garie is now playing Destiny 2: Lightfall - Season of the Deep
14 days ago
garie finished Destiny 2: Lightfall - Season of Defiance
Rarely do I write reviews halfway through a story, but I felt it was necessary on this one. If the ending to this season somehow has a drastic improvement in quality, I will gladly take back what I’ve said, but for now I feel like it’s necessary to discuss the writing of this season (and by extension, this expansion). This review has major spoilers for both the Season of Defiance and Lightfall campaigns.
Anyone who even remotely knows me, knows that I love Destiny’s narrative to pieces. I’ve been playing this series for such a long time, and I’ve seen it at some of its best and worst. The way the narrative is heading, however, I feel that we are seeing the game at some of its worst.
If you’re still reading this review, then you either know what I’m going to talk about or don’t mind being spoiled. I want to talk about the current seasonal story, particularly about Amanda and how her character was handled. I’ve been playing since Year 1 of Destiny 1, and while she was never a major character by any means, she was always a memorable character for me. I always appreciated seeing her in cutscenes, or reading her dialogue, or really anything, but the thing was that she was never particularly in the spotlight. She’d always shared it with characters who often held more narrative relevance than her, and honestly? That’s totally fine. Secondary characters can still be fantastic additions to the story without needing to be in said spotlight.
Needless to say, though, her sudden importance this season was a pretty big red flag. Admittedly it didn’t quite click for me at first, though in retrospect it was fairly obvious. Amanda’s death is… weird. Weird in a way that I think it’s simultaneously such an overt display of abysmally bad writing, while also being a clever commentary on the narrative as a whole. Let me explain.
Let’s start with the bad, since there’s a lot of it. Her death sucked. Not just in the sense of it sucks to lose her presence, but it was just poorly portrayed. At no point did I think the Cabal base was going to explode. Absolutely nothing on screen conveyed that information to me as a viewer. I did think one of two things were going to happen:
1.) The Tormentor was going to either kill, injure, or kidnap her (even during the fight, the Tormentor boss “seeks your allies”).
2.) She was going to use herself as an electrical conduit to join the two fuses so Misraaks and the refugees could escape, ultimately killing or incapacitating her.
These were really the only two options I was expecting, which both would have been sad, yes, but they would have made complete sense. The base randomly blowing up made no sense. Nada. None.
Also, more generally-speaking, it feels as if her character has been reduced to nothing more than a “hard-to-get” love interest for Crow. It’s one thing to be a secondary character who shares the spotlight with several characters, but it’s another to be withered down to nothing but a romantic interest for one, singular character. As much as I really remember, Amanda hasn’t had much to say within the past year if not more unless it revolved around Crow, and that sucks – especially since there’s clearly more facets to her that recent dialogue and lore entries have revealed. The second she had an ounce of depth she was robbed of it, and now we’ve got her “it’s complicated” “””partner””” parading around swearing vengeance
Oh, and speaking of Crow, who is he getting revenge on? Who? The Shadow Legion? The thing we’re already doing? If not them, then who? They’re trying to parallel Forsaken so bad, and yet there’s no current central antagonist besides The Witness, and anyone with at least two functioning braincells knows that he’s not getting anywhere near a being who finger-painted a triangle on The Traveler and killed it. It’s just laughably bad writing when you break it down this way, and after Lightfall’s painfully mediocre launch, this just feels like having the knife you’ve been stabbed with twisted in your gut.
And don’t get me started on Eramis. I love her and her character, but why was she there? Why does she keep randomly popping up? Like I kind of get it? I really do, but also it feels goofy – especially when she shows up at the end just to go “I told you so,” and then fucking teleports away. What was the point!? Augh!!
So the question is then, what was actually good here? If there was so much nonsense, what light shone through? There are a couple instances I want to highlight.
The first is the dichotomy between Guardians and civilians. As silly as it seemed initially, I genuinely loved how traumatic Amanda’s death was, followed by the Guardian nonchalantly walking out from the cave. She only has one life to live, and she sacrificed it to save a handful of people who were just like her. For Guardians, this is an everyday occurrence. They’re beings who dive head-first into danger with reckless abandon to save others without a second thought, but people like Amanda, Misraaks, and the refugees don’t have that luxury. So when Amanda calculated the risks, and spent her one and only life to save those people, her sacrifice was felt – especially by those who are in a similar disposition as her. When Misraaks and the prisoners were knocked back by the explosion, and he looks back to the cave in horror, it's because he knows. He knows she’s not coming back. That she’s gone for good. That it could have been him. He knows the risk she took and the sacrifice she made, which is why it perfectly contrasts the Guardians’ oblivious exit.
What I also enjoyed from this season was the commentary from Mara, of how being alive for centuries makes you numb to death but never immune to how loss twists the faces of those you care about. I really loved this for Zavala in particular, especially after his dialogue from Season of the Haunted where he confides that our psyche was not built to endure centuries worth of trauma. After already losing Hakim, Safiyah, Cayde, and now Amanda it’s clear how much loss has worn him down.
There’s the possibility (read: inevitability) that Amanda comes back as a Guardian. I can’t say I’d really enjoy that outcome, especially since those revived as Guardians are no longer the same people they were before their death, but it’ll depend on how it’s portrayed. There’s a chance it’s done well but I’m keeping my expectations very, very low for now.
Aside from narrative, the season is decent overall. Battlegrounds are solid and Node Avalon is awesome. I’ve genuinely enjoyed seeing what Asher has been up to since Season of Arrivals, and I’m glad to know he’s out there somewhere instead of just dead. It was also nice to get a piece of information on the Veil, even if I’m still not entirely sure of what it is, it was neat to connect some potential dots to the Tree of Silver Wings.
Overall, Destiny’s story seems to be on the decline… for whatever reason. I thought The Witch Queen and its seasons were utterly phenomenal in their writing quality, so to see the series seemingly nose-dive in its content feels incredibly weird. Not sure if it’s a case of Bungie taking its strongest writers and putting them on The Final Shape team, or Lightfall and its seasons being underprepared and underdeveloped due to either being rushed or serving as pure filler, or maybe a combination of all of the above; regardless, it makes for a pretty middling experience for me as a player. Although I plan to see the story through to its conclusion, I can’t exactly say I’m excited to see where it’s heading, and that’s such a shame for me as a long-time fan.
EDIT: Played what I can only assume is the final seasonal mission, and it has not changed my opinion on this. The Retribution mission is pretty generic, with some cool input from Misraaks and Mara, but other than that it’s kinda… pointless. The writers are also trying so hard to make Crow fill Cayde’s shoes and it’s mildly infuriating for me personally. Though I must say the final radio message where Zavala paid homage to Amanda was beautiful.
Overall still a pretty clear miss for this season. Really hope the totally-not-leaked-at-a-content-creator-summit-S21 is better.
14 days ago