After the success of the Witch Queen campaign of last year, the hype about Lighfall has been real. The players have been revealed, and the marketing spiel of Bungie was that this would be the expansion in which we would get answers to everything. What is the Witness? What does it want with the Traveller? How would the Witness put the universe into its Final Shape wielding the Darkness? Right now, these just sound like buzz words.
The initial reviews and thoughts about Lighfall’s campaign were pretty bad. IGN gave it 5/10. The campaign’s narrative is lackluster, bringing up a McGuffin that makes no sense and we never find out what it actually was. Throughout the 8 missions, we have Osiris shouting at us the whole time to push toward Strand, the new Darkness subclass. We never really get to use it fully. We engage in some encounters, and we are completely hampered by it. Even worse, encounters can’t progress unless you use it. There are times you get to use it for only a couple of minutes.
The new raid came out Friday, March 10. How does it compare to the rest of the raids that have been released? It’s called the Root of Nightmares, and even its release has been polarizing.
However, it’s not all bad. The quality of life upgrades have been significant, even though we didn’t get more vault space. Overall, the post-campaign content has been good. As usual, the seasonal content that released at the same time has also been really good. I’m going to break this review down in a couple of sections.
The Witch Queen’s campaign was stellar. We got to see the reason why she came to the light. The Throne World is a beautiful location, filled with secrets. It’s sparsely populated, which is kind of a bummer. Expectations were very high after this. Everyone I know was looking forward to Lightfall’s campaign and Strand.
We did not get a stellar campaign. Narratively, the story was subpar, below average. It didn’t make much sense. Calus is pushing his ship, the Typhoon Imperator, towards Neomuna, a lost city on Neptune. We board a ship and sabotage it. We are confronted with a Tormentor, one of the best enemies in Destiny 2. The first fight I had with one was pretty scary. It kept pursuing me, relentlessly. I didn’t have enough time to land precision shots to break its crit spots. I got it down eventually. Instead of running it completely solo, I did a mix of both on legendary. The rewards for running the full campaign on legendary difficulty were 1770 LL gear, a choice of the new exotics, with good rolls, 65 stat rolls. While the stat distribution isn’t spiky, no matter what ghost mod you put on, it’s a lot better than the 49 rolls we got in Witch Queen and Beyond Light.
During the whole campaign, you get to try out Strand for a couple of minutes and fights, thanks to some communion nexuses. In fact, the whole campaign is about acquiring Strand, but you never get to use it fully. It’s only post-campaign, after Bungie unlocked all of the fragments before the raid release that you get the full effect of Strand. It’s quite potent. That’s not how it feels in the campaign. For context, I ran the campaign first on Hunter. I completed it on Warlock and Titan the following weekend.
Things get dicey in the campaign on Neomuna. Most of the fights take place in enclosed spaces, making it difficult to get alway from Tormentors. You are pushed by an annoying Osiris to hunt down the Veil. This has appeared in the lore before. It’s never properly explained. Initially we thought that the Veil were a new race. The name has been mentioned before. The people of Neomuna aren’t on Neptune. They’ve uploaded themselves into a computer, effectively transcending their humanity. They’re post humans, protected by Cloud Striders, of which there can be only two, like the Sith. Cloud Striders have cybernetically enhanced themselves, vastly shortening their lifespans, to about a decade. Rohan is the grizzly oldie, who hasn’t got long to live. Nimbus is the annoying youngling, making inappropriate jokes and puns. They protect the Cloudark, the distributed mainframe in which the Neomuni reside. The Cloudark is powered by the Veil?
The Witness wants to plop the Radial Mast, another McGuffin, on top of the Veil so that it dampens the light and the traveler’s influence. It’s not really explains why or how, but we find out during the final mission that the Witness’ goal was to pierce the Traveler. The Raid takes place in that area. During the missions, you come across some suppressing machinery. This is a kind of annoying mechanic, during which most of your abilities are suppressed. It’s a bit like fighting a Tormentor and getting suppressed.
Downfall is a beautiful mission. This is when you assault the inside of Calus’ ship. Once again, there’s some kind of McGuffin that they want to use called a Radial Mast. Apparently it can be used on the Veil to do something to the Traveler. The fight in the pit is really intense. I enjoyed it. Caital even makes an appearance. The ending sparrow escape was great. For some reason, in all of my fireteams, I’m the only one that makes it out alive.
