Destiny 2: Lightfall's new destination features an activity teased as 'Escalation Protocol 2.0'

Destiny 2's Osiris stands alone.
(Image credit: Bungie)

There's a well set template for Destiny 2's patrol spaces. Most are made up of three public areas containing patrol missions, Lost Sectors and public events, with each leading to a number of instanced areas used for missions and Strikes. So it is again with Lightfall's new patrol space on Neptune, Neomuna.

But in a recent preview session—one that also gave us a look at the in-game loadouts system—I got the chance to see Neomuna in action. And while there's plenty that remains familiar, a couple of things set Neomuna apart from previous locations like Europa or Savathun's Throne World.

For one thing, it'll be harder. In a recent post from Destiny 2 game director Joe Blackburn, we learned that players will be power capped on Neomuna, meaning enemies will hit harder than in other patrol zones. In the preview tour, some of the enemies had a red sword next to their name—Destiny 2's shorthand for enemies that are substantially above your Guardian's current power level.

According to Bungie, this was a result of some of the power level experiments done last year—specifically with the Leviathan patrol zone added in Season of the Haunted, where players were locked to 10 below the recommended power level.

The more interesting difference over other Destiny 2 patrol zones was an event prompt that popped up as the player entered one of the public zones. Different to the usual public event message, Bungie revealed that this was a new large-scale event, which the studio teased as "sort of like an Escalation Protocol 2.0".

Escalation Protocol was an event found in the Mars patrol space added in Year 1's Warmind DLC—and subsequently removed when the Destiny Content Vault first took a handful of old planets out of the game when Beyond Light launched. Unlike regular public events, Escalation Protocol was harder and more involved—requiring more players and more investment to complete. Each stage built in intensity, up until a final boss that required some actual coordination to take down. The most similar activity currently still in the game is the Moon's Altars of Sorrow.

The Neomuna skyline.

(Image credit: Bungie)

I didn't get to see Neomuna's event in action, but Bungie teased it as a "pretty hefty combat challenge"—suggesting you'll want at least six Guardians to successfully take it on. It'll be interesting to see how that goes when combined with the fixed power level. Escalation Protocol wasn't too bad as the game rolled into Forsaken and the base power level was raised, but, when it first launched, it was one of the few genuinely difficult activities in the game. It also had its own loot pool, offering up the original versions of the Ikelos weapons—here's hoping this new thing gets a similar tier of reward.

Otherwise, I'm excited to dig around Neomuna and its secrets. We know from the ViDoc released today that one of its Lost Sectors is an old arcade now infested with Vex, and that Calus's ship, The Typhon Imperator, has arrived in one of the zones—looming ominously over the skybox.

I also got to see some of the Shadow Legion that will be the main enemy force on Neomuna. In terms of what was shown, combat looks the same as against any other Cabal legion. The main difference is that—much like the Lucent Moths from The Witch Queen—there's an overshield system in play. Some of Calus's forces have a yellow shimmer reminiscent of the Darkness powers last seen in the Vow of the Disciple raid. Deplete this shield, and a Vow-style totem spawns, which appears to explode when shot.

Calus's Shadow Legion.

(Image credit: Bungie)

In a run through of the first campaign mission, we also saw Cabal with green Strand shields—part of Destiny 2's elemental shield matching system. These will be particularly weak to Strand elemental weapons and abilities, although, thanks to Lightfall removing the Match Game modifier, they won't be a chore to deplete with other loadouts either.

With Neomuna being a populated city—unlike most of Destiny 2's derelict patrol zones—I also wondered how that would be reflected. Will we see its citizens as we explore? The answer is: not really, no. As Bungie toured through the zones, we saw ghost-like figures made up of faint lines of yellow energy. These are, apparently, "virtual citizens". I'm disappointed by this, honestly—Neomuna is supposed to feel like a city under siege, but a scattering of holograms doesn't really convey the feel of an active civilization.

So yes, there's a lot of familiarity to how Neomuna will work as a patrol space. Hopefully the introduction of Strand as a movement tool—one specifically built into the city with grapple points—will mean there are plenty of secrets and fun things to find. But beside that, I'm definitely looking forward to another Escalation Protocol-style event to tackle. As long as the rewards are good, it should be a compelling reason to revisit—something sorely lacking from Beyond Light or The Witch Queen's public zones.

Phil Savage

Phil has been writing for PC Gamer for nearly a decade, starting out as a freelance writer covering everything from free games to MMOs. He eventually joined full-time as a news writer, before moving to the magazine to review immersive sims, RPGs and Hitman games. Now he leads PC Gamer's UK team, but still sometimes finds the time to write about his ongoing obsessions with Destiny 2, GTA Online and Apex Legends. When he's not levelling up battle passes, he's checking out the latest tactics game or dipping back into Guild Wars 2. He's largely responsible for the whole Tub Geralt thing, but still isn't sorry.