The Destiny 2 Review: Burning Down the House

Destiny 1 was a pretty earth shattering game, not in the sense that it broke new ground but in how many people it managed to snare in its repetitive yet addictive gameplay. While the title was a bust in many minds thanks to broken promises and features that seemed obviously slashed for time, Destiny carried a certain I don’t know what that kept people engaged for a long time after launch. Where other titles sell seven figures and watch their communities quickly die off, Destiny’s users were still logging in crazy hours two years after launch, hunting down all of the game’s exotic gear.

Destiny 2 feels like someone took an MMO and sheared off the leveling experience, leaving only the end-game gear grind and some bits and pieces left over. Those of you who played through Destiny will be familiar with most of the mechanics from this sequel, and as many will already know or quickly realize, the “true game” as some would call it doesn’t really start until you’re level 20 and beat the campaign.

Neither of which take a particularly long time to complete, but the story and world seem far more fleshed out an interesting than they did in the previous title, in which a great portion of the game’s lore was locked away off-game on the Bungie website. All you really need to know going into this game is that you are a Guardian, a special person who literally can’t die as you are gifted powers by the Traveler, a construct that came to Earth and then died, bequeathing humans with its powers of light. As a Guardian of the light, your job is to protect the light, all of those people who can die, and fight off the coming darkness.

Destiny 2 starts off with an invasion of the tower by the Red Legion, led by the big baddie of the campaign Dominus Ghaul. Seeking to claim the Traveler’s gift for himself, Ghaul destroys the last remaining human city, captures the Traveler, and nearly kills you (the player). The ensuing campaign is all about taking back what was once yours, and reclaiming the Tower and driving off Ghaul and his forces.

Thankfully, unlike its predecessor, Destiny 2 treats its characters as though they are real people and not simply cardboard cutouts to vendor weapons to players. I honestly couldn’t tell you if any of the characters from Destiny 2 were in Destiny 1, and for all intent and purpose they might as well be completely new people. But with Zavala, Cayde-6, and other side characters like Failsafe help build a world that is interesting to learn more about.

Once you finish the campaign, the game opens up and everything becomes available. You have four planets, each of which has its own set of public events, missions, patrols, faction currency, and more. You’ll be able to embark on missions that offer varying challenges in return for powerful, game changing exotic equipment. I managed to get my hands rather early on a Sunshot, a hand cannon that carries explosive rounds and causes everything I shoot to explode and damage those around them.

Strikes are Destiny’s answer to MMO dungeons, these are three player instances that have you completing various objectives in return for glimmer and gear. While the standard strikes are open for matchmaking, the more difficult version does require communication and thus you’ll need to form your own fireteam. Same goes for Raids, high tier dungeons with gear requirements that require you to know who is doing what and when, and thus is not available for public matchmaking. Crucible is once again the place to go for player vs player matches.

But you’ll find plenty to do in Destiny 2 on your own as well. Public events dot the landscape on each planet, and each event has a secret trigger that unlocks its heroic version, increasing the difficulty while also increasing the rewards. You might be annoyed to find yourself in a zone where nobody else is farming events, but that can be pretty quickly fixed and more often than not you’ll find yourself surrounded by players who seem to know exactly what they’re doing.

Thankfully Destiny 2 continues its series staple of having some of the tightest gunplay in the genre. Just about every weapon has a satisfying kick as you blow off a Fallen’s head, shatter a Vex’s shield, or take down some big bad guy who is just asking for a shotgun blast to the face.

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In a lot of ways, Destiny 2 feels like Destiny 1 and Destiny 1 more like Destiny .5. While the maps are wholly new, the enemies you’ll face in them are virtually identical to those from the previous game. Rather than building on to the currencies of Destiny 1, Destiny 2 streamlines or outright removes them. And while customizing your character is much more in-depth thanks to shaders being per-body part, it’s hard not to see through the cynical cash grab that was making them single use and placing them as part of the cash shop. You can get a ton of shaders through gameplay, but they come in packs of three, for your four pieces of armor.

I don’t have many gripes with Destiny 2, but considering how the original improved greatly during its first two years, it only seems logical that Destiny 2 will continue to be improved upon post-launch.

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