Destiny 2 End of Season ReviewSeason 17: “The Power of the Sun in the Palm of my Hand” - By MIG-417
Season Seventeen (17) started with a whole new activity, an expansion on the seasonal lore, and a new subclass rework. This new Seasonal Lore includes Crow, Zavala, Caiatl, and Eris Morn (and of course, the Guardian we all role play in our own specific manner), where they battle their past, their guilt, and their failures to fight the forces of the Dark (The Witness). Throughout this season, we’ve fought the Scorn, Nightmares that were dredged up from the Moon, Cabal Nightmares, and Sworn Enemies from our Past. Throughout this season, guardians fought against these nightmares to uncover the secrets of what haunts these characters as well as what happened to the shamed Emperor who left at the beginning of the Beyond Light expansion.
Season of the Haunted: The Past is the Past and It Shall Haunt Us No More.
Season of the Haunted started with The Leviathan arriving above Earth’s only natural satellite and has started having an effect unto the nightmares below. Emperor Calus returned to cement himself as the newest Disciple of the Witness by taking control of the Pyramid below the Moon and confronting the rekindled Guardians of the Last City aboard his ship. We witnessed how our nightmares seem to be moving towards to the Leviathan and acting as though someone was controlling them. We ventured inside and encountered heavy resistance, and Eris Morn (our Hive Expert) found a method which could help us sever our connection to these nightmares and the nightmares to Calus’ influence on the Pyramid below. We had captured the Crown of Sorrow from the Glykon ship (where we got the Dead Man’s Tale scout rifle) and formed a connection through a catalyst (an object which is tied to the nightmares that surrounds us) which allows us to fight the Nightmares clawing at our feet.
As the season went on, Crow (the first one to face his nightmare) faced Uldren Sov and failed his first attempt to sever and heal himself from the nightmare and come to terms with his past life before becoming a guardian of the Traveler. Afterwards, Commander Zavala attempted his severance ritual and failed the first time as well. He faced the nightmare of his dead wife and had to comes to terms with the death of his wife and child at the hands of the Eliksni. Thirdly, Caiatl was forced to join in the severance ritual after her attempt to do so without the proper guidance from Eris and faced the nightmare of Ghaul.
And finally, we were able to challenge the Emperor in his flagship and we came head to head with the nightmares of our past. After all this, the Emperor had a last surprise for the guardians in the H.E.L.M. ship where we are left to wonder what will happen in the next big expansion Lightfall.
Solar 3.0: Classy yet Satisfying
Solar 3.0 blew expectations for what we have had after Void 3.0 first showed up in Witch Queen. Despite the supers staying the same, everything about it was tailor made to empower the player with “the power of the sun in the palm of [their] hand” (Doctor Octavius, Spider-Man 2, Reimi). Radiant, a new keyword that Bungie implemented for the subclass, became a hit with certain circles. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, let’s start with what changed.
Hunters’ kit for solar was expanded greatly with this new update having very little access to support or crowd control features that the other classes were stronger at while still dealing damage. The access to Gunpowder Gamble allowed for hunters to wave clear through hordes of enemies in the Leviathan as well as On Your Mark, which allows hunters’ super to become even stronger than previously through the Radiant mechanic as well as the fragment combinations. Then came Caliban’s Hand, a new hunter exotic that would create a chain of explosions on enemies that died to the proximity knife explosion. A wonderful exotic that cemented itself for being a room clearer and making a ton of solar wells. This, however, is not the reason why hunters were so strong this season. Radiant and Classy Restoration are what really tipped Hunter’s to become even stronger. The ability to deal 25% more damage with weapons and abilities and healing significantly by activating the class ability is the game changer, not only for hunters but for titans and warlocks as well. However, since Hunters only needed to dodge to be able to gain Radiant (due to its low cooldown), they became insanely good.
Titans were somewhere in the middle in the beginning, but the return of the bonk hammer, one two punch combo made sure that the Solar titan is still a force to be reckoned with. Not to mention that the exotic helmet Lorelay’s Splendor really put the class in a league of its own. Titans could survive anything until the nerfs came along and cemented its place as a premier solar exotic for titans. Solar Titans, at this point and time, are currently one of, if not, the strongest subclass to use for its durability. And how could I forget the new aspect: Consecration. An incredible aspect where if you slide while have a fully charged melee ability will unleash a wave of Solar energy forwards and then you can melee again into the ground to create a second enormous wave. This fragment is what brings the cool factor for the Solar titan, just like Gunpowder Gamble is for Hunters. Then we have Sol Invictus, where Solar ability final blows and defeating scorched targets creates sunspots. This with Lorelay’s Splendor Helm are what makes the Solar titan that much harder to kill in PvP and in PvE. That doesn’t mean that Titans weren’t strong enough before 3.0, this just means that Solar titans were primarily used for sunspots or room clearing, but now, a strong, tanky class which can compete with any void build that the titans can use.
