The next expansion for Destiny 2, Lightfall, is only two weeks away, and Bungie just concluded its latest seasonal story with an incredible one-two punch. It tees things up for Lightfall in a truly exciting way. Spoilers for Destiny 2: Season of the Seraph’s finale mission ahead.
Season of the Seraph has focused on the Warmind Rasputin, a powerful figure in Destiny’s lore who has taken a more prominent role in the story than ever before. To end the season, Bungie launched a new mission that wraps up not just Season of the Seraph, but Rasputin’s role in the story that stretches back to the first Destiny.
In atypical fashion, this mission is set to Legendary difficulty, the optional setting you could use when playing through The Witch Queen campaign. Your Power level is capped at 1350 (well below where anyone who has reached this point in the seasonal story would be) and matchmaking is disabled. Combined with the urgency around the story–Eramis is prepared to use the Warsats to destroy the Traveler as revenge for it having abandoned the Eliksni, and Rasputin deems his own destruction to be the only course of action to stop her–this provides a real weight to the proceedings. Even as a mission meant to wrap up the ongoing season, things feel much more important.
The mission itself proves to be challenging but not especially unmanageable. Bungie does a good job of making the opposition feel like more than just cannon fodder, as is often the case in these story-centric missions. Early on, you square off with Eramis and find yourself making glacial progress at whittling down her health bar, and ultimately Rasputin provides you with some AI backup to advance through the subsequent encounters. There’s a degree of artifice to it all (one friend pointed out how the fights can essentially resolve themselves if you simply let enough time pass), but when playing through it normally, you feel as if you are pressed up against a wall and just barely forging ahead as you seek to avert disaster. There’s no timer (save for status updates from Rasputin that are easily missed), which would have made sense in the context of the story, but in the interest of allowing everyone to see it through, forgoing that is an acceptable decision.
And really, it’s the story that takes center stage here. Mechnically, the mission doesn’t do a whole lot that’s new, but with the rising stakes and some touches of unique elements here and there, this proves to be a memorable one. The cutscene that follows–you can watch it above–is one of the game’s best in recent memory, if not ever. In it, we see the Traveler seemingly prepare to abandon humanity, much as it did other races in the past. With The Witness’s forces bearing down on the Solar System, this would have proven devastating. And as Zavala notes afterward, it was a nightmare come true–it’s hard not to feel this apparent betrayal unfolding before our eyes as a punch in the gut, a sign that maybe we weren’t so special after all, but just the latest in a line of disposable tools.
Just as Eramis is prepared to destroy the Traveler and stop its escape (but at incalculable cost), Ana destroys Rasputin and the Warmind network, sparing the Traveler. In turn, the Traveler opts to stay, albeit now higher in the orbit of Earth–and in the process, changing the skyline of the Tower in a way that’s hard to come to grips with after years of that familiar sight.
The Witness suggests the Traveler didn’t leave only because it has nowhere left to run, as we see the Black Fleet moves past Jupiter and no doubt toward a final confrontation with Guardians over the next two expansions. A final message from Rasputin also tees up what we already knew: that Neomuna–the new location in Lightfall–is real. He also notes the critical importance of something on Neptune called The Veil and how it has a connection to the Traveler. There have long been theories about the significance of the term “Veil,” and it appears we’re getting closer to finding out the truth behind it.
We know Bungie has tons of changes in store for Destiny 2 over the coming year, many of them very welcome quality-of-life improvements. But for as important as all of that is, nothing gets me more excited for what Lightfall and The Final Shape expansions have in store for us than the consistently great storytelling that Bungie continues to demonstrate.