What Destiny 2 Does Right – and Wrong

Bungie’s latest installment in the Destiny franchise has hit the ground running – and there’s a lot it’s learned from its predecessor.

Space mages, laser-blasts, and a massive spherical omnipotence. Yep, Destiny 2 hits all the checkmarks that its forebear did, but manages to do it with an air of experience and elegance that was far-removed from the first installation in Bungie’s new epic franchise.

The first Destiny was a fantastic game – about two years after its initial release date. What Bungie promised and what they delivered were two very different things. By the end of the game’s content lifecycle, Bungie had achieved what they had set out to. Unfortunately, it took a lot of missteps along the way with the player community in tow for them to figure it all out.

Destiny 2 has thus far managed to circumvent the majority of the issues that previously hampered the franchise. A campaign, narrative injections in small and large doses, working PvP, a high amount of replayable content, a raid, and a wonderfully crafted hook to get you playing hours on end will enter the hallmarks as one of the best launches in recent memory.

That’s all without mentioning that Bungie has broken out of the shackles that kept the first Destiny tied to a Sony console. For as snooty as it may seem, we can’t stress enough the importance of trying to play Destiny 2 on PC – it really becomes an entirely different game.

Although one could argue that Destiny 1 didn’t set a very high bar in terms of a narrative, D2 does its best with what has been laid out as a foundation in the infamous grimoire cards. It’s a little upsetting, then, when you realize that the entire campaign of the vanilla game is just one giant set-up for whatever comes next.

The main Cabal antagonist, Ghaul, cuts an imposing figure for all of a third of the campaign – after which we only see him in a series of pre-rendered cutscenes that mostly amount to him pacing around his command center to and fro. We’ll leave out the exact details of what happens next for those of you that’ve yet to finish it, but it suffices to say that the main narrative leaves one feeling as if they’ve just watched a five-hour reboot sequence.

Thankfully, Destiny 2 still places its focus on where it matters: gunplay and loot. It may take several hours before it settles in, but once it does – it’s in there for good. Bungie have crafted a remarkably slick and polished experiences with dozens of varying gameplay loops that equally reward effort.

There doesn’t seem to be much of a difference of what activity you’re doing, as you’ll more-or-less find it in a Bright Engram. These little nuggets of loot are doled out once a refills the XP bar each time at level cap. Not a bad idea, right? Except for when you attach microtransctions to it.

While one could go out and farm activities for XP to convert into Bright Engrams, they can just as easily load up on Silver and exchange those for a handful. If you guessed that Silver is only purchasable through real-world money, you guessed right. Although buying Bright Engrams cheapens the experience only for the player utilizing it, it is disheartening to see Bungie place another revenue stream so blatantly. They may argue that it’s only an optional shortcut for players looking to invest more money – and they’re right, but it’s still a blatant grab at more funds, and one that never needed to be included.

Ultimately, the experience presented by Bungie is more than worth the price of admission. The added voice lines, character interactions, and existence of a sing player/co-op campaign that unlocks for additional replayability in the end was a great addition. The art remains on the same industry-leading standard, along with a score that will make any Martin McDonnel fan squeal with glee. Destiny 2 may still share some of the symptoms plaguing triple-A games, but they’ve managed no to let it gestate into a cancer the likes of which EA is currently dealing with – at least, not for now.

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