I’ll admit that after last year’s Shadowkeep, a decent but somewhat barebones Destiny 2 expansion, I was a little frosty towards Beyond Light. I knew it would be bigger, but would it be better? But I am shocked at how much is buried in Europa’s ice, how exciting it is to uncover, and how good the new subclasses are. This expansion is a little smaller than The Taken King from the original Destiny, but Bungie has managed to do a lot with what’s there, without making gameplay feel like a chore.
Europa is a location that I’ve wanted to set foot on since seeing its original Destiny concept art, and it’s even more beautiful than I expected. From an ominous pyramid looming in the distance as a blizzard sweeps over the pristine ice shelf, to the eerie underground laboratories of Clovis Bray, and up the towering Fallen city.
The entire location is atmospheric and mysterious, and a joy to explore. Despite being a desolate environment, the world feels alive thanks to the density of things that are happening. The roaming mech bosses in particular are fantastic to fight — especially when a group of players come together to overcome it.
The new Stasis subclass is really the centrepiece of the expansion. Acquired from the infamous Darkness, I expected Stasis to play a little differently, but I was shocked by how effective and seamless it was. Stasis focuses around area control and denial, freezing enemies and blocking paths with large chunks of ice. But the way the abilities flow through each other is as smooth as ice. A Hunter can use a grenade to slow enemies to make them vulnerable to freezing with a Stasis shuriken, and instantly follow up with another shuriken to shatter them to pieces. Or Titans can launch themselves into the air with a block of ice before flying across the map with a Stasis melee in order to gain ground in PVP. It’s hard to describe how good Stasis feels, especially as a veteran player, or why it works, but the diversity of play that it brings is the biggest change in classes since Destiny launched, and I haven’t even unlocked all of its abilities yet.
The story in Beyond Light’s campaign begins to highlight a lot of things that were previously hidden with Destiny’s lore and starts to tie up story threads that stretch back to the original Destiny campaign (finally the Exo Stranger gets some spotlight!). The missions are often action-packed, and unlike the Shadowkeep campaign there is little grinding required to complete Beyond Light’s campaign, and any busywork is quick; more about encouraging you to explore new zones rather than pad the run time. The Stasis bosses are also unique and surprisingly challenging. Far and away the best is Praksis; though mainly as he flies into battle surfing a crashing shank.
The main campaign is somewhat short, even possible to complete within a few hours, though it did take a day’s worth of playtime for me as I explored everything I could. But the post-campaign missions beef up the content and story. It does get a little grindier, but you can progress multiple questlines at once, so it still felt rewarding. The mission to steal the new exotic grenade launcher is hilarious as your Ghost attempts a new role I won’t spoil and the new Glassway strike is among Destiny’s best.
One drawback Beyond Light brings is the beautiful mess of Crucible due to Stasis. The subclass brings new and refreshing gameplay — so long as you’re using it. Right now, it’s too overpowered in PVP, as being frozen paralyses you for a short but significant amount of time, and damages you if you escape it quickly. Meaning if you’re frozen, you’re about to die. The fact you can freeze other guardians while they’re in their super compounds this, and I look forward to Bungie reaching a good balance with it soon. And the lack of any new Crucible maps set on Europa is devastating to me. I want more ice world.
But the biggest disappointment with Beyond Light is, of course, the sunsetting of gear. It was expected but still stings to know that weapons you’ve become so attached to are no longer usable in high-level activities. I was surprised at the lack of new world drops too. There are only two legendary LMGs that are still relevant, and one of them is no longer earnable. I’m really hoping that next season brings a substantial refresh of gear.
The New Light campaign is also another welcome surprise. It replaces the previous extremely short introduction for new players which left them directionless and overwhelmed, with a small campaign that effectively shows all the basics of the Destiny experience. It’s a shame that new players won’t have access to Destiny 2’s Red War campaign along with locations like Io and Mars, as they’re currently removed for the foreseeable future for storage and stability reasons. But even as a veteran player, I found the New Light campaign to be fun and a great reintroduction to the Cosmodrome.
And yes, the Cosmodrome from the first Destiny is back in all its glory and then some. I still can’t believe how much better it looks; entirely thanks to the new lighting system that has been implemented in all current planets. The Cosmodrome currently hosts a remastered version of the Omnigul strike, my least favourite Destiny 1 strike due to the claustrophobic boss room. Thankfully though, the new boss room is greatly expanded and I actually enjoy the battle, rather than hiding in a corner for most of the fight.
Despite not being the biggest expansion, Beyond Light delivers a great amount of content and even more quality. We’re only at the surface of what the next few months of Destiny will bring; the Deep Stone Crypt raid and Season of the Hunt haven’t even begun and I’m already overwhelmed. The last major expansion, Shadowkeep, felt very tepid with its barebones campaign and repetitive activities, but I’m thrilled with everything I need to do in Beyond Light and can’t wait to play it in the weeks to come. I wouldn’t recommend Beyond Light to brand new players due to the challenge, but for new or returning players this expansion is an excellent addition. Even just considering Stasis, it really feels like we’re only at the tip of the iceberg.