Future 2 Lightfall, one week later – the great, the unhealthy, and the very, very ugly

Kath Santarin
16 Min Read

Future 2 Lightfall at present sits at ‘largely destructive’ on Steam. Twitter and Reddit are awash with posts complaining about, highlighting points with, and outright mocking the newest growth. Even MyNameIsByf, a longstanding Future loyalist with a razor sharp eye for criticism and commentary, has expressed his profound disappointment with Lightfall and the long run it units up for Bungie.

Byf makes some very, excellent factors on this video.

However, all that apart, Lightfall isn’t wholly unhealthy. In truth, for my part, I feel the mission design of the legend marketing campaign displays probably the greatest Future expertise I’ve had in years: difficult, curated, climactic, and inventive. A extremely intense method of introducing lapsed gamers again into the sport, and a well timed prod for these getting too comfy with their end-game gear units. It’s only a disgrace that, past that, there’s little to go with.

That is the penultimate story beat earlier than Future’s long-teased, highly-anticipated Mild and Darkness climax. It’s a finale 10 years within the making, and – if dealt with nicely – has the facility to ship certainly one of gaming’s most cathartic and spectacular gameplay/story combos. It may very well be the type of factor that’ll be referred to by devs, gamers, and enterprise execs for years to come back: the head of service sport design, a bastion for devs that wish to show long-term, crowd-shaped video games can actually ship.

However proper now, a lot of the sport’s followers (sure, even the hardcore, here-since-the-alpha vets like yours actually) don’t suppose Bungie has what it takes to come back good on this decade-long promise. Let’s check out why – starting with some gentle reward the place it’s due.

The Good

The important thing artwork promised a lot.

Legend Marketing campaign: I’ve already alluded to this above, however the Legend marketing campaign issue is tough – and all the higher for it. All of it kicks off with aplomb: The Witness reveals its true nature, we’re taken on a breakneck stowaway mission, and separated from our mates on Earth. Story stuff apart, this marketing campaign is superior: some actual Halo-like moments, some good intentionality in the way it makes you play, and a rip-roaring remaining couple missions (not you, although, Calus) actually drove residence how a lot I miss ‘basic Halo’ encounters cooked up by the masterminds at Bungie.

Some missions felt like raid encounters for infants: a beautiful gauntlet and testing floor designed to point out new or lapsed gamers play these end-game, excessive degree encounters correctly. Others had been… much less encouraging, however we’ll get to these in a minute.

Screenshot of Winterbite exotic glaive in Destiny 2: Lightfall

New exotics: Full disclosure right here, I’m scripting this after enjoying round with the brand new bow and my beautiful Warlock boots for just a few hours, and spending principally days utilizing Quicksilver Storm. You possibly can see why this gun is the headline of the season: it’s versatile, can management massive teams of provides with its baked-in missile launcher with ease, and hot-swapping to the grenade launcher can do frankly obscene harm to bosses. It may be exhausting to make use of, however in good arms, it feels very highly effective – that notorious Future line between energy and threat utilised to superb impact. It’s the most effective Unique weapon since Osteo Striga – and that’s saying one thing, when you ask me.

Lightfall press image of strand power

Strand subclass: I’ll begin this part by saying that I play Warlock, so popping on my particular booties, getting the catalyst for Quicksilver Storm, and turning into a horrible inexperienced brood mom feels distinctive. With out an excessive amount of effort, I’ve been capable of craft a construct that may swing momentum into my fireteam, management crowds with ease, and shortly and simply recharge my talents. For me, it feels good – I’ve taken off Grapple and changed it with a grenade that makes Threadlings. My Rift generates Threadlings. Popping any Thread Tangles I see provides me Threadlings. I’ve sort-of made a construct that simply kills issues round me, turning my character into its personal embodied model of Osteo Striga.

I really feel for Titans: there may be some first rate utility to Strand, however having some pissy Wolverine claws pop in your Tremendous isn’t superb, and shifting away from the shields and buffs of your different subclasses – solely to get replaced by a melee-focused subclass that has appalling monitoring – is a little bit of a duff commerce. Hunters, from what I hear from my Hunter associates, are comfortable as a result of they will simply pop a flail and go brrrrrr – and nonetheless have a good quantity of utility. I feel Strand is first rate (when you tackle that appalling Grapple cooldown, what was Bungie considering?!) but it surely’s going to take a short while to settle into its groove. Hey, at the least we now have Strand-shielded enemies now… I ponder when/if Stasis is ever going to get that…

The Dangerous

The ultimate boss (and the Vex washer): What on earth had been you considering, Bungie? The primary half of this boss encounter is definitely actually compelling: good, powerful, and full of sufficient randomness to maintain you in your toes and lift your coronary heart into your throat. Performed on Legend (which seems like the purpose, let’s be trustworthy), the second part of the combat is without doubt one of the most misguided makes an attempt at issue I’ve seen in Future over the previous 9 years… and we all know there’s an extended checklist for it to high, there.

Strand Grapple doesn’t really feel good in the course of a battle, and by this level, you’ve not had a lot of an opportunity to check it, both. Sure, there was that horrible Strand grapple/washer degree that got here simply earlier than, however that felt extra like a determined novice Spider-Man snuff movie, not a cool activation of recent powers in a triple-A online game. The weird off-pad coaching montage didn’t depend, both. So, with out the chance to essentially get to know Strand, you’re anticipated to beat a hyper-hard remaining boss – bullet sponge mode activated – while attempting to avoid wasting your ass from his horrible boops of loss of life by spaffing out a shit grapple hook that glitches out 50% of the time? That’s the way you need us to see out the tip of the marketing campaign, Bungie? Annoyed and resentful of our new powers? Thoughts-boggling.

