eris Morn, The Drifter, and the newly returned Exo Stranger and Variks. Without delving into too much detail, it’s probably one of the better campaigns in Destiny but still falls short of the Grandiose spectacle of The Taken King (Destiny 1) and the gritty, emotionally charged revenge tale of Forsaken. It also ends up being shorter than you would expect and fails to introduce any particularly revolutionary story or gameplay beats except, of course, for Stasis.

Our once proudly Darkness free guardians end up embracing Stasis to defeat the Kell of Darkness and her legions, and I can hardly blame them. It’s a hell of a party trick. Stasis is essentially an ice-based subclass, it does not vary much in terms of structure, one super for each class and you can do some grinding to unlock a handful of different grenades and throwables. But let me tell you, throwing my super into a horde of enemies and watching them all freeze and shatter is deeply satisfying. But some in-game bosses and particularly skilled PVP regulars can make stasis hugely frustrating to be on the receiving end of.

Stick them in place with Stasis, and let the explosives fly. You can imagine what happens next.

While fighting one boss in particular as a part of the post-campaign content I was growing very frustrated by its frequent stasis attacks while jumping over gaps she would freeze me and I would plummet to my doom and have to restart the fight, or I would be stuck in the breaking free animation long enough for her goons to gut me six ways from Sunday. This doesn’t detract from the feeling I get on examining the wider story Beyond Light is trying to tell. This is something of a stepping off point for Destiny. We survived catastrophe, now we must resist the temptation of the darkness.

Before I get lost in the whirlpool of theorising, let me talk about the new area, Europa. Europa matches Stasis from a thematic point of view almost perfectly, it is a huge area with varying terrain, interesting lore tidbits scattered throughout, and some dynamic new effects that could work in the long run for Destiny 2. One new thing is the weather, sure its only two kinds but on Europa, it’s either clear or it’s a howling blizzard, greatly lowering visibility and spacial awareness. And after the first completion of the new Deep Stone Crypt raid, Europa has eclipsed zones, which I won’t spoil narratively but they are fun enough to keep you engaged.

Beyond the frozen wastelands on the surface, Europa has hidden secrets too, such as the Fallen city of Riis-Reborn and the underground complex of the Golden Age labs of Clovis Bray, the birthplace of the Exos.

If you have been considering getting into or back into Destiny 2, now is the time. It has never been richer with content and has never been easier to play. There is a free to play version that gives you access to the base game with much much less content, but the expansions are not too pricey for what they are and what they bring to the game. And if you are on Xbox or PC and have a game pass subscription, Destiny 2 and all its expansions are available to download right now for free. But otherwise, Destiny 2 is available on all platforms for standard prices, so hold your ghost close and keep a hand on your weapon guardian, the Darkness is here and there’s no putting it back in the box. Go save the day.

Alec is a veteran guardian who has discovered a sleeping beast of a Destiny fan within him. It’s all he’s been playing for weeks now. 

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