Solstice has returned to Destiny 2. The Summer holiday tradition of the looter-shooter comes back for the fifth year, tempting Guardians with new loot to chase, new armour to glam up with glows, a revamped Tower, cosmetics to earn (and pay for) and overall just a good time. If you want to find out all about how the new loop for Solstice works, what new guns you’ll be chasing and what the difference between Silver Leaves and Silver Ash is, we wrote a guide detailing just how Solstice works in 2022.
Is it a good time, though?
Destiny 2’s seasonal events have always felt… underwhelming. There is something about these events that makes them lacking when compared to other events from similar games. Sure, there’s always something new to chase, and, with Solstice specifically, there is the armour glows to earn, but it does feel as though something is missing.
We’re now in Destiny 2‘s fifth year, and it is the fourth Solstice taking place in the European Aerial Zone. Bungie has said that they have revamped the system, and to be fair they have, but is it enough? Unfortunately, I don’t believe it is.
While Destiny 2 Solstice 2022 will provide me with a pleasant time for a couple of hours, I know those are going to wain fast and it’s very clear that something needs to change with Solstice.
You can find more information about Solstice, and about Season 17, on the official Bungie.net webpage.
Want more Destiny 2 articles and guides? Check out more here at KeenGamer:
- Destiny 2: What To Expect From Arc 3.0?
- Destiny 2 Season 17 Grandmaster Nightfall Guide
- Destiny Community Faces Difficulty Conversations About Toxicity
The Grass Is Always Greener: The Solstice UI
One of the things I didn’t expect to be pleased by when I loaded into Solstice this year was the UI and the Tower redesign.
The green grass that now decorates the Tower is a really nice touch, one that makes everything feel so alive and summery – it honestly really makes me homesick for the old Tower, actually – making the Tower feel more distinct than any other time in Destiny. This is something Bungie has been doing a lot of lately, especially with other events like Iron Banner, where the Tower completely transforms during the course of the event to make it feel special. Well, it worked once again and Solstice has never looked better.
The UI elements are also such a nice touch. Golden borders and overlays around the Tower highlight to you that ‘Hey! It’s time to celebrate!’. New UI elements for the Event Card are slick and seamlessly integrated into the already existing quest menu, without clogging up the space. Even the widgets and information overlay telling you all about the event and how it works are well thought out and easy to find.
UI isn’t something we talk about very often, but I will have to hand it to Bungie that with this Solstice even the UI managed to help sell the summer spirit.
Solstice’s New Activity: The EAZ
For the fourth year in a row now, we return to the European Aerial Zone.
While this zone was an exciting break from normality back in the era of Forsaken, that lustre has since dulled over the preceding years to the point where the EAZ has become just a little bit boring. The task asked of Guardians in years past involved trouncing around the EAZ, island hopping to find different groups of a randomised enemy faction so that we could kill their leaders and earn more loot: the more bosses killed, the most chests we got to open. It wasn’t a particularly innovative system, but it got the job done.
Bungie has tried to mix it up a bit this year, with a revamped forage into the EAZ titled Bonfire Bash. While it does share some similarities with the original, it streamlines some other parts and adds mechanics to others. The most vital piece here is that instead of just killing bosses, we’re now killing bosses and throwing balls of light they drop into a central point – a Destiny staple at this point.
At the centre of the EAZ is a really pretty Bonfire, with aesthetics that match the pleasant grass look of the Tower. Throughout Bonfire Bash, this Bonfire will grow taller and taller the more balls are thrown into it, up to a maximum of 20. Every so often, Taken will mess with the Bonfire and you have to go kill them before continuing your hunt for bosses. Once you hit 10 minutes on the clock, or 20 orbs thrown, you’ll have to defeat a super boss at the end to claim your loot.
There are some things here… and some bad.
The shake-up from boss killing to also throwing balls has done a surprising amount to the activity.
Before, there was a lot of dead time spent exploring the islands and builds, helplessly trying to find the enemies you needed to kill. In Bonfire Bash, there are usually at least 3 bosses in a relatively easily accessible area, meaning that you don’t have to spend literal minutes routing around the labyrinthine depths of the EAZ’s buildings. Having to return to the centre with the balls is also just a nice addition – obviously not a complicated one by any means – as it means that you are almost always actually doing something.
Following on from that, the pace of the activity feels better too. Often in previous years, the activity would drag a lot and you would often have to spend the entire mission waddling around from place to place. Bonfire Bash gives you enough enemies, enough things to do and a confined area to do them. It’s no Menagerie or even the Sundial, but it is an activity that I can see myself running for a few more hours.
