Destiny 2’s Into the Light is a needed reminder to never count Bungie out

Patrick Dane
Three Destiny 2 classes lining up in Into The Light promo art.

Destiny 2’s free update, Into the Light, has Bungie bringing back some of the most beloved and requested features in a long time. Here’s why that’s a massive step forward as The Final Shape looms. 

Destiny 2, and by extension Bungie, has had a rough year. Lightfall, a moment where the game had more eyes on it than ever, ended up being a poisoned chalice that ended in disappointment. All the news coming out around Bungie since has only made it more harrowing. Recently, I wrote about all of the company’s troubles in the last 12 months. It’s not a pretty picture.

In short, Destiny 2 needs a win. 

Into the Light, judging by the reaction to the three reveal streams Bungie has hosted over the last three weeks, is possibly that win. Not many were expecting to get so much out of this release as it had been downplayed in previous wording. It was just supposed to be a free update to onboard new players into the Destiny 2 ecosystem.

Instead, what’s been promised is so much more. Bungie is seemingly busting out all of the cards they’ve had in their back pocket for a rainy day to try and generate goodwill ahead of the conclusion of the Light and Dark Saga in June.

Raiding the content vault

Destiny 2 The Whisper mission's haunting Green Room
Destiny 2’s moody The Whisper mission is finally coming back to Destiny 2

The Content Vault remains one of the most controversial subjects in Destiny 2. With Beyond Light, Destiny 2 sunset a lot of content and weapons to better the infrastructure, fix meta issues, and (sort of) advance the story. 

In hindsight, it was the most destructive decision Bungie ever made for the game. Players lost access to many excellent raid experiences, beloved weapons, campaigns like The Red War and Forsaken, and a lot more. While it all likely had a positive influence on the under-the-hood performance — the way it was rolled out was messy and remains one of the darkest marks on the game’s history. 

However, it has had an interesting side effect. Much of the most beloved content that was vaulted has taken on an almost mythic quality. The Recluse/Mountaintop meta, The Whisper mission — to players who were there, they’ve become pure nostalgia. A relic of a simpler time in their life. For Guardians who joined after they were vaulted, they have a legacy passed down by veteran players who built their legend.

We all knew, at some point or another, we would likely see things like The Whisper, Zero Hour, The Recluse, Mountaintop, and other favorites return. However, Bungie has played a masterful gambit bringing back all the greatest hits in one fell swoop, right when the game needed it.

Break glass in case of emergency

Destiny 2 Into The Light Brave arsenal
The Brave Arsenal is a collection of some of Destiny’s best ever weapons

There’s a phrase I keep coming back to when I think about Into the Light — “break glass in case of emergency”. This update feels like a bank robbery scene in a film, with Bungie going into the Content Vault, smashing all the display cases for the most precious gems, and grabbing what they can. We knew the game had these big-ticket items saved for a time of need, and boy, we’re in the thick of that time.

That smash and grab extends to ideas that have been floating around the game as common suggestions for years. Onslaught is the new showcase mode coming alongside Into the Light, and essentially, it’s a Horde mode. You only need to search “Destiny should have a horde mode” on Google to see how long people have been asking about it. It’s endless Reddit posts of people requesting a wave-based tower defense mode. Bungie, in their raid of the content vault, decided to snatch the napkin with “horde mode” scribbled on it, too. After taking it, they discovered the note had “raid boss rush mode” written on the back too. Heck, while they’re there, they might as well grab Super Black, the most requested shader of all time.

The Recluse. Mountaintop. Blast Furnace. The Whisper. Zero Hour. Horde mode. Raid boss rush mode. Craftable Outbreak Perfected and Whisper of the Worm. Heck, even the Super Black shader. Into the Light feels like Bungie grabbing all the most nostalgic, beloved, and most requested items they’ve had in their vault since they were locked away all those years ago. 

Bungie performs under pressure

Three Guardians perparing to fight in The Final Shape Destiny 2 trailer.
Into the Light bodes well for The Final Shape

The most shocking thing about Into the Light and the quality it seems to have throughout is that this was likely cobbled together pretty quickly. The Final Shape delay has been known for a while internally, yes, but considering the team was still delivering seasons, developing the actual expansion, and, of course, having to navigate the demoralizing experience of layoffs, it’s a slight miracle this is making it out at all. 

Some will mock and say it’s ‘old content we already paid for’ coming back. All I can really say to that is — get a grip. Be happy we’re getting a bunch of cool things with rich histories added back into the game, all updated for the current sandbox. And it’s all for free. If you’re out there complaining about this — I mean, what are we doing? 

There is an old adage that Bungie always performs best with its back against the wall. Historically, that has been true with releases like The Taken King, Forsaken, and The Witch Queen. Of course, things feel different this time due to layoffs and a very sour feeling after the tumultuousness of the last year. I will admit that my faith has been shaken as things did, and still do, feel different than those previous low points. 

However, Into the Light is pointing to something positive — something worth getting excited about and a reason to jump back into the game with the old gang before the big conclusion of The Final Shape. This is exactly what Destiny 2 needed right when it needed it. Perhaps I should have learned the lesson this developer has taught me over and over — don’t bet against Bungie when they are down.