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My sister and I are really enjoying the new Destiny expansion. We did zero power-leveling, didn’t save bounties beforehand, just flew our ships straight to the moon and hit Start. Neither of us really know what we’re doing. We were at a constant disadvantage either from using new armor without perks we like, or from using our old geared-up armor but at a much lower power level.

Basically, we are both casual trash and quite happy about it. This made the moon missions difficult at first, and we found out that we really enjoyed it! Previous Destiny campaigns such as OG Destiny 1, Red War, and even Forsaken, were all really easy. We never struggled with any of it, and neither did anyone else. I’m not sure if Shadowkeep was designed to have slightly more difficult PvE content as part of the main DLC missions, but it was a welcome challenge for us.

Neither of us enjoy raids. We just don’t. I could write a whole post solely explaining why we don’t enjoy Destiny raids. However, we do enjoy Gambit a lot. Amanda has 11 Infamy resets, and I think I’m up to 21. The red-bar enemies in Gambit are a bit beefier than the typical trash mobs you see in Patrol activities, but they’re not what I would describe as “challenging.” The Nightfall has always been an option, but neither of us care about power level (because we don’t do the raids) and already have the exotics we want, so there hasn’t been much of a reason to DO the Nightfalls.

When we first started playing Division 2, we constantly compared it to Destiny. We call it “Heavy Ammo” instead of Signature Ammo. We use the same “explodey bois” terminology to refer to Division’s suicide vest enemies that we’ve always used to describe Cursed Thralls. But now, when we restarted Destiny 2 recently on brand new Titan guardians and had a lot of trouble with a particular mission, we asked ourselves “How would we beat this mission if we were playing Division 2?” Eventually we figured out that the mission is designed to be completed using the tank, but even that kept getting blown up. So we stuck to cover more, used flanking strategies, distracted the boss and divided its attention when necessary, whittling the enemies down to zero health. We now found ourselves comparing Destiny to Division.

In Shadowkeep, all of it was difficult. Most Destiny PvE content has you feeling like Godzilla, roaming around and knocking buildings over with little thought. Whereas in Division 2, you simply cannot run around willy-nilly like you’re playing Halo on Easy Mode. You have to think about cover, you have to think about where the enemies are, where they’re about to go, and where you’ll be moving to next when you get swarmed in about 10-15 seconds. A good balance of enemies that only require a few well-placed bullets, enemies that are a bit more tanky/spongey, enemies that will attack you from long range, and enemies that will swarm you in melee range and force you to move out from cover and get sniped by those long-range dudes.

The Phogoth mission was especially difficult. We probably spent about an hour trying to kill him, learning the encounter. Funny enough, it reminded me of the FIRST time I fought Phogoth, with my friend Blaise back in Destiny 1 when we were both level 12 or whatever. I will never forget the hours we spent trying to kill Phogoth and the offensive nicknames we called him. The Shadowkeep mission felt like meeting an old friend for dinner who you haven’t seen in a few years. And learning that he’s still a jerk.

If you remain casually underleveled and don’t “grind to increase power level before the next mission,” you’ll find a well-tuned difficulty. I’m not sure which developer secret sauce is responsible for this. I think it’s the redo of the difficulty of enemies 10-50 levels higher than you, and the addition of enemies 50-100 levels higher than you that are no longer immune to damage, but I have no idea. It’s probably a combination of every sandbox change they’ve made, working together to create an experience more similar to Bungie’s earlier Halo mission designs, rather than the ultra-casual Red War difficulty design. The missions we had trouble with during Red War were difficult only because we entered them immediately when we reached the minimum level requirement, specifically because we wanted a challenge. Even the slightly beefier enemies in Gambit and Gambit Prime aren’t difficult; the challenge is in the competition between the two teams to see who can bulldoze the waves of enemies the fastest.

Here in Shadowkeep, at least for now while we’re underleveled, the challenge is feeling more like a Division 2 mission at Hard or Heroic difficulty. The enemies can sometimes feel bullet spongey, as they will in any RPG shooter, but the encounters feel much more like ongoing dynamic struggles rather than ‘sit in the back with an Icebreaker.’

A non-combat thought I’ve been having is that Eris Morn feels exactly like a character you would meet in Diablo. I always thought she was really weird in The Dark Below (probably my least favorite Destiny expansion ever), but her over-the-top dark poetry dramatism would feel right at home in Tristram. There’s a “heal and restore health and items” option right next to her in the form of a Raid Banner placement, just like using a Town Portal and talking to the town healer. You can pick up bounties from her and her weird Harry Potter pensieve thing, making her little village feel like more of a proper MMO “town” or “safe zone” as opposed to Devrim’s church or Asher’s… pond thing. The area where Eris hangs out is even called Sanctuary, the exact name of the world/planet in the Diablo series.

Someday I want to create a completely new profile and experience Destiny New Light from a new player’s perspective. A “casual trash” player, if you will. For now, I’m enjoying the new top-tree void Titan and bottom-tree void Hunter subclass changes, along with the vaguely increased PvE difficulty changes, to the point where it already feels like a new game that I’m still learning more about. I don’t even know what a Nightmare Hunt is yet, but I’m excited to play them. Especially if they’re “hard, but beatable if you use your brain a little” as Shadowkeep has been so far.

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Watch us play the first mission on YouTube (no login required)

Play “Destiny: New Light” for free on Xbox, Playstation, or PC

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