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Destiny 2 Review

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As those of you who have read my previous ramblings may well be aware, I was a big fan of the original Destiny game, sinking more hours into the game than I care to think about. I was expecting big things from the sequel, the imaginatively named Destiny 2, especially having been whipped into a frenzy by the beta and Bungie’s carefully staged reveals. Having now spent 3 days, 1 hour and 16 minutes in the game in the last two weeks (a stat that is still beaten by 20 people on my friends list), I feel that I am more than qualified to drop some thoughts on this new game. So come with me into a world of Vex, Cabal and big guns!

Now, Destiny has always been a pretty game, there’s no denying that. But with Destiny 2, the graphics have been turned up to 11, with more particle effects and lens flare than you can shake a stick at. The new worlds all look very different, with wildly varying landscapes noticed, even when you’re in the same location. Quite often I’d find myself turning the HUD off to get the perfect shot of my Guardian dancing near a Vex milk waterfall, for instance. The new enemy designs are very well done too; the War Beasts being fast and agile and the Gladiators being surprisingly tough and resilient, as well as very damaging. The audio has also had an overhaul, with the sounds emitting from weapons being crisp and clear, the enemies shouts and shrieks bouncing around the rooms you are in, and the general ambience ensuring that tense is the name of the game – expect to jump at any minute!

From the start, Destiny 2 impresses by its attempts to correct what the first game got wrong. The writing feels more natural, more flowing, the voice acting is believable and the actors are to be commended for the personalities they bring to their roles, Nathan Fillion in particular puts in a spectacular turn as Cayde-6, with his trademark humour shining through even the darkest moments of the game’s twists and turns. The journey of your guardian from refugee without the Light, to saving the entire solar system is one that is described with warmth and one that you will become invested in.

Comparing this narrative approach with Destiny 1’s is like comparing chalk and cheese, the difference is so marked. A special mention has to go to the cut scenes too, as they are just outstanding. Ghaul is a truly menacing bad guy, but has his own twisted honour system that almost tips him over into being a sympathetic character, as he cannot understand why the Traveller would not judge him worthy and grant him the Light. A point he makes in the story is that with the Light, our Guardians are no longer brave, they have just forgotten the fear of dying, whereas his troops have only one life but fight anyway. The narrative and the story are full of little reflections like this, and they cause us to question our place in the grand scheme of things. Is a Guardian without the Light still a Guardian?

I don’t want to spoil the story here for anyone who hasn’t finished the campaign, so I’ll only write in broad strokes to avoid giving too much away. After the Tower falls, it is left to our Guardian to try and find a way back from the brink. Having found a different source of Light, one that is corrupted, we must overcome the trials that lie before us to finally be granted our powers back. As the one Guardian with abilities, we must reassemble the scattered Vanguard, each member of which has fled to a different, new planet throughout the galaxy. Somehow, we have to get the band back together.

Glossing over the similarities in story to that of Borderlands 2, what the campaign boils down to is helping each member of the Vanguard, Zavala, Ikora and Cayde, partaking in missions on the planets they have settled on until they realise that the real fight is back on Earth, with Ghaul and the Red Legion. As each member is recruited, they tell you where the next person has gone, opening up a new planet and a new set of missions. It is possible to blast through only the story missions and get to the end of the story arc very quickly, but to do that would be to miss out on a huge part of the charm of the worlds and the different NPCs that you can meet and interact with. Each world has a deputy, for want of a better word, that will remain behind and dish out missions after the Vanguard are back together, and also in the post campaign game. On Titan, there is, appropriately enough, a Titan named Sloane who happily dishes out rewards for collecting tokens and materials. On Nessus, the NPC is a malfunctioning AI called Failsafe, who is alternately as bright as a button and depressed. She is the stand out new character for me, her dialogue is frequently hilarious, and the interactions between her and “The Cayde Unit” made me laugh out loud more than once. The last character is a cranky warlock called Asher Mir, who talks in technical jargon and is generally a cold fish. I didn’t warm to Asher at all, finding him more annoying than anything else. Still, him calling Zavala, Vuvuzela, was enough to raise a chuckle…

So, having got everyone pulling in the same direction once again, it’s only a matter of time before we have to face the final battle. Having won that, the game then moves into the after party. This is where the grind for loot really begins and Destiny 2 starts to become alive.

