From the very beginning, Destiny has been a puzzle box. You can’t take it in all at once. There’s always something obscured, something moving behind the scenes. You’ll figure out one thing, and another piece of the box opens into new puzzles-new stories to experience, new powers to chase, new weapons to build. That’s Destiny at its best, and that’s what Lightfall and the Season of Defiance deliver from start to finish-for the most part. Lightfall opens with a bang. Black pyramids spread across the darkness of space like obsidian knives speeding toward the Traveller’s heart. The heroes we know and love are engaged in a pitched battle with the forces of the Witness-an ancient being of terrible power hell-bent on doing something spooky to our Friendly Neighbourhood Space Orb. Something happens and then we’re headed to Neptune, chasing after a newly empowered Emperor Calus-a frenemy from a few seasons ago who is now in service to the Witness. He’s also your best friend’s dad. It’s a whole thing. That’s where the narrative trouble starts. There’s this big battle happening in the skies above Earth. It’s been several seasons in the making, and the game’s been hinting at it ever since the last expansion, The Witch Queen. The Witness has been everywhere, just out of reach, making all kinds of trouble like Carmen Sandiego with a cooler hat. We’re geared up and ready to go, soaring into the fight on the wings of our jumpship-and then we’re sidelined. We end up getting swept away to Neptune, where there’s a hidden city called Neomuna, and our new job is to chase after Emperor Calus-who we already fought like a million seasons ago. But now he’s back, and he’s being bullied by the Space Devil. To be honest, it kills the momentum those first few moments give us. We’re on Calus’ big spaceship, looking out the windows as the Witness and the real fight zoom away in the other direction. As a Destiny 2 player, I know why we’re going to Neptune. It’s because that’s where the story is for the Lightfall campaign: I’ve seen the trailers, I’ve read the hints squirreled away in the lore entries we’ve gotten over the past few seasons, I know the score. We’re just never given a great reason for why we’re going to Neptune, other than that’s where Calus and our moody uncle Osiris are going. After that rocky segue, I got dumped onto the neon-soaked streets of the hypermetropolis Neomuna and things picked up again. We’re here in the new place, and the new place is sick. In the first few firefights, it was clear this was a different sort of environment than we’ve seen before. There’s a refreshing sense of verticality. Neomuna environments have a lot more to explore up on top of things than other areas do. It has the faintest echoes of Halo: ODST-the streets lit by neon and gunfire, the moody synth-noir soundtrack, and the feeling of being a small, maybe inconsequential part of a larger conflict. I appreciate that. I just wish there was a less hand-wavey explanation for how and why we stumbled into this hidden city in space. As soon as you land in Neomuna you’re treated to a brief and exciting glimpse of the new hotness: the warp and weft of thought that connects all minds within the tangle of a universe-spanning tapestry. The Guardians appropriately name it Strand. More than Stasis before it, Strand adds an exciting new dimension to each class. Its headline ability is the grapple that lets you Spider-Man around the streets of Neomuna, thwipping your way from place to place. Destiny hasn’t played with its traversal mechanics very much over the years, but Strand makes me wish every subclass had its own Thing that could go in the grenade slot and change up how you experience the game. Strand is honestly so good and so fun to use, it sort of makes the older subclasses feel a bit lacking by comparison. Even if you swap out the Grapple for one of the other two grenade options-one spawns little creatures called threadlings, my babies, and the other is a crowd-control option that catches enemies in a glowy green web-you’re still going to be having such a good time you might forget the other classes even exist for a while. Granted that’s sort of been the case for any new subclass Destiny 2 has introduced in the past, but this one feels different, because you’re not just given a few tweaked mechanics, you’re given a host of brand-new mechanics and a new way to traverse the worlds of Destiny 2. Let’s talk about Rohan and Nimbus, the Cloudstriders, the protectors of Neomuna. There are always two of them and they only live for 10 years, a consequence of the heavy nano-augmentation they undergo when they volunteer to become Cloudstriders. We spend the most time with Nimbus, the younger counterpart to grim and grizzled Rohan, and every minute of it is a blast. Destiny 2 has no shortage of grizzled, stoic men and haunted, traumatized women. Nimbus is a breath of fresh air, because they’re none of these things. They’re bright, bubbly, and nonbinary. They’re endearing and enthusiastic, with a sense of youthful humour that we just don’t get enough of in Destiny 2. Voiced by series newcomer Marin Miller, Nimbus is the beating heart of the Lightfall campaign. Too often we only get the narrowest slices of story development for Destiny 2’s supporting cast. But that’s one of the things Lightfall excels at. We get a lot of time with Nimbus. Over the course of the campaign, we start to realise that Nimbus’ exuberance isn’t just some defense mechanism or immaturity. It’s a choice. In the face of cosmic horrors, Nimbus protects that youthful enthusiasm from the easy cynicism that comes with grief and loss. They have 10 years to live, and they’re going to live every last one to the fullest. It’s a nuanced and compassionate performance, and even when things get more serious and grounded in the post-campaign story, it’s still refreshing. I can’t wait to see more Nimbus in the seasons to come. Despite everything I loved about Lightfall, finishing up the campaign felt like a relief. By the end, it felt like I’d done the same missions a few times over. Go protect the thing, get to the thing before the bad guy. The most interesting elements of Lightfall are unfortunately not the things we spend the most time exploring. What is the Veil, how did Neomuna get there? What’s the deal with Strand? What does the Witness really want? Spending time with Nimbus and exploring the new Strand powers was super fun, but every time I finished a mission I felt myself looking off at the horizon where the real fight was happening, wishing I was there instead.