Destiny 2 (PS4) – 50 days later
Destiny 2 isn’t something one can experience in a day or two. That’s fine, so we’ve stuck with it for an entire month to see everything that Bungie has to offer. We’re not impressed.
Bearing in mind that Bungie had years to redesign the sequel, Destiny 2 simply feels too much like an expansion for the first game. Sure, it provides more areas and fleshes out the story, but what expansion pack doesn’t?
Anybody who has played the game before knows that Destiny’s biggest flaw was its lack of endgame content. Unless you had a stalwart team of Guardians who were up for raids, your experience in the game is severely curtailed. Luckily, the situation’s improved somewhat in Destiny 2.
By now, the majority of players have probably finished Destiny 2 (for those on console, at least). The Red Legion’s been wiped out, the Traveler is free again, and the Darkness is coming. We don’t know what exactly The Darkness is, but if Destiny lore is to be believed they’re the big bad foes who have been hunting the Traveler. They’re now awake and zeroing in.
It’s pretty interesting how Bungie handled the lore. Instead of the original’s lovey-dovey ending, Destiny 2 lays the foundations for what’s to come, which gives the reassurance that, maybe this time, they actually have thought things through. In fact, that’s largely true for most aspects of Destiny 2 — a sequel it may be, but it all winds up feeling more like what Destiny should have been when it launched in 2014.
Fortunately, Bungie has taken steps to address some issues people had with the endgame. Now there are quests you can do after finishing the main story, and nearly all of them reward you with extremely powerful gear. A few of them even award exotics, the highest grade of equipment available.
For those interested in lore, these missions also serve another purpose: to hint at future expansions. One of the missions involved the Cabal Emperor landing on Earth to challenge the Guardians. That came to pass when the first raid, Leviathan, came online and picked up the threads one quest had left hanging. It stands to reason, then, that the other endgame quests will also turn out to be hints at future content.
Apart from these quests, however, there’s not much to bring back players who’ve grown tired of Destiny 2’s grind. There have been only two significant events in the game so far, the Faction War and the Iron Banner event, which is another carry-over from the original. Faction War may be new, but its execution is a familiar disappointment – basically, you get tokens for events and exploration, which you can then turn in to the Faction you’ve pledged to for various rewards.
Gear is, of course, a powerful motivation for playing. Most of the endgame involves buffing up the player in preparation for the Weekly Nightfall Strike and raid. It’s rather telling that this was how the original handled the endgame too, where it rapidly devolved into an endless hunt for gear, grinding over and over to eke up your Light level. After a certain point, gaining stronger gear (the current cap as of writing is 305) becomes a slow and tedious process. Also, score-raising gear can only be obtained from certain activities, handicapping those with less time to play.
Destiny 2 finally has matchmaking for most of the game’s harder content. You can run the Nightfall Strike and search for a member or two to fill up the empty slots, same as you could with the raid. Problem is, the threshold for these events are pretty high and most of the random players you meet may not be as skilled as you’d like them to be.
The one piece of good news is that exotics have been steadily dropping, and seemingly more often, than their Destiny counterparts. Which is good but there’s a downside to it too; for a sequel, Bungie seems to recycle a lot of exotic armor and guns from the original. True, some of the more recognizable ones like the Suros Regime or the Gjallarhorn are missing (for now) but it still seems like we’re seeing a sizeable number of familiar exotics when we should be seeing new ones.
On top of that, the exotics in Destiny 2 seem much tamer when it comes to their game-changing abilities. The Suros Regime’s slow-firing, high-damaging perk is no longer unique since other guns share a similar ability. Again, this highlights the game’s biggest flaw– it simply doesn’t feel like a sequel.
The bottom line is that after all these years, plus the years of experience working on Destiny, it still feels as if Bungie didn’t really learn their lesson. If it isn’t already obvious, Destiny 2’s undoing is that too much content seems recycled or familiar, like an old house given a new coat of paint. Perhaps sometime during Destiny 2’s lifecycle the developers will finally step up their game, but right now, this is a road we’ve traveled down many, many times before.
Destiny 2 is developed by Bungie and published by Activision. The first-person shooter is now available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. A copy was provided for review.