For all its flaws, Destiny 2’s Lightfall expansion pulled me out of service game burnout

If you’ve ever been burned by a video game, you know how it is. Suddenly, you’re exhausted every time the game you once loved shows up in your Steam library. Every time someone talks about it within earshot, you’re filled with this pervasive cynicism that won’t give up. Nothing in the game is good, everything is bad, and no one can convince you otherwise, even if you were its biggest fan just a few months ago.

I’ve played, and left, many games since I returned to the hobby in 2016. But the game I feel I owe the most to, and the one I most strongly associate with work, is Destiny 2. I got into Destiny 2 at the request of a few coworkers, and just as I’ve been working at the same job for the past eight years, I’ve been playing Destiny 2 since right after launch.

Here’s the Destiny 2 Lightfall launch trailer to give you an idea of ​​things.

Destiny 2 felt like a perfect game to start right at the beginning of my re-entry into gaming. It was both simple and complex, a visually stunning and buttery-smooth first-person shooter with an intricate story that was in tension with what was actually happening in the game. I loved that point of tension, and tried to sit within it as much as possible, those story entries ignited my imagination with the endless narrative possibilities they presented, even if no one can argue that reading through them for hours at a time makes the game be convincing. .

But over time, my relationship with the game changed. The coworkers I started playing it with gradually disappeared. What was once a fun thing to do with friends in the evenings and on the weekends increasingly became a solo affair. My small gambling problems grew bigger and became irritating. Eventually he was identifying full-blown systemic issues with the franchise. Destiny was no longer something I enjoyed in passing, or even a game I felt very connected to; it was a burden he bore, something he needed to subject to additional critical scrutiny.


Destiny 2 Lightfall: A deserted open cocktail bar in Neomuna

Destiny 2 Lightfall: Neomuna's Evocative Pink and Peach Box

Destiny 2 Lightfall: Another Neomuna skybox showing neon pink skyscrapers at night

When he played, he played listlessly. When I wrote about the game, nothing came out except hypercritical rants. He wasn’t in any shape to be a capital C “Critic” when it came to Destiny 2, but that’s what I did. It got to the point where, while everyone was celebrating The Witch Queen, I was writing about… the inherent problem of the game’s context-free heroism (as I saw it) and vowing never to write about Destiny 2 again.

Clearly, that’s a promise I’ve chosen not to keep, and we’re now at the start of a new cycle of expansion. Lightfall has arrived, and it’s certainly been polarizing. Once again, I find myself sitting at an unexpected point of tension, this time between the community’s negative feelings towards the expansion and my own attempts to positively re-engage with it.

I’ve played a lot of Destiny 2 in the last three weeks. I went into the campaign with no issues on day one and it took me about two days to complete. Then, I spent the rest of the first week on post-expansion “content”, the introduction to Season of Defiance, and raising my Guardian’s power level to something that could more easily handle enemies. During the second week, I focused on doing some exotic missions, the second part of the seasonal story, and the usual “content treadmill” of the game. By week three, my main focus has shifted entirely to seasonal activities. Looking at it from above like this, it’s pretty much in line with my experiences in previous expansions. In fact, I… I don’t really hate him in general.

Destiny 2 Lightfall - Neomuna combat with a pink neon glow

Destiny 2 Lightfall: Strand subclass screen shows abilities and a green hue

To be clear, I thought Lightfall’s campaign was pretty weak, especially compared to The Witch Queen. We spent 12-14 hours running around Neomuna and chasing down a single mysterious MacGuffin, with a single not-so-quick detour to learn Strand, the game’s new Darkness power. Calus is either the most underwhelming final boss or the most brilliant subversive, “if you think about it.” The Witness, despite being the hyped main series enemy, appeared in what amounted to a cutscene cameo and walked out of the campaign without answering any pressing questions. Nimbus is annoying (I still love them though), Rohan was too much of the buddy cop “old buddy” stereotype, and Osiris was genuinely infuriating as the main driver of the narrative.

These are all pretty substantive issues! I’m definitely not the only one who has them! So why am I not more upset?

Destiny 2 Lightfall: The Mod Customization Menu

Destiny 2 Lightfall: The Guardian Ranks splash screen showing 11 levels

Destiny 2 Lightfall – Character recommendation screen showing three characters and the option to choose who to recommend

I struggle to identify it, and it led me to wonder if there’s something inherent to Destiny 2 that could be contributing to burnout, and if any of that has changed. A couple come to mind – it’s been around for an exceptionally long time and it’s a live service – but there are plenty of others I could say that about as well. Destiny 2 came out in 2017, between Ark: Survival Evolved and Fortnite, right in the middle of the industry-wide live services trend, a trend that, like more recent games like Marvel’s Avengers or Suice Squad: Kill the Justice League, see pushback. on its booty-grinding models, it appears to be entering a marked decline today.

Destiny 2 has a stronger narrative than its predecessor, but has always retained the core loop of playing through the same limited set of activities, week after week. Do that for six years straight? Not exactly my idea of ​​a good time. Combined with the original Destiny, we’re approaching a full decade of interaction with this specific game model. It would be crazy for Bungie to expect someone to stick with the game every week for nine years. We have to take breaks! It is necessary for our well-being!

Destiny 2 Lightfall: A scene with the Traveler shooting a beam like the Death Star

Destiny 2 Lightfall: A view from space of the Traveler captured by the Witness

I deleted Destiny 2 from my console’s hard drive after it shut down. I played other games. I went outside. I put some distance between this game and me. And to be honest, I really didn’t expect to do it again. The reason I’m here is because, when I saw the marketing for Lightfall throughout last fall, I expected to hear that cynical voice in the back of my head with every promise and announcement Bungie made. For the first time in years, I didn’t hear it.

Lightfall isn’t the best expansion for Destiny 2. I don’t know what caused the story problems, and I don’t know what burns people so much in Destiny 2. But as of right now, I’m willing to take Bungie’s word for it. that the expansion was planned. to be a gateway to a full year of interesting seasonal stories leading up to The Final Shape. This time around, I feel prepared for the ride, and if nothing else, rocketing around with Strand’s new grappling hook is a lot of fun. Maybe that’s what I was missing earlier.

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