The Lightfall campaign is the low point for Destiny 2 storytelling

The Witch Queen was my favorite storytelling in Destiny history. It was a sign that things were improving from spotty expansions of the past. The incredible story surrounding Savathûn drove expectations for Lightfall higher as Bungie hit its storytelling stride. Whatever Bungie had coming next, people wanted in. Unfortunately, The Witch Queen was the peak and not a sign of things to come with Lightfall. Bungie’s latest expansion doesn’t just fall short of The Witch Queen, it overwrites all the positivity and good will from the community with distrust and disappointment.

My first big letdown with the Lightfall campaign came near the end of the initial mission, First Contact. Sam Chandler, my partner in crime at Shacknews for all things Destiny 2, noticed that we were heading for the drop pod bay. Immediately he became giddy, knowing we were about to switch roles with the Cabal. No longer would we be the nail, repeatedly driven into the dirt by falling Cabal drop pods crushing us. We were about to become the hammer. As we settled into the drop pod, the screen began to shake and we prepared for the payoff every Guardian has wanted for years. The screen went black and then several seconds later we were standing on Neomuna beside our drop pod and a Cabal that we presumably crushed. There was no cinematic showing us obliterating a Cabal as we turned the tables. All those years and a golden opportunity to give Guardians a fist pump moment, and Bungie just swung and missed on the easiest win they could have had.

While you could easily brush that off if things improved with the Lightfall campaign, they simply didn’t. The gameplay was mostly good. Bungie has been on point when it comes to movement and shooting and that feeling of flowing combat. The only exception to this was the way the new Strand subclass was given to Guardians and taken away repeatedly. You’d get Strand long enough to cross a gap with the admittedly cool Grapple ability, then have it ripped away, sending you back to your old subclass. This means that aside from a few Strand interludes, the gameplay is mostly what you’ve come to know over the years in Destiny 2. Tormentors are terrifying and fun, and the final boss fight was cool, but it’s a lot of carrying orbs to power up the thing, or shooting the grate to open a path. It’s not bad, but I would have loved to go crazy with Strand right out of the gate and not have it drip fed to me.   

You do get basic access to Strand upon completing the Lightfall campaign, but somehow Bungie hasn’t learned since Beyond Light. Full access to Strand is once again locked behind grinding for crap to drop off enemies so you can buy Aspects, Grenades, and Fragments. Guardians found this new Strand ability and promptly handed it over to a terminal so they could buy it back. Neat.

Source: Bungie

Where Lightfall really swings and misses, though, is with its narrative. Guardians are dropped (literally, but you don’t see it) on Neomuna, a previously unknown city on Neptune where Calus and the Witness have parked their ships to search for the Veil. What is the Veil, you ask? I don’t know. At no point throughout the Lightfall campaign does Bungie ever explain what the Veil is, so you end up chasing Calus for an eight-mission campaign to stop him from getting this thing that is apparently crucial to Neomuna and the Cloud Striders (Neomuna’s version of Guardians), but even at the campaign’s conclusion you don’t know what the Veil is. At no point does Bungie explain the Veil and connect it to the characters and things Guardians care about.

While my list of beefs with the Lightfall campaign is long, most of them spawn from a core problem. Lightfall is something that we were introduced to through trailers and documentaries released by Bungie. Before the August 2022 showcase that introduced Lightfall, there was little to no mention of Neomuna or Cloud Striders throughout the Destiny 2 lore. There was no backstory for us to familiarize ourselves with. When we meet Nimbus and Rohan (the Cloud Striders), it’s our first contact with them.

A look at Neomuna, the new destination in Destiny 2: Lightfall
Source: Bungie

Compare that with The Witch Queen. We’ve been dealing with Savathûn for the entirety of Destiny and Destiny 2. We’ve seen her throughout various seasons, read about her in lore books, and have spent most of our days as Guardians erasing her family tree like it’s a whiteboard. When Bungie launched The Witch Queen campaign, its characters had a foundation that had been introduced and developed over time. Neomuna and the Cloud Striders have no foundation. They are paper thin and exist primarily in cinematics between a few hours of missions.

Bungie has struggled off and on for almost a decade to tell stories from the Destiny universe in a way that resonates with players, but something most veterans agree with that is that it’s a universe with rich lore and thousands of characters with stories worth telling. You could have debates for hours about the Drifter, Ada-1, Oryx, Zavala, or whoever. You could deep dive the lore behind every exotic and laugh about how your gun used to be the shin bone from some Hive god and cousin of Savathûn. Now go and strike up a conversation about the history of Neomuna, Nimbus, or Rohan. That will be a short interaction because there’s simply nothing there.

What worries me now is the course correction from Bungie. Lightfall, Neomuna, and Cloud Striders left such a bad taste in my mouth that I’m dreading the next year or two of Destiny 2. It almost feels similar to when Game of Thrones ran out of books and just started doing their own thing.


Bill, who is also known as Rumpo, is a lifelong gamer and Toronto Maple Leafs fan. He is known for his guide writing and, unsettlingly enough, enjoys grinding out in-depth collectible articles. Tweet him @RumpoPlays if you have a question or comment about one of his guides.

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