I haven’t put any serious time into Destiny 2 since just before Curse of Osiris released. Prior to that I completed the game on PlayStation 4 and got to a power level of around 285 and didn’t do much more late game other than a few Nightfalls. I made the switch to PC upon release and completed a similar amount of content before finally falling off when it became clear I still didn’t have enough people to play the raid with (I still haven’t played the raid content on either platform sadly). Destiny 2 had some clear issues with keeping players engaged in post-game content and in-general struggling to nail the feel of the game to the point where there was apparently a mass exodus of players.
To their credit, Bungie hasn’t stopped trying to make the game better including adding features like masterwork weapons and armor that grant bonuses to legendary gear and adding an all-around speed boost to the game, making everything from movement to supers charge faster. They’ve also begun balancing PvE and PvP separately which has made my Guardian feel much more powerful in the PvE content. I’ve spent the last week almost exclusively playing the game which included completing both DLCs and two sets of weekly milestones.
I’m planning individual Final Say articles for Curse of Osiris and Warmind, but I’m willing to say here and now that both are better than they get credit for. The Mercury social zone is a tad blander than I’d otherwise like but has a great public event that stands out as arguably the game’s best. The concept involves either past or future Vex coming to the present time and trying to bring in more Vex. You’re tasked with killing powerful Vex who will drop cores that overload the gateways and stop them from pouring in. You then make a jump to one of two distant platforms that are inaccessible outside of the event and repeat. This event is especially great with a large number of players each handling a different side. There’s something exciting about getting the first two closes and the anxiousness that comes from wondering how the other side is doing all the way across the map.
The event culminated with a battle against a giant minotaur in the map’s center. This can be made even harder if you trigger the heroic. Then you have even more powerful Vex and more cores that you have to use to destroy the main boss’ shield. Being that I stopped playing when Osiris release I never learned the means of triggering the heroic myself and it felt great when someone in my fireteam noticed what to do (they just got the game last week through Humble Monthly) and we pieced the rest together ourselves. It sounds small, but not having to look it up and figuring out some of the mystery ourselves made that one of my most memorable moments in Destiny.
Warmind brings back a bit of the original Destiny in the form of Rasputin, the often referenced warmind of that game. The Mars environment is a bit nicer than Mercury if only because it feels larger (ignoring the Infinite Forest) and the more frequent events are welcome even if a few are repeats from other planets. The one new event involves defending a fallen warsat (the “eyes” of Rasputin) from waves of Hive. Sure it’s new and fits the setting of the DLC, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the Mercury event. There are a few cool missions to complete after finishing Warmind’s story that feel more like something you’d find in the original Destiny. You’re given items with little explanation other than a mysterious objective that changes with each completion. I haven’t finished all of mine yet, but there’s surely (hopefully) something worthwhile waiting at the end. I’ll let you know as soon as I’m finally powerful enough to complete 5 heroic strikes in a timely fashion.
So here’s where things start to get a little more…Destiny I guess. While it’s no fault of the DLC itself perse, there is a pretty hard wall once you hit the high 340s in power. I’ve been sitting at 347 since just after the last weekly reset with little to do to get over that hump until the next week of milestones (today as of the completion of this article). The biggest issue is that those heroics I was talking about have a recommended power level of 350. For the most part, this isn’t an issue as I completed my three heroic strikes for the milestone last week. However, my fireteam and I hit a wall during one of the Warmind strikes where we seemingly had a 50/50 chance of being one-shot by the boss based on the modifiers and strength or the regularly spawning enemies.
Needless to say, it took several tries and it ended with us calling it a night and leaving the strike unfinished knowing the reset would be the next day. It was frustrating that we felt so far away despite the fact that we were close enough, but that’s how things have always been in Destiny. Close enough is being the level that’s recommended and the expectation is that you’ll likely be higher than that through grinding. You’re never “close enough” in Destiny, you’re either there or you’re not, and despite some positive changes that has not changed. This carried over to the new escalation protocol, a player activated event where you face off against timed waves of Hive (it’s cooler than this sounds). Each round has four waves ending in a boss fight and though we were lower level we managed to push through the first three waves with relative ease.
Then the boss came, and we never came close. At best, with two full fireteams, we got the boss to about 60% health. We threw everything we had at it, heavy weapons, supers, even the event’s special sword pickup, nothing did enough damage. It was clear that we just weren’t strong enough yet and that the game didn’t want us to use escalation protocol to get stronger. There are no rewards for a failed round, you either kill the boss or walk away with nothing. You get a chest just for shooting in the general direction of an enemy during a public event whether you win or lose, give me something game!
Despite these frustrations, I’m still having a great time coming back to the game. I plan to stick with it so that I’ll be ready for the inevitable big expansion that should arrive this Septemberish so I can be ready from day one. I’m planning to finally have a raid ready fireteam together this weekend to start running Levithan and the newer raid lairs so I can finally have something to say about those. If you’ve been hesitant to jump back in, I don’t blame you. Destiny has hurt us all at some point and Bungie still hasn’t done enough to prove that they’ve really changed for the better. Still, as someone who took a few months off, I found myself enjoying the game quite a bit again coming back. It could just be that there aren’t half a billion other games to play like there was last year when the game came out, or maybe Destiny 2 was just a few content releases away from being the game we really wanted. I’m hopeful for the new expansion and look forward to finding out what it is, likely during E3.