Destiny 2 REVIEW
For the past three-four weeks since Destiny 2 launched, my life has been absolutely consumed by it - which is something I never thought I'd be saying after having such a strong dislike to the original. While Destiny 2 is not a revolutionary step-up over its predecessor, its clear Bungie has learnt a lot from fan feedback over the past 3 years of supporting Destiny and has crafted what Destiny should have been. Although, Destiny 2 still has quite a few glaring issues that stem from the first game, and while nowhere near as bad, are still a problem, especially for it's life cycle.
Your Legacy Continues, Guardian
Upon booting the game for the first time, you're introduced to a cinematic that helps set the tone of the game and the story that follows, an immediate improvement showing that 'yes this time we have a story'. It follows with your legacy, a slideshow showcasing all your greatest achievements both when and who you achieved them with from the first game - a small but great feature giving a nod to all the dedicated Destiny players, and a trip down memory lane for someone like myself who stopped playing Destiny over two years ago.
Any of your characters made from the first game carry over, which is another great touch for fans who have spent the past three years attached to their characters. However, you cannot edit any previously made characters appearance which is extremely disappointing, and the character creator remains the same from the first game copy-pasted over with little to no additions.
The game begins with an opening set-piece of The Tower, the main hub in the original, being destroyed by The Red Legion and their leader Dominus Ghaul, which introduces players to main gameplay mechanics and serves as a plot device pushing the story forward. At the end of the opening mission, The Red Legion capture the big floating sphere known as The Traveller, taking away the light which gives Guardians their abilities. Destiny 2's overall story is a significant step up over the original Destiny's, with much more of a focus on cinematic story-telling with beautifully rendered CGI cutscenes, giving supporting characters a personality as opposed to just being your generic quest givers.
Dialogue between these characters is both hit and miss, with Cayde-6 inparticular delivering excellently executed lines that are hilarious from Cayde. However, other characters, while still doing a great job, simply fall flat and just aren't as memorable. One thing that definitely is memorable, is its soundtrack. Bungie always nail it in this department, with atmospheric music playing in the background of your current situation. Whether you're casually exploring the surface of Io, fighting the Fallen in the wastelands of the European Dead Zone, or engaging in an epic boss battle - Destiny's perfectly fitting space orchestra allures in the background.
However, Destiny 2's plot is extremely generic and weak. The game begins, bad guy takes your power, you reclaim your power, visit three planets to reunite the three vanguards - Cayde-6, Zavala and Ikora Rey - before then taking the fight to Ghaul and completing the story. While its greatly improved over the original Destiny's non-existent plot, its a shame to see such potential with its amazing cutscenes and dialogue be associated with such a 'meh' and overused plotline.
For most players, much like myself, they will end up making one of each class of character (Warlock, Hunter and Titan) to have in the end-game. While it is necessary to replay the whole story again, it isn't all that fun a second or third time around, especially replaying the hour long opening prologue before you can start playing with friends. It would be great of Bungie to at least implement a prologue skip option for players eager to start their new characters but want to skip the unnecessary opening mission.
Eye Candy, Loot and Smooth Controls, This Is A Bungie Game
Destiny 2 is an incredibly striking game visually. While retaining the same art style as the original game, skyboxes are beautifully painted into the world and atmospheric lighting effects to add to the world design. Menus have been redesigned and while still retain the Destiny 1 appearance, feel much more alive, especially when at vendor who dynamically moves in the background. Textures pop out at you more, and look much more like what you'd expect from a current gen title. Certain moments in new areas can leave you awe-inspired, whether it be walking into a room filled with lush vegitation, watching lightining storms pop off in the background or viewing the planet Jupiter dynamically revolve around you, there will be plenty of moments you'll stop amidst the action to take in the scenery and hit the SHARE button.
Bungie are known for their solid gameplay, and that definitely continues with Destiny 2. While not much has changed in comparison to the first game, the game runs (on consoles) at a solid 30fps that at first can feel odd but becomes smooth and natural after several hours of playtime. One of the biggest ways they've added to the gameplay is by adding new subclasses for each character. The new subclasses are a ton of fun to use, and now offer three unique ways for each character to play. It also requires progression to unlock all three, a way that makes up for getting your powers back so quickly at the beginning.
In the first Destiny, loot was a big issue, requiring hours and hours of grinding in order to get what you desired most. While there's still a grinding aspect to the gameplay, grinding has been made significantly easier. Completing weekly Milestones will grant you powerful gear guaranteeing to raise your power level, with legendary gear and engrams dropping very frequently from whatever task you do.
Planets are filled with loot, with notifications on-screen of nearby high-level enemies nearby for you to kill which always drops loot. Loot you find on planets, doing strikes, crucible, the raid etc. contain tokens which can be redeemed at a specific vanguard, increasing your reputation with them. Doing so will grant you a legendary engram upon reaching full rep level.