With clever play and use of the new armour mods, it’s entirely possible to create a very strong character in a short period of time. As you earn mods, either from the Gunsmith or from engrams, you can slot them either into armour or into weapons. The mods have lots of different effects, from seeing a particular subclasses abilities charge faster, to reducing the recoil of energy weapons, to increasing armours resilience, to name but a few. The mods you want to look out for are the legendary purple ones – these either add five to the attack power of a weapon, or add five to the defence value of a piece of armour, in addition to the other perk they add. These remain in place when infusing too, so if you infuse a weapon into a weapon with a mod in, the plus five effect is applied to the new base power of the weapon, if that makes sense? This is a really good way of tweaking the game to suit your own play style, allowing you to change armour to give you the perks that you want. Faster grenades? Faster abilities? More armour so you can go toe to toe with the Cabal? You choose!

The after game playlist wouldn’t be complete without Strikes and a Raid, and luckily Bungie have us covered here. While it’s true that the Playstation players have an extra Strike to play with, the scale and scope of the new Strikes means that I don’t really feel short changed. They are now much harder than previous, and that’s just on the normal difficulty. It is possible to raise the Strikes, the Nightfall and the Leviathan Raid to Heroic difficulties, but the chances of getting through those things, at least at my current lowly 278 power level are very remote indeed. Going in with a fireteam is definitely recommended, as communication makes everything easier, whether it’s calling out enemies or telling your team mates where you died. The Nightfall in particular has required some planning, as the elemental burn rotates between the three elements, so ensuring you have Supers and weapons covering all the elements has been very important.

The new Leviathan Raid that launched a week after the game released is very tricky as well. The first few sections are a breeze, comparatively speaking, but there is one section where you have to sneak around a garden, trying to gain enough power to be able to take out some Cabal watchdogs that you have to avoid. This section reminded me of the Gorgons section in the Vault of Glass Raid, with the big difference that being spotted isn’t an insta-wipe. In the new Raid, there is a safe house that you can hide in to avoid the dogs Psionic Howl attack, but you can only use it three times before it is sealed. Add to this the fact that each team member can only perform one revive, and staying alive becomes vital. Sadly it was initially here that our team kind of fell apart, with arguing about whose job it was to spot the dogs and guide the team on the ground through avoiding the enemies.

Exploring the world’s post game has also been made more challenging and adventurous. Each world has adventures that can be undertaken, multi stage missions that can be picked up in the field and, usually, a laundry list of objectives to be finished. They also have a series of Quests, marked on the map by a blue icon. Each of these is again a multi stage mission, and leads you on to an Exotic weapon. Some of the stages in these missions are hilarious with my personal fave so far being the “Kill 50 enemies while airborne with an SMG”. So run up to an enemy, equip an SMG (not the most accurate weapon in the world), jump and spray and pray that you kill it before landing. It sounds weird, but it looks funny watching someone doing it!

Public events have also been overhauled this time around. In addition to being able to see them on the map, enabling you to fast travel to the area in time to join in, each public event now has a secret method to turn it into a Heroic event, ramping up the difficulty and the loot that can be obtained. The method for each event is different, ranging from using all the arc charges to blowing up a ship, but it is certainly worth trying to figure out how to do it.

The Crucible has also seen a lot of changes in Destiny 2. It’s been reduced to four on four, and the Super and grenade charge rate has been slowed right down, meaning the fights now revolve around gunplay and the correct choice of weapon. Obviously Supers still decimate enemies, but with only four people to find in quite sizeable maps, the effects have certainly been toned down. A new play mode has also been introduced that works a lot like Rush in the Battlefield series of games. You have to get to a point, and either defend it or get in and plant a charge, then defend your charge. In practice this is a fast and furious game mode, with tension as the charge starts to count down and the enemy is charging in to try and overwhelm the defenses. Tactical play and communication are again key elements here.

With the returning Clash and Supremacy modes, along with my personal favourite, Control, the new maps to learn and strategies to perfect, the Crucible will certainly give hours of fun. The returning Trials, this time called Trials of the Nine, is just the icing on the cake. I’m certainly not good enough to try that mode, but in a disturbing note there have been reports that the old tricks of DDoSing and cheating have transferred to the new game.

All in all then, Destiny 2 does more than enough to make up for the sins of the old game. It is no exaggeration to say that the final mission of the game, one that takes over an hour to complete, has more story in it than the whole of the first game. Better writing, a story (and a good one at that) and a series of vast new worlds to explore make Destiny 2 a must play for anyone who like aliens, guns and shooting aliens with guns.

If I’m super critical the story has been done before, but for Destiny, this is as good as it gets.

  • Chris (CrippyD)

    Paul, would you say that this would be worth a buy when it’s cheaper just to play the campaign? I’m not really interested in the online aspect as I just don’t have the gaming time to allow it.

