Xbox One8.10
Overall 8.10
This will be a classic dvader review where you read it and go “man this is really negative but the score is high”. This is like the 4th destiny I review, I am not going to waste time on the core of the game which remains fantastic. The shooting is as good as it gets, the combat is a blast, the coop possibilities are the best for a FPS; mechanically this is one of the best shooters ever. Because of that I feel the floor for the score is an 8, it's a great game, period. I spent 60 hours or so playing a great game I love to play. That said this is a numbered sequel and that brings certain lofty expectations of which almost none were met.

Destiny 2 tries to fix the wrongs of the first by making some quality of life improvements to its fast travel system, to the way quests are handled and some aspects of the leveling system. There is no major overhaul of any gameplay system, for the most part this feels like the exact same game we have been playing for three years now. The improvements are nice don't get me wrong but I was expecting additions not tweeks.

The fundamental failure of Destiny 2 for me is how the core game is the same. There is not one new enemy faction added, hell even the taken king expansion had the decency to color palette swap enemies, add a few new attacks and call it a new enemy faction; we don't even get that. We get like one or two new enemy types per faction that don't really change combat in any way. Vehicles are even less used than before, any dream of destiny going the halo route with big epic battles involving all kinds of vehicular warfare is out the window. The structure of the planets is the same, no giant areas to explore, I don't even see many secrets. Once again Taken King at least tried something new with its hub world by creating a hub full of secrets and odd activities for the player to discover on their own. In Destiny 2 everything is marked clearly so the player can never be lost and things that used to be secrets to discover are now removed or marked. There is nothing I can point to in Destiny 2 where I can say that's the big evolutionary change they made to this franchise to make it better. This is an expansion in disguise.

What Bungie did focus on was to create a compelling story mode and they mostly succeeded. Full CG cutscenes flesh out the main campaign with characters that actually have some depth and motivation this time. Destiny 1s campaign felt like a fragmented mess, you could feel the knife of the corporate deadline cutting chunks of the story out. Here we have a clear narrative, a clear villain and a well rounded cast of heroes to save the day. It never reaches the highs of a Halo campaign but it gets close on occasion. The missions themselves are better designed but still never go beyond the confines of the rigid destiny mission structure which basically has the player go there and shoot that. All the best aspects of destiny from strikes and raids are absent in the main campaign. Still it's the best campaign this series has had, not saying much, it's not worth it to play this for a campaign alone but an improvement is still an improvement.

Much was said on all the new content the hub worlds would have; they added Lost sectors, adventure missions and made new heroic public events. Yes this is better than what we had before but once again it feels they took baby steps rather than a leap. Lost sectors are nothing more than a combat cave with a treasure chest in it, it's not even hidden, it's marked on the map. Public events are mostly the same shit, I'm just glad there is no need to go to an outside website to see where they take place. Adventures are the best addition as these serve as new missions outside the story mode. They come with a mini storyline about some enemy faction and the planet you are on, usually with hints at future major storylines. They follow the same structure as most main missions but every once in awhile there are some unique moments. There are a bunch of them too so this is all good original content to do post game and way better than farming crap patrols.

There is a problem though with all this content and it all stems from the way leveling works. After the main campaign you will still have a long way to go to reach high levels so all this content, including strikes, is a great way to level up. But from my experience I levels up so fast that I reached the arbitrary limit level (260) where drops from any regular event will not give you anything above your light level, basically meaning it's all worthless loot. So I still had about half the adventures and lost sectors to go with no real incentive to do them. At that point nearly every activity is totally pointless and there is never a reason to go back and do them outside money farming. This was a problem in the last game, it's still a problem here, they gate parts of the game off rather than let us play what we want to level up.

To level up beyond 265 you need to do advanced activities like nightfall, exotic missions, milestones and the raid. Once you do these activities for the week you are done for the week and the wait for the weekly reset begins. nothing has really changed, they promised all this new content for the post game but gated it all the exact same way as before. No lessons learned at all. I would say a lot of the tweeks to the loot is worse. It's harder to find exotics; instead there is this crappy mod system that takes money and time to level up gear and is not interesting. Finding an exotic during a mission is a great moment. Farming for an hour for money to install a stupid mod to a gun is not a great moment.

Ok let's talk Strikes and raids, the main reason to play destiny. Absolutely nothing of significance was added or changed. The strikes are totally by the book, some are really good, some not that memorable. They are still a blast to play with friends and better than the main missions but I feel Strikes in general were very deemphasized in this game as they are left to some random playlist where you can't even pick the strike you want to play. Nightfall is still a great challenge and it is nice to see some new modifiers to make the strikes interesting but they didn't for far enough. There should be tons and tons of modified missions and strikes or crazy challenges to complete. Nope instead it's one hard mission a week, woopie.

And then there is the raid, the thing that sets Destiny apart from every other shooter. The most unique coop activity in any action game which requires precision and teamwork not seen in FPSs. The new raid is still all those things… and a super pain in the ass. Bungie decided to double down on “everyone needs to do some role perfectly or you all die” aspect of the raid rather than more skill based group combat. This raid is what we call a mechanics heavy raid because success depends on every player doing some very specific role perfectly, in perfect sync with every other role rather than a team working well together to beat a tough situation. You need to do this one activity no matter how mindless or boring with very little room for improvisation.

The scenarios they invented are impressive, where else will you have two players running a crazy track and field track of death while screaming out to other players to shoot specific gates to allow them to continue the run. Or navigating a creepy garden where stealth from giant rats is key while two players yell directions from above. I still love how different and interesting this raid is but man is this one frustrating without a great group. Oh and I love how the map allows for exploration into a totally optional underbelly maze with loads of secrets. Much like Destiny 1 the raid feels like it's from a different game, it's everything I want destiny to be and it's still locked behind a six player requirement and high level restrictions. This is what the entire game should be like, not an activity reserved for a hardcore minority.

I almost forgot to talk about the crucible the PvP aspect of destiny. It might be worse… or better… I don't even know. At first it felt like lowering the player count was a dumb move but I seem to be doing better in these matches so yay for me. But maps are now always small, a change because everyone seemed to hate the large vehicle maps, I say it sucks to lose variety but I understand the change. I hate what they did to specials and heavies, turning them into rare uses rather than embrace the aspects that make destiny different from other shooters. Actually I have decided it's worse, yeah PvP is worse now, I hardly even play it as the rewards seem crappier than ever.

Long review short, I basically wrote a ton of words to say this sequel does not change destiny for the better in any meaningful way, it's a super safe almost redundant sequel. The core mechanics of Destiny are still as good as ever and when it's at it's best moments there are few gaming experiences as good as it. For Destiny fans it's worth it because it's more of what you love, non Destiny fans if the first did nothing for you nothing really changed here. I would say The Taken King expansion did way more to make destiny better than this full sequel does. There is so much room for this franchise to grow, I can see it in the game, the activities that should be focused on so that this becomes an all time great game and not just an addictive guilty pleasure.
Posted by Dvader Tue, 03 Oct 2017 19:22:41
Fri, 06 Oct 2017 16:47:50
Why did you play it on XB1?
Thu, 12 Oct 2017 17:39:16
My friends got it on xb1
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