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Review: Destiny 2 (PS4)

Action RPG
9

Amazing

When Destiny released back in 2014, it didn’t quite live up to expectations. The game was hyped up to be a lot more than what it turned out to be, and a lot of people were left with a sour taste in the mouth. But over the course of three years, it was turned into something quite different, and became a much better game.

Destiny 2 also released with a lot of hype and expectations attached to it, as well as a ton of pressure. There’s those that love the series, and hope that it won’t disappoint, and then there are those who are hoping for the game they were promised back in 2014. So does it live up to that expectations, hopes and dreams? Let’s find out shall we?

Homecoming

For those who are hoping for a complete overhaul of the Destiny experience with this sequel, you will be sorely disappointed. Destiny 2 continues with the solid foundation that its predecessor laid, and it is at its core, a Destiny game. What they did do however, was add so much more in terms of story, content and activities, that doing it feels fun, refreshing and never boring.

The opening chapter for the story is called Homecoming, and in a way, it is a welcome back to all the Guardians that loved the game over the years, but were taking a break from the game since they’ve done everything that Destiny had to offer. Those who loved the first game will love this one, and those who never played the first one might be pleasantly surprised with what is on offer here.

The biggest criticism that Destiny received was its lack of a coherent story. It was dull, confusing, deliberately vague and didn’t even take the time to explain why it didn’t have time to explain. This was rectified to an extent with the release of its four Expansions, especially with The Taken King, but the damage was already kind of done.

Destiny 2 rectifies this in a big way, by making the Story Campaign a lot more linear, and fleshing out the characters that you meet along the way quite a bit. The Vanguard, characters that previously just stood around in their tower, giving you rewards, or spouting exposition as you shoot enemies, are now proper characters with some motivation, fears and desires. Even the main villain, Dominus Ghaul, has very interesting motives for what he does, and it’s shown through impressive cinematics and voice over work. He quickly became one of my favourite characters of the story.

It does have shortcomings though, the fact that your Guardian doesn’t speak, and the only nods at whatever your Ghost says is a bit distracting, and giving your Guardian a bit of a personality wouldn’t have hurt.

It’s a fun and entertaining story, although not the best ever, but it has a lot of heart, and good characters. The story campaign will take you about six hours to complete if you do nothing else, but there’s a lot of other side stories and missions to do and keep you busy with. It took me about 13 hours or so to complete the campaign, including all the extra stuff I did in between.

Let’s go on an Adventure!

Like so many RPGs out there, playing just the story will simply not work, and if that is your plan, then you will miss out on the true value in what this game has to offer. Destiny 2 offers side missions and activities that help flesh out the overall story, and since the story is kind of decent this time round, you want to do these activities. These include Quests, which usually nets you an Exotic weapon of sorts, as well as Adventures, Lost Sectors and Public Events, and you are introduced to these activities throughout the story.

Adventures are added story missions, specific to each location, Lost Sectors are little treasure hunts, that you see you go explore areas that not shown on the map, and Public Events are encounters where you and a couple of other random players have to work together to achieve the goal. These events are somewhat random, but appear often, and once again, there’s quite a few different types of events to partake in.

These are all laid out on the open world maps of the four different planets that you get to visit, and unlocks as you make your way through the campaign. One very nice addition to the game is an actual map, which shows where the next Public Event might be, or an Adventure mission you can play, as well as the ability to fast travel to a location. That fast travel spans even across the game, so there’ no more need to go to orbit, and then going to a planet, and then jumping on your sparrow, and driving to the other side of the map, just to participate in an event, or do something. You can now simply jump from a location, even from the social space to whatever planet you want to be, or activity you want to do such as a Strike or a Crucible match. It also feels a lot less like a grind, since these activities are fun and varied.

Bringing your Endgame

It’s often mentioned that Destiny only starts when you reach the max level, which in this case, is currently standing at Level 20. It doesn’t sound like a lot, and I managed to reach that level before doing the final mission of the story campaign. That does however not end there. Your overall strength and efficiency is determined by your Power Level, which is currently capped at 300, and reaching that is the ultimate goal, since it will mean you are ready for the Raid when it becomes available.

This is where the Endgame of Destiny 2 comes in, and this is where you will spend all your time. There’s quite a lot to do, including Strikes, Crucible (PvP) more of the open world activities, as well as Quests, that can be quite lengthy, and challenging, especially if you go at it alone. This is where the online aspect of Destiny 2 comes in and shines. It’s best to have friends to play with, but it can still be enjoyed going in solo. The matchmaking works incredibly well, and you will never find yourself doing something like a Strike alone. You can make some friends here as well, as the Destiny community is usually a friendly bunch, since the game enforces teamwork and cooperation to overcome certain challenges.

