Welcome Back to the Fray Guardians - Destiny 2 (REVIEW)
written by Jay Hammon (@Gravity_Flux)
I can tell you from the days I’ve logged into the Destiny universe that I’ve played through the early launch days where the game felt broken all the way through Bungie learning from their mistakes when we saw them adjusting and tweaking the game via DLC and expansions until they finally got things mostly right. Hopping into Destiny 2 I was a little worried that all their hard work and progress would be undone in the new game but I was happy to find that Bungie aims to make Destiny 2 even better than its predecessor. Did they achieve their goal? Read on to find out.
I have to say that one of my favorite things about starting Destiny 2 was the memories section at the beginning. Destiny 2 does a showcase of all of your great achievements from the first game and lists the people involved in the parties you completed these events with. It shows who you were with when you completed VOG or conquered the Taken King in addition to many other milestones. For me this was a brilliant reminder of all of the fun, frustration, and feelings of accomplishment I’ve had playing Destiny as well as all the friends I’ve made along the way. I noticed that for all of my group memories (there will be a few memories that you did solo) my buddy Striker 503 was a part of them. Not only did this make me realize how much of a team we are but it reminded me of the years upon years we’ve been playing together. Bungie managed to do something very simple that not only pulled at the strings of nostalgia when it comes to their game but also made me think about all the friends I’ve made in the gaming community over the decades and how much I appreciate those friendships. Thank you, Bungie. That was a great and very personal touch that I hope isn’t wasted on most gamers.
I’m more of a PVE player when it comes shooters. I want story and to battle the onslaught of the enemy horde with my friends so the first thing I did once Destiny 2 launched was jump into the campaign. I chose to create a new character because I’d read there would be more character customization. If there was more I didn’t notice and felt pretty let down by the lackluster offerings in this department. I decided to keep using the new character rather than hop back out and load my main Titan character from the previous game. You can port over your previous character but really all you get is your character design; loot and abilities have been “destroyed” by the Cabal.
The campaign for Destiny 2 gives you a lot more story than Destiny did but to be fair that’s not a hard feat to accomplish. The premise of Destiny 2 is a Cabal army named the Red Legion, lead by Ghaul, has attacked the tower. They laid waste to the guardians and claimed the Traveler for themselves. With the light gone and the guardians scattered and powerless you begin your journey in earnest. I really enjoyed the section of the game where my guardian was struggling to come to terms with the destruction and lack of abilities. The music, ambiance and tone of the game reminded me so much of the dark and melancholy sections of Halo: ODST. It also put some pressure on my tactics moving forward since it was no longer a matter of a simple revive from my ghost. Ghaul has brought death to the undying.
As you progress through the campaign and unlock more abilities you’ll be using a new HQ location. At the Farm you’ll buy weapons, armor and confer with Hawthorne the faction leader. While here I’d suggest exploring the buildings and various ways to get from building to building to find out how to unlock sentry rank boosts. Consider this a fun mini game that’s yours for the finding. You’ll end up getting back in touch with most of the old crew such as Cayde-6 and Zavala as you explore earth’s EDZ (European Dead Zone), Titan, Nessus, and Io.
All in all I really enjoyed the story and campaign. There are teasers and foreshadowing for events coming in DLC if you pay attention. I’m excited to see what comes in the way of those expansions and for the first raid. Strikes and public events are back. There’s not much new with the strikes other than to me they feel more like smaller raids than they did previously. There’s more platforming elements and you need to pay more attention as you move through the strike. Previously I felt like I could run and gun through the strikes without much care but Bungie took care to leave some surprises lying in wait for unsuspecting guardians. Public events are listed on your map with their location and start time so you can easily find the nearest public event. There’s a lot more to find and do in the campaign and exploratory mode in Destiny 2.
Some of the tweaks that we see in Destiny 2 have to do with your inventory system and gear. You can now enter your inventory screen, make adjustments to your armor, infuse weapons ,and otherwise customize your character without constantly being pulled out of that menu when something occurs in the background... like traveling to a different location. On that note, you no longer have to return to orbit to pick your next location. You can view locations and decide to travel there or not without having to endure a loading screen. You can also fast travel around the various maps to key locations to cut back on foot or sparrow travel. But back to gear! You will now be able to use gear mods that will add attributes to your weapons and armor. I chose to wait to use these till I hit level 20 because once you infuse or breakdown an item you’ll lose that mod. There’s also been a tweak to shaders. You can now shade each piece of armor, your weapons and vehicles. BUT your shaders are consumables. You’ll earn them frequently and in sets so you can make some really cool changes to your character but if you use all of one type of shader it could be a while before you find more to finish your work of art. Choose wisely guardian.
A main attraction for any shooter is PVP. In the Destiny universe this is called the Crucible. Here you’ll test your mettle against other guardians in various game types and different maps. You’ll have the usual offerings here with some unique Destiny tweaks. The first two days I was unable to find a match (I clocked a 15 minute wait for one attempt). I’m not sure if this was a server issue or due to everyone trying to reach max level via the campaign before they attacked PVP. Either way it was a bit frustrating but it all seems to be working fine now. Currently you can choose quick play or competitive modes. Pay attention to your active quests and milestones because you may need to be playing and winning in competitive mode to accomplish them so your games in quick play won’t be helping you towards completion. After a few games I learned some pretty interesting tactics using the new subclasses in conjunction with the returning ones. Needless to say, if PVP is your cup of tea then you’ll be able to happily log numerous hours into Crucible matches whether you choose to dive in with a fire team or fly solo.
Some other great additions to Destiny 2 are clans and guided games. By joining a clan not only will you have access to other gamers able to join you in completing your current tasks, but you’ll earn clan rewards. If one benefits... all benefit. Free loot? I’m in! Guided games is designed to make it easier to find parties for big events like raids. Remember having to deal with LFG in Destiny and crossing your fingers that the randos you synced up with weren’t complete jackwads? Now you can use guided games to find a clan that’s short a party member and is willing to take you into the fold. This doesn’t mean you have to join their clan. All it means you have a group of people who regularly play together, know how to work together and are willing to help you through your quest. Thanks for listening Bungie!
There is so much new content and so many improvements made in Destiny 2 that you really just need to start playing to realize how much work has been done. From the character interface, story, music, and amazing visuals there’s so much to love. As usual, there are a few things that need to be addressed as we move forward but if Bungie showed us anything with the first Destiny it’s that they listen and will work hard to keep us happily playing. As always find me, Gravity Flux, on XB1 for a game.
4.5 out of 5
DOPE! Totally makes up for the first game's shortcomings
- Lack of character design/customization
- Loss of Destiny loot/stats
- Short campaign
- Not much for returning players
+ Improved story
+ Stunning visuals
+ Accesible gameplay