Final chat in Unfinished Business exotic quest in Destiny 2: Lightfall

The brand new characters (and Osiris): Think about if Otto from The Simpsons was the Illusive Man in Mass Impact. Think about Iggy Pop instead of Bruce Willis in Armageddon. Consider the bright-eyed, younger (and stoned) Owen Wilson instead of Sandra Bullock in Gravity. That’s what Bungie has carried out with vendor newcomer and all-round feckless fool, Nimbus, in Lightfall. This funds Silver Surfer is the defender of the brand new location, Neomuna, and your level of contact on this in any other case lifeless planet (extra on that later). They’re obnoxious, quippy, and patently unfunny – and paired with “at some point till I retire” trope machine, Rohan. These two are horrible, paper-thin characters that exist purely so Bungie can wrangle emotional story beats out of them… however paired with the character assassination of Osiris, they’re nothing.

A bitter, misanthropic man with declining psychological well being and a narcissistic want to over-explain ideas he himself is aware of valuable little about… that doesn’t totally stack up with the Osiris we’ve recognized up till this level. He’s at all times been odd – spending lifetimes within the Infinite Forest will do this to you – however his single-minded and ‘off’ obsession with Strand undoes a whole lot of good character improvement in Lightfall, and succeeds in making him one of the aggravating folks you’ve had in your radio in the complete Future expertise. I’m sorry you misplaced your Ghost, mate, however might you please cease taking it out on me?

The Ugly

The Storytelling: It’s so… unimportant? Coming scorching off the heels of The Witch Queen and a number of the most menacing hours of Future lore up to now, this complete factor – the place we’re launched to a warfare on two fronts, the place we’re instructed the universe is beneath menace, the place we see the very coronary heart of the Traveller ripped open! – is casually forged apart as we’re booped onto Neptune to run errands for a California surfer bro while all our buddies on the Tower combat for his or her lives? What? A baffling determination, poorly executed and defined.

What provides insult to damage is the best way the story is instructed. There’s a macguffin – the Veil – that’s apparently some unlikely and not possible supply of paracausal energy that’s important to The Witness (the Huge Dangerous, when you comply with) and its plans to undo the Traveller (the corresponding Huge Good). At no level within the sport are we instructed what The Veil is. At no level are we clued in as to why it’s so necessary. Even that blurb I’ve given you there may be greater than the knowledge you get in-game. If you wish to have some actual enjoyable, take a shot each time a personality says ‘radial mast’ – one other machine you’re not likely clued in on. You’ll in all probability die from alcohol poisoning inside one mission.

I’ve mentioned earlier than that Future is without doubt one of the greatest sci-fi tales in gaming, however instructed in probably the most irritating and irresponsible method. Witch Queen started fixing a few of these components, and Lightfall has shortchanged them drastically. It doesn’t bode nicely for The Ultimate Form, and what comes subsequent.

Maya's Retreat in Destiny 2: Lightfall

Neomuna: The large new location that we’re imagined to be pumped to discover was promised as this huge cyberpunk metropolis within the sky – a cloud-swaddled utopia the place a race of mega-intelligent tremendous folks fled to as The Collapse tore by means of the photo voltaic system. What we obtained was a abandoned tech demo of a degree the place the lights are on however no-one’s residence. Canary Wharf operating on a PlayStation 3. A community of straight-forward streets and enemy cabinets strung along with few locations of curiosity. Strand vitality leaking by means of the flooring like smelly traces of seen sewage, the entire place feels odd – and Strand feels thumbed into all of it, an vitality clearly as soon as designed for Mara Sov or Savathun wrangled to suit into Neptune for no different cause than appeasing the content material pipeline.

Mix this with the aforementioned dullard characters and a collection of hateful NPCs that chatter to you over the Patrol intercom, and also you’ll spend most of your downtime on Neptune wishing you had been actually wherever else. Even coping with the Throne World and its oppressive goth grimness was extra uplifting than no matter tonal migraine Neptune has ended up being. The entire place seems like a tribute to the worst bits of the MCU: a completely hateful idea, given these facile motion romps are xeroxes of xeroxes themselves.

I come at Lightfall from a spot of frustration: I like Future 2, I’ve over 600 hours within the collection at this level. I do know Bungie could be the most effective of the most effective: simply have a look at the best way the legend marketing campaign works when it’s firing on all cylinders. Take a look at how good The Witch Queen was. Decide up any unique – or hearken to the firing noise of any gun within the sport – and inform me a title that does it higher. I used to be instructed by a really excessive profile developer from a serious, triple-A studio this week that they and their staff seek advice from Future every time they should work on making their weapons really feel good. That claims a lot concerning the standing of this sport.

If – and what an ‘if’ – Bungie can get its act collectively and actually goal one thing particular for The Final Form when it launches in 2024, I feel it’ll be one of the impactful and spectacular occasions we’ve ever seen in gaming. Even at its worst, up to now (Home of Wolves, D2 launch, Warmind) I believed Future might nonetheless pull all of it collectively and ship on its final huge beat.

As issues stand, proper now, I don’t suppose that it could actually. I hope Bungie proves me unsuitable.

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