Often when you read a Destiny 2 review, it ranges from cringeworthy to filled with praise.
The first Destiny game was arguably one of the most popular things to hit consoles in years. Problems plagued Destiny 1 after release. But it developed a loyal player base that eagerly awaited the next offering from Bungie, the makers of the hugely popular Halo series.
Bungie mostly scrapped the first game a year before its release. The version that they ultimately shipped was stitched together rather poorly. The writing was bad. The story had more holes in it than a cheese grater. Players found the story about as engaging as a lecture on the history of, well, cheese graters. The character you heard the most, your "Ghost," was voiced by Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage who was for many reasons awful in the role.
But the game was beautiful. Despite its numerous issues, players found themselves hooked by the fantastic gameplay and scenery. But they demanded a better experience. They didn't get it until the second year of the game.
In the second year, Bungie changed the game for the better. They released a fantastic expansion that included numerous gameplay improvements, a killer storyline, and the Vault of Glass raid, which gained a reputation as one of the best things in Destiny. They also replaced "Dinklebot" with a new voice actor.
It was like a completely different game.
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Did Bungie Learn From Its Mistakes?
The short answer is "no, not at all." The long answer is a long string of "nopes" screamed into an echo chamber at the top of one's lungs. As you will see in almost every Destiny 2 review, Bungie created many of the game's issues by changing things that they didn't need to change.
Somehow, Bungie managed to forget all of its mistakes, make many of the same ones again, and even screw up some new things. They managed to take a hugely popular game that had players begging for more and screw the pooch terribly on the launch.
Destiny 2 promised a lot but delivered very little. The campaign is short and boring. Bungie changed the weapons system, making weapons like sniper rifles and shotguns "heavy weapons" you can use rarely. Player vs. player (PVP) teams reduced to four players from the first Destiny's six.
While weapons once had stats that rolled randomly, making each one unique and giving players the ability to chase "god rolls" of their favorite items, Destiny 2's weapons have static stats. That makes them bland and boring, even if the weapon itself is good.
Shaders were also changed to consumables, meaning that a lot of work is sometimes necessary just to color an armor set the way you want. And if you get too many of a shader you want? You have to junk each one individually to clear space in your inventory.
Bungie also made the unpopular decision of taking away everything you earned in the first Destiny, making you start over from scratch. Usually, this would not be a problem. But Bungie initially led players to believe that gear would transfer between games.
Bungie learned nothing. And every Destiny 2 review and forum post refused to let them forget it.
Destiny 2's Problems And Expansions
The gameplay is good, but the game once again lacks energy. Bungie even slowed down character speed and ability charge rates initially, though they have since fixed that issue via updates.
Initially, Destiny 2 was a boring mess. In many ways, it still is. The first expansion, Curse of Osiris, featured a rather dull storyline, lackluster characters, and a single tiny planet. All the while, the dwindling player base continued to criticize Bungie's seeming lack of interest in the game's issues. Also, they merely repurposed strikes missions, which made the game feel even more repetitive.
Another issue is the raids, the most challenging experiences in the game. So far, they have been decent. Nowhere near as good as the first Destiny's Vault of Glass, but good. They have also been short and uninspired. As a result, you may have difficulty forming a dedicated group because your friends aren't going to be interested consistently.
Eventually, Bungie addressed some of the problems to some degree. They sped up character movement and ability recharge speed. They buffed numerous weapons to make them more desirable. And they promised changes.
Bungie began improving numerous Exotic items that were underperforming. They brought back 6v6 PVP for the Iron Banner event and eventually for quickplay PVP. We saw a return of bounties, a popular feature from Destiny 1, in July. Bungie promises more improvements in the future.
The Warmind expansion brought a new game mode to players called Escalation Protocol. Essentially, it is a "horde mode." Players face off against wave after wave of enemies. They are rewarded with some of the best-looking armor in the game as well as some good weapons. Escalation Protocol has been mentioned positively in almost every Destiny 2 review, but it is not without its issues.
Allegedly, Escalation Protocol is intended for three max-level players, but that's not how it typically works out. Players will group up and take advantage of an exploit allowing them to cram three fireteams of three people onto Mars where the event takes place. In fact, this is generally the only way you will see the end of the adventure. Escalation protocol is pretty cool. In fact, it's the coolest thing you'll never have the energy to complete because of the hours of setup involved in doing it successfully.
Warmind featured a lot of improvements. The story, albeit short, introduced a fun new character, Ana Bray. Unfortunately, your relationship with her is about as short as the storyline itself. Bungie didn't flesh her out at all.
The expansion also brought back "hidden" quests that have players running around the map to earn the first exotic sword in the game, vehicles, and other goodies. But many issues persist, including that strikes are just beefed-up missions from the short storyline.
Warmind made many improvements, but like Destiny 1's first-year expansions, it leaves players demanding more.
