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Destiny 2 New Light Retools The Base Game Into Something Welcoming For Newcomers
Destiny 2 was filled out for free on PS Plus and Battle.net before, but it has now gone completely free-to-play (and now on Steam after developers Bungie part ways with Activision). But the free-to-play base game, now dubbed Destiny 2 New Light, is not the exact game from 2017. It’s been retooled, restructured to not only fit a free-to-play experience but also make it more welcoming to newcomers.
I’ve played a bit of Destiny 2 when it was offered as a freebie, but as someone that didn’t play the first game, with no investment in the lore, it didn’t click. There were too many issues that stopped me from putting on more time.
With New Light, it changed my mind. There is a decent game in Destiny all this while.
The first thing we learned about New Light is that it will open with the intro to Destiny 1. The first game’s intro has a nicer setup than Destiny 2. Tha one only makes sense and hits hard if you’re a returning veteran. Your character was awakened by a Ghost, some tutorials ensued and you leave the Russian Cosmodrome.
But instead of putting you straight into the Destiny 2’s intro (which would be a whiplash of tone and also redundant), you just go to the Tower. Straight up- no need for the Destiny 2’s first social hub The Farm anymore (though you could still visit it). From there, the New Light quest will be your guiding hands as it points you to the various activities you can do playing the game.
All of Destiny 2’s campaigns (The Red War, plus Curse Of Osiris and Warmind from the two DLCs, included in New Light) are now relegated to the side. You can still do them, but it’s not mandatory. Subclasses are all available from the get-go. Your power level (gear score) starts at 750. That is already pretty high compared to the base game.
This also means, unlike the original base game, the power level of gear drops are not locked to campaign progression anymore. That was my personal pet peeve and deal-breaker when I tried the original game. All those times engaging with side activities and bounties were mostly for naught, because if you didn’t rush through the campaign, those gear drops will hit a light level threshold. Not anymore. Explore and do those side quests to your heart’s content and get rewarded as you should.
If you’re starting a fresh new character, you will open up new locations to explore as you increase your season rank level.
With New Light, there’s no use of levels anymore. But you do gain XP and levels, only that it’s tied to the battle pass equivalent. It’s confusingly called a Season Pass, which for the uninitiated sounds like Bungie is charging for DLCs on top of their paid expansions which are technically already DLCs. But it’s not. Like your usual battle pass, Destiny offers a free track and a premium one, included with the purchase of Shadowkeep for the current season.
Also, all players get to do the intro mission for the new Shadowkeep expansion, which is actually pretty cool. But free players can only free roam and participate in public missions only once you’re on the moon.
How Do The Changes Feel?
The best thing about New Light is how it eases you in, introducing the many activities bit by bit. Just by making it an objective I decided to actually do a strike, a dungeon run with two other players, and it’s actually good! I never did try it on the base game before and felt intimidated to even try. All I needed was to have it be a quest item to actually give it a go.
Such activities are introduced in this manner based on your light level. So you can just go off and grind and then return to the Tower and see what other things you can do in the game. It’s a lot to take in, but it’s never been clearer and easier to understand than ever.
It goes without saying that the appeal of Destiny is that it’s essentially just an entire checklist on a treadmill. Albeit a more legible checklist with a lot of goodies for ticking them off one by one. New Light lets you play Destiny as how veterans play it. Do a bit of free-roaming stuff, checking off those daily bounties and help out in public events. Or go do some Strike runs to get those weekly challenges ticked. Or maybe dabble a bit on PVP with the Crucible and the surprisingly good PvPvE mode, Gambit. Have fun with the great gunplay, and also get a bit of reward being trickled to you just for playing the game.
The main New Light quest ends once you reached light level 900 and complete weekly challenges, which is where the endgame kicks in. Though don’t expect an explosive end to the questline, it just fizzles out without warning. The gear drops from here will drop ever so slightly bigger numbers, more than 1 digit if you’re lucky. And you’re powerful enough to tackle on most of the activities Destiny has to offer.
Though that’s not to say New Light gets everything right. There are still some issues with the clarity of the objectives. For example, not everyone will know that the Forging activity is on Earth if you just follow the questline and the objective texts. There are markers and you can highlight objectives, but I feel like there’s still room to make it just a bit more clearer.
All in all, New Light has smoothened the onboarding process for new players of Destiny by a sizeable amount. You get straight into the core gameplay loop that many swore by. And the bigger offering of content, by making previously paid content free, is a nice touch.
If you never tried Destiny 2, it’s worth checking out. It’s a looter-shooter with an MMORPG slant. If you did tried it before but wasn’t sold on it, gave New Light a shot. Maybe the new structure is enough to hook you in.
Destiny 2 New Light is free-to-play and is now available on PS4, PC (Steam) and Xbox One. It will also come to Stadia on launch.