Tuesday September 5th, 2017. The day before Destiny 2. I was genuinely struggling to keep my composure out of sheer excitement for the game. I haven’t been that excited for anything for a long time and I doubt I will be again for a while. I amgoing to be sticking with it until the next big game drop.
I sat up until midnight waiting for the little timer on my PlayStation to hit zero. Killing time on Reddit and looking at the forums I realised something. The hype this game generated isn’t huge, it dodged a metaphorical bullet. It had just the right amount of trailers and live action shorts to create a buzz for the game, but without the No Man’s Sky levels of suicidal hype. This led to the community as a whole anticipating the launch, anticipating more Destiny. This lack of over-excitement led to a pleasant, quiet, buzz waiting for the game to drop.
As soon as the timer hit zero I started the game up with high hopes and a heavy heart, at the thought of all the memories me and my clan have with Destiny 1. Rather quickly my heart sank when I was presented with a screen explaining how I’d been placed in a queue due to the servers being full (I assume everyone on GMT pressed the button at the same time.) Expecting a long wait time I put my controller down and went to get a drink. But the game loaded after about only a minute of waiting. Hats off to Bungie.
The game immediately greets the player with a recount of their actions throughout Destiny up to this point, showing your achievements and the fireteam you completed them with. Nice Touch.
The game drops you down in the mission ‘Homecoming’ which most people played during the Beta, the mission hadn’t changed and still serves as a fantastic tutorial mission. I was surprised to find that about an hour into the game it just opens up. Completely. Side missions and Public Events, Crucible and Patrols. All becomes available. Even this early on the amount of content blows Destiny 1 out of the water.
Gameplay is still silky smooth with gunplay and ability uses being seamlessly integrated into one smooth momentum build. There is nothing more satisfying that gunning down crowds of minions until a boss spawns and gets a face full of devastating nova bomb without getting a second to retaliate. Guns feel satisfying and the abilities all still feel meaty and powerful. Bungie nailed the main bulk of the gameplay. Once again.
Although usually overlooked the music and level design in this game have the most perfect relationship I’ve seen in a game for years. Whether it be an all out last stand battle with badass guitars and orchestral music or a serene walk with light piano and strings. It’s just perfect. The music this time also feel distinctly less Halo like and instead leans a bit more towards the game Sci-Fi roots, with music often sounding like the soundtrack to a Philip K. Dick novel. Not quite on par with games like The Witcher 3 but it’s still a big improvement over the forgettable OST of the first game.
The first game spawned many memes regarding the horrendous story, or lack thereof, and it becomes apparent very early on that Bungie have attempted to atone for their sins and have based the game around a cinematic, story-driven campaign. The story follows our guardians and their struggles to regain their light, and powers, after Cabal leader Ghaul steals them. A basic story, to be sure, but it attempts to explore some interesting themes such as the fear of death and the implications of a fall from grace and how it affects different people. The storytelling is done fairly well with no crazy exposition dumps like the first game had, but it’s not perfect. Large plot holes and an overall short story length lead to the game struggling to find its feet at times, much the same as The Taken King did.
Something that really needs to be mentioned is the fantastic way Bungie approached the game. The first game took itself very seriously and ended up being slightly silly in the execution, but this time round they’ve cut the melodrama with constant humour and tongue-in-cheek jabs at the player, and the first game. Comedic naming such as a super weapon named ‘The Almighty’ and the brief inclusion of Cayde-6’s pet chicken named ‘Colonel.’ The self aware nature of the humour adds to the game in spades and got quite a few laughs out of me.
At the time of writing this the raid (Known as Leviathan) and the Trials of the Nine game mode have just dropped and both of the popular end game activities have impressed both new and old players alike, with returning veterans like myself admiring the slight tweaks and changes that have been made in order to keep them fresh. The new twisted and beautiful social space tied to the Trials of The Nine adds an element of Eldritch Sci-Fi with bleached white backgrounds and technicolour architecture. The new raid, on the other hand, is the complete opposite with extravagant gold designs covering the walls and floor of the planet devouring Leviathan ship. The raid adds a fresh spin on the typical raid formula with a heavy focus on teamwork and communication often splitting the team up and relying on two people to pull the other four through. The raid was one hell of an experience and well worth the grind to reach the entry requirements!
I have to say I’m impressed, they really have pulled the cat out of the bag here. Concerns about the game being a reskin have turned out to be false, with enough new features to keep the game fresh and fun the team over at Bungie have delivered. We got what we asked for with this sequel and it’s turned out to be fantastic.
Despite the high praise, it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. The game still has it’s fair share of issues and problems. When being made, Destiny 2 has obviously placed a heavy focus on fixing the major issues of the first game, with this heavy focus however, an enormous amount of the smaller issues have slipped back through the net. Shoddy writing and plot convenience is still rampant, with age old machinery sputtering to life after you’ve shot waves of enemies defending the ghost whilst it opens a door, for the fourth time in twenty minutes.
Although it is a positive that there is a story this time around, it isn’t a very strong one. With the entire game consisting of collecting the missing vanguards, bringing them home, and taking back what the Cabal took from the Guardians. All well and good, but that really is all that happens, no dramatic twist, no heart wrenching deaths. Nothing. Just a bland tale of revenge. The cut scenes do however, look fantastic and are a noticeable improvement, both graphically and story wise. Still no ‘Last Of Us’ though.
Whilst the game is great comparing it to the first game, as soon as you peel back the surface layer, a lot of the same issues show themselves. Despite this, I do like the game, quite a lot, and I’m excited to see where Bungie take the game next, and whatever happens, I’ll be on board.