A new Destiny 2 expansion means a lot of things. While the expansion is expected to deliver a new campaign, weapons, strikes, raids and other content, it also heralds major updates for the Live Service element. That means the first of four new seasons and a slew of Quality of Life (QoL) updates available for everyone, regardless of whether you buy the expansion. Destiny 2: Lightfall is available now and we continue to spend a lot of time dissecting it, including the slow drip feed of story content up until the release of the raid on March 10. We’ve also taken the time to test out the new season and play with the QoL to see if they were worth the wait.
As noted, our review of Destiny 2: Lightfall and its content (i.e. the story, Strand and more) will come later. The Season of Defiance is available as a standalone purchase and doesn’t require Lightfall to play. Meanwhile, all the QoL updates are available to every single Destiny 2 player, regardless of whether you purchase the expansion or seasonal content.
Season of Defiance picks up following The Witness’ attack in the opening cutscene. The Shadow Legion have been dispatched to the EDZ to capture human civilians, including Vanguard shipwright Amanda Holliday. Teaming up with the Awoken Queen Mara Sov, Guardians must infiltrate pyramids to rescue civilians and uncover what exactly The Witness wants with them.
The seasonal activity is Defiant Battlegrounds, a three player matchmade activity that sees Guardians pushing back legions of Shadow Legion, using the Ascendant Plane to bypass Pyramid defenses and then taking on a big bad to free civilians. As of week one, the only mission available is in the EDZ space. So far, the Seasonal story and activity are off to a good start. The story is intriguing and will hopefully provide more insight into The Witness and its motivations. Meanwhile, the activity is fun to run with the potential for epic fights against gangs of enemies. Of course, how fun to run it remains will depend on how the upcoming weeks’ new locations differentiate the activity. Like so many other seasonal activities, Defiant Battlegrounds could sour if it becomes too monotonous.
No doubt the biggest improvement from past seasons, however, is how Season of Defiance handles currencies and grinding. There’s only one base currency now, Defiant Keys, that have been relatively easy to farm. Outside of that, there’s little else needed to get going and earn rewards. It’s refreshing to just be able to hop into a match without worrying if you have a certain amount of currency to earn rewards. Hopefully, future seasons follow this simplified nature.
The quality-of-life improvements brought to the game each year have been hit and miss with Bungie typically struggling to balance the needs of newer and casual Destiny players that might only tune in when expansions drop with the core players who play season-to-season. While there are elements of this year’s batch of improvements that might not make core players happy, the majority are great changes. None more so than the addition of loadouts, which make managing your Guardian’s weapon and armor builds so much easier.
Mods and the Seasonal Artifact have been heavily tinkered with to make build-crafting easier to approach. In previous seasons, players would unlock mods from the Seasonal Artifact and then equip them to armor mod slots. Season of Defiance changes this up by having the artifact provide passive abilities granted once unlocked, leaving the mod slots open for mods collected from the base game. Overall, it’s a more unified system that seems aimed at helping more players get into the mod system. While it’s too early to say whether this system improves or dilutes build-crafting, it’s nice to see less confusion around dealing with Champions.
The remaining improvements are nice, though tweaking would be nice. Instead of a seasonal level, the game now displays your rank, which can be leveled up each season. It’s a cleaner look, though it seems grindy to rank up. The final addition are Commendations that can be given out at the end of a playlist activity. They’re neat to have, but they don’t add much other than helping you increase your seasonal rank.
In terms of core playlist activities, Season of Defiance includes two refreshed strikes from Destiny 2; Arms Dealer and Lake of Shadows. Both Strikes have been updated to reflect the current story beats, i.e. Caital’s forces helping out in Arms Dealer. The objectives and encounters have also been altered to make them more engaging and add a layer of freshness to these overplayed Strikes. These Strikes do feel better to play, but it would have been nicer to see more new Strikes added to the playlist or the return of previously removed Strikes. As it stands, the Vanguard playlist is starving for new content. Sadly, no new content was added to Crucible or Gambit.
Season of Defiance stands as a solid start for the next year of Destiny 2. While we’ll need to wait and see how the rest of the season and future seasons pan out, what we have currently is a good sign of what’s to come. Bungie will continue to tinker with the systems and layout of seasonal content, and we’ll hopefully continue to get rewarding content to play with systems that both casual and core players can enjoy.
Be sure to check back soon for our full review of Destiny 2: Lightfall.