Destiny 2 Lightfall Review in Progress: More Trip than Fall

It's never good to trip out of the starting gate.

Destiny 2 Lightfall has the ignoble reputation of being one of the worst expansions in franchise history. It’s all but fashionable to dislike it, and if all you played was the story campaign, not only is your opinion correct, but you would be in familiar company with the entire D2 community.

Put shortly, Lightfall’s story campaign is just not good. It lacks stakes, meaningful character or narrative development, and leaves so many plot threads dangling that pulling on one would fail to dislodge anything.

There is, however, much more to love about Lightfall. The world of Neomuna is one of the strongest spaces Bungie’s ever made (if quite empty). The gameplay is fantastic, and Strand is amazingly fun and likely to become more so as time goes on. The problem Lightfall faces are that its lows are so low that they overshadow almost everything else.

The First Bite is Rotten

Image via Bungie

The expectations for Lightfall’s campaign were outright criminal in their enormity. Finally, after ten years, players were going to see what the main villain was up to. Finally, the Traveller, the godlike orb protecting humanity, would do something. Finally, there would be some conclusions to draw about this world we’re all inhabiting.

No. None of that. Not even a little.

Lightfall’s entire campaign is predicated on finding something called “The Veil,” that everyone in the world knows about but us, and when the campaign is over, and we’ve seen it, we know even less about it than we did before. Yet it’s integral to the story, both powering the neon-soaked city of Neomuna, housing its citizens in cyberspace, and somehow acting as a conduit between dimensions.

It’s also a weird egg-shaped thing that apparently gives off similar energy to the Traveler and can somehow interface with human machinery. None of this is ever explored — merely presented as fact with nothing to back it up or explain.

Worse, the story itself is entirely too predictable, its characters uninteresting, and actual narrative arc uninspired. Neither Rohan nor Nimbus, cybernetically enhanced supersoldier protectors of Neomuna, are more than caricatures. The former is “grizzled veteran 2.1-b,” and the latter is “perky teenager bro” who has to grow up too fast.

Osiris, our guide to the new Strand subclass, seems to have forgotten everything he seemed to have learned last season during the Spire of the Watcher Dungeon and spends a full half of the campaign yelling at us to get a move on before.. something.. happens with the Veil.

Calus, the main antagonist of the Lightfall campaign, has been a thorn in our Guardian’s side since Destiny 2 came out. Rather than being the grand adversary we can finally face down, here he’s reduced to a bumbling fool, unable to make a single correct decision he has literal years of context to back up.

And the Witness, the great evil that’s chased the Traveller across the stars for longer than our Sun has existed, spends its time staring wistfully at the big white ball above Earth, yelling like a child at Calus for his failures, and then says some cryptic lines of dialog before vanishing once more.

If you’re at all interested in Destiny 2’s evolving story, I can almost recommend skipping Lightfall’s entirely, as you’ll know about as much have seen none of it as everyone else who saw all of it.

Gameplay, Humanity’s True Savior

Image via Bungie

Removing the story for a moment, almost everything else about Lightfall lands on its feet. Playing through the campaign missions is incredibly fun. There’s a ton of great gameplay variety. You’ll go from a frantic escape to an intense vehicle section to a drawn-out fight that demands both endurance and attention. Then, moments of brief levity will give you a chance to breathe and prepare for whatever’s next.

Almost all of the combat encounters are well-designed, save one near the end, and all of them ask you to use your skills in similar but varied ways. This is especially true of the sections where you’re learning to use the new Strand subclass, as they’re often thrust upon you with no warning and little guidance on how to use the class itself. This gets in the way in the later parts of the campaign, but once you finish and begin to unlock Strand’s true potential, those early frustrations get mostly left behind.

Lightfall’s post-game is also top-notch, with a bevy of new Exotic armor and weapon choices, all strong in their own way. The quests to get those Exotics are also enjoyable (for the most part), taking you on a more focused tour of Neomuna and asking you to engage with the additional activities the expansion has to offer.

The various endgame activities — Terminal Overirde, Hard Reset, and hopefully the Root of Nightmares Raid — are fantastic to play, more deftly written (where there is writing), and just as engaging mechanically. That’s not even counting the new Strike and the Seasonal content released with Lightfall, which is some of the best a Season’s brought in a long time.

So for me to sit here and tell you that the worst parts of Lightfall almost overshadow the good (and spend more space writing about them), something is most certainly wrong.

We’ll have a full review written when the Root of Nightmares World First race is over, and we’ve had a chance to try out the Raid for ourselves in a more traditional environment. In the meantime, there’s tons of additional Lightfall coverage in our Destiny 2 guides hub.

Featured image via Bungie


John Schutt has been playing games for almost 25 years, starting with Super Mario 64 and progressing to every genre under the sun. He spent almost 4 years writing for strategy and satire site TopTierTactics under the moniker Xiant, and somehow managed to find time to get an MFA in Creative Writing in between all the gaming. His specialty is action games, but his first love will always be the RPG. Oh, and his avatar is, was, and will always be a squirrel, a trend he's carried as long as he's had a Steam account, and for some time before that.

Published Mar. 9th 2023

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