For fans of Destiny, it became more than just a game – it became a hobby. We would spend hours late at night, running patrols, completing raids, talking about shows we were watching, or work stuff, and always seeing the numbers go higher. It was an experience that many of us had not had before, and in the period of three years, we saw the game evolve and change from a barebones husk of an MMO to an incredible online shooter, that was able to build a strong community around it.
Destiny 2 sees Bungie taking everything it learned over a period of three years, and refining almost all of its systems, while making a few things worse.
First and foremost is the story. The original Destiny was criticized primarily for it’s lacking narrative. While a lot of this was fixed with later expansions, Destiny 2 has a significantly more compelling story from the get go. It establishes a main villain in the beginning, and gives you a strong motivation to fight him and his troops. The world and the characters you meet in it all make sense in terms of the narrative structure, and the voice work does a good job of selling the plot.
There are still issues here though. The story, while better than the first, still could do with more exposition. Everyone you meet, everyplace you go, and everything you do seems to have more context than is given in the main story. Since this is primarily a shared world experience, best played with friends, I can understand the hesitation in adding a lot of exposition to missions and cutscenes. However, a proper in-game codex of sorts would have been welcome where players could read more about the lore. Destiny probably had the best lore in any sci-fi game, and it was kept away from the main game in the form of an online Grimoire. You can still access it to read up on more of the backstory, but not adding it in-game in Destiny 2 sure does feel like a misstep.
The shooting is easily the best you will find in any FPS today. Bungie had previously proven itself with the Halo franchise, and Destiny absolutely benefits from that experience. Shooting here feels precise, and the constant on-screen feedback does a great job of making encounters feel tough, and victories feel satisfying. Pulling off headshots ends in a cool animation making it look like the enemies’ heads just exploded, and you can literally make the enemy explode upon death with the right weapons. Speaking of weapons, the loot treadmill is the main draw here, and the game constantly keeps giving you better equipment for any activity you participate in. As you keep progressing, these mechanics get more complex, with the way you use exotics and legendary items, and how infusion comes into play.
You pick one of three classes, each with their unique abilities and sub-classes. The Titan class acts as the tank, the Hunter feels more like a rogue, and the Warlock feels a lot like a mage. They all shoot bullets though, but do have abilities that make them feel really different from each other. Even the way they move can be really different, specially in the game’s many platforming sections. Destiny 2 does a decent job of introducing you to all of the basics, but for some of the later stuff, you might need to look online for help. My only complain with the classes is that Bungie did not add a new class – all the three classes have been carried over from the original game, with some changes to the sub-classes. Maybe they will add some new options with later expansions, but I would’ve liked to see some more variety here from the start.
Destiny 2 is a beautiful looking game. A very strong art-style and variety across different planets had me just stop and stare in wonder on multiple occasions. The sheer sense of scale is absolutely fantastic, with excellent level design that never ceases to amaze. And it’s not in just how much more open the areas feel, but it’s also the verticality. Many of the missions will have you either going down to great depths or climbing sheer heights, and all of it looks and feels epic. Other planets, alien vessels and devices, all feel truly ‘alien’, and the game is absolutely dripping with sci-fi all over. The same goes for the weapons and armor you acquire.
Apart from the significantly meaty single player campaign, there are multiple other activities to take part in. There are Public Events, Strikes, Lost Sectors, Crucible Multiplayer, and upcoming Raids. All of which is a significant amount of content, and a big improvement over the first game. While you can play parts of the game solo, playing with friends or even random folks online is much more enjoyable experience. Every time I had someone along with me, even it was a random player, there would be an unspoken sense of camaraderie, where would we would come to each other’s aid when needed. Apart from a very few sections, Destiny 2 can start to feel a bit lonely while playing alone. A majority of the game is very co-op focused, and that’s where you will find the most value.
There are microtransactions here, which are problematic. There are some microtransactions that are cosmetic, while others do give you an in-game advantage. For the most part, I can stay away from microtransactions and still enjoy the game. My only concern was how Shaders are handled in Destiny 2. Shaders are essentially color schemes or patterns for your weapons, armor and items. In Destiny you can use them and switch between them as you saw fit. In Destiny 2 they work as consumables. You get them as random drops or you can buy them from the in-game microtransactions store. Once you use them, they are gone from the inventory.
This might seem like a trivial issue at first, but weapons and customization are such a core part of Destiny, that not having free access to acquired Shaders feels wrong. While in the previous game I would mix and match Shaders with new weapons and items, in Destiny 2, I have yet to use a single Shader, worrying that I might want to save them for the perfect weapon that will come along. The thing is, you keep getting new weapons in Destiny, and there’s technically no such thing as the perfect weapon. That’s the whole point of looter-shooters, and this odd restriction with Shaders feels frustrating.
Even with these issues, Destiny 2 is a ton of fun. I have spent countless hours already, and I know that I’ll be spending countless more. The first raid is coming up soon, and I hope that this time around Bungie will maintain a constant drip of content for a good long time. Destiny 2 is great for new-comers, and fantastic for returning fans. It improves on the original in almost every aspect, and even with some glaring issues, it’s hard to deny how much I am enjoying the gameplay, excellent visual and level design, and the tons of new content.