Destiny 2 Lightfall: What Happened With That Finale?

Opinion: With the release of Destiny 2 Lightfall, the community as a whole has been asking a single major question: what in the world happened with that ending?

Published: March 6, 2023 11:00 AM /


The main characters staring at a portal opening from The Traveler at the conclusion of Destiny 2 Lightfall

With the release of Destiny 2 Lightfall, the community has tucked into its newest content with zeal. Part of this was due to the emotional climax of the most recent season, setting high expectations for how Bungie's live-service space-opera shooter's epic story of Light and Darkness will end. But while Lightfall is packed with genuinely great elements like the new location of Neomuna or the thrill of being a space wizard Spider-Man with Strand, there is one part that sours the whole: the story campaign. Not only did it felt uneven with some baffling storytelling decisions, its finale left its entire community absolutely perplexed.

The post contains spoilers for the campaign of Destiny 2 Lightfall.

A guardian landing on the outside of a Cabal ship from Destiny 2 Lightfall
First mission is you pulling a John McClane inside a Shadow Legion warship. I have no notes.

Destiny 2 Lightfall –  The Battle For The Veil

Destiny 2 Lightfall starts off with a bang. It opens up with the ultimate big bad, The Witness, invading Earth with the Black Fleet. It doesn't go well for the Guardians. The Witness captures The Traveler, and then orders its forces to invade the city of Neomuna on the planet Neptune.

It is in this city that the majority of the campaign takes place. Your Guardian teams up with Neomuna's protectors, the cybernetically enhanced Cloud Striders, and fights off Emperor Calus' Shadow Legion as they track down a mysterious object of power known as The Veil. As the story unfolds, your Guardian discovers and slowly masters a new power called Strand, which gives them an edge against the escalating threat.

To Bungie's credit, there is a lot to enjoy in this campaign. The new location of Neomuna is a triumph of art direction and map design. It stands out from every other location thanks to its cyberpunk vaporwave aesthetic and futuristic architecture. The introduction of Strand is handled quite well and plays very differently with its reliance on movement and momentum.

Even the level design deserves top marks for its use of large circular arenas encouraging you to stay on the move. Finally, the campaign has several truly impressive setpieces. A personal highlight is a firefight where your Guardian battles alongside Empress Caiatl and her forces – an actual army of friendly NPCs – against Calus' Shadow Legion.

A scene with Empress Caiatl and Calus on Neomuna from Destiny 2 Lightfall
I honestly have been looking forward to this throw down for years.

Destiny 2 Lightfall – What is The Veil, and Why Did That Happen?

Unfortunately, what causes a lot of the stakes and tension to fall apart centers around what you're fighting over. The Veil never evolves past being a generic macguffin. The bad guys are after it, you're trying to stop them. Characters rant and fret and scream about how important or dangerous it is. The final battle with Calus even takes place in the room where it is being held. And yet, not once is The Veil ever explained in detail.

This culminates in Destiny 2 Lightfall's head-scratching finale. After defeating Calus, your Guardian's Ghost becomes possessed by The Witness. This has happened on two other occasions throughout the entirety of Destiny 2. It then flies into The Veil, causing a beam of light to shoot from Neomuna to Earth. Then The Witness creates a portal on the surface of The Traveler and steps through. The entire supporting cast treats this as a major defeat, and the campaign ends.

This finale is maddening. While The Witch Queen campaign also had an overarching mystery and major twist ending, the narrative ultimately played fair. Information was given naturally, the twists were payoffs to things set up, and the final reveal happened in conjunction with the final mission. It is why it is considered the best story campaign so far.

By comparison, the driving force behind Lightfall's campaign is vaguely defined, surrounded by characters that refuse to ask basic questions, and leads to a finale where you don't even know what was accomplished or prevented. When even the most dedicated lorehounds of the community have no idea what just happened, something has gone wrong.

The Guardian, the Ghost, and Nimbus in The Veil room from Destiny 2 Lightfall
We just lost? How? Why?

To Bungie's credit, Destiny 2 Lightfall's post-story content does attempt to backfill details and smooth over narrative rough spots. But even in this roundabout form of storytelling, nothing concrete has been established. There are two throwaway lines of dialogue stating that The Traveler appears to be dead, meaning no more Guardians can be created, and that the portal might be some sort of time-space wormhole.

As for The Veil, an exotic weapon quest implies that it might be connected to the Black Heart, the really disappointing final boss of Destiny 1's vanilla campaign. That would be a place for speculation if it weren't for the fact that the Black Heart is another poorly defined object that has never been adequately explained.

Taken as a whole, Destiny 2 Lightfall is a great expansion. The new content is exciting and fun. The quality of life additions like buildcrafting and Guardian commendations are welcome. Neomuna and its people bring entertaining new energy to the universe. But a lot of that quality is overshadowed by a story built on shaky narrative ground and an ending that falls flat.

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| Staff Writer

Ever since he was small, Tyler Chancey has had a deep, abiding love for video games and a tendency to think and overanalyze everything he enjoyed. This… More about Tyler

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Learn More About Destiny 2: The Witch Queen
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