Destiny 2 Review

Destiny 2 is the follow up to the first Bungie action shooter MMO released 3 years ago and with it, was promised a new campaign with actual story, tons of gear and activities, as well as end game and consistent content to keep players happy for years to come.  With already putting in over 50 hours of gameplay over the last week, I still find myself being yanked in different directions with opportunities to discover something new or add a gear piece to make my character that much better.  With an emotion driven campaign as well as tons of additional story telling through adventures and quests, Destiny 2 keep the gun play fans of the first love but gives more obvious purpose on what we are fighting and why.

The campaign revolves around the leader of the Cabal’s Red Legion: Ghaul.  Ghaul has overthrown former Cabal emperor Calus and is bringing the fight to the last safe city on Earth and the Tower.  Ghaul believes that the Traveler; a space entity that gifted guardians their powers through the light, made a mistake by choosing us instead of him.  What makes Destiny 2’s story great though is that throughout the campaign you see sides of all characters you’ve never seen before.  Granted, Hunter Vanguard Cayde-6 still gives the comedic relief in usual fashion, whilst the other Vanguard members Warlock Ikora Rey and Titan Zavala show that they feel lost.  Ghaul has taken the light from them and they don’t even feel like guardians anymore.  There are a ton of emotional involvement with all the characters we have known from the first title.  My heart broke listening to Nolan North as your ghost sounded broken and defeated.  Even Ghaul develops beyond just some demonic presence.  He isn’t some typical villain that wants to kill everything.  Instead of just taking the light from the Traveler, he is set on proving to the traveler that he was the one and wishes it to be gifted to him.  The campaign itself plays out over a span of roughly 8 hours and while the end battle felt a little underwhelming, it was still a great experience overall.  Bungie has done well at using cinematic cut scenes to tell the story which was something the original game lacked until The Taken King expansion.

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Once you are done with the campaign, it’s not all over. Far from it in fact as this is where the end game begins.  Players are left with various activities to help build your guardians into more powerful warriors to take on the toughest challenges in Destiny 2.  Returning players will be familiar with the Crucible, Destiny’s PvP experience which pits players against each other, the strike playlist, and patrols, which have been majorly overhauled, is so far the most rewarding as well as engaging experience.  While the Xbox and PC version only have 5 strikes, these are much more engaging than those in the previous game.  Strikes are longer and have more mechanics more in line with teamwork and similar to Destiny’s raids.  Right now however, there is only one set playlist and it has a single power level to it.  Gear does drop up to a certain level based on yours, but it would have been nice to have the heroic playlist back with modifiers like in Destiny 1. But considering the nature of the game and how the original Destiny expanded over time, we’re assuming that this will get added into Destiny 2, somewhere down the line. Nightfall; Destiny’s end game strike experience, does though have 2 different versions.  The Nightfall is now a timed event in which you must complete your objectives as well as moving quickly to ensure victory.  While the normal Nightfall is set at power level 240, the prestige version is set at 300 and appears to give less time to complete it as well.  After multiple Nightfall runs, it feels much more like a team event and engages communication.  Also a change, the Nightfall does give rewards even after you completed it for the week for each completion, just not powerful engram gear.  You are guaranteed a legendary engram however. Another way to show that Bungie have learnt from past mistakes – offering more ways to earn those precious engrams.

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The biggest change though to the PvE experience is the patrol environment.  No longer are you able to select a mission and just start it.  Everything is accessed through The Director.  This opened our fireteam up to so many experiences.  While moving to the point where our next mission would begin, we would find a Lost Sector – one of the new lootable areas with a mini-boss that takes you off the beaten path.  Then a public event would begin which we would attend for more rewards as well.  We would grab a patrol mission when we passed by to complete to gain even more reputation with NPC’s.  So much is happening that it is easy to get pulled in as the opportunity to get loot is just too high and promising.  Some more new features you can find on patrol are Adventures and Quests.  These help dive more into story and even kind of lead you into what may be coming next into Destiny 2.  Each of the 4 explorable areas have a quest attached to them.  These are typically a couple missions long but reward you with some legendary and exotic weapons and gear to make you even stronger.  Adventures though are slightly different.  These offer much more in depth story to the area you are in.  There is a ton of lore to discover through these and offer much more insight to what is going on around you that both new and returning players may not realize.

