Let’s address this from the offing.
We waited to pen this review until after the Deep Stone Crypt Raid, primarily because we spotted a few things in Bungie’s UI, and secondarily because we had a suspicion that Beyond Light was more akin to Forsaken in terms of content.
As it turns out, we were almost on the money, although we assumed a new area would become available ala Dreaming City, which didn’t happen unfortunately.
But now that we’ve had a truckload of content dumped on us we can get a better picture of Beyond Light and so far, this expansion has hit the right notes.
Eramis and experiments
The Darkness has arrived in Sol and with its arrival, Titan, Mars, Mercury, Io and the great Leviathan ship have disappeared. With them, Sloane and Asher Mir are unreachable and there is a sense of panic throughout the solar system as a distress call is picked up.
The call comes from Europa and was made by none other than Variks the Loyal.
It is here that we are introduced to the big bad of the week, Eramis Kell of Darkness.
Eramis has been seeking revenge on the Traveler (or the Great Machine as the Eliksni refer to it as) ever since it abandoned her people for us. In Beyond Light, Eramis has received a gift from the Darkness, Stasis.
Your Guardian arrives on Europa following an invitation from the Darkness in Season of Arrivals and finds themselves in the middle of what is best described as a civil war between the Eliksni on Europa.
We also meet Atraks, Kridis, Phylaks and Praksis, Eramis’ lieutenants whom she has gifted Stasis too.
The player’s goal here is to end Eramis’ reign of tyranny, but before you get to her, you’ll have to go through the lieutenants.
Does this sound a lot like the driving force behind Forsaken? It should because the similarities between this plot point and the latest storyline in Europa, are similar.
Similar, but not the same.
While the battle against Eramis is a key feature here, this only acts as a serving platter for the real goal of this story – questioning the Darkness and our own motives.
Throughout the campaign Ghost will drop tidbits about fearing the consequences of using the Darkness. By contrast the Exo Stranger has returned from her jaunts through time and is encouraging you to use it for good.
This conflict is explored in Beyond Light but it does lack some meaningful impact such as seeing the destruction Darkness can cause when that devil on our shoulder gets louder.
The idea of fate being inescapable is also explored often and while Bungie stops short of having us put down the controller and question our morals ala Vampyr, it does put a few story threads in motion that we hope are explored in later seasons during Year 4.
But Eramis and her lieutenants are not the only baddies in Beyond Light.
Europa is home to a colony established by Clovis Bray. Long time players will recognise that name as the creator of Engrams, Rasputin and many other Golden Age technologies Guardians still employ today.
But perhaps the biggest achievement Bray is known for is the creation of the Exos. A race of people who’s consciousness can be transferred to a mechanical body a number of times. Destiny lore suggests the upper limit of these resets is seven, although Banshee-44 is evidence that resets can happen more often with disastrous results.
During the Beyond Light campaign we are given glimpses into Bray’s mind culminating the Deep Stone Crypt Raid. Here we catch a glimpse not of Bray as the hero of the Golden Age, but rather as a madman that let nothing get in the way of his accomplishments.
Overall the story of Beyond Light had us eager to complete the next mission and find out more about the Darkness, Bray and whether the two encountered each other. We aren’t spoiling anything here so you’ll have to find out more for yourself.
One thing we will tell you is to prepare for a very dark storyline.
Europa is glorious
Europa warrants mentioning as it is an entirely new destination no Destiny player has seen before.
As mentioned, Europa is home to a former colony started by Clovis Bray and the empty skyscrapers frozen in time won’t stop giving us the creeps for a long while still.
Part of Europa’s appeal is the weather system.
Players will encounter blizzards punctuated with moments of calm as they travel through the world. One moment you might be able to see the entire landscape and the next you can’t see the Dreg 10m ahead of you. The weather system adds to the spooky feeling Europa and its abandoned colonies present and it’s effective enough to keep us coming back for more.
Beyond Light also brings back variable difficulty Lost Sectors. Legend and Master difficulty Lost Sectors can drop new Exotic armour if completed Solo and they present a worthwhile challenge for those who felt the only challenge left was Grand Master Nightfall.
There is one new Public Event on Europa in the Fallen Brigs. As a hint, in order to turn this event Heroic, you need to shoot the drones which appear at each capture point before you kill off all of the Brigs.
There are a few Patrol secrets to uncover as well.
One final mention about Europa is the almost replacement for the Tribute Hall. The tent near the Exo Stranger has space for a number of trophies which you will unlock through Triumphs. Right now there doesn’t seem to be a point to this other than to give players a way to showcase their achievements.
