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The Vexcalibur quest is Destiny 2 at its best

With excellent puzzles, parkour, and combat, the Destiny 2 Vexcalibur quest is Bungie’s FPS game at its finest in the face of the Lightfall backlash.

Destiny 2 Vexcalibur quest for secret Exotic: The huge Vex named Brakion fighting three Guardians.

The Destiny 2 Lightfall expansion undoubtedly got off to a rocky start, due to some of the narrative shortcomings of its campaign. However, the game is still in a great position, and its most recent secret Exotic mission is a testament to that – the quest to find Vexcalibur is Destiny 2 at its best.

The secret Exotic quest for the Destiny 2 Vexcalibur glaive was sneakily released with the launch of the second week into Season of Defiance and the Lightfall expansion. Players were quick to notice some strange Vex occurrences in the Gulch in the EDZ. Once it was figured out how to start the Destiny 2 Exotic quest for Vexcalibur, players were primed to start the descent into the Vex Network.

From the beginning of The Variable quest it’s clear that we’re in for something special. We’ve stumbled upon mysterious Vex signals with no overt guidance from the game. We’re revisiting some of the most intriguing lore in the Destiny 2 universe about the Vex, and most importantly, how a long-lost Destiny 2 character is making a surprise return. In Season of Arrivals during the Shadowkeep expansion, the grumpy yet brilliant researcher Asher Mir made a valiant sacrifice inside the Pyramidion on Io to prevent the Witness from potentially uncovering important information. For a long time it was believed he had died until players discovered a friendly Vex Harpy conversing in Morse code in Season of the Splicer. Well, it’s that very same Harpy that makes a return in the Vexcalibur secret Exotic quest.

The Variable quest has given players the opportunity to dive back into this lore tidbit. We see Asher Mir’s projections as we work our way down into the dark depths of the network, learning more about how he has fared inside the labyrinthine Vex Network as he desperately tries to reach out to us. While Asher doesn’t – or can’t – utter a word to us, we understand the situation he’s in. Asher has been stuck inside the Vex Network for years now, slowly being consumed and transformed into a part of the network itself.

Destiny 2 Vexcalibur quest: The expansive environment of the Vex Network, bathed in a red glow.

In many ways, we very much feel like adventurers, brave Guardians finding a backdoor into the all-knowing Vex and their network to help a friend in need. We crawl through tiny crevices, leap over vast seas of nothingness, and find our own way through the hostile Vex Network that always appeared so nebulous. It’s a look behind the curtain of the Vex, revealing even more complexities beyond the shifting bowels of the physical Vex constructs like the Pyramidion.

The Vex Network is not a place for Guardians – it’s a tool, an intricate machine knowable only to the Vex that operates outside of known reality. This sense of exploring the esoteric is very much conveyed to us by the highly unique environment we find ourselves in, bringing the often very confusing Vex to life with a sense of physicality, yet retaining the unknowable quality of the Vex in the vast abyss of their network.

Besides The Variable quest providing a good opportunity to bring back some of the most intriguing lore details with a fan-favourite character and superb environment, Destiny 2’s combat design is also firing on all cylinders. Like Destiny 2’s raids, dungeons, and the best parts of the Destiny 2 Lightfall Legendary campaign, a combat-puzzle brew is the perfect blend.

Destiny 2 Vexcalibur quest: The haunting environment of the Vex Network, with a large spire ascending into the abyss in the distance.

You’ll be fighting wave after wave of ceaseless Vex while memorising puzzle combinations, causing you to dance around from one side of the arena to the other with increasing difficulty. You’ll be collecting items from the metallic corpses of your enemies to open a safe room before the time runs out and you’re deleted from the Network. You’ll even fight bosses while solving simple puzzles. This added layer of complexity to combat encounters not only makes it more engaging than just firing at hordes of unwavering robots, but also encourages you to change your playstyle.

As a solo player, I had to survive and solve puzzles at the same time, without a second or third player to assist in either task. While no doubt a challenge, it immersed me in the hostile environment of the Vex Network. If I wanted to survive, then I’d best be at my A-game; I’d actually need to use the complex builds I’d spent the past year creating, like the best Destiny 2 Titan build, Hunter build, and Warlock build.

At the start of The Variable quest, crowd control was key. Killing the endless waves of enemies wasn’t necessary, only holding them at bay while I searched. This was the perfect time to put my Strand Titan build to the test for the very first time, suspending enemies and creating Tangle explosions that gave me the time I needed. However, once I reached the first true boss, involving collecting items from dead Vex before hiding in the safe zone, I realised I’d need to change things up. Crowd control wasn’t the solution, I needed high survivability and AoE damage. Hello Solar Titan and Osteo Striga!

It’s rare in Destiny 2 that you need to adjust your playstyle, at least within an activity. You might have a loadout for Nightfalls or the Destiny 2 Root of Nightmares raid, but it’s unlikely you’ll ever need to change your approach from ‘destroy everything with big explosions’. Where The Variable secret Exotic quest excels, is how the intricately designed combat encounters, tightly woven with puzzles, and parkour encourage you to carefully think about how you tackle each and every objective. This experience was only heightened by playing solo.

The Destiny 2 Vexcalibur quest will no doubt be a highlight of Season of Defiance, and is a great tonic for anyone still disappointed by Lightfall’s campaign. However, when looked at through a wider lens, it’s a perfect showcase of Destiny 2 at its best, and the raw talent at Bungie.

While Season of Defiance has been popular, particularly with a brand new secret Exotic quest to dive into, Lightfall is a larger investment. Check out our Destiny 2 Lightfall review if you’re curious about picking up the latest expansion.