Review: Destiny 2
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC (coming soon)
The story is more present and engaging (despite being very short), there is more variety in the weapons, matchmaking has been improved, there is better support for clans, the classes feel more balanced, and some of the environments are simply breathtaking. This is a sequel worthy of your time.
When I first saw Destiny 2‘s gameplay, I found it hard to let myself get excited for the game. I enjoyed my time with the original Destiny, but I felt exhausted by the end of the third expansion. I had finished the campaign, beaten the first 2 raids on both difficulties, completed countless patrols and even made it to the lighthouse. By the time Rise of Iron was released, I had moved on to the more strategy-reliant Tom Clancy’s Rainbow 6: Siege.
I always missed Destiny though, the unique mix of science-fiction and fantasy elements, the accessible shooting, the fantastic mix of PVP and PVE activities – it might haver been criminally light on story, but it still had so much content to offer players. Thankfully, Bungie had figured out when enough was enough and how they wanted to develop an actual sequel to Destiny, not just downloadable expansions.
Destiny 2 is finally here, and I can honestly say it has me well an truly hooked. Not only that, but it is a major improvement over the original game. The story is more present and engaging (despite being very short), there is more variety in the weapons, matchmaking has been improved, there is better support for clans, the classes feel more balanced, and some of the environments are simply breathtaking. This is a sequel worthy of your time.
It’s immediately noticeable that the game is simply stunning, both in regards to graphical fidelity as well as art direction. There have been a number of times where I have been mid-mission or mid-patrol and I’ve had to stop and truly take in the scenery. This is quite possibly the best environmental design we’ve seen from Bungie.
Much like the original Destiny, Destiny 2 sports an amazing soundtrack, though there are times where the music feels out of touch with what is actually happening in the story. There are times were the music should dark and fore-boding as you’re exploring an eery enemy ship with no actual enemies to shoot, and the music is going hammer-and-tongs like there is a ton of action on-screen. Aside from these minor occurrences, the soundtrack is stellar.
Set after the events of Rise of Iron, Destiny 2 opens with the Cabal Red Legion severing communications between the Solar System and attacking the Last City. The player aids in the evacuation of the city while Dominus Ghaul, leader of the Red Legion, attaches a mining device to the Traveler, draining it of its light. The player also loses their light while fighting Ghaul and is almost killed when they are kicked off a massive platform.
Waking two days later, the player escapes with their Ghost to the Farm, a small community of survivors in the European Deadzone (EDZ). Not long after, the player witnesses a vision that leads them to a shard of the Traveler in the EDZ, where they then recover their light. Meanwhile, the Cabal have the Speaker, and wish to use him to learn the way of the Light from the Traveler. Can one spark of light in a single guardian be enough to save The Speaker and mankind?
Straight out the gate, the narrative in Destiny 2 is much more effective than the first game’s story. For one thing, you actually encounter civilians early in the game’s story. These are the people you are fighting for, the ones who look to you for hope. You’ll also encounter NPCs on the various planets you begin to explore, who will give you a number of adventures to go on. You aren’t simply dropped into smaller missions, either. These NPCs have their own personalities and will talk to you throughout your adventures.
There were plenty of NPC characters in the original game, but none of them really struck me as memorable. For example, Lord Shaxx was simply there to provide PVP missions and rewards, as well as give feedback during PVP matches. He didn’t sound as unexcited as Peter Dinklage’s Ghost, but his voice acting left a lot to be desired. Now, he is full of character – I actually want to impress him with my Crucible performance. It’s not just Shaxx that has significantly more, but every other NPC you’ll encounter too. It’s a much appreciated improvement.
There are also cutscenes in the game that not only flesh out the story, but your enemies as well. Seeing Dominus Ghaul interact with the Speaker also lends gravity to the story – you actually feel like you’re fighting a losing fight, and that you truly are humanity’s last hope.
It’s not just the drama that has improved in Destiny 2, either. The game boasts a great deal more humour than the original game as well – and it all works. Ghost has some hilarious dialogue, and his interactions with Failsafe (a damaged Golden Age AI computer core) had me laughing out loud amidst all the chaos of the battlefield.
Overall, the story is more engaging than the original Destiny‘s, though it is still quite short compared to other modern games. Like its predecessor, the real hook of Destiny 2 is in its gameplay, as well as the amount of total content on offer – not just the story. Combined with the patrols, adventures, strikes, raids, classic multiplayer, competitive multiplayer, and all the other activities, the game is jam-packed full of content.
When it comes to the shooting and gameplay itself, nothing much has changed from Destiny 2‘s predecessor – except for some tweaks and balancing. Shooting is the same as it ever was, and you still have your classes and subclasses with their abilities. Shotguns are now considered heavy weapons, which is most likely to avoid the Crucible being overrun with them again. It sucks when you want to use one in PVE, but them’s the breaks.
When you’re not partnering up with other Guardians to complete the campaign or public events, chances are you’ll be shooting up other players in the Crucible, Destiny 2‘s PVP mode. The game features 11 maps in total (PlayStation 4 players have access to one extra map, ugh) each of which feel varied from each other in regards to their environmental design.
However, I’m not enjoying the PVP maps as much as I did the original Destiny, largely due to the fact that the maps have multiple bottle-neck points that become the focus of all the action. Maybe Bungie wanted to get away from the large-open maps of the first game that they felt necessitated vehicles and they’ve gone too far in the opposite direction, but each and every map plays exactly the same as each other.
Then there’s the focus on playing as a team, which makes running around solo practically impossible. You might have moments where you’re able to take on more than one enemy, but unless you have one or two of the highly-prized exotic weapons in your arsenal, you’re up the creek without a paddle when it comes to taking on multiple enemies. I’m playing on PlayStation, and I have come across zero players who use the team voice chat channel to form strategies, which means I bring friends or I face a veritable ass-kicking. It’s bedlam.
Still, like the PVE game, PVP will improve over time, and I guess that’s where Destiny 2 is a casualty of the modern games industry. It’s a fine game as it is, with many a wanted improvement, but it is also relying heavily on fan feedback, limited-time events and downloadable content to achieve true greatness. I might stick for the same amount of time as I did with the first game, I might not, I’m just getting a little tired of games that feel like they’re only at the beginning when you’ve technically reached the ending of the on-disc content.
I feel the need at this point in the review to address the presence of micro-transactions, which are indeed present in the game. However, I don’t feel that Destiny 2 is pay-to-win, nor do I feel that the ability to buy gear with real-life currency ruins the game. They are simply there, and ultimately kinda pointless when you consider you earn a new Bright engram with every experience level you earn after hitting level 20. They’re odd, but they’re not game-breaking.
|Ultimately, Destiny 2 is a sequel that fans of the original will appreciate, as will newcomers. Despite its PVP being a letdown, there is a ton of other content to experience - and there will be even more arriving in the near future.||3.5 3.5 ( on 5 rating)|