With the wave of disappointment that followed the launch of Destiny 2 and its two DLCs, there's little doubt that Bungie is desperately seeking a redemption story. It isn’t a good sign when the people who stuck by your company and its products for years leave in droves, rendering your latest multiplayer-centric game a relatively barren wasteland. With the release of Forsaken, Bungie is evidently hoping to convince some former fans to return. Whether or not the vast array of feedback-driven changes in Forsaken will create a resurgence of interest in the game is a whole other story.
In any case, the premise of the DLC directly addresses at least one complaint about Destiny 2's tone. Cayde-6, the comic relief Hunter Vanguard, is killed by Uldren Sov. You may also remember Uldren as the prince of the Awoken of the Reef from the first game. In Forsaken, he has led a mysterious new band of Fallen called the Scorn in an uprising against the Reef. Naturally, you swear revenge upon him. This time around, your character actually says that they will hunt Uldren down. By itself, this is a promising start to Forsaken’s story.
While you scour the new Tangled Shore area, you may notice that you're not alone. Along the way, you will encounter friendly NPCs who will fight by your side. Granted, these new allies aren’t very effective, nor do they appear often. However, they do give the battlefield a sense of livelihood that was missing in Destiny 2’s main campaign. You will also be working alongside Petra Venj, the former Awoken Queen’s Emissary, and the Spider, an enigmatic Fallen crime lord who is less than pleased to see the Scorn. For what it’s worth, Petra and the Spider are two of the most interesting vendors in Destiny’s history, outside of Eris Morn. It's entirely possible that it may be due to both their personalities and their actual role in progressing the story.
Of course, no discussion about Destiny 2: Forsaken would be complete without mentioning the antagonists. Uldren Sov’s actions may be unambiguously evil, but he turns out to be quite intriguing as the story unravels through several cutscenes. His comparatively noble motivations and devotion further reinforce the intrigue. Yet, as we all know, good intentions can still lead one to evil actions. Needless to say, Forsaken’s ending also has some potentially major implications for future games in the Destiny series.
Uldren’s minions, the Scorn, are slightly less mysterious, but at least they aren’t merely reskinned Fallen. The Scorn’s basic foot soldiers still follow the usual archetypes of enemies, but they thankfully have an arsenal of unique new abilities. For example, certain Scorn can deploy a totem to make their allies more resilient in combat, some can turn into a slow-moving mist to help them move around without getting blasted to pieces, and they almost all seem to favor relatively powerful, slow attacks. Unfortunately, the Scorn appears to have undergone the same training as the majority of Destiny 2's enemies, employing the brilliant strategy of standing out in the middle of nowhere, occasionally lumbering towards you, and getting shot in the face.
Unsurprisingly, the Scorn Barons are significantly more powerful than their lesser peers, making them great side bosses. That the Barons taunt you throughout the campaign is a nice touch, if a bit clichéd. As you learn from the Spider, each of the Barons has their own theme. For instance, one loves vehicles, so their boss fight is going to revolve around taking down a really annoying Pike armed with rockets. Another, appropriately dubbed the Trickster, is going to make you question if Bungie created Exotic Engrams for the sole purpose of messing with people. Overall, the Scorn isn’t going to be the most interesting (or the smartest) group of enemies that you will ever face, but they provide a fair challenge without being too bullet-spongy or monotonous to fight.
While the main draw may lie in its campaign, the DLC comes with a host of other features. There's the usual package of Strikes, new Exotics, some QOL improvements, a Raid, and two playable areas. This includes the Dreaming City, a mysterious endgame area filled with secrets. In addition, you get access to bows, a new perk cluster, and a new Super ability for each subclass. Thankfully, none of the fancy new weapons or abilities seem particularly overpowered. If anything, bows feel like they're a little too niche, though that may be due to their unique playstyle.
There's also Gambit, a unique combination of PvP and PvE. Gambit will feature its own set of weapons to unlock. This provides yet another way for PvP aficionados to gear up to their liking. In theory, it would also provide a clever means for PvE specialists to practice and or experience PvP without feeling like they contributed nothing to the team in the event of a loss. Regardless, it may be good to know that Forsaken’s campaign takes around five or so hours to beat. Thus, if for some reason you hate everything else that comes with Forsaken, it would still take a respectable amount of time to get through the meat of the DLC.
If I have a major complaint about Forsaken, it's that it feels all too familiar. As ridiculous as this may sound given that Forsaken is a DLC and not a full game, consider how there's no particularly noteworthy or interesting mechanics to speak of despite the addition of a new weapon class and nine new perk clusters. Virtually all of the new weapons in Forsaken have the same four year old reload animations. The Scorn possesses the same basic AI as all the other enemies. When you boil it all down, Destiny 2 currently feels like a prettier version of the first Destiny. Seeing as how Destiny 2 at launch felt like a cheap knockoff of the first Destiny, this may actually be an improvement.
Ultimately, while Destiny 2: Forsaken is a significant improvement, it would be dubious to say that it's a must-have. The campaign and storytelling aspects presented here improve on the base game. However, it doesn’t offer anything new for Destiny faithful. There’s still going to be grinding and there’s going to be moments where you feel like RNG hates you. There are going to be moments where solo players will wish that they were playing co-op. Eventually, there will be a moment where you want to set the game aside forever for one reason or another.
Ultimately, this feels like what Destiny 2 should have been at launch. Mystery, challenging adventures and improvements to the core gameplay are around every corner. Whether or not that's compelling enough to lure you back is up to you.
Our Destiny 2: Forsaken review was conducted on the Xbox One with a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on PlayStation 4 and PC via Battle.net
Forsaken is what Destiny 2 should've been at launch, featuring a new PvP mode, a serious story filled with intrigue, and fairly compelling characters. While this is the best that Destiny has ever been, improvements can still be made
- Beautiful Cutscenes and Environments
- Long Campaign With Lots to Explore
- Darker, More Serious Tone
- Too Similar to Past Games
- Requires Friends for Maximum Enjoyment