    • Sorethumbed

      Definitely. I’m not Destiny’s biggest fan but I’ve really enjoyed it this time around, even the crucible (though I’m still cr..p). The crucible feels ‘fairer’ this time round and definitely favours co-op play. for the first time today I played with a couple of guys through the rat quest and as we were in communication and had spent half an hour together already we wrecked it, even in the match where we were down to 3 members. Well worth buying – even at full price.

      • Paul Renshaw

        What Mr Thumbed said!

        • Sorethumbed

          Well, that’s apart from this weeks nightfall which is RIDICULOUS darlings!!

    • Hepatitis C

      No.

    • Qeylis

      The game itself is far, far inferior to Destiny. The story is pretty good. If all you just want to play the story, waiting would be fine. The users and critics don’t agree about this game. There’s an odd disconnect going on. Critics are a bit out of touch with their followers. On Metacritic, Critics give this game 85% (with this review being one of two perfect scores). Users, on the other hand, give it 50%. The people who actually play, can’t stand this game!

      This game is awful. There’s no other way to put it. It’s trash, and no one should ever pay full price for it. But, the story is good, and worth about 20 USD (the price of a Blue-ray). Perhaps the DLC will be worth playing.

  • Qeylis

    A perfect score. 5 stars. Wow. Too bad it deserves a 2 1/2.

    Destiny isn’t the type of game you can review after a few days, or even weeks. It takes at least a month before the cracks appear, an oh my, have they appeared. The dam has broken, and Destiny 2 is a disaster.

    A game like Destiny lives or dies based on it’s endgame. Destiny 2’s endgame is worthless. All reason to grind has been removed. There is no interesting gear that will change the way you play, or that will make you feel powerful. Nothing. That was what kept us playing Destiny 1 for 3 years, and it’s totally and completely absent from D2.

    Even though it’s a lesser issue than getting good gear, the lack of a proper menu in Crucible is a pretty big issue too. Do you hate Control? Too bad, you’re playing it. Do you hate Supremacy? Here you go, here’s your Supremacy match. D1 let you choose these things separately, D2 forces you to play whatever Bungie decides is best.

    Almost all customization for your superpowers has been removed. You can’t make your character feel like your own anymore.

    You know what, go to the Bungie boards and read a little. The top 20 trending comments will probably be about one or more of these issues. Once you’ve read them, go play the game some more. Then, you should come back and adjust your review, because you look kinda silly with a perfect score for one of the worlds worst sequels.

    • Paul Renshaw

      A fair criticism, and a well written one at that.Thanks for keeping it clean.

      The thing you have to remember is that a review is a persons opinion.You have yours, I have mine, and on this they happen to differ.To me, Destiny has always been less about the game and more about the people I play with and the hilarity that ensues, whether its being kicked off the edge by Atheon or mocking a friends 0.1 K/D in the crucible when he is drunk.

      I have seen no issues with the end, I’m still doing all the different quests for the Exotics, enjoying the grind to get those luminous engrams that in turn raise my light that little bit higher.I don’t have time to play Destiny 24/7 like a lot of the complainers on the Bungie boards (yes I’ve read them, and no, I don’t agree with them).Compare where we are now, with the amount of activities to take part in, to where we were at the same time in Destiny 1.Where were the missions then?

      Destiny 2 is a vast improvement over 1 however you slice it.That is my opinion, and that is why the score is staying where it is.

      Thank you for your time.

      • Qeylis

        Atheon? Oh, you’re comparing it to Vanilla Destiny! I still disagree with you, I think Vanilla is far superior to Destiny 2. But, that’s not what your comparison should be. We’ve had dramatic and massive improvements since then. The Taken King fixed almost every issue present in Vanilla. Rise of Iron fixed every issue that The Taken King didn’t fix.

        By the end of Destiny 1’s life, it finally fulfilled most of the promises Bungie made all the way back in 2014. Rise of Iron was the ultimate version of Destiny, and still is.

        See, what you, and Bungie have to remember is that Destiny was conceived as a sort of odd, MMO-RPG-FPS. Not all of those features were fleshed out very well in Vanilla. The RPG part of the equation was lacking. So was the MMO. The FPS was fantastic. By the time Rise of Iron came out, all of those features had been balanced to perfection, and the first true “Destiny Type” game had been born.

        Then, Bungie abandoned every single thing they’d learned over the course of three years.

        So now I have a question. If Star Wars The Old Republic had a sort of sequel that was really just a DLC (like Destiny 2, except previous Destiny DLCs were way bigger with lots more content than Destiny 2), would it be okay if they got rid of everything that came before? What about WoW? If WoW had a massive DLC that abandoned everything that made WoW great, every land, every piece of gear, in favor of a new experimental system, is there any reality where that could be a good thing?

