Destiny 2 Beyond Light review – not the promised new era

Isaac McIntyre
Destiny review image

Beyond Light was supposed to be a “new era” for Destiny 2, but after adventuring in Europa, it’s clear that only the building blocks of a modern version of Bungie’s flagship franchise have been put in place. 

Following Bungie’s split from Activision, plans for Destiny 3 were shelved. Instead, the creators of Halo have gone in a different direction for their flagship franchise. Over the next few years, a trilogy of expansions will bring “the next era” to life in Destiny 2. The first of these is Beyond Light, which delivers our first battle with the not-so-villainous Darkness, and the pretty evil Fallen disciples who are trying to use it to destroy the Destiny universe all over again.

While this battle with Darkness can make Beyond Light feel like a fresh new chapter for the Destiny series, the expansion avoids the hard reset of Destiny 2, which saw players having to start from scratch again. While fans may be happy that they’ve kept the same gear ⁠– for the most part ⁠–  there are fewer weapons, four planets have gone, and we’ve lost a lot of content. 

Destiny 2: Beyond Light – Key Details

  • Copy: Destiny 2 Beyond Light (Steam)
  • Price: $40.00 USD / £30.00 GBP / $55.00 AUD
  • Developer: Bungie
  • Release date: November 11, 2020
  • Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PS4, PS5, Google Stadia, PC
Eramis is the main antagonist of the Destiny 2 Beyond Light campaign.
Destiny 2’s frosty new expansion, Beyond Light, does all the franchise basics right.

What’s new about this era?

On the surface, tech-wise, Destiny 2 is looking better than ever, with a huge raft of new hosting and scripting logics. This means that adventures, Strikes, and campaign missions can be more versatile. Also, enemy AI can react according to changes in the Guardians’ play.

However, although Bungie promised “complex, precise, and interesting mission mechanics“, there are only a few moments in which it feels like the engine is really pushing its boundaries ⁠– sure, it shows what it can do when there’s a big bucketload of Stasis ice on the battlefield ⁠– but outside of that, it really does feel like more of the same.

The main issue is that Bungie have only half-heartedly committed to their new era. The developers have taken away a lot of our guns (nearly 70% if we’re actually going to break down the numbers), plenty of our missions and Strikes, and even nabbed just under fifty percent of the game’s playable areas.

What’s more they’ve not made it feel like a new Destiny age is beginning. There haven’t been any bold changes to the game, but perhaps fans shouldn’t give up hope – there is a possibility that will happen as Season of the Hunt looms.

Nearly 70% of Destiny's guns were vaulted heading into Beyond Light.
Nearly 70% of Destiny’s guns were vaulted heading into Beyond Light.

Admittedly, Destiny fans will be pleased that the Beyond Light story picks up one loose plot thread ⁠— the Darkness. That can only be a good thing after players have been offered new plot after new plot for nearly four years. It just feels like a missed opportunity to go bigger on the reset though.

One other major issue is the end-campaign stinger, where Destiny 2 tries to prompt you to buy the Deluxe Season Pass before you’ve even fully rounded out the battle against the Stasis Fallen. It’s been nearly two years since Bungie was freed from Activision, but this feels like a hangover from that era.

The one thing that Destiny fans will enjoy, though, is Beyond Light’s story. For all the expansion’s faults, Bungie does deliver another gripping adventure.

Hunt for Eramis makes great Beyond Light icebreaker

Eramis and her struggle with Stasis is a great icebreaker for the ‘new’ Destiny 2 world.

The Beyond Light campaign is fun, as year four kicks off with a story tied up with the Fallen, our Guardians who really are the Elites to Destiny’s Master Chief. It almost feels like we’re getting another House of Wolves storyline, with one Fallen commander vying for complete power.

Power is the core theme – Eramis is hunting for a way to give the Darkness to her army, to wipe out our Light. At the same time, Darkness is communing with the players, handing them the same powers that Eramis is desperate to keep for herself.