No Time Left is the obligatory tank mission. It’s fun, but the boss room gets very hectic solo. All the ads are looking at you. When two Goliath tanks enter the fray, it’s even worse.
Headlong is a whole mission centered around using Strand. Since it’s not fully unlocked, it’s freaking annoying, especially the part where you do the time trial in the Vex network. I died so many times in the washing machine arena. Eventually, I got it down. The next few times I ran it, I found a cool cheese spot, behind one of the Vex gates. It’s easy to complete it then.
They made the Headlong time trial replayable. I saw Skaryton and Hyrna both get 50 second clears. That’s crazy. But it does make you master the mechanic. I know from Hyrna that he spent hours in Headlong perfecting his runs. He got it first.
In the last mission called Desperate Measures, you race to a final confrontation with Calus. There’s a cool part where you defend some AA guns. Two Tormentors appear. As well as tanks. Caital makes another appearance. Her cabal come fight as well. For the final part of this mission, you head down a bunker built by the Ishtar Collective to house the Veil. It looks like a purple swirly hole.
The boss fight isn’t so bad, but I never used Strand. It was a hindrance more than anything else. You have to be mobile to evade Calus’ Darkness gun. The boss fight’s design was average. It’s just a two phase thing. During the second phase, he runs at you like a gladiator. It’s kind of anticlimactic and disappointing.
I’m not sure what exactly happened. It feels like parts of the Witch Queen, like Strand, were spun off into Lightfall as a filler expansion between WQ and The Final Shape. Maybe Bungie needed more time. Maybe they wanted more money. The what was supposed to be Lightfall was migrated into TFS. That could explain why the story was so disappointing and went nowhere. You can splice together the opening cut scene and the final cut scene and you’d not miss a beat. That’s the definition of filler.
Some people even think that the raid, Root of Nightmares, was a 3-encounter dungeon that was padded out with its best encounter, Macrocosm, maybe from a future raid, because it’s the only one that doesn’t follow the mechanics that were established in the early encounters.
Now that Bungie has messed up, narratively speaking, they’re going to have to work hard in the seasons leading up to The Final Shape in order to make up for this fumble. They’ve done it before, but it’ll be a hard battle.
Initially, when used in the campaign for a couple of minutes, Strand was pretty lackluster. I was actually getting annoyed at having to use it at all, because it felt like a hindrance in order to complete the campaign. Now that I’ve got builds for all classes, I can firmly say that Strand is really good. It came out of nowhere, because everyone was expecting a poison subclass. The movement is great. You feel fast and zippy. The only problem is the grapple cooldowns. It seems kind of pointless if you can’t zip around with Strand. The other abilities are pretty good. The warlock is centered around making threadings. The Hunter can move quickly, and the Titan can suspend everyone. There were a few bugs, but they have been resolved so far.
I started using Cyrtarachne’s Facade, which grants Woven Mail after a grapple, but I quickly started using the shackle grenade and Radiant Dance Machines, to suspend everyone on Hunter. On Warlock and Titan, I’m using the Strand exotics so far.
The city of Neomuna on Neptune was supposed to be cyberpunky Metropolis, built vertically, easily explored with Strand. What we got is a desolate space, which feels abandoned. That being said, there are plenty of enemies to be found all over the map. There’s the Terminal Overload activity to farm rolls of the uncraftable Neomunian weapons, Synchronic Roulette, the 600 rpm Strand SMG, Circular Logic, the 450 rpm Strand LMG, and Basso Ostinato, a void shotgun.
There’s the Vex Incursion Zone, which can spawn the Supernuminary Blitz, a public event during which you can get an exotic, which are now on the same kind of knockout list as legendary lost sectors. Some areas are beautiful. The lost sectors are fun. The activities feel rewarding, the golden patrols are a good addition to farm for Neomunian weapons, but the drop rates are abysmal.
Difficulty Scaling 6/10
With Lightfall came an overhaul of the general difficulty of the game. In most sections, you’ll be 5 under, which was started in last season’s battleground. The patrol zone of Neomuna is fairly ridiculously high level. The funniest part is when Threshers spawn and can 1 shot kill you. In Legend difficulty, you’re capped at 1815, and you’ll always be 15 levels under the activity. In Master (1840), it’s -20 and it’s the equivalent of contest mode. Grandmasters are usually -25 (1850), and your LL is capped at 1825. This is all fine and dandy, but this makes for some very frustrating missions. First of all, Legend Lost Sectors are 1830, with a power delta of 15. They’re ridiculously hard. The new legend version of the Vexcalibur quest feels like a GM when you run it with 3 people.