        That’s what happened to Destiny. Destiny was an MMORPGFPS. Now, it’s just an FPS, with some MMO elements an no RPG elements.

        I understand that it’s your opinion, I was trying to give you an out. I assumed you reviewed it too soon. Now I hope that you don’t understand the full issue (such as, you didn’t play the DLCs). Because a perfect score for the worlds most imperfect sequel is odd.

        • Hey Qeylis,

          I love the passion you’re showing for the game – both in the positive and negative, but if there is one person who knows Destiny, it is Paul. It’s the reason he was trusted with the review and I’m glad he stands by his review.

          Can I just point out though that a 5/5 score doesn’t automatically mean it’s a perfect game. In fact, if you take a look at our ‘About Us’ page – http://www.thexboxhub.com/thexboxhub/ – we say as much in there. You’ll also find how our scores compare to percentages.

          I have to also say that, in my own honest opinion, no matter what anyone thinks of Destiny 2, it is far away from a 2.5/5 rating. In fact, I’d go as far as say anyone who reckons it should come in with a 2.5 either hasn’t played many games, or is super critical for no reason other than being super critical. No matter what way you look at things, there are a million and one games a whole load worse than Destiny 2 – at least in my opinion there are. But then I guess we are all different.

          But like I said, I love the passion you hold.

          • Qeylis

            Thank you. But, I’d still like to know how you guys would feel if the same treatment was applied to other MMORPGs. Would a WoW DLC get such a high score if it abandoned everything that made WoW great in favor of a more casual type of game? If WoW got rid of every single land and made all new ones, which equaled far less total space that WoW has now, is there any reality where that could be considered a good thing? Or, would every single WoW player prefer that they keep all the lands that exist now, and simply add more lands as time goes on?

            Destiny is more similar to WoW that COD. And that’s where the reviewers seem confused. They treat this like an FPS, and if that’s all it was, Destiny 2 would be fantastic in comparison to other games. But since it’s not just an FPS, it’s supposed to be an MMORPGFPS, it’s not a good version of Destiny, not at all.

            I’m not judging Destiny 2 against other games, I’m judging Destiny against Destiny. Destiny 2 in far inferior to Rise of Iron. I’d give Rise of Iron a 4 1/2 out of 5. When compared to Rise of Iron, Destiny 2 is a 2.5 at best, probably lower. Compared to COD, I agree, it’s a 4.5 or even a 5. But Destiny shouldn’t be compared to COD, it should be compared to other games that more closely match what Destiny is supposed to be, such as WoW.

            I’m not asking Paul to go back on his word. Standing by such an early review isn’t a sign of strength. Destiny is a long term game, like WoW. It lives or dies based on it’s endgame, not it’s story. For an average player, it would take about a month to see how inferior Destiny 2 is to Rise of Iron. This review was posted way too soon to see the cracks in D2’s veneer. Compared to RoI, it’s shallow.

            The casual players are starting to see what the hardcore players saw two weeks ago. We, the hardcore, loved D2 the same as Paul. That lasted about a week and a half. Then we saw that D2 had absolutely no depth when compared to Rise of Iron. The casuals are just now catching up to us, and beginning to see it’s lack of depth.

            TLDR, Sorry, this post got longer than I expected. If you only answer one question, this is the one I want answered: If WoW had done the same thing as Destiny 2, made an update that got rid of a gigantic portion of its content in favor of something much smaller, less immersive and less “RPG” like, would that version of WoW be treated the same as Destiny 2 by the critics? Is there any reality in which a version of WoW that removes most of what makes WoW, “WoW” would be met with such sycophantic praise as Destiny 2 is receiving from the critics? Would the critics reconsider after playing for a while and realizing that the new version of WoW had much less depth than previous versions of WoW? Would they reconsider when the fanbase decided that this version of WoW was far inferior to the previous version of WoW? Sorry again, that question turned out to be several questions.

            Edit: Also, I’d like to add that the fans have given it a 5 out of 10 on Metacritic. So, that’s 2.5 out of 5. So, maybe you might need to rethink the idea that anyone who gives it a 2.5 is just being overly critical or doesn’t play many games. Again, critics are displaying a massive disconnect with their audience.

            • Paul Renshaw

              I’ve never played WoW, never played any of the PC MMORPGFPS’s (try saying that fast three times) so your comparison is lost on me.I’m comparing Destiny 2 to Destiny, and comparing it to ROI (which don’t forget was 2 years down the line, when Bungie had taken on board the criticisms of Destiny).Comparing a fourth DLC to a bare bones game seems a little unfair.

