Destiny 2 released a short while ago and has surpassed all of my expectations. I was initially worried after a lackluster Beta, but Bungie has outdone themselves. So much has been said and written about Destiny 2 I don’t feel a traditional review is needed. Instead this review will focus on the key strengths of the game and why this makes Destiny 2 a truly fun experience.
An Epic Storyline
The first game had a passable if shallow story that expanded and matured with its expansions but by separating a lot of lore to out of game Grimoire cards the story and experience was lacking to say the least. In Destiny 2 my Guardian was immediately thrown into an all-out war against the Traveller and Last City and despite all conventions I lost. The big bad Ghaul defeated me, drained my light and kicked me off a cliff. The game picks up with my Guardian depleted of power and vulnerable, as are the other main heroes from the universe.
The story won’t win any writing awards as there are some cheesy dialogue bits and some stretches in what seems plausible, but the story unfolds as the missions are completed in a very satisfying way. Bungie has also embedded a lot of lore and conversations with NPC’s I discovered as I progressed that fleshed out the universe in a very satisfying way. My only gripe is a slightly weak ending that brings Destiny 2 full circle instead of evolving the relationships with Hawthorne and the people she supported.
Characters That Are Actually Interesting
Forgetting the Dinklebot mishaps from the first game, the Destiny universe already had some memorable characters, in particular Nathan Fillions Cayde-6 but the sequel manages to add so many more. There are many great new characters such as Hawhtorne, Devrim Kay and Asher Mir, but the standout is Failsafe an AI I met as the story progressed.
Failsafe was part of a Cayde-6 storyline and she is as interesting as his character has become. Failsafe has been alone for some time and has developed a split personality, one is a proper, if a bit misleading, voice of reason and the other is a sarcastic and belittling naysayer. The timing and delivery of the characters lines led me to laugh out loud more than a few times. Bottom line there are characters in Destiny 2 that actually add a great deal to lore and flavor of the world and that makes a big difference.
Gameplay That Is Oh So Smooth and Satisfying
One of the things Destiny got right from the start (and no surprise as they are the creators of the Halo Universe) is the gameplay and shooting mechanics. Mobility is smooth and pleasant, skills and abilities are a joy to use and really add a strategic flair to large battles and the gunplay is downright perfect. Destiny 2 features many types of weapons from pistols and scout rifles to swords and rocket launchers and all of them feel distinct, unique and handle as you would assume.
The abilities and environmental aspects of the weapons add a depth to the gameplay that is just plain delightful to experience. My main character is a Titan, and my rally barricade combined with a well-timed grenade throw has saved me from countless close calls. The super abilities load just fast enough to make a difference but not so often that I feel overpowered against the enemies. The balance, speed, responsiveness and feedback Destiny 2 offers is like butter and makes playing the game enjoyable in a way that is hard to adequately describe.
Loot Is a Main Focus of the Game and Does Not Disappoint
In Destiny 2 loot drops at a pretty regular rate and when big tasks are accomplished great rewards in the forms of Bright, Exotic, and Legendary Engrams pop up with nice regularity once you hit Level 20. With the engrams I was able to get new ships, shaders, emotes, sparrows, weapons, and armor. I also found I had exotics appearing more often than ever which makes for an exciting surprise and some tough choices as only one weapon and armor exotic can be equipped at a time.
The change to shaders being useable items with limits but can be applied independently to each armor and weapon item was worrying at first, but as my level got higher more and more shaders dropped. Now I can customize every bit of my loadout as I want instead of hoping the one universal shader makes my armor look cool. I have more shaders than I need and more keep dropping which is very cool and something I came around to quickly.
Bottom line, loot in Destiny 2 is very important and Bungie has really nailed the frequency and release options for many types of loot. Aside from drops as you battle it is really easy to get engrams from various NPCs as you explore side tasks and work through all you can do in the game. The core three guardians Cayde-6, Zavala and Ikora also have weekly tasks that give some nice rewards. Loot is prevalent in the game and terrible fun to experience as new weapons, armor and items are encountered.
There Is So Much To Do Now
In the original game much of end game tasks required a lot of level grinding for loot and equipment and the tasks were really basic. Do the same strikes over and over again or the boring cycle of patrols or re-do some tough levels. In Destiny 2 so much has been added it is almost overwhelming, but in a good way. Aside from the regular missions, strikes, raids and crucible multiplayer there are many side events on the main planets to explore.
Some are old like the patrols and public events, although these have been re-worked to be more prevalent and interesting. The more basic additions are lost sectors which are simple loot caves requiring a boss be beaten to unlock a chest of goodies. Both of these are marked on the maps and can be found with some exploration. The gold chests are one use only per character, but lost sectors can be re-explored to grind some loot and XP.
They also added adventures which are short side missions assigned by NPC’s that are generally very interesting, add lore to the main game and can be handled in bite size segments. There are also daily and weekly challenges as well as flashpoints that give tokens and loot rewards that can be done as you explore other tasks.
Multiplayer is also back with a passion in the form of the tried and true PVP Crucible game modes as well as PVE Strikes and Raids. Like in previous games Raids will be added as time moves on and Strikes will be cycled as well. I have not run through a Raid yet but have played plenty of Crucible matches and strikes, the new maps and tweaks to the systems are appreciated and make the already addicting multiplayer that much better. Multiplayer also rewards with engrams and items so it is well worth playing just to keep evolving your character.
In the end all of this additional content feeds the main experience of Destiny 2 which is gaining in Light power by having better gear which can be obtained by drops or trading in tokens for engrams. By adding all this content, and making it replayable in a fun way, Bungie has actually made it pleasant to grind towards better gear so multiplayer and Raids can be enjoyed as designed. It is a really neat circle of gameplay and in the original game it became a slog at times, but in Destiny 2 it is truly fun to try the many new options for leveling my Light level.
Is It All Perfect?
Is anything perfect? Not really, but Destiny 2 comes pretty close. The dialogue is fun but cheesy, the lore is handed out much better, but an in-game grimoire is sorely needed to really enjoy the universe Bungie has created. I found the ending of the main story to be underwhelming, but that quickly got overshadowed by the sheer amount of end game content and challenges.
In the end Destiny 2 is a stellar game and improves on nearly every aspect of the original title. It looks stunning, plays as smooth as can be, there is an insane amount to do and loot is finely tuned to keep players engaged for a long time. The original Destiny game grew by leaps and bounds as new expansions were released. With the excellent state Destiny 2 started in I am very excited to see what new directions Bungie brings me as I continue my Legend in Destiny 2 for a long time to come. Destiny 2 is available right now on Xbox One and PS4 and will be released on PC platforms via Bungie.Net on October 24th.