This week’s release of Destiny 2: Lightfall saw a massive influx of players on Steam and console to check out Bungie’s next expansion for its online shooter. As the penultimate story for its Light and Darkness saga, paving the way for The Final Shape in 2024, Lightfall shifts the larger plot towards the concluding chapters of its 10 year story while revising its gameplay systems. However, the overall reception from the community seems to tell a different kind of story.
Following the February 28 launch, players on social media, the Destiny 2 reddit, and on YouTube have been actively voicing concerns with the current state of the expansion. While the Destiny community has not been shy about sharing opinions, there have been a wave of criticism about the core narrative of Lightfall, the new setting of Neomuna, the complex methods to unlock Strand, and how difficult it is for new and returning players to return to a changed experience.
Currently, Steam reviews on Lightfall are at a “mostly negative” rating, with players disapproving of the game’s narrative and its overall approach to a yearly reset. For now, we will break down some key takeaways from the community and what Bungie has addressed in its recent This Week At Bungie blog post.
The Main Narrative
Much has happened in the universe of Destiny since its debut in 2014. Following large conflicts with the Fallen, Hive, Vex, Cabal, and Taken factions, the Guardians have now forged alliances with splinter groups from their opposing armies, and have even embraced some limited powers from the darkness. All the while, a new threat in the form of The Witness, an emissary of The Darkness and the current big bad of Destiny 2, who seeks the Traveler for their own nefarious purposes.
At the end of the Season of the Seraph – a now-retired event that took place throughout December and to late February – we saw The Witness lead their Black Fleet to Earth to capture the Traveler. With The Traveler having left to remain just outside of orbit, the Guardians and their allies made a stand against the Black Fleet, leading to the events of Lightfall. In this current expansion, the Guardians and allied forces travel to Neomuna, a hidden city on Neptune that The Shadow Legion has invaded. Led by Emperor Calus, a returning D2 Year 1 villain who is now a servant to The Witness, he seeks to gain a hidden power source in the hidden city.
I’m old enough to remember when The Veil was a new enemy race that was gonna come out of the pyramid ships https://t.co/SFtzOBe8Jg
— Paul Tassi (@PaulTassi) March 2, 2023
In the beginning, Neomuna and its new characters, The Cloud Striders, showed promise. However, the general reception chilled significantly once the scale of the campaign and its story was revealed to be smaller than expected. Moreso, the sense of urgency shown in the opening act of the campaign was muted once players got settled in Neomuna and began interacting with characters like Nimbus, the comic relief of the story. This has led some players to view the campaign as less serious than it was set up to be, coming off more in line with previous expansions.
Moreover, this expansion’s plot details and lore have left fans confused – so much so that popular Destiny 2 content creators such as Paul Tassi and D2 lore expert My Name is Byf have released videos explaining why the campaign’s light-hearted tone undermines the larger story and how many of the essential plot details and events are introduced without much explanation. One point of contention was the inclusion of Strand in the plot, and how the game doesn’t offer much explanation on its origins.
“Strand’s entire insertion into the narrative just does not help, it feels as though obstacles have only been put in place to use this new subclass, and that is a huge detriment to the larger [invasion] plot because [Strand] is what Lightfall ends up being all about,” said popular D2 lore content creator My Name Is Byf. “As a seasonal storyline, this would have been amazing, but as an expansion story when there’s a literal attack on the Traveler happening – I mean, come on? [Strand] appears out of nowhere and it’s not explained at all in the story.”
One of the more common complaints among the community focuses on details regarding “The Veil,” a mysterious power that the game presents as a long-established detail but has only been recently discussed. This shift in the plot has also led to memes and online jokes, which have become a regular sight on Destiny 2’s Reddit.
I am the quote-on-quote “lore daddy” of Destiny 2, and I cannot tell you what the Veil is because I don’t know
While Bungie is, of course, tight-lipped on details regarding The Veil and other narratives, developers have expressed that Lightfall’s story will progress in the weeks ahead and that the current Season of Defiance event launched alongside Lightfall will also add more important details to the story.
