In this review we will discover Beyond the Light, the new expansion of Destiny 2 that seems to want to take the Bungie title to a new beginning
Online video games are increasingly pointing towards the typology of persistent worlds. We are talking about universes destined to last a long time, growing together with their community and updating themselves from time to time with expansions that are usually very substantial. It is from the distant 2004, at least, the year in which World of Warcraft saw the light, that that of continuous and everlasting universes seems to be a chimera for many developers.
In recent times there have been several paths taken to try to overcome the old model imposed by Blizzard, some of which are decidedly successful (see Fortnite or Sea of Thieves), but the unknown is always the same: is it really possible to offer the public an infinite universe without compromising, sooner or later, its artistic quality? Indeed, can we speak of craftsmanship for products that, by their very nature, do not have a real fulfillment? As we will discover in this review, Destiny 2: Beyond the Light reminds us that imperfection is often a constant in these operations.
The run-up to Halo
Bungie and Microsoft have one thing in common, and that is the heavy burden of the Master Chief. Both companies have been brought to success by the same works, and both now seem to have some difficulty in repeating the results of that golden age. Today we are talking about the US software house, which, in 2014, decided to launch into an ambitious and innovative project.
Over the years the events of the Guardians and the Traveler they have always lived through ups and downs, but we must note how the Bungie operation can be considered successful overall, if new content is still published today and despite the fact that the second episode of the series has become - nominally - a free to play.
Yet we believe that Beyond the Light doesn't best express Destiny 2's potential - let's see why in this review.
Embrace the Darkness - Destiny 2 Review: Beyond the Light
By writing this review we realized how much the Destiny narrative has evolved over time, and Beyond the Light is no exception. If we think back to the situation that the first episode was in before the arrival of subsequent expansions, we feel a certain sense of tenderness. Over the years the series has developed dramatically and now presents a very refined and layered setting, although always in a certain sense limited by playful mechanics.
Also in this new expansion, after all, there are many interesting ideas which are not always developed properly. After the Season of Arrivals ended, the Vanguard discovered that Io, Titan, Mars and Mercury are all gone, consumed by the Dark. Just as our Guardian is on the new planet Europe looking for information about this important component of the Destiny world, he will receive a call for help from Variks, which will lead him to investigate the matter further.
In Beyond the Light we will see the emergence of new antagonists and new allies, as well as the return of old acquaintances, such as Variks himself and Eris Morn. The heart of the story, however, revolves around Eramis, a Fall who managed to control the power of the Stasi and bring together different houses to counteract the servants of the Traveler. There are no particular surprises to report, despite the basic idea, that of embracing the power of the Darkness to face the threat of Eramis, was intriguing. Everything flows without departing too much from the tracks already crossed by the series and the new characters didn't seem particularly charismatic.
A new beginning? - Destiny 2 Review: Beyond the Light
Starting the title after the last update gives the impression of a new beginning. Io, Titan, Mars and Mercury are no longer reachable and our character's power has been increased to 1050 (and this will also apply to newcomers). All the achievements we had accepted will have been canceled and, ultimately, it will be like starting to play completely from scratch.
The deleted areas have been placed in what Bungie calls the Destiny Content Vault - henceforth DCV. Their elimination allowed to decrease the size of the game, but it also implies a little bit of current content, especially for those who have already started playing for a long time. Probably some of these zones will be made available on a temporary basis as the updates follow, but the situation appears to be somewhat daunting at the moment.
All exotic weapons belonging to companies included in the DCV can now be purchased from a special kiosk in the Tower, at a fairly high price. It is clear that, with the new expansion, new exotic items have been added, including new aspects for our Specter, but those of previous years have been raised to level 1050, with the curious effect of making them particularly ineffective after a very short time, as we will get better ones as we progress through the game.
Two new zones have been added. Let's talk about Europe, the frozen planet on which almost all of the new campaign and the Cosmodrome, which is not really new, since it served as the starting area for the very first chapter of the series. Now it will be explorable, with lots of secret sectors and businesses to complete.
The presence of only one new raid, however, leaves us very worried. It is not at all evil and ends with a sufficiently articulated bossfight, but perhaps, at this point, you will have understood what the real problem is not with the Beyond the Light expansion, but with the game as a whole. Indeed, we could say, of his persistent world.
In essence, Beyond the Light he makes the inexplicable choice of resetting the world to a state that we could define as primordial. Some old raids that are not part of the DCV are still playable and reaching the new level cap, raised to 1260, will certainly require more than a few hours for the most savvy players. The new subclasses dedicated to the power of the Stasi (there will be one for each main class) they are fun to use and open the game to new possibilities, but will all this really be enough?
In short, the persistent universe of Bungie seems to be facing one of the many idiosyncrasies that are typical of game as a service, and, as much as we know that the team is already working to expand - again - their product with new events, we can only express more than some perplexity in the face of certain decisions. Right now, by the way, the free play infrastructure has definitely collapsed: Expansions are required to play properly. Again, where is the persistence?
A Frozen World - Destiny 2 Review: Beyond the Light
If the management of the gaming sector by the US software house seems confusing and problematic, the same, fortunately, cannot be said of its artistic abilities. Europe, the new planet, is really beautiful to behold. Its frozen expanses envelop the player with icy gusts and starry skies, conveying a pleasant sense of desolation if you decide to enter one of the narrow underground tunnels that dot the setting.
Even the soundtrack follows the typical stylistic features of the series, with great orchestral movements that are paired with electronic and environmental arrangements with a more relaxed air. The dubbing in Spanish is of a good standard, even if some voices seemed out of context, but overall we feel we can promote the production with flying colors, also by virtue of the splendid cutscenes in computer graphics that sometimes peek out during the campaign (but those of Forsaken were on another level).
The end of the universe
Come to the end of this review we find it difficult to judge the contents of Beyond the Light. In itself, the new campaign is not evil, as are the new subclasses added thanks to the power of the Stasi are very interesting, but what is worrying is the complete rebalancing of the experience, as if we were faced with a new beginning.
The result is that new players and veterans will find themselves on the same level, as if previous seasons never happened. All this makes it extremely difficult to assess the weight of Beyond the Light in the long run, when the game is again expanded and updated with new content. Contents that, for now, seem to be quite few.
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Points in favor
- The new classes dedicated to the Stasi are interesting
- The narrative presents some interesting ideas
- The new Raid is well done
- Rewriting the title involves several problems
- The contents of the expansion are not many
- Some old areas have been eliminated entirely