What’s Good About Destiny 2 Post Beyond Light
Even though I love it, I don’t get a chance to talk about Destiny 2 all that often. A good chunk of that is because while there are plenty of criticisms that can be leveled against the game, case in point: the new/returning player experience these days is kind of terrible because the game just yeets you into the thick of it after replaying the first story mission of Destiny 1 and doing a short quest in The Cosmodrome. But they feel like a consequence of us being so far removed from the Red War that it’d make no sense to go through it again and I’m getting distracted. I’m bringing this up because I’ve been playing a lot of Destiny 2 again. After all, the Witch Queen expansion is out in less than three weeks and I kind of felt like waxing nostalgic on the last year of Destiny content because I can think of nothing else to write about this week. So we’re talking about the seasonal content of Destiny 2, the ongoing story told, and where it’s gonna go going into The Witch Queen, let’s get fucking started.
SEASON OF THE HUNT
I’m not even going to front with y’all on this one, I had t come back to this one’s story-wise because I do not like the Wrathborn hunts at all. It’s easily my least favorite of the seasonal activities and it was a colossal pain in the ass to do. But the story was that fucking good, so I did it when I could. The post Beyond Light Story started in a big way with us finding out that not only did Osiris lose Sagira while on a mission investigating unusual Hive activity on the Tangled Shore (which you’d think would be a big enough deal to warrant seeing in a cutscene), but Prince Uldren Sov is alive again, this time as an Amnesiac Lightbearer going by simply Crow. We also find that he’s been taken in by everyone’s least favorite Eliksni crime boss, The Spider from Forsaken, who’s essentially enslaved Crow into being his enforcer by placing an explosive Dead Man’s Switch on his Ghost and we spend the better part of the season helping him get it removed while also dealing with these newfound Wrathbron enemies as they’ve been popping up all over the system under the control of Xivu Arath, The Hive’s main God of War and the Sister to Oryx and Savathun, culminating with us killing her High Celebrant.
As a seasonal story, it’s decent. It does a lot of heavy lifting in regards to both shifting the status quo forward and establishing new norms following the end of both the Season of Arrivals (with us learning that Xivu Arath is now the de facto leader of the Hive following Savathun’s interference with us trying to commune with the Darkness, leading to the surprisingly realistic outcome of the rest of the Hive and the Taken branding her a Heretic for getting in the Darkness’s way of spreading it’s truth to us) and Beyond Light (the revelations of Bray family, the Exo Stranger teaching us how to use The Darkness as Stasis). I wish I was generous about the Wrathborn Hunts. As I alluded to earlier, the Wrathborn hunts were a pain in the ass to do because you had to charge the lure so you can hunt the specific boss you wanted and it charged extra fast from doing specific activities. You do those activities then you go to the location of the Wrathborn sighting, lure it out, you fight it, it runs away, you track it, then you kill it. Rinse and repeat, emphasis on the rinse. It had the same issue as Season of the Undying back when Shadowkeep came out in that the seasonal activity is kind of weak, but you don’t notice because you have the base content of the expansion to go through (new location, campaign, strikes, raid, possible new subclasses, etc). It was to the point where I basically didn’t do any of the gameplay stuff and just kept up with the story through My Name is Byf (for those not in the know, he’s the go-to guy for Destiny Lore). I was wondering if there would be an improvement because it felt like a step back for the pretty good Season of Arrivals and the Traveler waking back up.
But then, But then…
SEASON OF THE CHOSEN
Bungie basically looked at what I was saying essentially went “Aight, Bet” in regards to my criticism of Season of the Hunt and proceeded to pit put this absolute fucking banger of a three-month slice of content right here. The base story here following the release of Crow from slavery at the hands of the Spider and the death of the High Celebrant of Xivu Arath, you are immediately flagged Caiatl, the current empress of the Cabal Empire and daughter of the previous emperor, Calus (as well as being the reason why the Red Legion was able to overthrow him). She offered us a choice, submit to her rule or be crushed under her boot. Naturally, Zavala, speaking on Humanity’s behalf said no, which leads to the conflict of us showing the Cabal who’s goddamn boss in this neck of the universe.
The story told is one of a struggle for supremacy between us and a renewed Cabal empire, and the main way we do that is through a new Vanguard operation known as Battlegrounds. This right here is my favorite activity added to the game since the Menagerie in the Season of Opulence back in Forsaken for one reason and one reason only: it takes Destiny’s power fantasy, gives it a clear direction that I’d personally argue is the norm these days and fucking runs with it. The basic gist is that across four different combat arenas, each one controlled by the battalion headed up by a Cabal commander chosen by Caiatl to be her champion against us in a bombastic as fuck boss fight. The thing about the power fantasy I mentioned is in the form of them getting us to take all of those weapons, armor sets, and builds we’ve been curating for the last few years and put them to the test by throwing literal hordes of Cabal at us for us to completely wreck shop through. I’ve been advocating for Endgame PvE activities to go into this direction for years and I was so goddamn happy that Bungie finally decided to do it, though the Nightfalls and raids are still there for something more coordinated. How good were Battlegrounds? They are sticking around in the game under the new Name Vanguard Operations in The Witch Queen and will be updated over time.
