The original, vanilla Destiny, was, to put it mildly, a disappointment. To be fair, Bungie had hyped things up to a point where it was almost guaranteed that the end product wasn’t going to live up to expectations. That being said, I don’t think anyone quite expected it to be as underwhelming as it was. Thankfully, over the course of its expansions, Destiny improved greatly and by the time we got to Rise of Iron, things had improved so much I was genuinely excited about playing the long since announced sequel. Even in its final form, Destiny could be confusing and at its worse, downright irritating.
To me, it seemed like there was a point and a direction in Destiny that wanted to get out but thanks to a poor and convoluted story (that I didn’t care much for) it got lost in the noise. The darkness was never totally explained and is entirely forgotten in Destiny 2, and I still have no idea where SIVA really came from. If you look back at Destiny there’s a whole host of ideas and sub-plots that either isn’t fully explained or dropped entirely in the later expansions. So, it’s with a sigh of relief that Destiny 2 presents a straightforward story with a clear villain and the missions you’re sent on are, almost, solely to do with gaining the means to defeat Dominus Ghaul and the Red Legion. Whilst the climax was, to say the least, a little underwhelming, the story was at least coherent.
Things start off rather badly for all Guardians as Dominus Ghaul attacks the Last City and succeeds in capturing the Traveler and neutralizing everyone’s light and by extension your ability to be resurrected. While many were evacuated, including Commander Zavala, Ikora Rey, Cayde-6 & Lord Shaxx all Guardians are now vulnerable. When you eventually meet up with them all during the course of Destiny 2’s story, their feelings towards their new-found vulnerability influences their decisions, it humanises them. In Destiny, there was an air of arrogance about all Guardians, even your own character. Guardians were immortal and had the power of light backing them and because of that those who weren’t were superfluous. With both of these elements now gone each of them are confronted with their own mortality and that of everyone they swore to protect.
The character of Hawthorne a human non-Guardian who helps take you to The Farm can be seen as an allegory for the journey Zavala et al are struggling with. She has never had the power of resurrection yet has fought, continually, to protect the people who look to her and her crew for protection. It takes a while but the commanders finally realise that, light or not, they must protect those who cannot protect themselves. This culminates in an assault on the Last City and Ghaul’s ship in an effort to retake control as they finally understand that the light is more than just what the Traveler gave them. The story follows many tropes and is formulaic almost to a fault but it’s tight and coherent and that makes all the difference. I cared about my Guardian, I felt vulnerable early on and as the story progressed I felt genuinely interested in the stories being told by the people I met along the way. I oft skipped or ignored exposition from vendors and the like but this time around I wanted to hear them. Everyone was impacted by the fall of the Last City and it’s a credit to the writing this time around that I happily let vendors I met early on waffle on.
The main PvE campaign doesn’t take too long to complete and thankfully, when you do, there’s plenty to get on with as you grind your way to the appropriate level to tackle the Leviathan raid. This time around, rather than light, it’s all about power. I found it all far easier to understand and to kit my Guardian out appropriately in Destiny 2 than I ever did in the original. Equally, categorising the weapons as Kinetic, Energy and Power makes much more sense and allows you to choose a loadout of weapons you enjoy. In Destiny I often found that I had to suffer a weapon I didn’t like because the choice was limited in each category. So if you’re like me in Destiny 2, you can have a Kinetic scout rifle as well as one that is an Energy weapon. It’s a small change but when you add on weapons mods it makes everything feel that little more personal to you.
Speaking of personalization, however, and by now I’m sure everyone has come across the controversy about shaders. Used to customise things even more, you can colour everything from your armour to your ship in any gaudy colour scheme that you like. In Destiny 2, however, once you use them they’re gone. This means that if you want the same colours across everything you need to have plenty of that specific shader. If you run out, you have to go forth and hope that, during your game time, you’ll acquire more. You can, of course, spend money at the Eververse vendor but realistically, with some time investment, you can make your Guardian look like they fell into a vat of candyfloss without spending any money. I can see why people are annoyed as previously once you had the shader you could use it without worrying it’ll disappear but by limiting its availability you’re forcing people to actually go out and explore and if I was a game developer that’s what I’d be wanting people to do.
I mean there’s so much to explore with plenty of side-missions, patrols and adventures to go one during and after you’ve completed the story that if you’re trying to get some more of that hot pink shader you’ll have fun whilst you do so. It just seems crazy to me that some would complain about being made to play more of the game they paid for to get something they’re after. There’s far more variation this time around and whilst I got bored of patrols in Destiny with the addition of things like Quests and Adventures there’s plenty to get stuck into. The latter are assignments from the specific planet’s guardian and the rewards that come with are well worth your time and effort especially if you’re working your way towards being of a high enough level to take on Destiny 2’s opening raid. The Leviathan raid is certainly a great opener and if it’s anything to go by we should all be looking forward to the upcoming DLC and accompanying raid. It’s not easy by any stretch but it’s challenging and a cracking way to start things off.
Along with this you still have strikes to contend with, challenges that rotate each week along with Nightfalls so running out of things to do should be the least of your worries. The sheer amount of PvE content should be sufficient enough that, if you’re not one for PvP, you’ll have plenty to keep you occupied. I’m not a brilliant player of Destiny by any stretch of the imagination but I find the Crucible fun and entertaining and this is still very much the case. It’s now 4v4 and while I never had an issue previously it seems to have made things a bit more frenetic which I like. I don’t have many friends who play Destiny and those that do aren’t always online when I’m playing. With 4v4 I’m able to hold my own and know that not being on comms, because kids, doesn’t hold me back nor be a hindrance to my teammates. You can get by all on your own as long as you know what you’re doing and what your objective is and if you’re struggling, just shadow someone and you’ll be okay.When all is said and done Destiny 2 is very much what the original Destiny could have been had things been a bit more coherent. My overriding feeling during the original’s lifespan was that we were essentially playing one big beta that we happened to pay a fair bit for to take part in. Thankfully the lessons learnt with Destiny have been applied to Destiny 2 along with some very well thought out changes to make everything feel a little more logical and the game slicker. If I was to nit-pick I’d probably whine about how the story’s finale is a bit of a damp squib and that I still wish there was less of a grind when aiming to do the raid. I know that there’s lots more to do this time around to get there but as a parent with limited gaming time, it’d be great if I could get there just a touch quicker.
If you played the original Destiny and enjoyed it then you’ll find much to love in Destiny 2. The changes Bungie have made make sense and add to the game and while shaders have divided some in the community it shouldn’t be a reason to avoid the game. If, however, you disliked the grind and the setup in the original you’ll likely have the same complaints again. It seems Destiny is, well, destined to be a marmite style game where you either love it or you hate it. Personally, I love it and can see myself dropping back in frequently to complete raids or have a pop at PvP. I’m very much looking forward to the upcoming DLC and feel that Destiny has finally discovered exactly what it wants to be.