Destiny 2 is a fantastic step forward for the franchise. After a mediocre original game that improved over time, Destiny 2 is great from the beginning. Systems have been streamlined, the story is cohesive and a ton of quality of life improvements make for a much more enjoyable experience overall. Below, I’m going to break down my experiences with different aspects of the game in more depth than I could in The Final Say. Potential minor story spoilers in the first section.
Unlike the first game where there were lines such as, “I don’t even have time to explain why I don’t have time to explain,” and, “I could tell you…” there is far less ambiguity this time around. The setup is that the Red Legion, a Cabal faction, has attacked the Tower and taken away the Traveler’s light. This light enables your Ghost to bring you back from death (aka makes you a respawnable video game character). The Vanguard of the previous game, Zavala, Ikora and Cayde, have been scattered and need to be tracked down in order to reunite and take down the threat.
While it wasn’t the most original story, it made sense which is important after much of the plot in the original game was outside of the game in the form of the Grimoire. I liked how they took characters from the first game who were NPC vendors standing around a table and giving them more to do as the trio is fun to hear interacting with one another. The new characters are a mixed bag. Hawthorne who has lived outside the walls of the City is a great counterpoint to the three vanguard leaders and brings more of a guerilla warfare-type of mindset to the proceedings.
However the main antagonist, Ghaul, is somewhat underwhelming. He is trying to harness the light for him and the Cabal and take it away from Earth. There is an aspect of, “What else do I need to do to gain dad’s approval,” in regards to him and the Traveler which presents some vulnerability, but he spends almost the entirety of the game standing in the same room on his ship interrogating the Speaker with his second-in-command, The Consul, making regular interruptions.
Also, the first few missions can take a little while to become exciting especially on multiple playthroughs. There are some very slow walking segments at the beginning that cannot be bypassed which can be quite tedious. Thankfully, the final few missions have some amazing set pieces and locations that you are fighting across ending the campaign with a bang.
Crucible returns this time with four versus four team-based play down from the six versus six of the original game. This makes matches less chaotic and more team-based. Oddly, there is no matchmaking for each mode with all of them being lumped together into a Quickplay playlist, or two specific modes (control and survival) for the Competitive playlist. While doing this doesn’t divide the player base, almost every other multiplayer game I can think of let’s you choose what mode you would like to play.
Once you are in the match, it is great with a key issue being resolved from the original game’s mode: shotguns cannot be in your second weapon slot. While Destiny had slots for Primary, Secondary and Heavy weapons, Destiny 2 has changed it to Kinetic, Energy and Power weapons. Shotguns were an issue in the previous title as, in the Secondary weapon slot, ammo was plentiful and it took a lot of fun out of the experience when people would simply camp around corners waiting for someone to walk by. But now, since they fall under the Power Weapon category, they can only be used when special ammo spawns on the map which is a great decision by Bungie.
While I put around 40 hours into the original game, it was all in the vanilla release with me giving up on the game shortly after, so I will most likely miss some gameplay changes that happened over time. But there are definitely some that are apparent. For one, weapons don’t have much customization anymore. In Destiny, using a weapon would level it up allowing you to choose different perks that would change how the gun worked in terms of stability, range, reload speed, etc. Now the vast majority of that has been stripped out with each gun only having the same one or two options to switch around. While this is great for balance in the multiplayer, it does take away some of the RPG aspects that made tweaking guns in the first game interesting. On the other hand, it eliminates “god rolls” where players would grind to find a gun with the best possible perk set which was RNG.
In order to do some of that customization, though, there was a lot of grinding whether it was for materials found in different areas or breaking down enough items. This is not to mention all of the different currencies between the Vanguard, Crucible, Factions and more. Since those customization options are no longer there, neither is the grind which is largely a good thing. Another streamlined aspect to the game is the removal of Intellect, Discipline and Strength stats from gear. These would be attached to armor and affect the cooldowns of your character’s super ability, grenade and melee abilities, respectively (i.e. a helmet with +35 Intellect and +45 Strength). This could result in grinding to try and find the one piece of gear you love with the right stats that you are trying to spec your character in. Now armor only has Resilience, Mobility and Recovery which are set on each piece of gear with no numbers involved.
Lastly I’ll talk about the skill trees for subclasses. These have been stripped down as well in a very similar respect to the weapons. Where there were more options before, you now have a core set of abilities for each class and then one of two small trees that you can specialize into at any time. However, these trees of four skills each are all or nothing with no mixing and matching. The four skills in each branch are meant to work in harmony together, but it takes away another aspect of customization.
All in all, if there are two things that the original game got right from day one, they were the art direction and the gameplay and the act of running around and shooting hasn’t felt better.
Bungie has released a fantastic game and, possibly, my favorite game of 2017 which has been an incredibly strong year. Have they streamlined many aspects of the game? Yes they have. Is it for the better? In some ways, yes, in others, it remains to be seen. But I have already put 78 hours into the game and have recently begun my second and third characters, because it is so addicting. Unlike the original, Destiny 2’s hooks are dug deep within me and I can’t wait for the first expansion, Curse of Osiris, in December.