Almost every week brings something new to Destiny 2, whether it’s story beats, new actions, or new interesting combinations of elements that allow players to destroy each other in the Crucible. Iron Banter is our weekly overview of what’s happening in the world of Destiny and a rundown of what’s catching our eye in the Solar System.

Usually, the uncertainty between Destiny 2’s seasons eases a bit as we learn more about the next expansion, and this week Lightfall details are coming in droves thanks to new video documentation from Bungie and an earlier preview event that GameSpot was invited to. As I watched the footage of the preview event and the live gameplay demo of the first mission, one thought kept running through my head: we’re once again seeing the game unfold before our eyes.

Now playing: We saw a live demo of Destiny 2 Lightfall. Here’s what we found out.

It’s not drastic on all fronts: Neomuna, a new location in Lightfall, is still what Bungie calls a “three-bubble zone,” which puts it on par with Europe or World of Thrones in size. So it’s not that big from what I gather, and we’ll probably see most of the location by the time the season of defiance is over. However, one thing I’ve come to appreciate about Destiny 2’s recent locations is just how deep these labyrinthine worlds delve into.

Neomuna’s surface area may seem relatively small compared to Nessus or the EDZ, but I hope we’ll see the urban environment use its height to create more volume in places you can walk around and explore: a perfect addition to the new Strand exclusive subclass for Lightfall. I’m reminded of the thought I shared with my friends at the beginning of Destiny 2 as we raced out of Thrustland past the crumbling buildings, “Don’t you wish we could leave within their?”

We’ve yet to see all of Neomuna, but we’ve seen a few different scenic locations courtesy of Bungie, and it’s truly impressive. I miss the retro arcade aesthetic, and while I can’t be sure, I have a feeling that while not every building in Neptune’s hidden metropolis can be explored floor by floor, there will still be a lot of verticality in the geography, and it’s exciting.

Now that's my vibe
Now that’s my vibe

Neomuna and the new Lightfall campaign will be front and center when the expansion launches, but there are plenty of other notable additions, including a revamped experience for new players, weapon and economy changes, and quality-of-life changes. This isn’t just another experiment mixed in with the release of a smaller expansion; they lay the groundwork for The Final Shape and the possible next chapter of Destiny after the saga of light and darkness.

The new player experience moving to Guardian Ranks is potentially the biggest change for the upcoming Destiny 2. For now, new players are left to their own devices as they figure out how to navigate the game. The biggest question is always: “What should I do? Where should I go?” and it really doesn’t help that if new players join in the middle of the season for the first time, they don’t even get a chance to gather in orbit, and are immediately thrown into seasonal cutscenes and missions without a chance to prepare themselves.

Guardian Ranks may not be a perfect solution, but it’s an important step in creating a skill-based rank system with an aesthetically pleasing user interface that should give players an instant idea of ​​how far they are now. The Guardian Ranks page replaces the current Triumphs page, which stores individual Triumphs, Seals, and Titles.

Guardian Ranks are housed in the all-new Journey tab, which is a multipurpose tab that stores your equipped titles and tracked quests, objectives, and victories. Ranks range from one to eleven and will replace the season battle pass rank that is normally broadcast to other players on your emblem or character. They then offer a somewhat linear path for new players, allowing them to work their way through different content with some guidance. Can you say screw it and play Gambit all day? Sure, but this way the guardian ranks create a structure that hopefully will be easy for everyone to follow.

The mod manager menu interface provides consistency in navigation, which I appreciate. The transmog menu is a solid foundation, and Bungie has brought that visual to the mod manager, and it’s a huge improvement. Gone are the days of loading individual menus for each piece of armor in turn. You can now instantly see every armor mod you’ve equipped by its symbols, and it’s also easy to see which champion mods you’ve equipped, as well as your seasonal artifact upgrades.