Warlocks were the most hindered by this change as their new fragments didn’t really allow them to run any diversity into their kit. However, they gained one of the coolest charged melee abilities that Destiny 2 has seen in a long time. Incinerating Snap can hit multiple enemies at once, mid-range and can chain-detonate to make explosions throughout the room. Very impressive indeed, however that was the most significant thing done to Solar Warlocks this season. Their new aspects include Heat Rises, an aspect that was already available to Top Tree Dawnblade before the rework; then there’s Touch of Flame, which states that it adds another effect onto Healing, Solar, Firebolt, and Fusion Grenades. As for exotics, Sunbracers became a premium exotic for dealing damage against waves of enemies, however, this doesn’t mean that they weren’t good before, but with the new Scorch mechanic as well as Radiant, etc. This exotic rose to the top faster than lightning. Although Warlocks didn’t have as much variety as Hunters or Titans, they made it up with their increasingly effective strategy of nuking everything as fast as possible. Dawnblade was no longer divided between two subclasses and is strong enough to deal with many roaming supers. The exotic Rain of Fire, a new exotic for Season of the Haunted, showed how good Warlocks are in the air-to-air combat. Increasing airborne effectiveness of Fusion rifles and Linear Fusions, this exotic is for those who want to show the true power of Heat Rises. This isn’t to say that Warlocks are terrible with Solar 3.0, instead this is meant to showcase how Solar Warlock worked differently from other classes.
Duality: The Tragedy of Emperor Calus
Destiny 2’s newest Dungeon Duality allows us to explore the mindscape that is Emperor Calus’ aboard the ship The Leviathan. At first, we enter to discover what is Calus doing with the Pyramid on the Moon, however, after entering his ship, we find out that we start to explore his memories. This is the reason why we encounter Gahlran in the dungeon, he is one of the nightmares that haunt Calus throughout the dungeon and forces us to continue to delve into his mind to find any secrets that Calus has hidden away.
As the guardian continues to work their way into his memories, we find out that Calus is attempting to join the Witness by connecting to the Pyramid, but to do so, he must confront his nightmares and weaknesses to gain power over them. As such, we begin to understand how a being like Calus is so interested in the darkness. We understand that he feels intense shame for what happened during the Midnight Coup as well as the pride he feels for his daughter and the fear he has of her.
As such, the Dungeon serves as a vessel for characterizing the Emperor with the usage of the colors, lighting, and mechanics. This also means the name of the Dungeon, Duality, provides a deeper understanding of the Emperor. There is a dual nature to Calus, this overbearing Emperor who cared so much for his people that he was able to unite them and provide them with an age of wealth and prosperity, but there’s the caring father who loves his daughter and is afraid of her rebelling. There’s the understanding of traversing the physical space and the mindscape, one drenched in neutral colors – showing his outward appearance – and one drenched in red – showing his darker appearance. As such, when traversing the physical space, the guardian encounters some number of difficulties—primarily, that of physical challenges such as the jumping puzzles—and the mental space, which is much more combat oriented due to the conflicting thoughts an entity such as Calus would have. Thus, the dual nature of the dungeon is revealed through the gameplay and story implementations of the activity.
The Darkness Looms on the Horizon
In summary, Season Seventeen (17) brought a huge change to how seasonal content is handled and given to players. Stories were the focus, but never felt connected to the larger story, in this author’s experience. Season of Arrivals (the season I started), felt very separated from the Shadowkeep’s story with the Darkness, whereas seasons such as Season of the Splicer provided much more connection to Beyond Light’s story than expected. All this to say that the seasonal storytelling is becoming much better and worth exploring.
In addition, the changes to the Solar Subclass were a welcome addition to the game and added an increased fun factor to all the classes. Hunters were changed to a degree where they’re still recognizable, but still fundamentally different enough. Titans changed somewhat but were given a kit that is much more intuitive and fun than just “bonk the hell out the enemies.” Warlocks were the class that suffered the most but was also changed to provide a different perspective on how the class can be built.
Thirdly, the Duality dungeon was a welcome addition to the game where it showed us the potential of the next generation of dungeons. One where fun and story can work together to create a cohesive whole where one and the other aren’t mutually different.
Finally, this season was a departure from where we ended in Witch Queen, but a welcome one where we got to complete a storyline that felt out of place with the Shadowkeep expansion and in need of some padding to be done. Whereas the rest of it was a welcome addition to gameplay changes and story serialization.