When Destiny launched in 2014, a year after it was originally meant to hit shelves, it was heavily criticized for its lack of story content, as well as complaints regarding its unintuitive design and a bored Peter Dinklage. A year later with the release of "The Taken King", it seemed that Destiny had finally found its feet, refining many aspects of its interface and introducing more narrative. With a stable foundation from which to now springboard, does Destiny 2 have what it takes to outshine its predecessor?
Within the first few hours, you'll notice that Destiny 2 delivers what most people believe its predecessor lacked the most: plot. Where Destiny left you to discover the world through grimoire cards that were only available to read online, Destiny 2 immediately rallies players to defeat Dominus Ghaul, a maniacal Cabal Warlord who believes that the Traveler's gift of immortality to the Guardians has made them weak. With the aid of a cage designed to capture the Traveler and draw out its power, he takes away our connection to the light in the hopes of claiming it for himself. As an antagonist, he quickly earns our hatred by taking away our power, our home and the family of NPCs upon which we had come to rely.
The sequence that follows has our lightless but not completely defenceless Guardian attempting to escape the now Cabal controlled Last City. Following a vision of a possible way to reconnect to the light, players eventually find a group of refugees that take you back to the Farm, Destiny 2's new social area. Without your light, navigating the world is more perilous and the double-jump you used so frivolously is gone. Without any of your abilities, you have to rely purely on the weapon you have to hand. The sequence isn't long but it makes you realise how reliant Guardians are on their connection to the light and compels you to regain your stolen power. Narratively it feels a little cheap and slightly rushed, but it brings all players, be they old or new, onto a level playing field.
Destiny 2 tells an engaging science-fantasy romp across the solar system, regaining lost power, gathering scattered forces and retaking a world that has been stolen from you, although there was one minor plot point that stuck out as being a little odd. During many of the game's cut-scenes and much of the story dialogue, the player is constantly reminded that they are the only guardian capable of completing the multitude of set tasks as they are the only guardian with a connection to the light, a point that goes completely out of the window the second you step foot on a world and notice groups of players going about their business. It's not a massive sticking point, but it does break the immersion.
Through the campaign we are introduced to four new areas: The European Dead Zone that looks like how I Am Legend would have done if it were set in Poland or Germany; a floating arcology on the seas of Saturn's Moon, Titan; Nessus, a Centaur or minor planet that has been converted into a machine world by the Vex; and finally Jupiter's moon, Io, the last place that The Traveler touched before The Collapse. Each of these new locations features tons of activities to keep you engaged, more of which become available as you progress through the campaign.
Public events offer a quick boost of experience and possible improvements to your gear. Adventures are optional side-quests that reward players with additional loot, and also help to flesh out the worlds and give us a little more background to the story. Then there are Lost Sectors, which are short dungeons containing a loot chest, and each zone also has hidden Region chests to discover. Patrols make a return and remain largely unchanged from how they worked in Destiny. Challenges are similar to Destiny's bounties and are a set of three tasks for each zone that are refreshed daily and provide players with yet more opportunities to earn rewards. Strikes also make a return and play a similar role to that in the original, while meditations are a new activity that task players with replaying story missions.
There is an almost overwhelming amount of content, but it helps to make the grind feel like less of a struggle as there is more of a choice of activities. No matter which you undertake, they reward minor loot and also region reputation tokens that can be traded in to earn more powerful gear, so all the time you feel that you are progressing in some way. Of course, once players hit the soft power level cap of 265, only a few of these activities will provide new gear that improves your total power level.
Like its predecessor, much of the game revolves around completing the same tasks over and over again in order to earn more powerful gear in order to prepare for the raid, such as completing the weekly milestones. Thankfully, Destiny 2's gun-play is still as tight as ever, as would be expected from Bungie's long history of shooters, and this makes the grind less of a chore. Each weapon reacts as you would expect with single-shot weapons like Scout rifles having much more controllable recoil and packing a bigger punch, while SMGs require shorter bursts of fire in order to keep them on target.
The way weapons are categorised has received an overhaul in Destiny 2 that changes how players will approach their loadouts. Guardians no longer have primary and secondary weapons with set weapon types belonging to each category. Instead, they have have been replaced with kinetic and energy weapons with all of the usual scout rifles, auto rifles and submachine-guns etc. appearing in both. Kinetic weapons work much like primary weapons did in Destiny and are your main bread and butter when it comes to gunning down hordes of enemies, whereas Energy weapons are better suited for depleting an enemy's shields. Heavy weapons have been replaced with Power weapons. This time, though, it isn't just your usual explosive ordinance like rockets; shotguns and sniper rifles have been moved into this category too. This is most likely to help balance PvP where shotguns and snipers reigned supreme, but its effect on PvE isn't greatly noticeable.
Destiny 2 is certainly more refined and therefore more accessible to new players. This is in part due to the improvements made to the Director, Destiny's map interface that can be opened at any time. Players no longer need to return to orbit to move to a different world — you can now fast travel between set points and upcoming Public Events are now marked on the map. Then there is the new Guided Games feature that lets players that would not normally get to experience some of the endgame content get help from more experienced players. Joining a clan can also help towards your progress, even if you prefer to play solo, as you'll be able to earn high-level engrams when your clan-mates complete endgame activities. Bungie hasn't changed the fundamentals of how the endgame progression process works but they have made it feel a lot more accessible.
Despite all the quality of life changes and added activities, Destiny 2 doesn't quite feel like a sequel. There are no new races so we are still fighting the same enemies, albeit in new locations. There are no new classes of Guardians or element types. Of course, playing it safe rather than adding too much too soon does come with its advantages and means that Bungie has been able to focus on getting everything squared away and shipshape rather than trying to shoehorn in superfluous features on day one. Destiny 2, much like Destiny did before, has room to grow. With two expansions on the horizon, we may see a few changes in the near future.
Destiny 2 only contains 13 achievements encompassing the majority of the game's activities. In order to unlock everything, players will need to advance far enough with all three classes to unlock all three of their subclasses. They will also need to reach level 20, complete 30 challenges, a Heroic Public Event, a Flashpoint, a Nightfall Strike, collect a total of 15 different Exotic items and play enough PvP to complete the Shaxx's Call to Arms quest line. The majority of these will likely come through normal play. The more difficult achievements come in the form of Belly of the Beast and The Prestige, which require players to complete the Leviathan raid, and to complete the raid or a Nightfall strike on prestige difficulty respectively.
SummaryDestiny 2 takes the groundwork set out by its predecessor and refines some of its rough edges, especially in terms of its plot. Bungie hasn't changed the fundamentals of the game but has made it feel a lot more accessible to new players. They've increasing the number of activities there are for players, although the grind does eventually set in. That said, it doesn't quite feel like a sequel. There isn't much in the way of brand new content — a lot of what has been added is the same as before but just repackaged in some way. The title does still have plenty of room to grow and if its life cycle is anything like that of the original Destiny, the game may look and feel different in two years time. With two expansions already on the horizon, we may even see a few changes in the very near future.
- Engaging plot
- Accessible to new and old players
- Tons of activities
- Lack of truly new ideas
- Still very heavily focused on the grind
EthicsThe reviewer spent approximately 32 hours shooting hordes of enemies, earning loot, and increasing his power level bit by bit. An Xbox One copy was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.
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