Additionally, the gameplay loop is solid here. Previous Solstice events basically revolved around doing activities from your armour, where the only reason to visit the EAZ was to get 100 Cabal kills or open 20 chests. Now, with the Silver Leaves and Silver Ash system, there’s an actual reason to come back to the EAZ aside from just getting the new guns. Whether that gameplay loop is good for all players is a different matter, but as a concept in the game it has turned out pretty well.
While Bonfire Bash is more fun than previous years’ EAZ activities, it is still just another EAZ activity.
This is the fourth year that we have been exploring this area now, without any substantial additions aside from buggy Light lifts and Cabal cannons. No matter how fun Bonfire Bash is, it will certainly turn sour much faster because it is confined to the walls and buildings of the EAZ – the area is cool, but after Solstice 2022 we’re likely going to have spent tens of hours here over the recent years, and it gets old fast.
The Silver Ash system is also just kind of redundant for a lot of players. If you play Destiny 2 regularly, you likely already have multiple sets of good armour, especially if you engage with the endgame like Grandmasters or Raiding. As such, while the rerolling and potential system of the Candescent armour sets is cool, it is ultimately wasted because you already have high-stat armour. Maybe for min-maxers and people who ‘just need 4 more points in Mobility to get triple 100 stats’ this is useful: for the regular player, this is just not worth the time investment.
If Silver Ash could be used to reroll weapon perks on the Something New or Compass Rose, I think more people would be willing to both give the EAZ a chance as well as the new weapons. Instead, by relegating it just to armour it becomes a chore very quickly into Solstice 2022, especially for those that don’t need high-stat armour.
Additionally, there are some parts of the Solstice experiences that I do miss: levelling up my armour from Green to Blue to Purple, or even just from Blue to Purple, felt like a tradition at this point. While it could be frustrating, it felt like an integral part of Solstice and it exemplified the Destiny experience, where through grinding activities and exploring the world you would see and feel the tangible change that was reflected through your armour. You felt like you had earned the White Glow we got every year, while also going through a sort-of ‘best hits’ of Destiny 2 over the last year.
In comparison, Eva just giving you a full set doesn’t have the same weight.
Also, this is certainly just a nit-picky thing, but I kind of miss having to run around the EAZ for chests. It was stupid, it was dumb, and you often got lost, but part of it felt more rewarding than getting my Compass Rose and blue engram spat out by the sentient Bonfire. This is most certainly a ‘rose-tinted glasses’ type situation, though.
Solstice New Armour and Guns and Glows, Oh My!
Solstice is often one of the most exciting Holiday events in the Destiny 2 calendar because we can earn some pretty cool rewards.
New armour is always available through Eververse, but Solstice is the only event where we get to play to earn armour. This tradition was only bolstered by the ability to get special White Glows that would equip to your Solstice gear if you completed certain tasks and activities during the course of the event.
The armour has returned this year (if in a bit of disappointing fashion) and so can earn the famous White Glow. This time, you must raise the Kindling mod slot on your Solstice armour slots to ‘Fully Kindled’, which requires a total of 6 Kindling, in order to make the armour shine. Whatever your opinion on the actual set itself, Solstice continues to be one of Destiny 2’s premier holiday events simply because we can actually earn this armour, as opposed to paying for it.
Personally, I… like this set. It is certainly the weakest Solstice set in a while, but there are bits and pieces that I like, such as the Warlock helmet.
What about the new guns? Well, the Compass Rose slug shotgun returns from last year, fresh with a new suite of perks and a new Origin Trait to match. The actual ‘new’ gun is called the Something New and it is a 120 RPM Stasis Hand Cannon with a bit of a cheeky lore entry and flavour text relating to the fact that this is a reskinned gun. Both guns receive the new Origin Trait called ‘Dream Work’ which reloads the gun on an assisted final blow or assist, potentially overflowing the magazine.
Most people have written off this Hand Cannon, but I am honestly loving it. This is the first new 120 RPM Hand Cannon since Bottom Dollar, and in a world saturated by Adaptive Frame Hand Cannons, the Something New just hits different. I was lucky enough to get Ensemble and Headstone on my first roll, which has become an amazing weapon in allowing me to team shoot, something that this weapon promotes due to the strange Origin Trait.
While not for everyone, this Hand Cannon is certainly for me and is my favourite part of Solstice 2022 so far… oh, and the Compass Rose can roll with Incandescent now, so that’s pretty cool.
The Event Card
One of the actual new features introduced for Destiny 2 Solstice 2022 was a new challenge tracker called the Event Card.
This Event Card has both a free and paid track to it, where Guardians can complete challenges to get access to Kindling (for the Candescent armour set) and Event Tickets. Once completed, these challenges also help unlock the Event exclusive seal and Title.
Players can pay 1000 Silver to upgrade to the paid portion of the Card, also known as the Upgraded Event Card. This paid track offers a handful of unique cosmetics, 3 of which are immediately given upon completion and the other 4 are available through trading in Event Tickets.
