Destiny 2 feels as though an apology. It’s the righting of the wrongs committed by the divisive Destiny 1, a casino game I couldn’t help but pump one thousand hours into despite it often feeling like pulling teeth.
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The developers at Bungie, with Halo-fuelled egos dented from the mediocre critical reception that enveloped Destiny’s delayed 2014 launch, have wiped the slate clean such as a raid boss swatting away a troublesome fireteam. This respawned shared-world shooter sequel may be the game Destiny 1 must have been, clear of frustration, respectful of players’ time and inspired in its level design.
And yet I cannot help but feel Destiny 2 doesn’t quite add enough that’s genuinely not used to the Destiny mix for a sequel that arrives over 3 years after its predecessor. It is the one glaring issue that prevents Destiny 2 from joining the pantheon of the shooter greats.
It really is perhaps best to start out using what Destiny 2 doesn’t do, instead of what it can, so sweeping are its attempts to shove past indiscretions beneath the carpet. Destiny 2 doesn’t tell an awful story, as Destiny 1 did. The 10-hour campaign is leaps and bounds above the nonsensical mess that came before it. With a light-hearted tone and a small number of likeable characters, Destiny 2 takes the player on a satisfying sci-fi romp over the solar system fuelled by an angry Cabal who reckons the Travelers’s gift idea of immortality has made the Guardians soft. So he takes it away – and you must take it back.
We visit four completely new areas: what appears like post-apocalyptic Germany; a lost human city on the stormy seas of Titan; the mysterious Vex-infused Nessus; and the sulfuric yellow moon, Io. The story, which is disappointed by some Syfy z-movie dialogue and a small number of other, more forgettable characters, at least has its beginning, middle and result in the proper order. Destiny 1’s frankenstein plot couldn’t even manage that.
The three leaders of the Vanguard manage the increased loss of their immortality by sulking until they stop sulking, essentially.
Bungie though, still appears to have a problem with straight-up storytelling. Cutscenes are filled with eye-rolling exposition, no-one says anything particularly interesting and character development boils right down to re-powering the de-powered Guardians – a well-worn trick it doesn’t have the impact Bungie want it to. The theme of mortality bubbles beneath the surface of Destiny 2’s campaign, nonetheless it never reaches boiling point. I’d wish to delve deeper into Ikora’s character as she struggles to come quickly to conditions with the increased loss of the light-giving Traveler and her newfound mortality. Ultimately she, like all of the others, appears to have learnt a very important lesson without having attended class.
What carries you forward may be the fact that Destiny, like Halo before it, may be the best-feeling shooter around. Guns pack an effective punch and super skills rock the screen. The easy act of squeezing the proper trigger is a joy, the console aim assist caressing the inexorable flow of bullets in to the path of heads that pop with a satisfying burst of alien blood, their bodies exploding in a shower of particle effects, glimmer and, if you are lucky, an engram or two.
Bungie may be the master of tailoring a couple of minutes of frenetic combat to a fireteam of a few players. Things get hectic enough to require the ideal amount of concentration to achieve success. Use super powers, throw grenades, hide behind cover, monitor your wellbeing bar and fire the proper big gun for the work. Among the fighting, follow the waypoint marker ever forward. Destiny 2 comprises of four decently-sized open-worlds, but missions are totally linear. Click here, activate that, defend this, put this ball for the reason that hole, press forward. It’s pretty mindless and nothing that was not done a good amount of times before, but it’s all so silky smooth it’s hard to tear yourself from the tv screen. Playing Destiny 2 is somewhat like driving a whole new Audi along a quiet country road, its engine quietly humming, its tyre an extension of the hands.
Then a beautiful environment, a stunning vista or an even twist jolts you out of your safe place and all that can be done is stand motionless in awe. Bungie’s incredible art team has produced its best ever use Destiny 2, creating a virtual world – well, four of these – that rekindles memories of the science fiction you imagined while reading books as a kid.
The highlight may be the play space on Titan, an abandoned human colony that rests on crashing waves. Inside may be the New Pacific Arcology, Destiny 2’s best campaign level. Here the tone shifts as we descend deeper in to the sinking city’s innards, archaic public announcements now kicked back to life, lights flickering, futuristic floors giving way to creepy corridors. You go deeper underground (Bungie loves taking players down, down and down even more) until you grab what’s needed and lead to a dramatic escape with a surprising vehicle. That is up there with the very best of Halo.
Destiny 2 is probably the best-looking games around. Bungie is specially skilled with lighting.
There’s an unbelievable sense of scale to Destiny 2’s environments. The maps are massive, but, crucially, more densely packed than Destiny’s and more encouraging of exploration. Eye-catching detail, from weird alien markings scrawled on walls to dimension-ripping portals, is everywhere. And graphically, Destiny 2 is a tour de force that benefits greatly from leaving the last generation of consoles behind. When I first set eyes on the crashed human colony ship on Nessus, its gargantuan rockets jutting out of your ground in the length, I thought, blimey, this is exactly what 700 developers gets you.
