Normally with a title as big as Destiny 2 coming out, I’d go out of my way to do a longer review. However, Destiny 2 honestly hasn’t changed all that much from Destiny 1. Bungie has gone ahead and honestly done a great job of making minor changes that make the game feel a lot more crisp, without having to change very much at all. To quote Futurama, “When you’ve done something right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all.” One major difference however, is the focus on the story aspect of the game. Basically, a legion of the Cabal, known as the Red Legion, has decided they’d like to steal the light from the Traveler so that they can become immortal. The Red Legion is lead by the main antagonist named Dominus Ghaul.
The game opens with Ghaul rolling up with the Red Legion absolutely wrecking shop at the Tower from Destiny 1. Eventually in a very dramatic cinematic, your character gets the crap kicked out of them by Ghaul and then kicked from the ship you’re fighting on, down into a city filled with the rubble of broken buildings. You watch as the cage around the Travel turns out the “Light”, and suddenly, guardians aren’t so immortal anymore. You begin the game battered and broken, your ghost is lost, and you’re searching for any semblance of light left in the world so that you can fight the forces of the Red Legion without the promise of permanent death. Ghaul has captures The Speaker, all the other guardians are dead or scattered, it’s up to you….as usual.
You’re not brave. Men are brave.
Ok, so to be blunt, the gameplay mecahnics are almost exactly the same. One major difference is that there are skills that require you to hold down the b button instead of just press it (crazy!). For instance wizards have a healing circle, or a damage boosting circle depending on how you set up your skills. The other MAJOR difference, is that light level, and player level, are completely independent of one another. What this does for gameplay is, it makes it so that your equipment is 100% the deciding factor in how effective your character is from beginning to the end of the game. Also, you may find exotics early on in the game that you can later on upgrade, so that if you find a 100 light level helmet you love, you don’t have to move on forever. Later on when you have a generic helmet that has a light level of 170, you can use some legendary marks to break down that item, and use it to boost the level of your exotic helmet to 170. It’s pretty great to have this option. Also you can still do juvenile crap like this…
A couple of other small things that are actually kind of cool changes, is that you will run into elite enemies near treasure chests. These chests will remain closed, until you kill the elite enemy accompanying the chest. More often than not these chests will drop a type of currency that you can exchange towards a legendary engram on each planet. Each planet has a main character that you check in with when you get there, you can trade in a specific type of currency that you find on each planet in chests, or small collectibles that can also be traded in to this person. Each trade in will fill up a bar above their name slowly. Once the bar is filled, you’ll get a legendary engram pack from them. Later in the game they feel useless, but breaking them down for legendary marks allows you to upgrade lower light items that you may have been holding on to upgrade later on.
Other than that the overall map presentation and the areas have changed a bit. One of the cool things is that occasionally if you wander into weird corners of the map, you’ll come into “Lost Sectors” that aren’t technically on the main map. Usually these areas have high level enemies that are accompanied by a chest. Generally these chests occasionally have a decent item in them, as well as more currency than a normal chest would have.
To break it down for you, the little green human looking icon, is your contact for whatever planet you’re on. These are the people you’ll be turning currency into towards an engram. The big red icon is a story mission, this will progress the well written story, and give you a chance to get towards end game content. The sword looking icon is the same thing as “beacons” in Destiny 1. They are called “adventures” in Destiny 2. Finally, one really cool thing is that public events happen MUCH more frequency, and completing them always guarantees at least some currency that you can turn in for engrams. Also, you’ll occasionally see a rally flag, that you can walk up and hold X, which triggers a 3 minute warning for another public event to start. These will immediately show up on all other players maps in the area so that they can come help with it if they’d like.
One final big difference is that the way you get your sub classes is a bit different. You start with your first sub class, which you will level up a good portion of the story with. Each level will give you an experience point that you can dump into skills, just like Destiny 1. However, in Destiny 2, you’ll eventually earn your sub classes as an item that drops, (you’ll find it eventually) that you need to activate first by killing enemies, or doing public events with other players. Once unlocked, each sub class starts with no points in them. Each class doesn’t have their own experience bar that levels up, you just earn level up points each time you level, up to level 20. So, you may want to hold onto some of these level up points until you unlock all three classes and decide which one best fits your play style. You will still be able to get points later on, it just takes a lot longer, and you may have to complete specific missions to get them, once you hit level 20.
The final mechanic added to Destiny 2 is the clan system. Unfortunately, as the game just came out, and the clan system has JUST been initiated, I don’t have much experience with it yet. My understanding is that doing specific things like night falls, or specific missions will add points to your clan. Each season, depending on how many points your clan earns, you may earn extra shaders or mods for your characters equipment. I imagine some of the top tier clans may earn equipment as well. Clans can have up to 100 members in them. Happy hunting!
Visuals and Final Thoughts
Long story short, this is one of the most gorgeous games that I’ve seen on console. I can only imagine how good it looks on PS4 Plus or will look on the Xbox One X. Visually speaking, this game has a huge leg up over Destiny 1, and some of the landscapes involved show that Bungie truly put a lot of heart into the set design for this game. You get the feeling that the team that worked on this project had a bit more passion for it than the original Destiny. Perhaps the budgets were bigger, the constraints were smaller, the deadline was less dramatic, or something. There’s SOMETHING here that just feels like it was made by people who loved making it.
As far as sequels go, I don’t think a lot of companies do a great job of keeping game mechanics familiar, without creating a new experience that feels fresh. I feel that Destiny 2 has done a lot of things right that Destiny 1 did not. The game feels like a labor of love rather than a labor of labor. Unfortunately, the game touts only an 8 hour campaign. For a game that takes place across multiple planets and deals with conflict on the scale of a Solar System, 8 hours feels kind of cheap. Granted, there is a lot of side content, but it feels like a cop out so that money can be made off of expansions later that continue the main story. Not that everyone doesn’t do that these days I guess. While people are complaining about shaders costing money, because they are morons, I’m left feeling like the main game should have more story content. That said, the amount of side content and random stuff to do after the main story fills enough of a void to keep me from feeling robbed. Overall the game is solid with a few minor flaws, they’ve certainly done their homework and created something great this time around.