Destiny 2 Lightfall’s latest hidden Exotic quest reminds me why I still love the game, despite everything

There I was, kicking on my heels after hurtling through an absurd amount of content on the night of the 19th century destiny 2 Weekly Reset – I’d done some main missions, done the social calls to get in touch with each of my vendor friends, and was contemplating showing my inner masochist in the Crucible to get through the night. Then, just as I was swiveling my chair and targeting Shaxx, a Reddit post caught my eye… “There’s a new exotic quest called ‘The Variable,'” it said.

As I read further I saw that it was in the EDZ – that’s all I needed to know. I hopped on my ship and hightailed back to the muddiest battlefield on earth. Lo and behold, after exploring the area with my Sparrow for a few minutes, I had found it…or at least found the way there. Strange Vex data corruptions vanished from my radar, and a quick and easy “follow the light” puzzle later, I had wandered into a new cave in the old-earth realm. And here, against all odds, Destiny would redeem itself.

How many more secrets have we missed?

I wasn’t nice to Lightfall. Yes, I think there are some really cool moments, and yes, I really enjoyed playing through the Legend campaign. But overall it’s a crapshoot — an odd tonal deviation that undoes so much of the work The Witch Queen has done to fix the shaky storytelling of this nearly decade-old experience. But Destiny is so much more than its campaigns; The game lives and dies on its seasonal content and the way it keeps bringing players back to its top-notch FPS sandbox. And small missions like this newly added NODE.OVRD.AVAL.ON quest are great examples of where Bungie is really succeeding.

First, you’ll be introduced to a new NPC – a friendly harpy! Once again! Imagine! This grumpy Vex bastard tells you some lofty reasons why you need to jump into a big new level out of cyberspace or something and crash some malicious entity inside. The mission has all the classic Destiny tropes; Arena battles that are set up more like combat puzzles, platforming sections that take a sadistic delight in knocking you off the edge of the map, hidden little areas full of surprises, and bastard-tough boss fights that can make you yank out your ethernet cable from your console and try to crotaen the whole thing if you keep screwing it up.

Follow the Vex.

This mission actually has two of them. There’s a mini gambit lite bit that wants you to play the target in a really tight way – or risk swiping. This, coupled with a seemingly endless barrage of harpies sniffing you from across the room, is one hell of a challenge. But it is the climax of fate; Rely on its solid gunplay and ability to cycle to give you other tasks beyond simple survival. It’s a reminder of just how much developers can do with the tools at their disposal – and it’s amazing how fresh dipping nodes into a goal can still feel all those years later.

After this little “Dunk and Hide” game, the actual boss encounter follows. It’s a remix of an early Strike boss from the game and a nice example of good content reuse. This whole mission seems to prepare us for the new DLC raid; We’re taught how to search for codes and enter them into doors – a refreshing break from simply letting our Ghost hack into a barrier while we fend off three waves of hired (or wired) idiots.

Calling out codes and clearing adds while desperately trying to clear passageways and clear your way to the final encounter is pure adrenaline. I stayed up until 2am pinning this bastard, praying my long-suffering Titan teammate would be able to burn off the last scrap of his health while I was left dead and hopeless by Vex lasers near a steep was shattered in the abyss. He did it and we won. Our price? A whole new exotic, baby.

A nice level of difficulty at a high light level? You’re spoiling us, Bungie.

And therein lies the charm. A level of this caliber could easily exist in a Halo or a Call of Duty or any other shooter – sure. But to be able to incorporate things like that so easily and task us with smashing through high-end endgame content to reward us like that? That’s what duty shooters should do; it shows why Destiny is the best of the best at what it does. It’s not just some uninspired reskin of a shit gun nailed to the end of a Season Pass, with a hastily scrawled “well done” pinned to it. No, it’s a real meaningful piece of kit – well presented and worked for.

And there’s not too much FOMO in it either; If I’ve missed this quest this week, it’s going to get stuck for a bit. So if you’re reading this and thinking, “Hey, that sounds really good,” just launch the game, head into the EDZ, and solve the little puzzle that opens the gateway to the whole itself. Boom, done. Simply.

For all its weaknesses and complicating storytelling, Destiny continues to be a shining light in the service game sector – a strong head of the pack who leads by example. I really hope we get more stuff like this in the coming weeks and months… and less of Lightfall’s main story.


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