Played on the PC with an RTX 2080 Super
2020 is definitely one the worst years in recent history – not only did Covid-19 negatively affect us as humans, but businesses to a degree I don’t think we realize; companies transitioned from working locally to remote is a daunting task as this can impact production flow and even self-worth amongst employee’s. However, developers seem to be thriving thanks to our efforts as whole. The exceptional efforts made by Bungie to recognize real world issues (BLM and the injustice upon George Floyd) while still trying to please and maintain their fanbase earlier this year is on a level that must be appreciated; its no easy task. With Beyond Light, Bungie still managed to produce a quality product during these trying times, and that’s a feat I recognize. We see the change, and it starts with the departure of legacy contents to bring room (and storage space) for new and fresh ideas. It’s bold that Bungie added lore into the removal of these contents and it’s one I stand by; lets be real, no one visited those locations anymore. With Shadowkeep, it was designed to showcase their transition from Activision to independence. This time, the narrative with Beyond Light is to finally give us their vision of a new Destiny, and to me Beyond Light is one of their greatest expansions to date.
The Prospect and Structure
Beyond Light starts you off investigating new intel on Europa due to a distress call – you soon find out its coming from Variks, The Loyal. And for those who are interested in the lore, he was first introduced in the House of Wolves DLC as an NPC for Prison of Elders. He was also the Warden there before the outbreak in Forsaken causing the death of Cayde-6. The Vanguard has been searching for Variks ever since to have him answer for his crimes as they suspect his fleeing was part of Cayde’s demise. Variks joined the House of Darkness, a new fallen group lead by a Eramis Kell – who utilizes the Darkness powers through a fragment called a Splinter, and soon realize that Eramis is consumed by anger which dangerously influences the Darkness. He steals a Splinter from her and warns the Vanguard of it’s dangers. The Exo Stranger, last seen during Destiny 1’s vanilla campaign, has no time to explain and steals the Splinter from Variks. Variks is then ambushed and it is our job to save him and find out what’s going on in Europa. The story unfolds rather quickly as we hunt down each of the lieutenants in the House of Darkness to dismantle Eramis and stop her from using the Darkness. Lots of themes that I will not spoil are challenged here and if you are one of those who’s been waiting to use the Darkness for years, you will find lots of very interesting conversations that’ll question your morals. However, after this plot is done, we soon learn that there is more to the Darkness than meets the eyes as The Stranger has many secrets to share with us regarding Clovis Bray I, and many new abilities in the process.
Beyond Light is designed to give us substantial content on quality basis rather than quantity. On its initial launch week, we were given a decent 4-6hr campaign to help us reach the light cap of 1200. In that week, we obtained the new Darkness subclass called Stasis at bare minimum. Your new skill-tree starts with the basics such as different jumps and abilities, however the new Aspects and Fragments slots will be empty until you complete the quest Into the Darkness Parts 1-4 which serves as story content and progression to fully unlock Stasis. This left players who weren’t as dedicated with a sour taste thinking that was all the Darkness subclass had to offer. Upon completing the campaign, a slew of new content unlocks such as Sabotage, missions from Variks that would enhance your overall experience in Europa. This is also accompanied by a new structure called Empire Hunts. This is served to replay the pivotal story missions and prevent the remaining House of Darkness from harnessing the Darkness. As you enhance your Sabotage, your rewards becomes more potent. This is just a taste of what you can do in the first couple weeks.
Europa is huge, and gorgeous. I’m not going to pretend that the weather system is state of the art, Division introduced one that was awesome then. However, minor things that makes it amazing in Beyond Light is the obscuring of vision and how the wind affects your sparrow movement. In this planet you will find Lost Sectors that feels far more refined and polished compared to previous installments, in order to obtain the new exotics however you would have to do the Legendary versions of these Lost Sectors, solo – they are lengthy and dense with great encounters and secrets. You will find that a large portion of the planet doesn’t have fast travel, but traversing deeper into it will showcase some really awesome environments no one can deny. There’s a ton a secrets to uncover especially now that the Deep Stone Crypt raid has been completed – a formula first introduced with the Dreaming City back in Forsaken where upon completing the raid, the location opens up a slew of new things to do. This new evolving space structure is one that really enjoy as it makes the game feel organic and responsive.
One thing I have to make clear is, Beyond Light is not Forsaken sized. There is only one location and half the length of the story. However, it is bigger than Shadowkeep and much more dense as well. To me, Beyond Light is a true testament of what Bungie is capable of doing during trying times; I can’t imagine Bungie is in a state where it is easy to produce content at reduced studio members – remember, Forsaken was developed with extra studio hands on deck. That is why we saw 3 new raids that year.
