After a solid hype, some impressive gameplay videos and lots of promises, on September 6, 2017, Bungie released the sequel to popular first person shooter/ MMO clone Destiny. Don’t get me wrong, I eagerly sunk endless hours of constant grind into the original. Reminiscing on the time I spent playing Destiny, I remember hours spent in loading screens, unfinished storylines and being terrible at PVP. Every opportunity that Bungie had to further develop the story or fix some of the truly annoying facets of the game, was met with new story threads and more broken features.
So, suffice to say, when I booted my Xbone on the morning of the 6th, I was expecting disappointment. I’d seen Bungie play up Destiny before and not deliver, how would this be any different?
Boy was I wrong.
Destiny 2 is everything Destiny should have been, but better. Nearly every issue a regular player might have had with the original game has been fixed or mitigated. Destiny 2 is streamlined, fast paced and still packed with the lore and depth of story that you expect from the universe.
The story is set immediately after the end of the conclusion of the first game. (For those of you who haven’t played here’s a link to catch up on lore.) The story follows on from a set up at the end of The Taken King in which a signal is sent back to the Cabal home world advising of the legions defeat. Destiny 2 begins with the Earth being attacked by the Red Legion, an elite force of Cabal soldiers with a weapon that will destroy solar systems. The Legion comes in guns blazing and makes quick work of the Vanguards defences. They quickly destroy the tower and cut the guardians off from the Traveller’s light. Led by Dominus Gaul, the Red Legion seeks to wield the light of the Traveller and become guardians themselves.
You play as the last guardian with light, trying to reform the Vanguard and overthrow Gaul. A very typical ‘Chosen One’ narrative, but done well enough to feel new. A satisfying development as far as story goes comes in the form of addressing the constant moaning of players about loose ends. Quite a few plot-holes were advanced or at least nodded to during the story. A welcome change from the approach of leaving strings loose and starting new stories.
Destiny 2 has some pretty solid environment design. Plenty of moments will have you taking screenshots.
I often hesitate to comment on the graphics, I’m not one to wet my pants over some sweet framerate or that 4k resolution. But the effort put into the detail and the landscape makes every area satisfying to look at. As should be expected, the Xbox version has some issues with clipping and framerate in the more intense sections of the game. Ultimately these issues don’t affect the experience all that much. If you’re worried about that sort of thing, wait for it to come out on PC (October 24th, sorry master race).
The gameplay is smooth and intuitive, most of the controls carry over quite well from the first game. They haven’t changed the class system enough for it to be convoluted or difficult. There are a few issues with how slow the game can seem during the first playthrough. There is a slow crawl sequence in the early game which seems ripped right out of Call of Duty. Travel through Destiny 2’s HUGE maps can be a chore sometimes, dragging out the story missions until you get access to a Sparrow or Fast Travel. This on top of the inevitable grind, are my only issues with the gameplay. Ultimately these issues are minor and common to many MMOs at low levels.
Another day, another death for me in PVP 🙁
Bungie has done a brilliant job in bringing the PVP experience to Destiny 2. They’ve nodded to all the things that were great about the original game, without bringing too many of the issues. The PVP system is now two teams of four, facing off in a series of game modes in what seems a lot more like the PVP from the early Halo games. Overall the PVP feels a lot more balanced, and the matchmaking system, although it certainly has issues, isn’t as unforgiving as it was in the original. Being a casual player (Read: Awful at PVP), I won’t go into intense detail about how things have changed. Overall, it just feels nicer and way less sweaty, even in competitive.
Now on to the reason anybody plays an MMO, the endgame. Destiny 2 has not surprised this time around, the weekly Nightfall Strike is the same but with more difficult enemies and a time limit. A frustrating addition initially, it stops being a factor at all once you are suitably leveled. The raid, Leviathan, is nothing we haven’t seen before, and basically feels like a resleeve of Vault of Glass. Leviathan is fast paced and fun, but the final boss can be frustrating, with bugs in the gameplay ensuring frequent wipes even for the most skilled players.
The endgame for Destiny continues to be a frustrating grind, with endless rolls of useless gear waiting for that one piece you need which never comes. But overall, by the time you get there, you want it, you want it sooo bad. So you grind, and you grind, and you grind and then finally you’re max level and there is nothing to do. Then you do it all again with your next character.
Late game characters end up being pretty sick.
Overall, Destiny 2 is everything it set out to be, it exceeds the expectations of veteran players and sets up a story that even new players can engage with. Leaving the benchmark of the original Destiny far, far behind it. It’s satisfying for old fans to see the series find its footing. A nice middle ground between FPS and MMO, Destiny 2 is a title everyone should give a go.
Destiny 2 was reviewed on Xbox One.