Ask any Destiny player, and they will tell you that back in the day, on the vanilla Destiny, the grind was real… and harsh. I’m talking about the year one, endgame grind before Three of Coins and so on made things just that little bit easier. You know the times, when the only way to get Fatebringer or the Vex Mythoclast was to complete the Vault of Glass raid on hard, and the reward for doing so was to be able to go into the Crucible and wreck all-comers with sweet, elemental primary gunfire.
This grind continued through the lifetime of the game, but did seem to get less “grindy”, with various ways to get guaranteed Exotic weapons, like the Black Spindle. These methods weren’t always a walk in the park, but at least you could be certain that the weapon you were after would drop. Right up until the end, with the Age of Triumph and the new Exotics that they introduced with it (well, exotic versions of legendary weapons, like Atheons Epilogue) the criteria for getting these was a challenge, like killing Ir Yut in under six minutes with all other adds dead.
So, with all that in mind, how does Destiny 2’s endgame stack up? Surprisingly well, is the answer.
It appears that this time Bungie have thought about the endgame, and rather than just turfing you out into the wild to do patrols until your eyes bleed, they have introduced a proper structure. Each week, Cayde nominates a planet which is designated as a flashpoint, so going to that planet and completing public events will reward you with high level gear. And I really must take a minute here to commend the map again, as finding out where public events were about to happen, or when they would occur, was a major pain in the first game, forcing us to go to third party websites to check. So, as you run around the planet doing the public events, a simple press of the back button will also bring up a list of three daily challenges for the planet you are on. These can range from collecting the resources unique to that world and opening chests, through to fun things like killing ten enemies with a sniper rifle in the town of Trostland. The rewards aren’t amazing, usually just being tokens to redeem on the world, but it is something that can be used to stretch yourself.
Challenges are also present in the strike playlist, the Nightfall – hell, even the Crucible has criteria that can be met to gain rewards. It seems, even when just exploring, there’s always something to work towards.
Lord Shaxx has a similar challenge for you, but this time it is based in the Crucible. A Call To Arms, as it is called, allows you to play Crucible matches secure in the knowledge that there is usually something awesome waiting at the end. In an interesting move, the amount of completion percentage you receive for A Call To Arms is based on how well you did in the match. For example, I had a shocking match that saw me ending up with a 0.75 K/D, although our team still won the match. Shaxx awarded me only 16% completion for that match. Then, when I hit my stride and started being able to kill people, the percentage rose in line with my success, with one memorable match giving me 25% towards the total. With this added to the challenges, I actually feel motivated to play the Crucible by choice this time around, rather than just partaking because the rest of my fireteam fancies it.
All is not rosy in the Crucible, mind. Taking away our choice of game mode seems a somewhat retrograde design choice by Bungie. In six games played in my last session, we had one Clash, one Control and four Supremacy. No one on my fireteam particularly minds Supremacy, it can be a fun game mode, but 66% of the time? No. I much prefer Control, and so really enjoyed the Iron event recently.
But I have to say I’m not a fan of the changes Bungie have brought in here either. The Banana was always about getting your best gear on to try and get an advantage, as your light level mattered. With this removed (and from competitive play and the Trials too) it seems like Bungie is making levelling up your character meaningless. A power level 10 character can take a power level 305 without thinking, and to me this is wrong. Why grind if you can’t occasionally lord it over lower level enemies? Steam rollering lower level teams in the Banana was what it used to be about, especially after I’ve carefully stacked my team. But now this is gone.
What I do like about the Crucible now is the emphasis on gunplay. If you can shoot straight, you can do well here, and if you communicate with a fireteam, the results can be spectacular. In a memorable match on the Pleasure Barge, we managed to lock down the A and B flags, and trapped the opposing team in the top end of the map. With people watching all the routes, we would take it in turns to grab the Power ammo, equip a sword and run sneaky sorties into enemy territory, killing a few and then running away giggling. I think the match finished 103-20 or something along those lines, which also highlighted to me the lack of the mercy rule. If you are getting flattened, you stay until the end now. This can lead to some very uneven matches, as when you are locked down, facing a team who is talking and working together, it’s very hard to break out. Going into the Crucible as a lone wolf can also be a painful experience, as the majority of randoms don’t speak, so planning strategy is practically impossible.
Each week Zavala will also challenge you to complete his Nightfall strike, either on Regular or Prestige difficulty. The Nightfall now has a strict time limit, and if you haven’t killed the boss by the time the clock runs out, you are taken to orbit and have to start again. Sometimes there are rings to jump through to increase the time, sometimes shooting anomalies or enemies will grant extra precious seconds, but it is a challenge now akin to how it was in the first year, where if the fireteam members all died, you were taken to orbit and had to start again.
This isn’t the rule now, but the clock keeps running even when you are dead – so if everyone dies, that is about 30 seconds off the time before you are back on your feet again. The final stage of the Rat King exotic quest needs you to finish a Nightfall with five minutes on the clock and I have finally completed this. Our first run had 4m50 on the clock, the next 5m10, and there was much rejoicing. There is a good chance of an Exotic from Zavala when you report your success, so the power levels can keep rising. I now have two characters at 303 and one at 304, so the end is in sight.
So, with Adventures to complete, quests for Exotic weapons to follow, both daily and weekly challenges to accept, and the ability to hit them three times if you have three characters, the endgame in Destiny 2 is a lot stronger than it was in Destiny 1 at the same time. I do hear a lot of complaints about the endgame, largely because they are comparing this to Destiny 1 after three years of tweaks and DLC. I personally feel that is unfair. I don’t get time to play Destiny 2 24/7 – what with having a job and a family to attend to in addition to games – and for me, Bungie have judged the endgame content just right. There’s enough to keep you busy, and the rewards are there to be taken.
Jump in Guardians, it’s great out here!
On a side note, I’m still trying to find a team to go through the raid, so if you fancy it, talk to me on Xbox Live (Red620Ti) and we’ll get something sorted. Don’t forget to check out my full review of Destiny 2 as well.