A new system called Guided Games, as well as a more robust Clan system that works in game is being introduced. The idea is to help those looking for people to play with, a chance to enjoy all the activities on offer, such as the Nightfall. These systems are not online yet, but I will give insight on how it works, once I had a chance to try it out properly.

Vendors and the unfortunate “M” word

One of the ways to level up your Power is to earn Tokens for each Zone or Activity. Do Patrols, adventures or Public Events, and you earn Tokens for it. Do some Strikes, or Crucible, you get some Tokens, which you can turn in at the respective vendor for that activity for reward that will help you level up your Power.

You also get Bright Engrams (fancy word for loot boxes) for leveling up, or gain a certain amount of power. These include vanity items, such as shaders, emotes, ships and Sparrows. The unfortunate thing is, that these Bright Engrams can also be bought with real world money, which is not ideal. The shaders are now one time use as well and gets equipped per item, so it can become a bit of an issue, you find something you like, but will be too afraid to use a shader, in case you get better looking armour or a better weapon.

You can also get some Weapon Mods in these Bright Engrams, but none of them according to the loot table are Legendary, and you can buy the same stuff at the Gunsmith for the in game currency called Glimmer.

It’s probably the worst thing about the game though, but it doesn’t affect the way it plays at all, and nothing in the Bright Engram will give you any kind of advantage over other players. But it’s still crappy and shouldn’t be there.

Going on Strike

Currently, there’s a total of six Strikes available to do. They are on a random playlist at the moment, so you can’t really choose which ones you want to do. A Strike is a extended mission, that requires a three Guardian Fireteam, and can get a bit more complex and challenging. Once again, you can go in alone, since the matchmaking works very well, and joining in on random players is nothing strange. The Strikes feel much more fleshed out than what was originally available in Destiny. A lot of the people I spoke to compare them to mini Raids, and they’re not far off. While it’s not as complex as a Raid, it does feel longer, more varied and bigger in scale than anything that was on offer in Destiny.

It also has a harder version of it, called the Nightfall Strike. Every week, a different Strike will be chosen as the Nightfall, and it will add some kind of modifier to it, which adds a new level of challenge. A Nightfall Strike requires communication and proper teamwork, or you will fail. This past week’s Nightfall had a timer on it which gets replenished as you kill enemies, but if the timer runs out, you’re done and have to try again.

The Crucible

The Crucible is Destiny’s name for PvP. The mode was changed from a 6v6 format, to a 4v4 format, which in a way works. The maps are still the same size though, so you might find yourself a bit alone and away from the action from time to time. Currently, there are only five modes available, and I’m not sure of the number of maps, since everything is currently in a playlist, similar to the Strikes.

Three of the modes, called Clash (Team Death Match), Control (Capture the Zone), and Supremacy (Kill Confirm) are part of the Quick Play playlist, and two more modes called Countdown and Survival. In countdown, you take round turns to either try and detonate a bomb (located in several places), or defend said bomb locations. You win a round by either wiping the other team out, or detonating or defusing the bombs. In survival mode, you only have a limited amount of lives per team, each time you or your Fireteam dies, a life is subtracted from the pool. The first team to deplete the opposition’s health pool wins the round and you go again.

Competitive mode can get quite intense, and I really like it, but overall I feel the Crucible is lacking a bit at the moment, although there do seem to be quite a decent number of maps. Hopefully, it will become a bit more fleshed out and varied in the not too distant future.

Gameplay of the highest calibre

One thing that Bungie has down to a tee is the gunplay. It felt just perfect in Destiny, and it’s hard to believe that they managed to outdo themselves in the sequel. The system was changed a bit, and you don’t have a Primary, Secondary and Heavy weapon anymore. Instead, that is now changed to Kinetic, Energy and Power Weapons, with things like Fusion Rifles, Sniper Rifles and Shotguns moving to the Power Weapon slot. Energy Weapons are good for taking care of Enemy shields, and is configured in Arc, Void or Solar Power, while Kinetic weapons are great for overall damage once the shields are down.

The weapon changes take some getting used to, but once you get in the rhythm, it feels so damn good and natural.