And this also brings us to this being a furthering of the Crow’s story and it’s a demonstration that with this man’s development (seriously, the fact that they made me love Uldren Sov as a character is fucking amazing), the rescue of Saint-14, and us straight up communing with the Darkness to get more access to its power, the storytelling in Destiny has become, in my opinion, some of the best in Video Games today, bar none. And nowhere is that better exemplified than by the Presage quest. Presage was a free update quest available for season pass holders that details a Cabal ship making its way outside of the Darkness that’s enveloped much of the solar system near Nessus, naturally, you are sent to investigate. What follows is possibly one of Destiny’s rare, but incredibly effective forays into horror and possibly the most terrifying Destiny as a series has been since the introduction of the Taken back in The Taken King. You got through and find out that Calus was trying to commune with the Darkness and any reasonable person can tell you that’s a fucking terrible idea unless the Darkness reaches out to you first. The Glykon, the ship the mission takes place on, is a finely crafted location that used atmosphere, pacing, the doomed logs of the dead Hunter Katabasis, and a shitload of Scorn to illustrate that something terrible has happened here. It’s also doing some effective foreshadowing for the next Darkness based subclass with all fingers pointing towards a poison-based corruption (‘bout time we got some damage over time nonsense) and gives us the appropriately named Dead Man’s Tale, a Tex Mechanica break-action scout rifle that’s the exact kind of thing I’ve wanted from Tex Mechanica since they were introduced as a weapons manufacturer since Destiny 1.
Eventually, the season came to a head with the introduction of The Proving Ground strike, where we take on Ignovun, the final champion chosen by Caiatl inside of a moving Cabal land tank. This was probably my favorite strike since the Taken King era of strikes of the Fallen S.A.B.E.R.-2, The Shield Brothers, and The Sunless Cell. It had decent enemy density, some light puzzle-solving, and was capped off with a banger of a boss fight, was great. We then learn that a faction within the Cabal was trying to prevent us from making peace with Caiatl by assassinating Zavala and even used a miniaturized version of the cage tech the Red Legion used on the traveler back in the Red War to cut off light powers, in the ensuing kerfuffle, Zavala learns that Crow is Uldren and takes it in good stride. After all, he recognizes that he isn’t the same man who killed Cayde, though he understandably has some reservations because, you know, he’s technically the same guy that killed Cayde. We make peace with the Cabal and they haven’t been an issue since. Overall, I think Chosen is my favorite season in the Beyond Light era of Destiny because it had so many things that just appealed to me as a player, while I loved the story and how it’s been presented so far, I also like running around with big guns and space magic because I have the attention span of a caffeinated squirrel. All the other seasons had to do was keep this momentum up and it was golden. It’s also the season where I figured out how Champion mods worked (I was gone for a while leave me alone) and it got my first Destiny title. It was great.
SEASON OF THE SPLICER
You’d think after making peace with the Cabal, we’d catch a break right> Nah. The Vex, like a bunch of killer robots that don’t understand humor, pulls the Last City into a simulation into the Vex network where it is a literal endless night. In order to get out, we team up with the Eliksni of the newly formed House Light, Led by Mithrax, a fallen captain who we met back on the Arcology on Titan and helped us get into a different part of the Tower to get the Outbreak Perfected Exotic pulse rifle (this was also good foreshadowing since this was our first encounter with the Fallen Baroness Eramis the Ship-Stealer, who would go on to be the big bad of Beyond Light’s base campaign). Using a forgotten piece of technology known as a splicer gauntly, you plunge deeper and deeper into the Vex Network to crack the simulation and do your best to pull the city out of the endless night.
The hacking was done through two seasonal activities: Override and Expunge. The former was a six mad activity where you fought off hordes of simulated enemies to soften the Vex Network; the latter was you going through and breaking down the security and simulation of the endless night whilst fighting off Vex protocols and eventually Taken. It’s good for getting weapons this time around, which I don’t mind because the weapons you could get this time around were fucking awesome. Case in point: The Rapid Fire Frame Auto Rifle Chroma Rush, which is great for mowing down mobs of enemies and I’ve used it so much that I’ve masterworked it (Masterworking a weapon increases its chosen stat and allows it to create orbs of power to get your super ability faster).
