Expectations were high for Destiny 2, Bungie needed to satisfy the gamers who had plunged hundreds of hours into the original and its expansions. They also needed to attract the critics of the original who were put off by its shortcomings. Destiny 2 often feels like a step up from the first game but still has some of the familiar issues.
The hardest part of reviewing a game like Destiny 2 is that the developers will make patches down the line that could drastically change the game in a multitude of ways. For example, the original had the Year One patch which changed so many things that it was a completely different beast to the launch product.
Destiny 2 lets players choose a class and customise their non-speaking character to a better degree than in the first game, but it’s still not a perfect system. I personally chose the Hunter class, which is the same class I used in the original, but I preferred to start afresh as I wanted to change my character’s look and the points I put into the class. The Hunter class has been so fun to play as it’s the most agile of the three, and the super charge ability of a lightning staff is incredible to use. The game also provides your chosen class with two sub-abilities which, in the Hunter’s case, are a sort of barrel roll dodge ability and a special melee ability that can be changed and upgraded as you level up.
Destiny 2 picks up where the Rise of Iron expansion from the first game left off. Humanity’s last safe city, the Tower, falls in the opening mission to the Red Faction led by Ghaul. He destroys everything you worked towards in the first game and makes everyone start again. You venture to new and different lands to reunite the survivors and fight back against the Red Legion.
The story presented here is leaps and bounds better than that of the original game. The first Destiny made you go to Bungie.net to actually find out what was going on. This detracted you from the experience and seriously broke immersion with the game’s world.
After the Tower is destroyed, the game drip feeds recurring NPC characters into the story to keep you wanting to play through the missions. Cayde-6 is by far the best NPC as he has truly witty dialogue, and even his sidekick, Failsafe, is an interesting character to do missions for. The story provides you with plenty of opportunities to help you level up and gain rare gear, but it could still do with some work. I won’t spoil the battle with Ghaul, but it is a brilliant one.
Destiny 2 is a marked improvement on the original in almost every department. As previously touched upon, the story is possibly the biggest improvement in the game as, unlike in the original game, it is properly fleshed out. It might not be up to the standard Bungie set in Halo, but it is still worth the player’s time to pursue until the end.
The gunplay is again fantastic, with every weapon feeling meaty and good to shoot. Whenever I picked up a weapon, I never felt that I was going to be disappointed by how it shoots. Every time an enemy dropped a weapon, I felt giddy excitement at the prospect of trying it out. I worked out that my favourite combination was to have an auto rifle and a hand cannon in the two primary weapon slots and to have a launcher of some kind, whether that be a rocket or grenade, in the heavy weapon slot. This covers all bases for the different encounters you will have over the course of the story. Auto rifles are really good for the Crucible multiplayer, I found, and the scout rifles might be higher damage, but they require reloads more often, and they reload more slowly.
A great change is that the menus have been redesigned for the better. You no longer have to keep going out to orbit as often as in the first game to access them, and with the director tool, getting around the different worlds is a lot easier this time. Changing gear is pretty much the same as in the first game, but as the old adage goes: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Another big positive is that the game is visually stunning. As can be seen from the screenshots, the cutscenes are up there with some of the best of this generation. Each of the new worlds has their own beauty to them. Even the Crucible maps are really pretty, even though you shouldn’t stop to admire the scenery too much unless you like looking at the respawn screen.
My last positive is that levelling up actually feels rewarding. Every new level allows you to add an extra ability to your character, which can change the way you approach missions. The Hunter class had grenade variants, different types of dodges and different melee attacks. The way I played varied greatly from level 1 to level 20, and now I’ve unlocked everything I need to make me a force in the Crucible.
The Crucible is both a positive and a negative. The matchmaking, at least in the opening week, has been unbalanced, to say the least. The game pushes you into trying the Crucible when at a low level, but it’s better if you avoid it. If you’re anything under Level 15, you will be killed…a lot. This is because the higher level players have so much better quality gear and will just take you out in no time. The positive side is when you do reach the higher levels and get into a good rhythm, then the Crucible is really enjoyable and is akin to the finest multiplayer Bungie could offer.
Public events also pop up all over the place, and again, you need to be at a higher level to actually make an effective contribution to the rest of the players in these events. They are very similar though, so feel free to take them or leave them since you won’t feel like you have missed out on much if you decide to skip them.
On to the negatives, and this game only has a couple of glaring ones. The first is that the mission structure gets repetitive, and some missions can feel daunting when played solo. The worst offender of the latter is when the player is tasked to rescue Cayde. The waves of enemies sent at a single player are ginormous and a little overwhelming. I died about four times before I worked out the best tactic for the encounter, but I almost reached controller-smashing levels of frustration in the process. If it wasn’t for Cayde being the funny NPC that he is, I would’ve felt even angrier than I already did.
The main problem that was levelled at the first game is still present in the second one: The missions get repetitive. It might not be as bad as go here, chuck the Ghost out and defeat three waves of enemies, but they still follow a similar pattern after a while. The adventures are worse with this than actual story missions. When an adventure is activated, they chiefly consist of this pattern: leave a device in a certain location, take out a few enemies, rinse and repeat.
The only other slight gripe I have is that your character in this game will largely end up being the same as it was in the first with a few minor changes, but I was still able to get a character I was happy using.
In summary, Destiny 2 is a major improvement on what came before it, but I don’t think it will win over anyone who didn’t enjoy the first game. The story is a marked improvement, and the director tool is a nice touch. The repetitive missions might still put non-fans off, but if you’re a Destiny fan, then you can probably deal with it.
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: 5th September 2017