With all the gear you get from these activities, Bungie does offer a ton of ways to stand out compared to other Guardians.  Every piece of gear you have can have some sort of shader on it which will change the way your weapons and armor look.  The only exception to this is exotic weapons which have set ornaments to drastically change how they look.  While there is a little push back from the community over the fact that shaders are now one time use consumable instead of permanent inventory items, I have acquired a ton of shaders through normal gameplay without the use of micro-transactions.  I can only imagine how many some players will gather over the next month.  Yes it stinks to lose the shader once you replace it but with how rewarding Destiny is, another option is to keep the same gear piece twice, each with a different shader since all gear of the same name has the same stats.  Another way though to change those stats and abilities is through gear mods.  Gear mods are new to Destiny 2 and offer players a way to not only boost the power level of gear but also give that gear an inherent ability to improve something your guardian does.  This could be to reduce the damage you take or reduce the time it takes for your abilities to come back.  Our recommendation is to not really invest into any gear until you reach level 265 as gear slows down then but is still obtainable outside of the elite end-game activities.

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Those returning will be very familiar with Destiny 2’s end-game which of course begins with the Leviathan Raid.  Raids are 6-man activities that rewards player with some of the best loot the game has to offer but also requires puzzle solving and an immense amount of teamwork.  The Leviathan is no exception at all to this standard.  For those unfamiliar with why this raid exists, we encourage you to do the “Invitation from the Emperor” adventure on Nessus.  Without spoiling details, the Leviathan raid is different in that players are being tested in what almost appears as a game show by the exiled Cabal Emperor Calus.  Unlike previous raids, the fights in this raid drop mostly tokens, which are redeemed for your raid rewards.  You can also get loot drops during the raid itself as an added bonus.  After 10 hours in to complete the first run of the raid, it is very rewarding.  Upon going back to the tower, I had a total of 13 legendary engrams.  The fights are not difficult bullet sponges, but are instead communication-heavy puzzles.  Giving clear direction and executing those tasks will prove successful in this raid.  Unlike previous raids as well, the Leviathan also gives more story and lore, as well as raises some questions about your purpose.  We have been very satisfied with the Leviathan and look forward to returning for its hidden plunders.

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Destiny 2’s Crucible has gotten a complete makeover as well in the fact that it’s 4v4 now instead of 6v6.  This helped create a more tactical approach as I’ve seen teams that stick together easily come out on top over those that don’t.  Returning players will know modes such as Clash, Control and Supremacy but will be treated to new modes such as Survival and Countdown.  Countdown is similar in nature to Call of Duty’s Search and Destroy where one team is tasked with planting a bomb on 1 of 2 objectives and the other team trying to stop it.  Survival is a spin on the former Elimination game mode.  Survival now gives a team 8 total lives and once they are gone, nobody in your team will respawn.  A team will need to win a set number of rounds to claim victory.  Gun play is more important than ever with abilities on more set cooldowns and the changes with shotguns and snipers being in the power weapon slot.  Power ammo is available frequently but only to the player who pulls it – and it doesn’t last long.  Crucible feels way more skill based instead of ability spamming compared to the original Destiny version.

So is Destiny 2 the saving grace and almighty power that everyone thought the original was supposed to be?  We don’t know yet.  This will play more into Bungie being consistent in delivering content releases more frequently than they did in the original.  Bungie has already taken a step in the right direction by posting a monthly calendar on what to expect each week with PvE and PvP maps, events, and modifiers.  Letting the community know what you are doing without spoiling it is going to be key here.  Destiny 2 is a great foundation for all of that.  The stellar gun play guardians now paired up with an amazing score and sound design, it’s an amazing experience.  Throw in a bunch of activities to keep players engaged and keep repeating that experience is what Bungie has done, but they need to ensure it doesn’t get stale.  This of course is too early to tell but we are very optimistic on what Bungie is doing.

Destiny 2 is available from retailers or can be downloaded from the Xbox Store, starting from £54.99.

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