It’s an enjoyable storyline, and it does all the same things a Destiny expansion usually does well, including end-of-chapter battles with the big boss’ lieutenants, such as Atraks and Praksis.

Admittedly, it does feel a bit similar to Forsaken, where you hunted down Cayde-6’s escaped killers, but even though we have a campaign that’s reminiscent of another, at least it’s a good one.

Atraks and the rest of Eramis' lieutenants wouldn't feel out of place in Forsaken's campaign.
Atraks and the rest of Eramis’ lieutenants wouldn’t feel out of place in Forsaken’s campaign.

The best thing about the story, though, is that it introduces the Guardians to a new Destiny power, the first time that’s happened since the original game was launched in 2014.

Bungie get a big tick for this, and it’s the main winning point of the expansion. Old Destiny 2 missions, in which we were bestowed new subclasses to the same old powers were often boring, filled with simple waves of enemies being destroyed by those powers we’d previously collected.

There is still some of that, for sure, but with a new power it feels fresher. Destiny 2 may have finally figured out how to give us new toys to play with and make them fit into its world at the same time, and that will give players hope that we’ll see more of this going forward.

Beyond Light’s campaign does end in disappointing fashion though. Each of Eramis’ lieutenants offer simple, but at least interesting battles when you find them. Yet when you get to the big boss, the two stages to her battle just involve shooting her as hard as you can, for a long time, until she falls over frozen.

This has always been Destiny’s greatest weakness – time to kill does not not necessarily equal difficulty, but Bungie seemingly continue to fall into the trap of thinking that it does.

Deep Stone Crypt, the Beyond Light raid, may solve this issue. The proper ending to season stories in Destiny 2 have often come in the raid, not the story missions; if Eramis returns as a more difficult challenge, then that could be the solution, but this should have been a more satisfying ending.

Destiny's new raid, Deep Stone Crypt, has a chance to fix several Beyond Light flaws.
Destiny’s new raid, Deep Stone Crypt, has a chance to fix several Beyond Light flaws.

Empty Europa

While the story will keep players engaged, exploring Europa’s wide open icy wastelands could be far more interesting. Whenever a new area is added to Destiny, I try to ride my Sparrow around the play area instead of fast-travelling where possible. This gives me the chance to explore new areas, and see the world that Bungie continues to build.

From doing this, it became apparent Europa is quite empty. Given that it is just an icy tundra on a moon, perhaps that shouldn’t come as a surprise – there’s not going to be towering citadels like The Dreaming City, or all these futuristic landscapes like Nessus or Io. 

As I rode, I became bored. Europa was the first place where I began fast traveling around well before I’d even finished the story, especially when the vendors you interact with are situated in white sprawling fields. The storms and dynamic weather create more interest ⁠– props for that ⁠– but it doesn’t change the fact that Europa is pretty empty.

New Destiny 2 Beyond Light map location, Europa.
Europa looks like an awesome new world, but suffers from too much wasted space.

It’s hard not to feel a little disappointed by the full package of this Year 4 expansion. Sure, the story is good, but Bungie have ripped out a lot of content, haven’t really pushed the series forwards, and given us a pretty empty playing field. It’s not an awful beginning for the new era

Beyond Light isn’t a bad starting spot for Destiny 2 and its “new era,” and the building blocks are there for something truly special to happen this cycle, but it could have been a far better start.

Rating: 6/10

The Year 4 expansion was supposed to be Destiny’s big reset into a bold new future. We get glimpses, yes, but for the most part, Beyond Light feels frozen in what should be a bygone era.

Destiny fans do get a good story with a fresh power and while the world is empty, it’s not a bad adventure to play through. However, if you were looking for a game-changing expansion, however, you’ll be sorely let down.

Reviewed on PC

About The Author

Isaac was formerly the Australian Managing Editor at Dexerto. Isaac began his writing career as a sports journalist at Fairfax Media, before falling in love with all things esports and gaming. Since then he's covered Oceanic and global League of Legends for Upcomer, Hotspawn, and Snowball Esports.