Before this generation began, I’d never made much of a foray into multiplayer console games. While I had spent hours in the past playing Warcraft 3, Counter Strike and World of Warcraft with friends, console online gaming had never quite grabbed me the same way. This all changed when my friends and I picked up Destiny at launch. I went from not playing any games online to spending every second night online with my friends grinding for new gear. Quite quickly though, the content in the game had been repeated so many times that a sense of boredom began to permeate our sessions. Over time, and with each subsequent expansions meagre content offerings, we gradually drifted away from the game. With the release of Destiny 2, and Bungie’s promises of more and better content, I jumped back in with gusto. After hours and hours with Destiny 2, I can safely say that they weren’t lying and many issues have been fixed, however, a couple of new ones have also been introduced.
If you had the chance to jump into the games beta prior to release, you’ll have had a small taste of the improved story telling that Bungie have brought in Destiny 2. Gone are the days of scouring an external source to look at grimoire cards to gain any real sort of story. Instead, cutscenes play to begin and end most story missions, filled with exposition and character development. Characters also talk to you and between themselves more during missions, giving you backgrounds on areas, themselves and other characters. The added touches and dialogue are appreciated and they work together to create a world that feels wholly more realised because of it. The increased quality of presentation helps to make the story more than the sum of its parts. The actual story itself is standard, without the twists and interesting parts found in past Bungie games, but that’s still a vast improvement on Destiny. The real positive of Destiny 2’s story is Ghaul, the first villain in the series to feel truly menacing. His story is built upon constantly, adding to his menace and revealing a flawed and understandable character. With the increase in quality and a length of about 10 hours, Destiny 2’s story is a vast improvement and highly engaging.
Once the story concludes, you then move into the real Destiny 2 experience – Completing challenges, adventures, strikes and crucible matches to increase your light level and access more content. This is where Destiny fell over, with the game’s lack of unique content exposed, but Bungie have learnt from this and Destiny 2 has a much more varied range of content. The best example of this are the game’s four explorable environments. Along with the familiar Public Events and Patrol Quests, you now have Adventures and Lost Sectors to find and complete in the world. Adventures are effectively a string of Patrol Quests linked together, with some character dialogue and story thrown in for good measure. They help to flesh out the characters you meet in the world, as well as providing an engaging experience in the world, and are a welcome experience. Lost Sectors, on the other hand, have no dialogue whatsoever and are small hidden dungeons in the world. Each one contains a named enemy, effectively a mini-boss, that gives you guaranteed loot upon its death.
While there is more content in Destiny 2, one fundamental change to the game causes some problems with how repetitive it becomes. In Destiny your progression was slow, requiring heavy grinding to increase your Light level and reach new content, effectively spreading out the thin content over a longer period. In Destiny 2, Bungie seem to have corrected quite hard in the other direction, as your Light level increases at a frightening pace. What results is a wider range of content that you access faster than in the past. This means that even though there is more content, because you have full access to it much faster, it still ends up repeating quite quickly. The higher quality level of the content helps to offset this to a degree, but there’s no doubt that without ongoing support Destiny 2 is going to fall into the same trap as the original game.
The best changes to Destiny 2 don’t come in the form of content though, but in the game’s quality of life adjustments. While you previously had to go into orbit before heading into a new environment in Destiny, being hit with two 30+ second loading screens, you can now just boot up the Director at any time and travel directly to new environments. This removes one of the most frustrating aspects of original Destiny and allows you to quickly jump between environments with only a single loading screen. The other big one is the way engrams work in the game. Previously, the loot you got from engrams was based around what equipment you had on at the time you decrypted them. What this meant was that if you had swapped out gear for elemental reasons, you could end up with gear that was worse than what you had. Now the game’s engrams give loot based on the highest possible light level you have based on every single piece of equipment you have. What this means is that you always feel like you’re getting better gear and progressing, instead of stagnating like in the first game.
While many things have changed from Destiny to Destiny 2, there are a couple of things that haven’t changed much at all. Graphically, Destiny 2 is largely similar to the first game, which is to say it still looks great. Environments are a bit more populated with plants, debris and buildings this time around though, so there is definitely a bit more happening this time around. The score is still top notch as well, with the soundtrack to the campaign being one of the best, if not the best, I’ve ever heard. This is particularly noticeable early in the game, with a slow melancholy tune playing through some of the more trying scenes and gradually building to an uplifting crescendo as you find other survivors. It’s beautiful to listen to and typifies the highly engaging music you’ll find in Destiny 2. I regularly stop during missions just so that I can listen to more of the soundtrack before moving on. The gunplay also continues to be fantastic, with guns all feeling different and satisfying to use. The way the progression system has been altered also means you’re pushed to constantly use different weapons as well, allowing for more variety as you play.
Destiny was a great game that was plagued with a lack of general content, a slow progression rate, little annoying issues and a non-existent story. With Destiny 2, Bungie have maintained the same level of quality from the original game, while including an engaging, if somewhat cookie-cutter, story and increasing the amount and quality of content. The quality of life alterations remove the annoyances from the previous game, but also mean that you progress through the available content much faster. Post release support will truly make or break the ongoing life of the game, but as an initial prospect, Destiny 2 is utterly fantastic.
- Quality of life fixes are fantastic
- There is actually story content this time
- Soundtrack is utterly amazing
- Gunplay still feels great
- Faster level progression has you run through content quickly