While I’m all for making the game more challenging, challenge isn’t always what I’m looking for when I’m grinding some public events, exotic missions, etc. I was fine with the difficulty of the legend version of the Revision Zero mission, but putting in an 1830 mission at the beginning of the season is a non starter. After 2 weeks, I’m 1815 on my highest character. On top of that, it’s like a raid or a campaign mission: you’ve got revive tokens. If you die more than a couple of times, you wipe. I’m not a fan of this mechanic. I’m fine with this being in raids. I don’t think it has a place in the campaign or exotic missions. Seriously, day 1 contest raids are easier than legendary lost sectors.
They definitely need to work on it, tune it so they it feels better. Right now, I’m not doing LLS or any Master level content. I’m under light and face an aggressive power delta.
Root of Nightmares Raid 7/10
The raid launched last Friday in contest mode. It’s been the most cleared raid ever, during contest, with 45000 teams beating it during that time. While I’m no day 1 raider, I no longer have good enough teams for that, I’ve tried some and it’s not my cup of tea. The World’s First race was won by Clan Hard in the Paint, headed up by Roen. The team is filled with speed runners, which made this a real race. Most of the top teams were speed runners. Salt, Datto, ATP, Redeem, they all placed a lot lower. The biggest issue was figuring out the Macrocosm encounter.
I ran the raid 3 times on reset the week it released, back to back. I enjoyed it. They were easy clears. The second jumping puzzle with the Darkness Refuge mechanic took me a while to get used to the timing, as the killing pulse will constantly spawn. It’s definitely not as complicated as Vow of the Disciple, but it’s not a bad raid. The design is beautiful. It takes place in a pyramid ship that’s been partially transformed by the Traveler’s powers. So you have the dark pyramid-like architecture juxtaposed with the vibrant, colorful roots of the Traveler.
The mechanics are quite easy to learn. Which means that this will be an easy raid to run with LFG, which is how many people get clears since there’s no in-game matchmaking for raids. I’ve run it 6 times with LFG groups. It’s fine.
The primary mechanic of this raid involves “growing a seed” by connecting multiple nodes by creating a chain. You start the chain by shooting the first seed of light field. You’ll need to shoot the next seed, which is indicated by s faint thread of light. Once you do this, you’ll need reacquire the buff from a previous link in the chain.
In Cataclysm, you run around, ferrying a buff to different locations. This encounter can be completed with two runners quite quickly. The rest of the team is on add clear. Once two psions are killed in their bubbles, tormentors will spawn. Once killed, it will add time to the wipe mechanic, listed as a debuff called Sweeping Terror.
In Scission, your team is divided into 2. Two runners ferry the buff accords a chasm. Launchers are provided to make it easier to traverse. They are obviously RNG based and can send you tumbling to your deaths.
I wasn’t a runner, but I enjoyed this encounter. If the runners can do well skating or shatter dive skating, it’s actually fun to watch and see. Before you know it, this encounter is done. It reminds me of the gauntlet in Vow. The launchers are terrible to use on Warlocks. I died so many times. The trick is to use a sword with eager edge, use Icarus dash, and make sure you get enough height. The jumping puzzle introduces the refuge mechanic, on which you create a refuge to protect yourself from a pulse. This will be used in the final encounter.
Macrocosm is the best encounter. You get to be in the room in which the Witness moved planets around. That’s really amazing. This encounter revolves around getting buffs and moving around planets in a certain amount of time. You get a bit of leeway but if you make too many mistakes, you will wipe. The damage phases are short, and we used rockets to get that burst DPS with a tether.
Nezarec is a beefed up tormentor. He is a bit like Rhulk, but less deadly because he can easily be manipulated, with melees, and other ways, to not kill you inside a well. The fight combines runners, who connect nodes, dark and light, on each side of the arena. There is a player who needs to capture the gaze of Nezarec, and read what color the refuge will be. If the runners are fast enough, refuges aren’t needed. Once the nodes have been connected, it’s time for a DPS phase. We use the same strat as in Macrocosm, rockets, tether, etc.
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