The Dark Army
Once you have completed the main campaign you will begin grinding for additional Aspects and Fragments for your Stasis sub-class. Each of these quests yields a bit of lore or dialogue with the Exo Stranger. These quests can be very grindy, but the rewards are worth it so take your time.
In order to unlock the new weapons on Europa you will need to complete Empire Hunts. These are similar to the Baron hunts present in Forsaken though they require a bit more effort in order to get them started.
In order to face one of Eramis’ lieutenants you will need to complete various objectives in a bid to lure them out. Once you have completed those objectives you can head into the fight and these fights are no joke but we love that challenging aspect of Destiny.
Aside from the Empire Hunts, Variks has a number of activities on Europa for you to do that will make your time on the planet just that little bit more enjoyable. Plus, we suspect there are many secrets still left to uncover on the tundra.
This was bound to be a part of the Beyond Light review whether it was good or bad and we’re sad to say it’s the latter.
We don’t much care that Mountaintop was retired or that Revoker is useless in Trials of Osiris now but did Bungie really have to make gear that comes from Forsaken and Shadowkeep useless?
To explain, with Beyond Light gear now has an infusion cap. This cap is determined by how old a piece of gear is. Anything released in Shadowkeep, Season of the Undying or earlier is quite frankly useless to players right now. With the next season, gear from Season of Dawn will be useless and so on and so forth.
This presents a problem as Forsaken and Shadowkeep are both for sale, for real money, right now.
To go a step further, Dreambane armour is required to progress a step in Shadowkeep’s campaign, armour which is now useless aside from deconstructing it for Legendary Shards and Glimmer.
To put it simply, sunsetting as it exists right now is bad for players and Bungie has to rework this system. Perhaps a grace period of two years before gear is sunset would help but right now, we aren’t sure asking folks to grind for new gear every six months is a positive.
A word or two on Stasis
If there was one reason to buy Beyond Light it is to get access to Stasis. Being able to freeze an opponent is not only hilarious, it’s a great tactical tool for solo players. The number of times an ice wall or freeze effect has saved us from death is nigh on uncountable at this stage.
Bungie has already tuned Warlocks but we suspect Stasis as a whole is going to receive many changes moving forward.
This is primarily due to Aspect and Fragments.
Aspects give your abilities a bit more oomph while Fragments enhance these abilities even further though sometimes you might have to sacrifice other stats in order to get those enhancements.
This customisation should make Stasis even deadlier than it is now in the right hands and we are hoping to see something similar for the other sub-classes.
The introduction of Stasis also gives Bungie scope to introduce even more Darkness focused sub-classes though this depends largely on how the next year in the real world plays out and ultimately, the lifetime of Destiny.
Buy, wait for sale or skip?
By now, all the Destiny 2 die-hards have finished this campaign and are into the end-game.
That means if you’re reading this you’re still in two minds and rightly so.
Shadowkeep started off incredibly strong but quickly faded into the “same-old same-old” aspect of Destiny. The storyline of the Pyramids only really started to kick off in March of this year and since then, things have become better.
Beyond Light is not struggling with that problem, at least right now. Bungie appears to have learned many lessons in the last year and what we’re seeing in-game is seemingly a result of the “we’re listening” line players have heard all to often.
While the initial launch was met with a questioning glare from players that read “Is this it?” we’re glad to see that no, it was not in fact it. The Deep Stone Crypt being successfully Raided by players set off a new batch of content for all players to enjoy, even if you don’t Raid.
There is a lot to do in Destiny 2 right now and we are hopeful that Beyond Light will continue delivering content well into the future, even with Seasonal content on the go.
With that in mind, we’re confident in saying Beyond Light is worth the full price of admission and you will spend many hours not only grinding, but enjoying the grind.
Much like the story of Beyond Light, Bungie appears to have found balance as regards storytelling. It still has some work to do regarding gameplay balancing but this is not something unique to Beyond Light and at its core, Destiny is in a great place.
As we mentioned, we would have liked to have seen a bit more exploration as regards the evil aspect of Darkness but perhaps that’s a storyline we’re yet to uncover.
Beyond Light then is worth the full price of admission for returning players and even new players who aren’t opposed to doing a bit of homework about Destiny lore before playing.
Right now, it’s a great time to playing Destiny 2.
Bungie took a series of leaps with Destiny 2: Beyond Light and they have paid off. The pacing might be slow but the pay-offs (yes, multiple) are well worth it. There is a ton of post-campaign content to keep those who aren't into the Seasonal aspect of Destiny 2 happy. Stasis is a wonderful new sub-class and the focus on getting players familiar with its mechanics by asking them to use it is a great idea. Our only fear at this stage is that Bungie leaves the threads it introduces hanging. With that having been said, the stage has been set for the next three years in Destiny 2 and the opening act was superb.