The name of September's Forsaken expansion can serve as a Destiny 2 review in and of itself. It's how even the most dedicated players feel. But it could also offer salvation. Unfortunately, this shows a pattern. Bungie paid little mind to player concerns during the first year of the game then began to take it seriously when things were dire. The same thing is happening here. Nevertheless, Forsaken does have a lot to offer players.
The expansion kicks off by returning players to The Reef, a social hub from the first game. The story reveal trailer drops a bomb on players right from the start. Bungie has decided that the second year of Destiny 2 will be good enough that they can kill off one of the game's most popular characters.
The trailer begins with hunter vanguard Cayde-6 (voiced by Nathan Fillion) getting shot in the face by a returning character from the first game. While resurrection is a normal part of Guardian life, it is made clear that there is no coming back for Cayde. That's a huge gamble, but it's also a sign of confidence that Bungie is releasing something great.
So, what does the Forsaken expansion have to offer?
New PVP Modes
Bungie is pulling out all the stops with its new PVP modes. Teams will battle AI-controlled waves of enemies in separate areas, with their victories making things harder on the opposing team. Players will compete to bank "motes" from defeated enemies until eventually, a powerful enemy appears. Once it's defeated, your team wins.
But it's not that simple. As you bank motes, you will spawn enemies on the opposing team's side. A player from your group can also "invade" the opposing side to wreak havoc on the opposition. This game mode will introduce four new maps and multiple enemy configurations for a total of 36 different Gambit experiences.
Players who prefer the competitive playlist won't be left out either. The objective-based "Breakthrough" mode has players vying for control of a "Breaker." In the game, once a team captures that "breaker" their opponents must defend their "Vault" until time runs out. This mode could very well pump some life into competitive mode, which people have heavily criticized thus far.
Weapons, Weapons, Weapons
Random rolls are back, baby! While the First Year items will remain static, new weapons will have random stats that will make it more exciting as you pick up your 36th copy of a gun. It fixed a significant player complaint that has plagued the game since launch.
Forsaken will also address players' complaint about the current weapon system overall. Right now, weapons are divided into "kinetic" (regular, good ole bullets), energy (weapons with elemental effects), and heavy (powerful weapons like rocket launchers and swords). At the moment, you can equip one of each, but that will change.
Forsaken will allow players to run with three rocket launchers if they want. Weapons will drop for every slot, which allows more variance in loadouts. While this doesn't entirely give players the return to the Destiny 1 system they have been demanding, it will enable more options in how they play.
Forsaken will also introduce a new type of weapon -- the bow. If you want to run around filling your foes' bodies with arrows, you're sure to have fun as you can see in this video (it also gives you a look at the new Gambit PVP mode):
Changes to weapon (and armor) modifications are also coming, which should fix criticisms of the current bland system.
The weapon changes have a lot of potential if Bungie doesn't squander the opportunity.
New Super Abilities Are Super
Traditionally, Destiny classes possessed a single "Super" (or ultimate) ability no matter what they did with their specializations. But that changes with the new ability trees Forsaken adds to each class and subclass.
Warlocks, Hunters, and Titans will all receive a second Super ability along with other new capabilities.
Striker Titans, for example, will fly through the air and crash into enemies like a missile. Nightstalker Hunters will capitalize on their stealth abilities to stab their enemies before they know what hit them. Gunslinger Hunters, known for their knifeplay, will unleash a volley of explosive knives. Stormcaller Warlocks gain a massive energy beam that will decimate hordes of oncoming enemies.
That adds diversity to classes that Destiny 2 has thus far lacked -- something that is sure to be mentioned in every Destiny 2 review to come.
Other New Additions
The Forsaken expansion also adds 200 additional vault slots, clearing up concerns about storage space -- an issue you often see mentioned when reading a Destiny 2 review.
Perhaps the most anticipated change Forsaken brings, as strange as it sounds, is players' ability to bulk delete shaders. Stacks and stacks of weapon and armor colorization options have plagued players since the beginning. It may seem like a small problem, but players spent hours and hours doing nothing but junking shaders.
Perhaps if Destiny 1 had not captured the hearts of players as it did, the world would be more kind to Destiny 2. But players expected a lot and received very little, at least initially, for their faith and devotion. Bungie ignored their complaints for quite some time before finally buckling and taking steps to make improvements.
Progress has been slow. But Bungie is attempting to stave off disaster by giving players what they have been asking for since the game's release. Players realize that Destiny 2 is a good game, but they know it is not good enough because the first game was exponentially better.
Fortunately, a light is on the horizon, and the game may soon realize its full potential in its second year. Bungie has made many mistakes. They have dropped many balls many times. But they are working hard to rectify those errors. If you gave up on the game early or have held off on trying it, September is when you should come back or start.