Shadow Fortress sent us to the moon and turned some game mechanics upside down. With Beyond the Light, the main story of Destiny should come back into focus. The expansion marks the beginning of a trilogy that is to be continued with the next two add-ons. Some content has meanwhile been packed in the attic and with stasis Guardians get new possibilities in the fight against the alien races. Is that enough for a successful overall package?
With Beyond Light, Bungie returns to the roots of the Destiny universe and continues to tell the story of the traveler, the darkness and the pyramid ships. The new campaign puts you on the Jupiter moon Europa, an icy, inhospitable environment. Between the ruins of old settlements and research facilities above and below the eternal ice, you will fight with the fallen Kell Eramis, who is busy building a new empire.
This is what the campaign is about, which marks the start of a new trilogy. The same is to be completed with the next two extensions in the next two years. As usual, you shoot your way through a series of missions with chic cutscenes and kill rows of opponents and tough bosses until it comes to the final showdown with Eramis. As a prelude to a new trilogy, this is all very neat, but the mission design is still on the well-trodden path.
The new area of Europe initially makes for astonished eyes, because the ice landscapes and ruins look really very chic. In addition, a new weather system blows icy blizzards around your ears. Technically, you can’t blame Bungie again, the new environments are nicely designed and run very smoothly on all platforms. And that, although the next-gen upgrade should not be installed until December 8th. But you can already benefit from shorter loading times and more stable frame rates on PS5 and Xbox Series X / S. Over time, however, the icy wasteland becomes a bit monotonous, especially since the new area is not that huge.
In addition to the new campaign, beginners can expect a new tutorial that veterans can also play thanks to the Quest archive. For this, large parts of the cosmodrome from the first game were renewed and brought back into the game. The tutorial also consists of a small campaign that aims to teach you the basics of the game and does it quite well. Veterans, on the other hand, indulge in nostalgia and can pick up one or the other part to upgrade weapons and armor. It’s just a shame that apart from one mission of the main campaign, nothing more happens in the cosmodrome, if only to break up the monotony of the ice a little.
With the expansion you can expect a complete reset of all levels of your items. It starts now with a value of 1050, which you can drive well over 1200 with new loot and upgrading of existing items. If you already had more than 1050 points after the last season, they will of course not be lost. Loot fans are looking forward to new weapons and armor parts in all variants, from simple normal stuff to exotic items. According to the previous impression, not so much new has been added as is known from previous extensions.
However, veterans will have to say goodbye to a few favorites as Bungie takes the opportunity to muck out older equipment. Many older objects now have a maximum level of 1060 and are therefore only good for dismantling. The leveling up of new loot is relatively quick (almost too fast), so that you can start optimizing again after a very short time. But there still seems to be a lack of diversity and the fact that many items that have been hired and upgraded over a number of hours are no longer of any value should not give a few players a very angry feeling. It is also annoying that newer equipment, such as from Shadow Fortress, is affected by the limitation.
Speaking of mucking out: The world of Destiny 2 has become significantly smaller. Bungie packed a lot of content and planets into the Content Vault to make the game leaner. Mercury, Mars or Io have disappeared, as have related content such as raids and strikes. The leviathan and the blacksmith have also moved to the attic. So you have to be content with ETZ, moon, Nessus, Wirrbucht and dreaming city as well as Europe and the cosmodrome.
Unfortunately, many quest series, strikes, patrols and other activities have also disappeared completely. Newcomers basically only have the new tutorial, the Forsaken campaign and Fortress of Shadows and Beyond Light. That’s not really much anymore and the free-to-play players via New Light have even less. The vanguard strikes, the Gambit and the Crucible were also wiped through with a damp cloth and many things ended up in the bin.
To put it more clearly: After six days (better said five, day 1 doesn’t count because of the server problems), we don’t have much to do at Variks, apart from the sporadic empire hunts and a diligent quest as well as a few bits and pieces. That’s a hell of a lot, especially for a three year old game. We will certainly see one or the other area again – Bungie wants to recycle parts of the previous content from time to time as part of the seasons and expansions. Not everyone should be happy with this decision, however, and we’re not sure that Bungie has done itself a favor. You only get pleasure from your hard drive, because instead of over 100GB, the new client only needs around 65GB on all platforms.
However, something has been added to the Guardians. The three priorities solar, arc and emptiness have got company. After the campaign is over, you will receive stasis as a new focus and thus new sub-classes for the three classes Titan, Warlock and Hunter. The configuration of the new focus also looks a little different than the previous variants. You can use skills, aspects and fragments to design the focus as you wish.
Stasis is mostly about dark ice skills, which are especially useful for controlling opponents. You can use it to slow down, freeze, block and turn opponents into splinters. This focus should be particularly interesting for team players, in order to keep the enemy groups in check and then destroy them together with the other focuses. For solo players, we found stasis to be significantly less useful, especially since the handling of the new skills needs to be practiced and faster, direct damage is less of a focus. And: stasis is only a pleasure if you use it yourself. In PvE, being frozen a little too often means certain death.
What we noticed especially when playing the campaign and in PvP are weaknesses in the balancing of the new focus, but also in the new weapons, as well as in the difficulty levels in the course of the campaign and depending on whether you play solo or in a team. While the start of the campaign and some boss fights for soloists are quite tough, the whole thing is relativized relatively quickly and with increasing equipment level.
In the team, on the other hand, the missions are actually much too easy again, even the final battle against Eramis was a pretty simple matter. We couldn’t get rid of the feeling that, on the one hand, the opponent’s scaling and, on the other hand, the alignment of difficulty and equipment level didn’t go well together. Bungie should make improvements at this point. The lines between frustration and disillusionment were quite fluid when we played through.
The weapons also need to be improved. Of course we are happy that new shooting devices are available, but some devices quickly crystallize out as a little too powerful. This is particularly noticeable in PvP, where the new pulse rifle and the stasis grenade launcher “Grip of Redemption” can be found in almost every loadout.
The fact that there is currently no real antidote to freezing through stasis in PvP is quite a fun killer. If you get frozen, you’re basically dead – breaking free from the ice takes far too long for fast PvP. Bungie urgently needs to make improvements, otherwise only masochists will get lost in the melting pot in the near future.