Earlier this week, Destiny 2 broke its all-time peak concurrent players on Steam with the release of Lightfall. Less than two days, later, however, the expansion is carrying a heavy ‘mostly negative’ tag on the platform’s reviews due to a series of shortcomings.
The Lightfall Steam page only listed a meager 29 percent of all 1,903 reviews as positive at the time of writing—a strong contrast to its wildly successful launch. Its predecessor, The Witch Queen, boasts a ‘mostly positive’ tag, with 76 percent of its 1,959 reviews giving it a thumbs up.
Lightfall had a herculean task on its hands: following up one of the most critically acclaimed DLCs in the Destiny franchise. The Witch Queen premiered the Legendary version of the campaign and had replayable missions, which were trailblazers at the time. Lightfall used the same systems, but it failed to deliver in most other departments.
The expansion’s story was the penultimate chapter of the Light vs. Dark saga, a highly anticipated installment that set the stage for another year of content. Its story, however, seemed largely self-contained and didn’t bring many answers, drawing criticism from some parts of the community. One of its biggest and arguably most important mysteries, the Veil, continues to be as esoteric as it was in the build-up to Lightfall, despite its importance to the overarching narrative.
The gameplay from the campaign didn’t draw as much flak as the story, but the flagship addition of the expansion—the new Strand subclass—can feel underpowered at launch. Several of its Fragments are time-gated until March 7, while others are locked behind the World First raid clear for Root of Nightmares. This means players get a somewhat passable version of it, but they will need to wait to enhance their builds—and also farm the new Strand Meditations resource used to acquire Strand upgrades and abilities.
Strand’s relative lack of power may stem from a series of factors. Its cooldowns are high, meaning players have a longer downtime between uses. This reduction is in tune with the nerf to ability economy across the board, but it can still feel heavy-handed, especially when paired with the overhauled mod system. The once-ubiquitous Elemental Wells are now gone, with some of their functions being pushed to Orbs of Power instead.
Strand Exotics aren’t exactly plentiful either, with each class getting one Strand Exotic on release. Some neutral Exotics will work with Strand, offering potential stopgaps, but they’re still not as effective as some established builds. Additionally, Strand’s three melee uses charge up individually, meaning players with low strength will have to wait a long time to chain them.
Neomuna also has a few complaints. Touted as a borderline magical, neon-filled city, its denizens are mostly virtual. The vibrant city, though crawling with enemies, feels empty of actual people. It’s as if the metaverse was set in an Apex Legends map. Both the Neomuna and the Season of Defiance weapons also have reused assets, with Neomuna being reskinned Moon guns and Season of Defiance being a reprise of the models from Season of the Lost’s arsenal.
Lightfall‘s ratings have slumped beyond most players’ expectations, but Bungie still has time to correct some of the pain points. The Root of Nightmares raid could shed some light on important elements in the story, and there’s also a year’s worth of build-up until the release of the next expansion, The Final Shape. Developers can tweak on balance to soften the blow from the new ability economy or rebalance Strand resource gain. For the first 48 hours, however, Lightfall‘s ratings seem to indicate the expansion has fallen short.