It takes some getting used to, but once you get in the rhythm, it feels so damn good and natural. Weapons also come in all sorts of flavours, such as Auto Rifles, Scout Rifles, Pulse Rifles, Hand Cannons and SMGs, so you really can customise your loadout to your preferences. The weapons themselves are incredibly fun to use, and have a real sense of weight and power behind them. They are in my opinion the real stars behind this game.

Destiny 2 has a beautiful soundtrack to boot. It complements the action as well as the environments and action in every way. There is something sincere about it, whether its the subtle ominous tones while you’re spelunking down a cave, or the full blown orchestra during some of the epic scripted fight scenes and boss battles. It’s some of the best music I’ve heard in a video game, and can easily be compared to the work of a master like John Williams.

For those you don’t know, Destiny features three classes, Titan, Hunter and Warlock. Each class has three different sub-classes that is either Void, Solar or Arc. The sub-classes work much in the same way as it did before, with the exception of one of the Sub-classes for each Guardian type. The Warlock gets a Solar Dawn Blade, Titan gets the Void Sentinel, and Hunter gets Arc Strider, which is well, Arc. Each of the subclasses can be upgraded by unlocking specific perks in certain skill trees, which can be changed depending on the situation. Overall, each Guardian plays about the same, and if comes down to personal preference.

Sharing the beautiful worlds

Each of the planets and areas that has been created is unique, and it looks amazing with once again, a lot to do in them. Each world has it’s own secrets to discover, and it’s an absolute joy to go out and do just that.

You are however not alone, since others are also running around doing it, but probably exploring something different, and probably at their own pace. Seeing other random Guardians running around doing something, or killing a mini boss, and jumping in and helping is an absolute joy. It’s through this type of encounter that I had what was probably the best moment of the game for me, which gave me goosebumps, and made me realise just how well designed this game really is.

They didn’t know what I was doing, or why this thing was here, and they had no business trying to help me out, but they were there, and helping and shooting.

I was chasing a particularly tough boss enemy across one of the maps for a Quest, and before I knew it, I had a couple of random people helping me out, chasing this bugger with me. They didn’t know what I was doing, or why this thing was here, and they had no business trying to help me out, but they were there, and helping and shooting. It was so epic, and everything just clicked! Once the fight was over, I got my reward, we all waved goodbye and went went our separate ways. This was one of the greatest moments I had in the 30 odd years that I’ve been playing video games!

To wrap things up

Destiny 2 is an experience, and that is something that everyone should remember. While it has a fun and entertaining story it really is only the beginning of your journey with it. It has so much on offer, it’s just a matter of you going going out and exploring the worlds that has been created. It’s especially fun with friends, and you can easily make new friends playing the game, especially once the Guided Games and clan systems become fully operational.

The best experiences is still to come, with the monthly and weekly events, as well as the Raid, which will release later this week. I will give an opinion piece on the Raid once I had a chance to do it. For now though, I will be getting back in there and enjoying everything Destiny 2 has to offer, which as I have said before, is a lot.

Good

  • Good story
  • Fleshed out characters
  • Lots of added content
  • Varied activities and events
  • Gunplay is absolutely sublime

Bad

  • Lootboxes
  • The odd connection issue, but nothing major
  • Crucible feels a bit barebones

Summary

Destiny 2 is not a complete overhaul of the original game, but rather an evolution to something much bigger and better than its predecessor. It improves in every way, including the story, varied content and gameplay.
9

Amazing

  • AndriyP

    Cant wait for this on PC…however I have been trying to find some information regarding the EDZ…is there an instance of how many people can be in the same place at the same time?
    Im hoping this will not mean that for every event theres 100+ people…that will get too chaotic as seen in many other games like WoW and Guildwars etc

    • Small Charlie

      I’m not sure what the limit might be. I know the maximum players allowed in at the social space is 24. I would assume it would be the same of the rest of it open worlds. I never found to have have issues with too many people doing public events. I think the most I saw as 5 people having a go at it.

      I do however have no idea what the limits will be on PC, but I’d imagine that it will be roughly the same experience.

      • AndriyP

        Thanks Charlie! That is exactly what I was looking for, I think it makes sense like you say to have the same 24 player instance throughout the zones.

        In this case you will still feel like you are by yourself an the random encounters you may have will still feel special and unique.

        • Small Charlie

          Yeah, it never feels crowded, but the number of encounters are often enough to not feel lonely.

  • VampyreSquirrel

    Still half tempted to get this, but the price will have to drop, or someone will have to give it to me.

  • MonsterCheddar

    Awesome article. This game is brilliant. A big improvement on the first title.

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