When Bungie first announced this system a few weeks back, I was worried that this was going to be another example of them splitting up the player base based on who owns what (something increasingly common between season passes and Dungeon Keys) but upon reviewing the paid portion of the card… it seems really anaemic.
For 1000 Silver, players get access to:
- The Hot Dog Eating Champ Exotic Emote (instant access)
- The Summery Exotic Ghost Shell (instant access)
- A unique Legendary Shader (instant access)
- The Skateboarding Legendary Emote (Event Tickets)
- Exclusive Exotic Ship (Event Tickets)
- The Peach Ship Transmat Effect (Event Tickets)
- Half Eaten Cookie Ghost Hologram (Event Tickets)
Bungie has previously stated that this Event Card had a total weight in Silver that equalled around 3000. While that may technically be true, this Upgraded Event Card doesn’t seem remotely worth it.
It’s not my place to say whether these items have definitive value – you may really, really love the Skateboarding emote – but at first glance, they don’t stand up to the asking price. Charging for cosmetics in a pass like this was always going to rub the community the wrong way, but I would rather they be enticing cosmetics if they were to exist. Right now, this seems so stripped down and just not worth it compared to other avenues of the game, where Exotic ships and Ghosts are plentiful.
I assume Bungie are going to continue this system for at least another year. While I would prefer if all this content was free, I think it needs some work to be ‘worthwhile’ and worthy of its 1000 Silver price: including an Exotic and Legendary ornament could justify giving the Card that price tag.
Say they offered the cool Whitherhoard Ornament in Eververese right now alongside a Legendary ornament for the Something New with the other cosmetics; it would be worth the price to a lot more people than it currently is. I don’t know how feasible this idea is or how much Bungie would lose if they went through with it, but it’s just an example of what would make the Event Card appealing to someone like me.
At the moment, I’m just going to pretend that the Upgraded Event Card doesn’t exist.
The King of Summer in Solstice
What the free portion of the Event Card does give, though, is access to the Seal and Title.
By completing challenges in the Card, they also become unlocked in your Seal. After completing all 24 challenges, you unlock the Seal and the Solstice title ‘Flamekeeper’. On its own, this is already a cool way to keep players engaged: when offered a challenge and a reward to chase, Destiny players will do a lot to get their hands on it. A title as cool as ‘Flamekeeper’ is worth a bit of grind.
In addition to that, though, the Card also gives you access to the Seal and title ‘Reveller’, which requires participation and completion of the 4 other holiday event Seals.
While seemingly a small thing, the introduction of titles and Seals into the holiday events is a great way to spice things up and keep Guardians like me engaged. I like completing Seals and earning titles, so I invest more time in this event because there is a Seal. And if I manage to get it, it means I’ll be more excited for the next holiday event, Festival of the Lost, as I will be able to slowly work my way towards the ‘Reveller’ title.
Once again, this is a relatively small inclusion, but one that helps keep engagement with Solstice just that little bit higher. Good job, Bungie.
So where have we landed with Solstice this year?
Overall, the event isn’t bad. It’s very beneficial to new players who need high-stat armour, the EAZ is a fun romp for a couple of hours, the armour is worth collecting for transmog purposes, and the new guns aren’t too shabby.
But it just feels like Destiny 2 Solstice is missing some of that magic.
It is an unfair comparison to make, but I will always think back to the very first Solstice in Destiny 2. Bungie was a different studio back then, owned by Activision and aided by 2 other very talented studios, and they were on a completely different model of gameplay back then: expansions and expansion passes versus the seasonal model we have today. Solstice was able to be bigger because it was all we had to look forward to between the end of Warmind and the beginning of Forsaken.
Even then, I still long for those days. The grind to get the armour and upgrade its rarity was an exciting concept back then, watching as each piece changed and transformed before your eyes; the revamped Campaign missions from the Red War, tuned to endgame level difficulty, were hard and fun to get through; the rewards were worthwhile, I even still have the Solstice Exotic ship equipped to this day. I doubt Bungie will ever be able to reclaim the status that Solstice once had, especially not as the game goes through more and more rounds of content vaulting.
However, Destiny 2‘s seasonal events are beginning to lose their spark – they feel more lifeless than ever, a way to sell armour in Eververse and nothing more. What sucks is that I know that effort went into the EAZ this year, that effort went into the armour upgrading system, that effort went into the Something New and making it make sense in the world, and that I know Bungie worked hard to make Solstice what it is today.
It’s just not working. Solstice, and most other holiday events in Destiny 2, continue to lack in one way or another, and this year is no exception. I’ll have my fun with Solstice for a few more hours, but I can see the end of the tunnel ahead, and it’s not far now.