The Original Destiny was a pedestrian MMO. The game was plagued by a horrible leveling system, inconsistent loot, a lack of any coherent storytelling and a grind that never truly felt worthwhile. While the game slowly improved throughout its lifecycle with expansion releases like Destiny: The Taken King, I never felt like the game reached its full potential.
Fortunately, Destiny 2 is everything the original Destiny should have been, a grand and well thought out MMO that values the player’s time and creates a world that I constantly think about even when I’m away from my console.
The motivations of Ghaul, the game’s main antagonist makes enough sense to push the campaign along even if his logic and reasoning seems to fall apart too rapidly at the story’s end. In fact, the campaign seems to rush itself to a conclusion despite feeling like there was more story to explore.
When it comes to NPC interaction. the animosity between guardians and other ‘regular’ humans is explored in Destiny 2 and adds a level of depth to the lore that I never anticipated. I always assumed everyone simply stayed at the Last City but discovering these ‘outsiders’ has been enthralling. Hawthorne in particular reminds me so much of Tess from The Last of Us, as she exhibits behavior that simply has earth’s best interest in mind, despite her clashes with different factions of humanity.
The missions that make up the campaign are varied enough to hold up through the 10s if not 100s of replays. Multiple replays have also revealed alternate dialogue options, something that I truly appreciate in a game that survives on replay-ability.
Destiny 2’s story is one of legitimately believable motivations and does more than just set up a reason for playing. Destiny 2 made me care for its characters. It showed their strengths, weaknesses and humor in a way that even makes Exodus Black, a rogue AI, feel human
Music to Remember
The Music woven throughout the campaign and the rest of Destiny 2 is simply incredible. Every tone change is met with an accompanying track. When the action crescendos so does the music behind it. I truly can’t express how much the soundtrack escalates that epic feeling you get when taking down a boss, navigating a vehicle section or falling prey to the enemy. It will stand as one of Destiny 2’s most memorable and defining features.
What’s Happening to the Floor?
By far the most improved aspect of Destiny 2 over its predecessor is the PvE experience.
Strikes no longer contain the unimaginative and often frustrating bullet sponges of the past. Final bosses present unique stage changes that force you to adapt your playstyle such as the toxic fluid encroaching the player as the battle heats up or the floor literally evaporating.
Strikes are also considerably condensed at around 15-20 minutes each compared to 30 minutes plus in the original Destiny. Nightfall variants of strikes offer modifiers that heighten the challenge without increasing the time required to complete strikes, if you’re good enough to complete them the first time around that is. Perfecting methods of engagement and working with your fireteam to clear these challenges offers possibly the most captivating gameplay Destiny 2 has to offer.
The improvements also translate into Destiny 2’s public events. Instead of using third party apps or playing a guessing game for when these events could appear like I was forced to do in the first game, events are marked with timers of on your world map. Multiple ship landing locations allow players to more quickly jump into the action and take away the annoying grind of riding your sparrow through an entire world just to arrive at a location on the opposite side of the map.
Patrols remain relatively unchanged but have also cut down their requirements in order to speed up the process of moving from one activity to the next. New adventures and missions will also pop up once you finish certain campaign missions and explore the varied and gorgeous locations of Earth, Nessus, Titan and IO.
Nessus in particular never fails to catch my eye for just how gorgeous it is and reminds me of the No Man’s Sky’s box art. Unlike No Man’s Sky, Destiny 2’s beauty persists from place to place, and even over 25 hours in, I still find myself gawking at the universe Bungie has created.
It all feeds into the goal of making the grind desirable by taking you to places you want to be and respecting the time the player puts in. Oh, and Destiny 2 still does FPS mechanics better than anyone else in video games.
Shoot, Die, Repeat
Destiny 2 has made the the switch from 6v6 to 4v4 for its multiplayer offering known as the Crucible and it has made a minor but important difference. Matches move quicker and maps are condensed in a way that usher constant engagements between players.
Currently the Crucible features a quick play and competitive playlist that offers 5 different modes ranging from standard deathmatch, to zone capture and even a mode similar to Call of Duty’s Search and Destroy. While some modes play better than others, the overall experience falls slightly flat, especially compared to the acumen the Halo franchise once displayed.
Destiny 2’s multiplayer isn’t bad by any means, but for Bungie, a studio with roots deeply grounded in PvP excellence, the mode’s lack of identity stings. PvP in its current state is a good but not great offering. In a game chock full of stellar improvements, the Crucible sticks out like a sore thumb for not evolving enough.
A Mountain of Microtransactions
The Eververse Trading company returns into Destiny 2 in the worst of ways. While $10 dances were overpriced but unnecessary to the original Destiny experience, the freshly monetized shader system (Destiny’s color coordination system for weapons and armor) has left many in the community, including myself, irate.
In a game where customization of your end game content has been such as integral part of the gameplay loop, monetizing a feature that used to be completely free is appalling and shameful. The microtransactions in Destiny 2 tarnish much of what the game achieves elsewhere and exists as the only blemish on an otherwise superb package.
When I’m not playing Destiny 2, I’m thinking about playing Destiny 2. It Fixes nearly every aspect that led players astray in the original game. Fantastic art and music direction merge with an addictive gameplay loop to create a story worth experiencing and a game I’m willing to label as a must-play for 2017. It’s just a shame that Activision had to ruin it with a insulting cash grab after the fact.