While the story this time around isn’t as good as Chosen’s for me, it was still pretty good. A lot of this deal with the Eliksni’s relationship with humanity, the latter slowly learning to get over their prejudices of their newfound neighbors, as well as Saint-14, the legendary Titan who made a name for himself fighting the Eliksni, coming to terms being seen as a monster to them, best illustrated in a story by Mithrax that recontextualizes Saint-14 as an undying creature that would stop at nothing to wipe them out. Eventually, you find out that the culprit of the simulation was Quria The Dreaming Mind, a Vex Mind that was Taken by Oryx during his Rampage across our Solar system leading to the events of The Taken King, who was responsible for a time loop in the Dreaming City that I’m not going to explain because I don’t have time to explain why I don’t have time to explain that. We go to kill Quria, end the simulation (and presumably the time loop I mentioned?), do one last Overrider as an Epilogue, and Bob’s your Uncle. Here’s to hoping the next season isn’t as wild.
SEASON OF THE LOST/BUNGIE’S 30TH ANNIVERSARY
Yeah, I was wrong about that. This season fucking opens with the revelation that Osiris, the enigmatic space scholar and unofficial grandpa of our group was in actuality, fucking Savathun the entire goddamn time, WHAT?! With this out of the way, we meet back up with Mara Sov, the Queen of the Reef (the section of Space that separates the inner and outer solar system) for the first time since she disappeared back in The Taken King (man, a lot of important shit happened during that timeframe, huh?). We learn that we can get both Osiris back from SAvathun and help her exorcise her Worm (a parasite that causes all Hive to become power-hungry and bloodthirsty) because Savathun wants to throw in with us. Seeing as how Savathun is the Hive Pantheon’s equivalent of Loki, we are naturally VERY skeptical but play along because we need all the advantages we can get at. But to do the exorcism, we need to first find Mara’s Techeuns, members of her inner Circle who are versed in the ways of what is basically paracausal space magic because of course the Awoken are basically Space Elves.
I can’t give a full verdict on this story so far because the epilogue isn’t in the game yet at the time of writing, but will most likely be in soon. So far, a lot of what we’ve learned we’ve gleaned from both finding data chases in one-half of the seasonal activity and conversing with Savathun at the end of each week. It’s been interesting. After all, we’re dealing with this character that is essentially the definition of gaslighting and having her just talk to us because we know she can’t do jack shit at the moment. But I’m sort of losing my patience because The Witch Queen’s Delay has made the season feel like a bit of a Schlep, to put it mildly, which is where the 30th Anniversary comes into play, more on that later. The seasonal activities that go around are another six-player activity called the Astral Alignment, where we go through the Awoken’s territory and align our Wayfinder’s compass to the energies of the Techeuns so we can find them in the Shattered realm, the other season activity. This is a three-player activity where you go through, align beacons, and kill enemies to save the Techeuns. You can also find a lot of interesting mysteries that have interesting implications, my favorite being the fact that the Scorn, undead Fallen (our word for Eliksni) fed corrupted ether, have seemingly adopted the Sword Logic, the Hive’s main religious philosophy for worshipping the Darkness.
This is all well and interesting, but it really feels like we’re still in a holding pattern at the moment. This is where the 30th-anniversary event comes into play. This was Bungie’s experiment to have a season within a season, as well as seeing if they can sell dungeons separately. Based on the feedback it seems like a success for them. You get a bunch of neat-looking tchotchkes deck yourself out with on top of them being littered with references to Bungie’s 30-year history. The dungeon itself is based on the infamous loot cave of Destiny 1 (an exploit that lets you get more loot super quick). It’s filled with Fallen, Hives, absurd traps, and all the loot you can carry, including the Gjallarhorn from Destiny 1, one of the best examples of something actually being iconic and not iconic because the company says it is, Ubisoft (Sorry, I had to get that out of my system).
It’s been a nice holdover in regards to how we’ve been having stuff to do while we ride out the delay because we also have the free Dares of Eternity, which gives us a bunch of Halo-themed weapons like the BXR Battler Pulse Rifle and the Forerunner Sidearm that are literally just the Battle Rifle and Magnum from Halo, but legally distinct, the best kind of distinct. It’s presented as a kind of self-aware gameshow run by everyone’s favorite Agent of the Nine, Xur, and a Mysterious Starhorse (that’s literally what it’s called).
This might be overall, top to bottom, my favorite year of Destiny Content possibly ever. While it never reached the highs of The Taken King or the lows of The Dark Below or Curse of Osiris, it had things that all of those didn’t: consistency. There was a consistent feeling of quality and activities to do that it feels worthwhile to log into each week just to see f there’s anything new to the game. And while I wish that the best and most interesting stories weren’t still locked behind the lore books, Destiny’s story is, in my opinion, better than most games because it feels like a constantly changing world. The gameplay was always good, but now there’s consistent power fantasy behind it and it feels great. Basically, what I’m saying here is that I’m really looking forward to The Witch Queen and can it please be the end of the month already? I want to lose six weeks of my continuous life already.