Destiny 2 Lightfall – Review

It's a rough start for the beginning of the end

Destiny 2 Lightfall Soundtrack
Release Date
March 15, 2023
PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC
Reviewed on

There was a lot of hype concerning Lightfall when it was first announced. Guardians were eager to find out how Bungie could keep the good times rolling after a wildly successful year with The Witch Queen expansion. They showed us Neomuna. The last bastion of humanity slumbering peacefully somewhere on Neptune. And then The Witness brings war to this wonder of a city. It would have been an excellent prologue to what is to be known as the end of the Light and Dark Saga. Unfortunately, it fell short on multiple levels.

This review will be broken up into two major parts: the Lightfall Campaign and the Season of Defiance. Afterward, I’ll give my thoughts on the expansion overall. If you’re new to Destiny 2. Here’s a quick recap. You’re a Guardian fighting to protect what’s left of Earth after the Collapse. The enemies of the Traveler are closing in from all sides and we must do everything we can to preserve our Light and protect the Last City. The conflict is now centered in and around Neomuna where a powerful secret is hidden away.

I’m going to start by saying that the pacing was all over the place. You never really get a sense of when and how the story is going to pick up. One moment you’re doing this small task for the city, then the next you’re caught up in a pivotal moment from seemingly out of nowhere.

Even the introduction of Neomuna was a colossal letdown. We were coming in hot planetside inside Cabal drop pods. Every one of us Guardians has been on the receiving end of a falling pod. We had our own expectations when it came to landing inside the city. Needless to say, I was ready to fight for my life. Instead, the scene fades and we’re already on the ground, staring at our escape pod. Talk about anti-climactic.

Our introduction to the Cloudstriders was also equally disappointing. Sure we got treated to a cinematic where Nimbus was showing off how Cloudstriders fought. But after that, it was a whole lot of talking and not much else.

Rohan instantly struck me as the tired old man who had no choice but to soldier on. He tried to help Osiris in his own way but ultimately it was Nimbus who taught him how to let go and go with the flow. I disliked how Rohan’s part ended in the story. Also, Nimbus appears to have had a bigger role to play throughout the campaign, so it baffles me why they are stuck filling in the support role, like the way Fynch helps us out in the Witch Queen when they can play a more active role in the story.

The main antagonists in the campaign are the newly remade Emperor Calus and his Shadow Legion. (The Vex don’t count. They’re just pesks on Neomuna.) Legionaries aren’t that different from the Red Legion except for the fact that they drop Pyramid Tech on death. They didn’t leave an impression like the Lucent Hive did. But they are formidable foes; until the level cap eventually increases. For his part, Emperor Calus did provide a difficult final boss fight. Much harder than Savathun’s final boss fight. But that’s probably more due to the fight location than anything else.

After Witch Queen, my expectations for the story were through the roof. Sadly, Lightfall failed to deliver. There’s still time to come back from this but the seasons preceding the final chapter have to stick the landing.

I felt like Bungie oversold us on Strand. Strand in the campaign was awesome. You felt like you could be everywhere and beat up Shadow Legion anytime. But the highs came crashing down the moment you finally got Strand at the end of the campaign. Suddenly, you get this watered-down version that doesn’t feel as impactful anymore. Look, I know that they’re trying to make up for Beyond Light with how oppressive Stasis was and the lengths we had to go for the fragments but giving us a sub-par sub-class isn’t the answer.

I sort of get that the majority of Lightfall was us training to use Strand with Osiris looking over our shoulder. But I wish that’s how it was presented. I didn’t get as emotionally invested in the process as I did while I was mastering Stasis. Personally, it would have made more sense if we had all sorted out mastery over the first half and then focused on the war during the second half.

At least that way we didn’t waste an entire training montage at the very end when our focus should have been solely on reclaiming the Veil. And speaking of the Veil, what the heck is even is it? I’m not usually a lore guy but something that important shouldn’t be left for the players to speculate.

At the same time as the Lightfall campaign, there’s the Season of Defiance going on back on Earth. It tells the story of the immediate aftermath of the battle against the Witness. Amanda Holiday is captured along with other survivors who were scattered all over the European Dead Zone. The only way to save them is to cut through the world between worlds and infiltrate highly secure detention centers (or detention pyramids).

Queen Mara Sav bestows upon us the title of Queensguard and gives us a fraction of her power to aid us in the coming battles. Amanda Holiday later rejoined our ranks and personally led operations to free prisoners of war.

So far Season of Defiance is holding up better than expected. I was initially dismissing it as a throwaway season like the one in Witch Queen. But right now I consider this better than the Lightfall campaign… for the time being.

Neomuna was once a gorgeous city now ravaged by war. The art team struck it out of the park with this new world location. It fits the part of “Advanced Human Civilization” perfectly. The same can also be said about the audio team. The BGM did its part to inspire us to action at any given moment. It was definitely a step up from the swamps of Savathun’s Throne World.

As with every expansion that comes out for Destiny 2, you will find a myriad of bugs and connection issues. The first week alone accounted for multiple issues that resulted in long wait times. It’s like Destiny 2 is finally toppling over from all the code it is supporting. You feel it too. With Every expansion, routine maintenance gives way to more frequent, unexpected downtime. And it’s only getting worse.

For the first weeks of release, players experienced a shader bug that stripped gun and player models to their wire forms and some even looked invisible. You can imagine my shock when I got killed by a floating shotgun multiple times in PvP. The thing is, bugs like these are common in Destiny 2. It’s just that they don’t usually take this long to fix.

Destiny 2 Lightfall stumbles at the gate and fails to end on a high note. The beginning of the end is off to a rocky start. Expectations were understandably high for the expansion that’s supposed to set up the final chapter of Destiny 2’s decade-long saga. It’s already a given that many Guardians are planning to call it quits after the conclusion of the Light and Dark saga. If Bungie wants them to continue on to the next story and beyond. They’ll need to step up in a big way. We’ll just have to see how they respond going forward.

Destiny 2 Lightfall Soundtrack
Destiny 2 Lightfall – Review
Score Definition
We want to emphasize that 5 will always be the “average” number, not 7. So by far, it’s 50% great and it’s also 50% bad.
Strand is a blast to use in the campaign
Neomuna is the best looking world location we've gotten
Season of Defiance is better so far
Does not live up to the hype
Inconsistent pace of Lightfall's story
Buggier than usual
Senior Editor