For all of its faults, Destiny was an unquestionably influential game, forcing developers to examine what Bungie did right (and what they did wrong) and causing consumers to question whether or not a developer’s reputation still has any weight to it in this day and age. Now, some three years after the release of the first game, Destiny 2 is set to be released into an environment that can be described as skeptical at best. After all, there were no shortage of Halo fans who felt betrayed, for the lack of a better word, by a developer that was once idolized; no shortage of PC players who felt outright abandoned and ignored; and there were certainly no shortage of people in general who either gave up on the game after countless disappointments, or simply moved on to better games like, say, Overwatch.
In what appears to be an effort to set minds at ease, Bungie has released a short clip of gameplay from Destiny 2, which can be seen here. As you probably expected, Destiny 2 excels in audio and visual design, which was certainly not a thing that most reasonable people criticized its predecessor for. In that short clip of gameplay, you definitely get a sense that the Cabal have brought chaos to the Tower in their invasion of Earth, all but leveling a structure that many people probably spent way too much time in while waiting for that one guy to finish getting something out of their Vault only to forget something when everyone finally gets together in orbit. However, for better or worse, the clip of gameplay has also more or less confirmed that Destiny 2 will play exactly like its predecessor.
Normal enemies are still fairly one dimensional, distinguished only by whether their preferred method of attack is to shoot you or stab you, elite enemies don’t appear to have any particularly unique behaviors or mechanics other than having much more health than their common brethren, and the core gameplay is apparently untouched from the first Destiny. By itself, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, seeing as how the core gameplay of Destiny was very impressive, but this also doesn’t put to rest some of the largest fears that some may have regarding its sequel: that enemies will eventually just become bullet sponges that can one-shot you, and that enemies just don’t feel … unique enough. Naturally, this leads to the inevitable question that one may have in regards to sequels, which is “Just how much change is necessary for the game to feel new, without distancing itself too much from its prequel?” Too much change and die hard fans will nitpick the game’s faults to eternity; too little change and you get Call of Duty syndrome.
Take a look at the Halo series for an example of just how much this matters, or at least how it made the Halo series so consistently popular. Between each and every iteration, regardless of whether Bungie or 343 Industries was the developer, you can still identify that at its core, you are playing Halo. You may get fancy armor abilities or whatnot, but a Grunt is still cannon fodder for the pistol, effective use of the BR/DMR/Halo: CE pistol is still what separates the skilled from the unskilled, and the Assault Rifle is still one of the worst weapons in the series. However, each iteration of the games also changed the gameplay just enough so that each one felt comparatively fresh. Halo 5 makes Halo 4 look like an amateur mod of Halo 3, Halo 2 may as well be a game from a different series when compared to Halo: CE, and so on and so forth. Destiny 2’s gameplay clip does not give this impression at all, causing some to dismiss the upcoming game as a glorified expansion pack. It may not be a fair or accurate statement, but you can see why such a statement would exist, and it would be rather naive to just outright dismiss such statements.
Once again, even if Destiny 2 may have exceptional core gameplay mechanics, the truth is that Bungie hasn’t exactly shown that the game is that much different from its predecessor. There’s nothing that shows that the enemies won’t turn into bullet sponges, there’s nothing that makes the friendly NPCs seem particularly engaging, there’s nothing that shows that there won’t be an excessive amount of repetitive grinding, and there’s certainly nothing that shows that there won’t be a mess in regards to multiplayer balancing, among a whole list of other concerns. In all fairness, Bungie can’t show off too much gameplay for obvious reasons (one would hope that the game is genuinely good regardless), but they also haven’t exactly silenced the skeptics. In truth, it may even be for the best for Bungie to keep relatively quiet, at least until E3, seeing as how a lot of Destiny’s criticisms arose from its lack of the most basic features of modern gaming like a story, or matchmaking, or characters that actually matter, and to make a grand spectacle over the inclusion of such features is just asking for people to make fun of you. Either way, the ball is now in Bungie’s court, and it is up to them to deliver a performance that can redeem their name or fumble into mediocrity again.