I’ve spoken at length about my experience with Destiny 2. I talked a lot about the Destiny 2 reveal event. I discussed my feelings on the Destiny 2 beta. I ranted about the new villain feeling like the biggest threat Guardians have ever had. I shared my thoughts on patrolling the worlds. I completed a Destiny 2 review in progress that talks about the campaign and content full featured content of the game. I even gave my impressions on the Leviathan Raid after spending a full day on Calus’ grand ship overcoming the puzzles within. Yet not one of these things succinctly describes my experience with Destiny 2.
Everything above is a collection of stories and experience, but Destiny 2 is the bigger picture—a sum of its many and varied parts. Bungie has focused all of their energy on making sure every individual piece feels like a complete package all its own. Only care about the story and want to charge through everything solo? You can do that. Want a great competitive PvP that requires player skill, but has a curve that allows people to learn and grow their own talents? 4v4 Crucible is for you. How about an amazing endgame set-piece unlike any that Bungie has done before? Read my experience with the Raid. For those of us who want all of these things, Destiny 2 feels like a smorgasbord of activities to complete.
I’ve said it many time before, but I feel that Destiny (and Destiny 2, of course) is so much about the players. My own experience has been greatly enhanced by being a part of that amazing community. My 1300 hours in the first game were because it was my way to hang out with friends. Instead of heading out to a bar every weekend, I spend my free time with a six pack, snacks, and a headset chatting with my wife in the other room and friends on the other side of the country. Sometimes we take on the challenges of the Raid. Sometimes we play some PvP matches together. And sometimes we just roam around the gorgeous landscape, completing public activities, looting chests, and shooting aliens with our massive collection of awesome guns.
With the change in team sizes for Crucible, I was worried that team imbalance would be an issue for groups, but I’ve found it quite the opposite. My group will sit in a party chat with anywhere from six to eight people, all doing their own things. Three of us might be running patrols on Nessus while two of us are playing Crucible together with the last three running the Nightfall for the week. Once any of us are done, we might rearrange our fireteams based on who needs what for the week. “Anyone need the Nightfall? I’m going for the Rat King exotic,” was a commonly heard line, and we’d rearrange to accommodate the players that needed help. What I thought would end up dividing us more has ended up causing our clan to be more inclusive and hospitable.
The focus on joining a clan is a big part of Destiny 2, with rewards in game granted for clan participation. Just for reaching out and becoming a member, you can earn rewards off of other players’ victories. Not into Trials of the Nine? You can let your other clanmates take on the PvP challenge and still get one random drop, while your own experience in whatever activities you like will still apply to the clan total XP, granting rewards at certain level. I do feel that some of the clan reward structure is a bit imbalanced right now and fails to account for size of the group (we’re hitting the weekly clan XP cap within the first day after reset), but I have faith that Bungie will smooth the curve and adjust the game to meet their goals of having a fun, challenging, and rewarding game.
Upping their narrative game from the first Destiny, Bungie created a series of intense and emotional cinematic moments throughout Destiny 2. They’ve expertly woven threads throughout the game’s world, not only to fill out the story of the Red War as Ghaul take the Light away from Guardians, but also to pull on many other story threads that dig deep into the lore, something that was previously reserved for those who read the out-of-game Grimoire. The campaign draws from many places, one sequence reminding me of the intense microwave tunnel from Metal Gear Solid 4, and another being eerily reminiscent of Journey as the campaign groups you up with other random Guardians during a couple sequences both near the start and the end. Every moment in Destiny 2 is further solidified by the incredible music that draws a power and emotion from even the most menial of grinding and tasks.
I am a bit disappointed about how they solved the Grimoire problem, however. In some ways, moving the lore entirely in-game feels like there are less lore rabbit holes to jump down. People loved unlocking the Grimoire cards through tasks and picking up dead Ghosts scattered around the worlds. All Bungie needed to do was maintain the same system from the first game, but move the Grimoire itself into some kind of in-game accessible codex. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve scanned the same object in Destiny 2 trying to get more lore, but finding that it’s bits and pieces I’ve already collected. I’ve had to rely on Destinypedia to catalog the scannable objects in the game, meaning that I’m using an out-of-game system for the deeper lore anyway.
There are some minor quality-of-life things that could be improved in Destiny 2. Having the ability to see an activity’s daily challenges before entering the activity would be nice. The current consumable shader system incentivizes hoarding rare shaders, never actually using them for fear that gear might change or you’ll get a better different shader. In some places, it feels like Bungie is catering to the casual audience and making things a bit to easy for the hardcore players to achieve. The best thing about Destiny 2, though, is that the game will be evolving and changing. The game that I’m reviewing right now will have vast changes and improvements three months, six months, even a year from now. It’s not a static product. It’s a growing world, and wrinkles will smooth out as Bungie gathers data and understands how people play their game.
As I geared up for Destiny 2, I was ready to acknowledge that I’d already done this for three years. I thought my interest would begin to wane much more quickly than the first. I was wrong. Destiny 2 hooked me and hasn’t let go. That sense of delight and surprise that Bungie aimed for with the sequel has hit me fully, with a variety of activities to do, worlds to explore, and loot to earn. After 1300 hours of experience with Destiny, it’s difficult to imagine how grand the sequel might feel for a brand new player. As a returning Guardian, Crucible master Lord Shaxx has found the best words to describe my experience with Destiny 2 and its many improvements over the first: “This is amazing!!”
Destiny 2 review code provided by publisher. Version 1.03 reviewed on a standard PS4. For more information on review scores, please read our Review Policy.