Stasis and The Deep Stone Crypt
Stasis, a very potent and affective new element and subclass – this new subclass has the community torn on its potency as it is brutal in PVP. As a competitive player, I absolutely am OK with the change of pace; Stasis has the usual lanes and strats altered in meaningful ways. My advice is to obtain all the Aspects and Fragments before diving into Crucible. This new subclass is not a one hit impact, it is an element used to encase your opponents and shattering them to create massive AOE damage. It is to halt the battlefield and take advantage of those seconds to unleash devastation. It is a new flow of combat, and one that I absolutely love. You see, Solar is a residual damage element, Void is upon impact and Arc is to chain enemies. Stasis is to halt the battlefield, changing the pace of whether you are in danger and need time to recover, or able to affectively clear out waves of adds before moving out at minimal effort. It is a slower element, but a far more dangerous one. Aspects plays a huge role in altering your abilities. Titans can shatter encased foes to create regenerative crystals and help your fireteam, Warlock can freeze groups of enemies with their rifts and Hunters can dodge slowing enemies in the process. Stasis has 3 methods: Slow, Encased and Shatter – each compliments each other and a new gameplay mod for the subclass called Fragments can increase its effectiveness; it can either benefit your stats and reduce it at a cost of enhancing your powers or vice versa. It is a checks and balance mechanic that currently functions great, but overtime it remains to be seen on whether Bungie’s attempt to give us more would benefit or work against us. As of right now, Stasis is devastatingly balanced.
The Deep Stone Crypt raid is absolutely fun – you start off in an area on Europa and descend into a Fallen structure that takes you to a blizzard. In order to traverse through this area, you would have to sparrow your way to safe zones. Eventually you’ll be led to a facility where 3 main roles are needed to progress through the raid: Operator, Scanner and Suppressor. You’ll then be sent to space….and without going too deeply into lore elements of this raid, just know that you are in for a surprise. The end of the raid has a chest, and a similar-but-not-really mechanic introduced in The Last Wish raid is here, where you can use these tokens to choose what loot you haven’t earned yet or ones you’ve already earned for a better roll. The length of the raid is about as long as Garden of Salvation, so for those experienced ones it should be a breeze to farm on a weekly basis. In terms of difficulty, it’s actually pretty easy once you understand the roles and have a team who does as well.
New Light Rejoice with an Updated Engine
As for New Light Players, you are able to jump in and explore Europa for free. The Cosmodrome also makes a return with enhanced features – a beloved place from Destiny. Bungie also managed to enhance their overall engine with new character models, environmental detail and lighting; I especially like the new dark-theme which brings less strain to your eyes compared to the all white theme before. This brings Destiny 2 to a new sense of fidelity that I personally really appreciate and hope that Bungie further improves overtime.
Season of the Hunt
Released alongside Beyond Light is the new season called Season of the Hunt. Here we finally dive into the lore behind The Crow – a Ghost by the name of Glint resurrects Uldren Sov – a bit of a backstory on Glint; during the Golden Age, Glint spent hundreds of years searching for the light signature to raise his new Guardian. It so happen that other Ghost felt bad for Glint and thus named him Pulled Pork because of his failed attempts.
Season of the Hunt focuses around the disappearance of the legacy planets and how the Darkness is affecting the solar system. His findings led to more questions like why did the Leviathan leave, and how could the planets really disappear. A Darkness-Hive ritual forms all over the system called the Cryptolith which then introduces a new season content called Wrathborn Hunts. With the help of The Spider and The Crow, we are given a new item called Cryptolith Lure where it designed to bring out powerful Darkness Hive to them stop them from getting stronger. The Lure functions as a way to also farm season-theme weapon and armor for high stat rolls which needs to be charged by doing either Strikes or Crucible, and honestly it is a decent gameplay loop; you attach mods to the lure, go to the Cryptolith location, place the lure, damage the boss as it flees, follow it to a location and fight another set of enemies and bosses – it is a different pace than the usual public activity given to us in previous years, although I fear this will wear out faster than before. As of right now, there are 3 tiers to achieve, each giving more enhanced loot – I haven’t noticed any new content unlocks in Season of the Hunt but will no doubt uncover as the weeks progress.
An Excellent Start to a new Trilogy
This is the first of the trilogy expansion Bungie introduced earlier this year, one that focuses on bringing the lasting plot forward while changing the flow of the game. With the promise of more subclasses in the future, I am excited to see what kinds of elements Bungie plans to bring to the game. Europa is one gorgeous planet to explore riddled with secrets all over the place and The Deep Stone Crypt raid is worthy of your efforts. If you are a new player, this is the best time to jump in, same goes for those that fell off.
For those who are playing on the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S, the Next-Gen upgrade will launch Dec 8th, 2020.
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