              Bungie have made a break from Destiny 1, in so far as none of the old worlds are playable now.The EDZ is bigger than the comparable map from Destiny 1, with way more going on (High value targets, lost sectors, flashpoints, treasure maps and so on)and so to me, with my limited playtime, theres never time to get bored.Especially with trying to get three characters up to max light.I haven’t even completed the raid yet, as I can’t get enough people on at the same time to give it a serious go.

              As Neil said, your passion does you credit and I’m just as passionate, albeit in a “glass half full” style.I remember grinding vanilla destiny for hours upon end, only to have my first exotic drop in a losing crucible match.As far as I am concerned, Destiny 2 is a huge improvement to one, and as things stand, the best MMORPGFPS on the Xbox One, hence the score.

              • Qeylis

                And failing to compare Destiny 2 to Rise of Iron is where all the critics have gotten it wrong. There was absolutely no reason for Destiny 2 to be a reboot. A great sequel builds on what came before, it doesn’t destroy what came before to bring us something less epic. It should raise the stakes, all of them. The story should be better and more epic (it was), the gear should be better and more interesting (it’s not), the super powers should feel more powerful (they don’t). It misses the mark on what makes a good sequel in every way but one.

                I agree that the High value targets, Lost sectors, Flashpoints and Heroic public events are all nice touches, but they are meaningless without the rewards to support them. Chasing a number isn’t enough for a very large portion of the community. In the end, that’s all Destiny 2 is, the race to a number. That’s about as much fun as math.

                Bungie had 3 years to improve and perfect Destiny. Destiny 2 should have been the culmination of everything they learned in those 3 years. Instead, it’s a couple of steps forward (High value targets, lost sectors, etc) and 20 steps backward (failure to make any interesting weapons or gear, failure to give players a choice of gametype in Crucible, failure to make super powers feel epic, failure to give us a reason to play after hitting 305 power; for more, see my previous posts).

                The things that kept us playing in Destiny 1 are absent from Destiny 2. Destiny 1 had such a long lifespan because of the things that are missing from Destiny 2. I’m sorry you can’t see it, but like a prophet, I’m telling you that this won’t last. The players are waking up to the extreme lack of any depth at all in Destiny 2. They are starting to see that there is no reason to play, other than an arbitrary number. They will abandon this game very soon. Prepare for the coming Destiny 2 Ghost Town.

                I’ll leave you to it. I honestly hope you have fun on Destiny 2. I just don’t see how it’s possible.

                • Paul Renshaw

                  I remember the prophets of doom at this stage in Destiny 1 as well, my friend.They were wrong then, and with the greatest of respect , I think you, and they, are wrong now.

                  I guess only time will tell…

                  • Qeylis

                    I honestly meant to be done. But this comment bugged me so much. I would expect to hear that from someone that never played Destiny, but not someone who played from the beginning.

                    If Bungie hadn’t changed course, would Destiny 1 have lasted as long as it did? If they didn’t make it easier (read; Possible) to reach max level (30 at the time, remember “Forever 29”?), would Destiny have lasted 3 years? If they didn’t implement some form of control over what type of gear you get, so that you don’t always get boots in the Raid every single time you played, would Destiny have lasted 3 years? Those predictions were based on evidence, just like mine. The evidence changed, so the prediction changed.

                    The prophets of doom predicted that Destiny would fail. Their prediction was based on the Destiny that was, not the Destiny that came to be. If Bungie changes course with Destiny 2 like they did with Destiny 1 (and I expect that they will), then my prediction will not come to pass. If they hold steady, my prediction will come to pass.

                    This isn’t the first version of Destiny. Bungie has used up our patience on all the mistakes they made with Destiny 1, only getting it truly right at Rise of Iron. If Destiny 2 goes through a similar process, taking 2 years to get the formula right, I can’t imagine why anyone would stay for that.

                    The Bungie board is on fire with hate and vitriol (because some of the complaints are unfounded) for this game. I know you’ll say it was the same with Destiny 1, but no, it wasn’t. For every trending post of hate, there was a trending post of praise for Destiny 1. I was one of the ones responding positively to those trending praises in Destiny 1 (until The Dark Below, when my posts became negative, only to change to positive again at House of Wolves). Right now, the top trending posts are all hate, and a little bit of lore or gear discussion. But no praise at all in the top twenty trending posts.

                    TLDR; (I really need to shorten these posts) So yes, there were prophets of doom for Destiny 1. They were absolutely right. If Bungie didn’t fix the problems with their game, Destiny 1 would have failed. But they did fix it, so it didn’t fail. Now again, the prophets are saying that if Bungie doesn’t fix the problems with this game, which are far more serious than they were back then, then Destiny 2 will fail. And we’re absolutely right.