Beyond Light’s campaign is the worst in-game Destiny narrative yet

Hoo boy.

I’ve been a fan of Destiny since the launch of the first game almost ten years ago. The movement, shooting, and gear grind all combine to make an experience that’s very fun. The lore behind the whole story is fascinating, surprising, and extraordinarily well thought out. It’s a good experience that’s worth the investment of time and money. I’ve stuck with it all the way through Beyond Light, the latest expansion to Destiny 2.

The initial release of the first game was slammed for its lack of a coherent story. None of us had any clue what the hell we were doing or why. What’s the Light? What’s the Darkness? What’s this Traveler thingy? So these aliens I’ve been shooting nonstop aren’t actually the Darkness? Are characters really using “I don’t have time to explain” as an excuse for not providing any information whatsoever?

Subsequent expansions and the release of the sequel mostly fixed this problem. The in-game narrative of chunks like The Taken King and Forsaken were logical, engaging, and well fleshed out. Beyond Light’s campaign, however, reverses this trend–and somehow might be even worse than the narrative in the first game.

Spoilers ahead.

The worst problem here is that the game never explains why I can’t fight Eramis with my existing abilities. My Light powers were good enough to defeat literal gods who’ve been using Darkness for eons, so why can’t they handle some jerk who just started playing with an evil rock a few weeks ago? Not once do I get my ass kicked, see another guardian get seriously hurt, or get shown to be vulnerable to the new Stasis powers. Why do I need this stuff? And sure, there are a few locks that require the new powers to open, but am I really going to sell my soul to an unfathomable cosmic evil just to open a couple doors? That’s dumb.

And yet, the only way to progress is to acquire supposedly dangerous powers that I don’t feel like I actually need. While I’m doing that, various characters warn me about the path I’m treading and the negative ways these powers could affect me. Like…how, exactly? What’s the actual danger here? Drifter, Eris, and the Stranger are all shown wielding Stasis and they don’t seem any different. Variks tells me the Darkness has changed Eramis, but because I haven’t seen how she acted prior I can’t really grasp how or to what extent.

The worst is when Ghost starts chiming in with his concerns. I don’t blame the little guy for being worried given that he was born of the Light, but we still haven’t seen any negative side effects. My character, as has become par for the course, apparently has nothing to say in response to any of this–which sucks, because this would be the perfect place to explain why I’m charging blindly forward.

Stasis powers do become necessary against the final boss, but the lack of prior evidence that I need them makes my ability to turn the tide feel like dumb luck rather than careful preparation.

Maybe the details I’m looking for are in the lore. You know what? Even if they are, that’s no excuse to exclude them from the onscreen narrative, where they can immediately bolster the story right there in the moment. There’s a huge difference between limiting in-game exposition and not providing any at all.

And maybe you’d say “well, the writers must be building to something!” When you dig a hole for a foundation, you have to make sure you go deep enough. That sounds smart, right?

Anyway, here’s hoping Bungie’s writers get it right next time. They’ve proven they can.

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