The icing on the cake for me is that we finally get a built-in download manager, which is a great time saver. However, the version that launches with Lightfall looks like it still needs to be improved, as there are some minor issues. For example, while equipping a piece of gear will pull required items from your storage, it will not be able to return the items in your storage if you run out of space in your character’s inventory. But this is a small complaint. Downloading is something Destiny has needed for years, especially for console players who don’t have the luxury of Alt-tabbing to the third-party Destiny Item Manager website in a web browser and are forced to shuffle their gear between characters in the companion app. from their phones. The 10 download limit should be enough for a variety of activities, but I hope Bungie can increase it over time and when we get more endgame content like new dungeons or raids.

Along with the release of the Lightfall expansion, Bungie will also debut Season of Defiance, which focuses on the war on Earth. While we’re messing around with Cloudstriders in Neomoon trying to face the new Apprentice of the Witness, we’ll have more content to get through the EDZ. I don’t expect Season of Defiance to push the envelope much, as that responsibility will be on Lightfall. Any preparation for Lightfall’s future that Season of Defiance benefits from comes from quality-of-life changes to its core systems, not delivery of story content. However, Season of Defiance is still an early prototype for Bungie’s future plans.

Joe Blackburn, the current game director of Destiny 2, released a massive blog post sharing some promising ideas for future content plans designed to handle complaints about the predictability of seasonal content. Usually you have several of them really good story beats or cutscenes, and then it’s a fairly memorable seasonal activity that you grind for themed loot and weekly episodic style story development. Some weeks are better than others, but for me it’s mostly mellow after a while. But I’ll also be the first to admit that I’m your classic jaded veteran suffering from seasonal fatigue.

Most of the changes in Season of Defiance come from streamlining the seasonal currency and removing Umbral engrams and energy material required for Umbrals. This is a big change considering the Umbrals were first introduced in Season of Arrivals almost two and a half years ago. Umbrals were good because they gave you some control over the types of gear you got, but managing them alongside basic, bright, and other miscellaneous engrams could get a bit messy. Umbrals are now turning into seasonal engrams that will be tracked through the vendors themselves, similar to how rewards from Shaxx, Saint-14, Saladin, Zavala, and others are distributed today.

However, this is a temporary adjustment, as Season of the Deep will completely abandon the vendor update paradigm. Blackburn points out that this doesn’t mean we’ll never see a vendor update system again, but Bungie is more interested in creating different systems that players can invest in with seasonal content, and they’re using Shattered Realm from Season of the Lost as a good example of the direction they want to explore for seasonal activities.

Destiny 2: Lightfall looks like it will come out of the best position, although based on the success of The Witch Queen, it was never a concern. This campaign is going to be something I enjoy and the first couple of months will be the most involved I’ve had since Witch Queen launched. Then I’m concerned with what happens after launch. The more you play Destiny, the more you see it all, and it’s rare to find a seasonal activity that stays interesting for long. Standouts like the Shattered Throne dungeon or the Expunge missions were new pieces of content that stood head and shoulders above the mundane six-player seasonal activity. The focus on future experiments with activity rewards and gear farming seems promising, but I’m much more interested in Bungie trying to revamp the seasonal model or ritual actions like Strikes.

Maybe I sound pessimistic sometimes, but I’m not against a seasonal model all the time. It got better especially in terms of history, than previous Age of Forsaken expansions. I appreciate the mystery that goes back to the story beats, as opposed to the full calendar in the older seasons, where everything was tested and nothing was a surprise. Bungie’s efforts to keep the last few releases fresh and surprising are commendable.

Destiny 2: Lightfall comes out on February 28th, but there’s still so much to discuss that it’s hard to know where to start. As fun as it is, it’s a problem not unlike what most new players have when it comes to the game: I’m having a hard time sifting through all the big themes to sort them out as Bungie releases thousands upon thousands of words about what’s to come. But it’s a fun challenge: for a game that’s occasionally been questioned for its lack of content, it’s nice to see Destiny 2 continue to grow and lay an optimistic foundation for the future.

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