Destiny 2, of course, is approximately a lot more than its campaign. It really is about loot and how it fuels the improvement of your character. Destiny 1’s soul-destroying progression is ditched towards a comparatively simple levelling up system which involves repeating certain activities on a weekly basis. Bungie did well to raise the number of activities available weighed against Destiny 1, adding variety to the post-campaign game along the way. There are Strikes (missions made for teams of three players), Adventures (post-campaign story missions), Lost Sectors (multi-tiered mini-dungeons designed to be stumbled after while exploring) and loads more NPCs to carefully turn tokens into for reputation and elaborate exotic quests to toil over. They’re all made to randomly spit out slightly better weapons and armour than you have currently equipped, and in the medium term at least, gratify your rabid search for a higher power.
Then your infamous Destiny grind returns, but it’s significantly less annoying these times. Like Destiny 1, Destiny 2 takes typically the power degree of each item to determine your current post light level cap power rating, but this time around you don’t need to soldier through levelling up each item. That is an enormous time saver plus much more intuitive.
Your power level rises fast once you hit the soft level cap, but progression soon slows as Destiny 2 funnels players through more challenging, endgame activities such as for example heroic Public Events, the weekly Nightfall strike, the Flashpoint activity and the Crucible. However the point to make this is actually the process is no more abstruse. Even zipping about the world is simpler. Bungie, evidently inspired by community created-apps that made playing Destiny 1 nearly tolerable, marks upcoming Public Events on the map (now there’s a map!) and enables you to fast travel from anywhere to anywhere (you don’t need to head to orbit first, thank god). These seemingly innocuous tweaks certainly are a revelation for the long-term Destiny 2 experience, and so are proof a developer that’s willing to not simply pay attention to feedback, but do something positive about it.
Bungie once more flexes its muscles in terms of exotic loot. Here’s my current favourite.
Destiny 2 can be more accommodating of players who might possibly not have friends to play with or plenty of time to pump in to the game. The Guided Games feature encourages highly-skilled players to greatly help those who require it. Join a clan and you will get nice purple engrams whenever your clan-mates complete endgame activities. In a nutshell, Bungie has exposed the progression process in clever ways. It still does take time to level up, but it’s a far more fun time. Destiny 2 continues to be about making numbers go until they don’t go up any longer, but Bungie now officiates the procedure such as a good referee – the fans don’t notice because there is not much to get upset with.
Eventually, as your power level creaks towards 300, Destiny 2’s raid occurs. The pressure was on Bungie to outdo Destiny 1’s Vault of Glass, which even today remains among the finest first-person shooter experience ever. It hasn’t quite managed that, nonetheless it has produce something unlike other things in Destiny 2, and that is very much a very important thing.
Leviathan is a golden puzzle box that sits along with a galaxy-travelling world eater. This is a Terry Pratchett fever dream, a drug-fuelled Prince concert, a tumble along an M. C. Escher staircase.
Destiny raids ought to be experienced unspoiled (your first-time is always the main one you remember), but know this: the Leviathan focuses more on puzzle-solving and execution than it can overwhelming waves of enemies and killing big bosses. It stresses your concentration a lot more than it can your power level. It’s as frustrating since it is thrilling.
What’s fantastic about Leviathan, however, could it be is practical. As you explore its maze-like interior you get the sensation the tunnels and rooms and corridors and were actually exercised in someone’s garage on a dusty table with cardboard cutouts. It really is consistent. This bit causes that bit causes that door that opens if we do this. When there is a set of wonders of the gaming world, The Leviathan ought to be on it.
For me, therefore many, Destiny 2 is approximately enjoying friends. There continues to be nothing that can compare with it on console.
You will not find Zavala or Cayde or Ikora spouting their nonsense on Leviathan. You will not hear relentless exposition out of your plucky sidekick Ghost (who elsewhere in the overall game never shuts up). Leviathan itself does the talking. It really is gaming world building at its best. I’ve given myself to Destiny lore, which regardless of the universe’s reputation for poor storytelling is fascinating, complex and super cool. I wish to learn about the Traveler. I would like to really know what really happened through the Collapse. I would like to know the real nature of the Darkness. My drive to maintain with the Joneses – aka my clan mates – in the loot race is matched only by my desire to find out more on this incredible universe Bungie has concocted. That’s very much an excellent sign for Destiny 2.
But Leviathan, for all its sparkling brilliance, will not do enough to raise Destiny 2 to equal status with Bungie’s absolute best. I just can’t see through the sensation this sequel is a hugely successful refresh, but doesn’t realise Destiny’s potential. It really is as good an excellent of life upgrade as Bungie could possibly be likely to deliver, with nearly every change unequivocally for the better. But where may be the new class of Guardian? Where may be the new alien race? Where will be the six-player fireteam patrols?