Enter New Light: playing (enjoying?) Destiny again

Through peaks and (deep) valleys, shrugging off the Destiny franchise in search of something more stable is something thousands have experienced. For me, it was the lackluster launch of Destiny 2 that instigated my longest break from the series.

The sheen was there, sure, but a lack of execution and bite sized content lead the iteration to the height of what can make the series so unrewarding. But as any toxic relationship goes, it was only inevitable that I crawl back.

I, and I’m sure many other series veterans, couldn’t help but fend off Bungie’s new free to play initiative (dubbed New Light). And while some of the fringed edges still remain, doing so has been a surprisingly positive experience.

Quite simply, the game is flush even for New Light players, and there’s plenty to sink you’re teeth into if you’re a lapsed player looking to play Destiny 2 again.

Fits like a well worn glove

There’s no denying that the chase and overall design of Destiny is as good as ever. Even still, the gunplay remains the element the immediately draws you in. It successfully makes the incompetent feel invincible, and like conveniently placed massage chairs in gyms, it’s the first hit to facilitate things you otherwise might not enjoy.

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Builds in Destiny? Who would have thought.

For me, it’s only been intensified by the fact that, for the first time ever, I can enjoy the shooting to its fullest on PC without ever missing a beat (bless cross save).

The sound design, visual feedback, and feeling of complete control constantly reminds me of why it’s still one of my favorites to actually play.

Say what you will about the metamorphosis of Bungie over the years, but gunplay is something they have not lost touch with since the days of Halo.

And for those like me who skipped out on Forsaken, the new bow archetype is incredibly rewarding to finally try out (a bow slotted with hip fire grip even more so).

In hours of compulsive grinding, it’s the constant that keeps everything intact.

We were building worlds within worlds

It turns out if you take a 2 year break from Destiny the game actually offers completely new (and new old) areas to explore. It’s just a shame that I was completely jaded on the notion of revisiting Destiny during the Forsaken era because the zones included, The Tangled Shores and The Dreaming City, are damn good.

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The game is ripe with worlds to explore for those jumping in with New Light.

The Dreaming City in particular oozes peak ethereal fantasy design and its general atmosphere is unmatched within the scope of any other zone in the franchise. It’s been genuinely fun to explore and exist in, but I can’t help but wish it approached some of the relevance it had during Forsaken.

Although mostly out of the loop, I remember reading about some interesting events surrounding The Dreaming City during the beginning of Year 2 and much of that was due to it’s dive into other worldliness.

New Light may not offer players the same depth as those who pay up, but the ability to feel out new zones and instances found in The Moon, The Dreaming City, The Tangled Shores, and the game’s various new activities is more than enough to draw at least 30 hours of fresh gameplay.

Full deck on hands

The most shocking thing about jumping back into Destiny 2 is that there is genuinely a ton of new stuff to do. And I still find myself wanting to go back for more some 20-30 hours in.

I’d argue that there is too much to do. For those playing Destiny for the first time, I can’t help but feel there will be a mountain to climb before settling into the view at large.

I can only hope that newcomers will push through because the gluttony of Bungie’s premier art, sound, and pension for world design is truly something to behold. There’s an activity for all moods and most can be enjoyed without the need for tedious LFG systems.

Strikes for days, hybrid modes, and approachable mechanics – Destiny is now the fattiest, saltiest, and most unhealthy incarnation of comfort food it’s ever been.

My personal favorite of some of the new modes is no doubt Gambit although The Blind Well is also great for some quick frenetic action. I’m looking forward to unlocking The Menagerie as I’ve heard it’s one of the best match made activities Bungie has ever put out. It’s implementation of mechanics sounds particularly appealing.

We’ve gone MMO

From random rolls to increased mod depth, it seems as though Bungie has finally started to embrace the MMOFPS desire of its fanbase. I am locked out of a good deal of loot as a New Light player, and I hear that Shadowkeep is a bit light on new gear, but my investment so far has shown me that Destiny 2 offers loops and progression for days.

Dailies, weeklies, and ranks all encompass a near endless pursuit for those who wish to min-max, and nearly all activities provide some sort of chase for even the most casual. This base is solid as a rock and, as much as I want to see next-gen scope achieved with Destiny 3, I can’t help but think that transitioning the game to more of a platform to build off is the better option.

The kind of experience that was hinted at during the days of vanilla Destiny is finally materializing and it’s jarring to think back to the anemic setup of 2014.

Regular leaps of iteration to the core, backed by Bungie’s newfound independence, makes me hopeful that we’ll have something extraordinary on hands by the time the next big expansion drops. It all depends on whether it follows the missteps of Destiny 2’s initial launch or is something more in line with Forsaken, but all signs point to Bungie “getting it” in ways that count most.

Loose threads

As glowing as my initial impressions have been, it’d be a lie to call New Light/Shadowkeep free of faults.

New loot seems to be the thing most lacking and from reading on what Shadowkeep offers, the same rings true for those that pay up.

I expect this to iron itself out when I inevitably nab Forsaken (damn does it offer a ton of exotics), but it’s still disappointing to see.

It seems as though new gear and random drops have served as collateral for greater stat depth. It’s somewhat remedied by with introduction of transmog but then this new feature is also tied to micro transactions.

Another shortcoming of this new direction is a lack of relevancy for older content. I’m thankful that older activities still offer a good deal of progression and new life thanks to mods and rolls, but Bungie is still opting to funnel players into the latest content.

Financially, it’s the right move. Long term? Regular culling of fan favorites could lead to a lacking experience for veterans and an uneven one for those just getting started.

Apart from this, the main issue with Destiny 2 is one that is unavoidable. At some point you’re going to be repeating content in search of better gear in order to repeat content. Whether or not you’re willing to hop on the treadmill depends on how much you dive into the RPG elements, but this is also an issue that’s present in almost every loot based game.

Thankfully, Bungie now offers things to chase, play, and refine to the tune of excess.

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