The Lightfall campaign is the low point for Destiny 2 storytelling

Instead of digging into the lore of Lightfall and finding cool stories, Guardians will be studying what went wrong for seasons to come.


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.

A Cloud Strider from the Lightfall expansion in Destiny 2

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 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.

Managing Editor

Bill, who is also known as Rumpo, is a lifelong gamer and Toronto Maple Leafs fan. He made his mark early in his career through guide writing and a deep understanding of editorial SEO. He enjoys putting in the work to create a great content, be it a wild feature or grinding out an in-depth collectible guide. Tweet him @RumpoPlays if you have a question or comment about one of his articles.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    March 2, 2023 3:45 PM

    Bill Lavoy posted a new article, The Lightfall campaign is the low point for Destiny 2 storytelling

    • reply
      March 2, 2023 3:49 PM

      Worse than Curse of Osiris? I'm skipping LF and some of the streams I've watched the new character writing was in the open world really damn bad but haven't followed any of the campaign missions / story at all.

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      March 2, 2023 4:14 PM

      Didn't know that was possible. The previous dlc had about 1 hour of content for $50.

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        March 2, 2023 4:27 PM

        the Witch Queen campaign was pretty good! I think it's the best thing Bungie has done for years, which makes Lightfall seem even worse in comparison.

        i am halfway through the campaign but I went ahead and read this review and it tracks with a lot of the reviews I've seen elsewhere. i've seen some folks say they were holding the plot developments for the seasonal storylines this year, but thats what I thought they were doing last year and they more or less never touched on the stuff brought up by the campaign again, so I don't really believe the seasons will carry us into The Final Shape next year. Seasonal storytelling has been mostly good (season of the pirates was kinda lame story wise) but the big budget world changing events used to happen in the paid DLC chapters and now they seem to be wheel-spinning time-wasters drawing everything out into a grind.

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        March 16, 2023 10:25 PM

        What a grotesque misrepresentation of The Witch Queen expansion haha.

    • reply
      March 2, 2023 4:32 PM

      By Sony's Hammer, what a savings.

    • reply
      March 2, 2023 4:37 PM

      Pretty sure it was the wizard on the moon.

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      March 2, 2023 5:33 PM

      For those like me that care fuck all about the story, the content itself has been a blast. The missions are fun, “Strand” is fun, the new weapons are cool, etc. The Lost Sectors might be the best overall batch of them to date. Looking forward as always to the new raid!

    • reply
      March 2, 2023 5:49 PM

      For me the low point was when they mothballed shit I hadn't finished.

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