There are various new types of loot to collect as well, including weapon and armour mods which in the end-game help increase your power level as well as change any attributes you dislike about it. For example, a weapon with solar damage can now be turned to void or arc, or a piece of armour that increases mobility can be changed to reduce recoil for your energy weapon. Bright Engrams are a new addition, which reward you with Emotes, Shaders, Mods, Ships, Weapon Ornaments, Sparrows and Ghost variants. Unfortunately, to buy these requires Destiny's version of microtransactions, Silver, which works exactly as you would imagine. You still can earn Bright Engrams by playing the game, which is done by post-level 20 leveling, and are only cosmetic items that offer no player advantages.
Content, And Lots Of It!
This was one of Destiny's original problems when it first launched, with planets and end-game content extremely lacking and requiring a ton of grinding. This game doesn't have that problem. Besides from the main missions, each planets feature a new type of mission called 'Adventures', which are side quests you can do for said planets vanguard. In addition to this, each planet has hidden caves known as 'Lost Sectors' that players need to find, containing enemies protecting a special loot chest for you to loot once clearing them out, as well as Region Chests scattered around different areas of the map. Patrols and Public Events return too, with a map featuring all special locations to visit and fast travel points, making planets feel more like a structured open-world than just a giant mess they were in the first game.
End-Game content is where it all comes down to, and what makes Destiny 2 so addictive. Hitting level 20 means you now focus on leveling up your Power, which is done by earning and equipping higher level weapons and armour. All missions and events are tracked in your Milestones, Destiny 2's quest log, showcasing your progress and what you will earn from completing them. Strikes, Weekly Nightfall Strike, Exotic Weapon Quests, Flashpoints, Patrols, The Raid, Crucible Challenges and more will be unlocked from the moment you reach level 20, with some such as the Nightfall and Raid requiring a specific power level prerequisite before being able to play them.
The Raid hands down will be what consumes most of your time after reaching the required power level. It is extremely tough your first time attempting it, with my group of friends and I being stuck on particular sections for hours on end, but at the same time extremely satisfying and rewarding. Eventually you'll nail it and after several attempts at the raid, you'll easily be able to complete what would take hours in a singular attempt. I've loved this element, but this will end up becoming yet another grind chore for you to complete each week, taking away the initial fun the first few times you completed it.
Destiny's PVP mode The Crucible returns, but with significant changes from the original game. The player count for these matches has been reduced from 6v6 to 4v4, with maps scaled down in size and vehicles removed altogether. Additionally, there are two types of Crucible - Quickplay and Competitive. Quickplay consists of game modes such as your regular TDM, Kill Confirmed and Domination modes you see from Call of Duty, however Competitive focuses on more of a Search and Destroy type. Multiplayer feels much more balanced than what I remember the original Destiny being, with kills still being attributed to you even if you weren't the player to land the final shot. Some weapons however, such as the MIDA Multi-Tool, are very OP for Crucible, and most times you will spot most players with it on them which can ruin the fun. The mode still disappointing targets 30fps on consoles, which is unfortunate considering all other arena shooters on the market all target and achieve 60fps, making the gameplay experience all that much more smoother and more enjoyable.
The biggest issue with Destiny 2's end-game content is the fact that it is very similar to the first game, where it relies on replaying the same objectives each week and once completed, are forced to wait until the next reset or do them again on a second and third character if you want a reason to keep playing. While Destiny 2 is still in its early post-launch cycle, most players (myself and friends included) will be willing to do this in order to try hit the current level cap of 305 for each of their characters. In the long run however, this will just end up being as tedious as the first game was, and while its great to see new content arriving each week, eventually players will be tire of doing weekly repetitive objectives and not return to Destiny 2 until the expansions release.
I never expected to enjoy Destiny 2 to the extent that I have, nor did I expect to sink as many hours into that I have. The game builds off of what was so great about the original and addresses most of the overarching complaints received from what people disliked about the first game. While it may not do enough to revolutionize the franchise, and is definitely far from being perfect, it's certainly a fresh starting point for those who either never played the original, or dropped out of the first very early on like myself.
This is a game meant to be played with friends, or at least will greatly enhance the experience doing so. The game is just that extra bit more enjoyable with friends, and brought me back hanging out with friends I had not spoken to in a long time. You and your friends will go through the game experiencing all that Destiny offers, and that has been the most enjoyable aspect to me.
Destiny 2 in this past month has also been receiving new activities, including Trials of the Nine - a highly competitive PVP experience with special loot - and the return of three factions for guardians to pledge their allegiance with for Faction Rallies. I'm excited to see what Destiny 2's future holds and how Bungie will support it, with Iron Banner due to begin sometime this month along with the Prestige difficulty Raid and a Power Level raise.
In summary, Destiny 2 is a fun and refined sequel that is an enjoyable experience with friends that will last you a very long time if you're dedicated. It still has issues, especially with its mediocre story, reused enemies and repetitive end-game content, all problems that the first game also suffered from.