It’s Like Destiny 1, But Better
Despite the messy launch of 2014’s Destiny, one cannot deny its popularity, and the mark it has left on this console generation. Destiny 2 hopes to continue the original’s success, but how much has actually changed and improved since our last space hoorah? I’m happy to say that the original’s addictive formula and mechanics have been improved greatly. A lot of what made the original monotonous has been changed for the better. However, is that enough for those weary to take to the stars and get that sweet loot? Let’s find out.
Insert Snarky One-Liner Here
Destiny 2 starts off strong, much like its predecessor. Unlike the original, however, there is an immediate goal and villain that carry over for the rest of the game. While the original had an interesting start, the vagueness of all the lore and lack of immediate goal made everything feel un-impactful. Destiny 2’s premise is that the Cabal enemies from the original have invaded the last city, and are attacking the Traveler. Despite your best efforts, you are thwarted and lose the source of your power, the Light. From then on you are on a continuous quest to regain your power and stop the leader of the Red Legion, Gaul. The premise makes it feel as though the stakes are very high, and helping this is the cast of characters.
The original Destiny had a cast of characters that felt very underdeveloped and underused. Everyone was made to stand in the background while your badass self-insert did anything and everything. This time around, the cast has more time in the spotlight, really showing off their personalities and interactions with each other. It really fleshes out the lore in an organic way, while giving you a reason to care about the people who are constantly talking to you. That being said, while there is more dialogue, there is also a significant amount more snark. While the original Destiny was known for taking itself too seriously, Destiny 2 takes the Marvel Cinematic Universe direction of making everything a one-liner or punchline. It is a nice change of pace, but there are scenes that should have been impactful and serious, except that your Ghost has to make a joke. Overall, the more focused story and use of the cast makes this space adventure an enjoyable one – despite the edgy sarcasm.
Shoot First, Then Shoot More
Shooting is what you are going to be doing most of the time, and thankfully, putting electric bullets into aliens feels just as satisfying as in the original. Guns feel extremely good to handle, regardless of the type. There’s a healthy weight and response to each type of firearm, accompanied by really satisfying sound effects. Weapon variation in terms of appearance and function are your standard FPS affair at the early stages of the game. However, at higher levels when you obtain legendaries and exotics (the highest rarity and most powerful gear), the guns burst with personality – and exploding fire bullets. The exotics for Destiny do a good job of making each piece of gear stand out from the rest. There are also mechanical quirks that make using certain guns and armor more viable in either pvp or pve.
Destiny 2 has changed how the weapon loadout works a little. Your loadout is no longer divided by the weapon itself, but divided into kinetic, energy, and power weapons. Kinetic weapons function as your main damage dealer using regular bullets, while energy weapons act more as shield breakers and deal elemental damage. Now you can equip two of the same type of weapon, as long as one is kinetic and the other is energy. Shotguns and sniper rifles are now also put into the power category due to being overpowered in PVP in the original. These changes make it so that there is more variety in what you can equip, while still decently keeping balance intact. Overall, the change to weapon loadouts is a cool change and does add some dynamic gunplay for enemy encounters.
However, guns are only really part of your arsenal. The other big parts are your class and sub-class powers. Destiny 2 reintroduces the three classes from the original game as well as now three sub-classes for each. One set is new, one is from original Destiny, and one comes from Taken King. They all vary in passive abilities and playstyles, and are good ways to define how you want to play the game. Titans are your tanky soldiers, hunters are space cowboys, and Warlocks are… space warlocks. Destiny 2’s classes have all been updated and balanced from their previous iteration, and I have to say that this time they all feel viable. While yes, it can be argued that some sub-classes are better for either pvp or pve, but they are all still fun and distinct from one another.
Every Little Thing Counts
I think it is fair to say that the game’s art direction is some of the best in any AAA title. Destiny lands itself in familiar sci-fi territory, but does enough different to make itself stand out. Everything from the enemy types and environments to armor pieces have a bright, fantastical aesthetic. I played the PS4 version of the game, and I can safely say that I encountered no frame drops or rendering issues in my playthrough. However, the game is locked at 30 FPS on consoles. While that may not be a deal breaker, it is something of note.
Destiny 2 is a big, beautiful game with big beautiful worlds. One of the biggest problems with the original game is how disconnected the planets and worlds felt from each other. The Tower was essentially a hub world where you did almost everything, and the other planets were just where you did quests. Destiny 2 improves on how questing works by putting the quests on the planets themselves, rather than going back and forth between planets. Also, other than the actual immediate rewards, there is progression to be made when doing things on the different worlds. This time around, everything you do on the planet will net you a reputation currency for the planet, which will eventually give you legendary engrams. It’s nice to feel rewarded for progressing and putting in the effort to activities on these worlds, and this is something I really want to highlight.
The grind in the original Destiny was monotonous, to say the very least. The developers have made an active effort this time around to make everything you do lead to something good, eventually. Other than the planet reputation vendors, there are also the same kind of vendors on the new hub area, The Farm. Even if the immediate rewards from completing tasks for these vendors aren’t satisfying, in the long run you gain rewards that will give you reputation with these NPCs. They’ve also changed how loot is given in general, making it far less infuriating. Instead of legendaries and exotic drops’ power being based on your current gear, they are based on multiple factors. These include your character’s level, best gear across all characters, and what is in your vault. So, no matter what you do in the game, you will eventually get something good for all your hard work.
Destiny 2 is a significant improvement from the original. Whether it be the improved story, methods of gaining loot, or quality of life changes, there is a lot of fun to be had here. Is it still grindy, and is the dialogue too snarky? Yes and yes. However, these are very small problems on an otherwise great game. My only warning is that if you weren’t a fan of the original, or aren’t a fan of MMO-style grinds, this is not for you. It is what the original should have been at launch, and that really isn’t a bad thing.
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, PC; Publisher: Activision ; Developer: Bungie; Players: 1, 2-9 Online ; Released: September 6, 2017 ; ESRB: T For Teen ; MSRP: $59.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a retail copy of Destiny 2.