One of the stand-out additions of Lightfall is the Strand subclass, the first new playstyle since the Beyond Light expansion in 2020. The new subclass allows players to manipulate a green weave of energy to grapple across areas, bind enemies, summon green energy beings to deal extra damage. So far, the class has been well-received, and there’s been a host of stunt videos showcasing how far players can take the grappling.
Grapples feeling nice!#MOTW #Destiny2 @DestinyTheGame @Bungie pic.twitter.com/Qfla8VK3x7
— Senseileon (@Senseileon_) March 1, 2023
However, the community’s issue with Strand is that it feels minimal at launch. Much like Stasis from Beyond Light, Strand’s progression and power growth was intended to be tied to weekly challenges, and future story beats added in updates. Essentially, this means that progression was tied to a set schedule dictated by Bungie’s release of new content. This led to concerns that the new class will be limited for an extended period – concerns that were sharpened by players unlocking Strand for permanent use after the campaign and discovering that the signature grapple ability had a lengthy cooldown, and that other unlocks had to be purchased with large amounts of resources that would take time to earn. That was on top of being rather weak, dampening the feeling of wielding a chaotic and unknown element.
In an attempt to fix this issue, Bungie announced a new update rolling out on March 2 that would allow players who have the subclass to unlock all available fragments. This new update will unlock Strand proper, giving players still making their way through the power grind new options and opportunities to experiment with the game.
“We’ve decided to release a live update that will unlock the ability to earn the full suite of Strand Fragments for all players,” Bungie wrote. “While these additional Fragments will be class-specific to unlock and you’ll need Strand meditations to acquire them, this should be a great way for everyone to experience more of what Strand has to offer before we head into next week’s raid.”
A Refocused Gear System
Along with the new story content and location, Destiny 2 also added a revised gear system and resource management. Previously, mods for armor pieces were tuned to specific elements and were also tied to unlocks from Seasonal Activities – with new ones resetting progress. If players wanted to participate in certain events, some artifact mods – such as anti-barrier, overpowered, and other combat buffs – were vital for success and required players to keep them attuned to their gear. With the new expansion, build crafting has been revised, and many seasonal artifact mods are now added perks to a character that do not need to be set in place.
While the scope of build crafting has expanded, the Destiny 2 community has expressed concerns about the best options for outfitting characters in light of many of the revised mods. Furthermore, this has also made some favorite community builds unusable, requiring added effort to tune character loadouts. Added to this is the new armor charge system, a revised take on the phased-out elemental wells mods now designed to boost your character’s defense. A new system brings back an underlying issue of ensuring that you have specific game-specific buffs added on your character or else deal with overly difficult encounters.
In another video, populer Destiny 2 content creator Datto chimed in with his thoughts on modding. Though he stated he still needs more time with it, he remained optimistic on the system than most other fans However, he does express concerns it could fall into narrow building trends amongst the community.
“There’s a good foundation to build on [mods] now, and I hope that Bungie plans on introducing more as the year goes on. But those that did understand the system in the past are now left with a less interesting mod and buildcrafting world. The equivalent of those staple mods are now left in the seasonal unlocks, and my worry is that buildcrafting is just going to completely consist of what’s in the artifact mod and not that much more.”
Currently, Bungie has not addressed concerns with the mod systems yet, but the studio did add an update to tune recurring issues with specific buffs from the game. So far, it is still early, and the community is still experimenting with the capabilities of the new class updates and mods. In the weeks ahead, we will have a clearer picture of how the new armor mod system has handled itself.
The Road Ahead
While Lightfall’s launch has been relatively smooth on a technical level, the expansion content has become the subject of scrutiny from the Destiny 2 community. Outside of these larger issues, the response from the community regarding the yearly refresh has been positive. However, given the nature of Destiny 2 as a live-service game that will evolve over the next year ahead of The Final Shape’s release, there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
It’s still early to say how Lightfall will fare among Destiny 2 expansions after only a few days. However, with the upcoming launch of The Root of Nightmares raid on March 10, we will begin to see where Lightfall’s story and its implications on the larger plot of Destiny 2 will go from here.
Keep up with for more details on the current state of Destiny 2: Lightfall, along with our upcoming review of the game.
Alessandro Fillari is a freelance writer at .