Destiny 2’s Lightfall expansion how now been out for a whole week. It made a bad first impression, but the post-campaign has been much stronger. There’s plenty to appreciate in between the disappointing story and the overall mixed bag of new additions and confusing changes. Outside of the jovial surfer cyborg Nimbus, who I’m still incredibly torn on, here’s everything else I’ve been loving about Lightfall so far.
It was no secret that Lightfall would introduce a new Strand grappling ability to let Guardians swing around, but I had no idea just how good it would feel moment-to-moment. Yes, the cooldown time feels a bit brutal, though you can alleviate some of the pain with the right build. But that really only underlines just how fun it is to do that I wish I never had to stop. Like the carefully calibrated acceleration arc of every thruster jump, the grappling ability feels like creating a mini black hole on the map and then slingshotting yourself around it.
The other big component of Strand, at least for Warlocks, are the Arcane Needles. You can hold up to three of these melee ability charges at a time, and they fling little green darts at your enemies. The most satisfying part, however, is the detailed hand gestures that precede them. Other Destiny 2 melee attacks are like shooting a fireball in Super Mario Bros. Arcane Needle feels like casting an ancient and mysterious hex on the universe.
With the Traveller gone, dark pyramids have overtaken Earth’s sky and the Tower is full of new visitors. Yes, there are more Eliksni and Cabal than ever before, but there’s also a chicken. I have yet to discover the lore reasons for this, but I will use all of my Guardian’s infinite lives to defend it.
Lightfall’s new patrol zone is a shimmering futuristic city called Neomuna. It doesn’t quite live up to the hype of being a long lost bustling human colony. It is beautiful to gaze at, though, especially when you look up. Bungie’s skyboxes are often second to none, and the view from the top of Neomuna’s skyscrapers always stops me in my tracks for a beat or two.
The soundtrack for the new expansion is really strong overall, veering from a synthy sense of sci-fi discovery to triumphant marches that remix familiar Cabal battle songs. A mere 20 seconds in, the track “CloudArk” is what I can’t get out of my head though. A few simple notes take the background music for Neomuna from conspiratorial, to hopeful optimism, and back again. It reminds me of the first time I stepped into the Presidium on Mass Effect’s Citadel, and the overwhelming revelation of being a much smaller fish in a much bigger pond.
Neomuna can, at times, feel like an indistinct swirl of neon teals, hot pinks, and minty greens. This makes the occasional artwork you find on the sides of buildings that much more intriguing. The patrol zone is full of little unique icons, symbols, and other visual decorations. My favorite is a giant mural depicting past Cloudstriders just to the right of the initial landing area. The pop art graffiti homage hints at a level of humanity and social vibrancy that’s rarely found in Destiny 2’s post-apocalyptic world.
Every new expansion comes with more collectibles, and Lightfall is no different. This time around, the ’80s-inspired cyberpunk town has action figures scattered around, complete in the original packaging. Now if only I could display them inside my ship’s cockpit.
Lightfall has a giant power station computer building that makes it possible for all its citizens to live in the metaverse. It’s neat to look at, and even more impressive in giant shootouts when everything starts to break. Shattered LCD panels. Exploding hardware. It’s a small effect that makes the action even more satisfying, translating a tiny bit of each alien’s super rewarding death animation into the surrounding environment.
I did not like the expansion’s main story campaign much, but I did love these guys. The headless Tormentors, mysterious abominations born of Calus’ biological experiments and newfound alliance with The Darkness, all they want to do is run at you and hug you to death. The survival horror-type behavior is a refreshing change of pace, as is the fact that while other bosses stomp to force you away from them, the Tormentors will chase you to stay close. I hope the raid has a whole room full of them.
I already mentioned how much I love the feel of the new grappling ability, but I also love what players have discovered while experimenting with it, like being able to lock onto one another and spin around in their own little cosmic dance or whip around over giant chasms without breaking a sweat.
Years ago, Nearec was just an old Exotic helmet that referenced a long forgotten legend deep in the game’s lore cards. Now he’s everywhere and more important than ever. He’s also apparently still very much alive and haunting Neomuna. Exploring the city you’ll occasionally hear weird whispers, but equip a piece of gear named after the Witness’ old disciple and you can hear him speaking directly to you, talking about how he’s going to break out of his psychic prison and how the world is doomed—the usual creepy voice stuff. It’s added a whole other dimension to the normal patrol zone grind.
This is a fucking incredible Exotic. Part of the season pass, it’s a Stasis bow that provides decent precision damage while aiming down the sights and can unleash multiple Stasis arrows when shot sideways from the hip. I don’t think I’ve ever used a season pass Exotic this much before, and I don’t even run Stasis that much on my Warlock.
The disgraced Cabal emperor has a new Pyramid ship that looks like a massive aircraft carrier. Always the narcissist, it even has a giant sculpture of Calus’ face on the front of it. What you might not have noticed, however, is that the eyes will follow you as you travel around Neomuna. As pointed out in Bungie’s Lightfall video documentary, it’s basically Destiny 2’s Mona Lisa.
Who would have guessed the Neomunians were huge gamers? The city’s best Lost Sector, by far, is the Thrilladrome, a multilevel arcade with a Vex portal at the end of it. It’s filled with tons of arcade cabinets, crane games, and even an esports lounge. “It was the premier destination for Extreme E-Sports,” an NPC named Sam says. “It’s what? Like...video games?” responds your Ghost. “Extreme. E-sports,” Sam fires back. It turns out nothing can kill the pro gaming bubble. You can even watch some Vex try to play Dance Dance Revolution.