People thought Bungie was crazy when they claimed that their first post-Halo franchise would last for a decade. After all, no one had played Destiny at that point, so who knew if it would even warrant a purchase, much less a ten-year commitment. Destiny 2 sees Bungie remaining confident in their franchise plan and growing it to fit a player base that is clearly ravenous for content. Taking everything they learned from the original Destiny, Bungie has worked to refine the user experience, ramp up the difficulty, and expand what's on offer. All of this adds up to make Destiny 2 a truly worthy sequel.
The story of Destiny 2 revolves around getting revenge on the Red Legion while also working to protect the Traveler. You hit the ground running after finding the home base of the Guardians under attack by this new Cabal threat. This leads to the caging of the Traveler, which cuts the Guardians off from their abilities. Surviving an encounter with Red Legion leader Dominous Ghaul, you work to recover your lost powers, rejoin the Vanguard, and take the fight to the occupying Cabal force. Returning characters pop up throughout the campaign, and there are some welcome expansions to their personalities and histories. Despite this, Bungie still falls into the trap of new faces who lack real development, with the big bad being the one addition that really stood out. While the player only comes face to face with Dominous a few times, the writers have created a character that you can really relate to. Instead of committing atrocities for the fun of it, he has a backstory and something to prove.
The campaign will lead you across four new worlds; the European Defence Zone, Titan, Nessus, and Io, each boasting a different look and style. The EDZ is a worn down old human city with familiar looking structures lying in ruins, whereas Nessus is a converted machine planet that the Vex call their home. The campaign has you playing errand boy as you work to bolster your arsenal and assemble all the pieces before finally facing Ghaul again. The real entertainment comes from a healthy mix of locations and enemies with the occasional vehicle mission. Destiny 2 uses variety in its alien species and locales to ensure that none of the missions feel repetitive, as this is where many shooters can fall into traps with missions consisting of simply getting from point A to B while the world around them barely changes.
Guns in Destiny 2 are now broken out into Kinetic weapons dealing physical damage, Energy weapons which have an elemental burn, and the meaty Power weapons. The separation of weapons by whether they have an element or not allows players to customize their loadouts even further. Players no longer needing to worry about having their favorite style of weapon as a primary because those weapons could appear in both Kinetic and Energy forms. There's a gun for every player, and while the rapid-fire chip damage of an auto rifle might not pack the kind of punch you want, the hand cannons will be sure to blow your opponents away. The shooting in Destiny 2 is a rewarding experience not only in terms of loot earned but the powerful feeling of turning your barrel towards a pack of Fallen and watching as their heads pop with each well-placed headshot. Each of the enemies has their own stagger and deaths based on where you hit them, allowing you to change your strategy based on your gun and how accurate you think you are with it.
For those who might be focused more on gameplay than story, you're in for a treat. Once you clear the campaign and reach level 20, you'll start on the sweet gear treadmill and start raising your Power level. This is a rating that reflects all the gear you have equipped and shows you which missions you're ready for in the endgame. These aren't just recommendations, as if you don't hit that level then it's not even an option to start. The loot you receive will scale in both rarity and power depending on your level. Each rarity has a cap to how powerful they can become, so don't expect to get any Common loot drops by the time you hit higher levels. Weapons and equipment drop from enemies that you encounter and the highest level loot always comes from the hardest foes. As you progress from Common drops to Legendary and Exotic treasures, you'll find that your items give you more benefits and bonuses. The best is reserved for Exotic gear, and you can only equip one weapon and armor of this tier. Crafting your perfect loadout is a balance between picking the right exotics with the right abilities alongside covering your weaknesses. After all, no loadout is a catch-all problem solver. Though the majority of the Exotics in Destiny 2 won't feel as fascinating as those in the original due to some toned down abilities, there are still some that will blow your socks off.
Thankfully, the infamous Destiny grind isn't anywhere near as bad as it used to be. Gear can be earned by turning in reputation tokens, completing missions that pop up in social spaces, participating in PvP, and completing Strikes. Challenges have been added to modes, forcing players to change their playstyle for a chance at more tokens. Nightfalls are Strikes for higher leveled players where you must complete more difficult tasks within a strict time limit.
While gear will usually drop with a power that's around your own level, Destiny 2 introduces Powerful Gear. This loot is rewarded from weekly activities and will always drop at a higher level. ensuring that players who have limited time can still reach higher Power levels. Milestones replace daily and weekly missions, giving you a quest journal that tracks missions you're currently participating in, rewards from those quests, and all the different weekly events. Activities are varied enough that players will always be able to find something to do each week.
Raids are the endgame of the endgame, challenging a team of six to a series of extremely technical feats to prove their might. Every Guardian will need to know their job and execute it in order to succeed. In typical Bungie fashion, there seem to be plenty of secrets for the community to discover over the coming months. The Raid and other post-game activities allow Destiny 2 to simultaneously be a marathon and a sprint. You can work your way through the campaign in a flash, but you'll always be coming back as more and more of the game is revealed over time.
Destiny 2's multiplayer allows fire teams of up to 3 players to group up and play through every activity together. Using in-game tools, you're able to view your friend's characters, current location, and join in easily. This drop-in-drop-out multiplayer makes Destiny 2 an extremely social experience that allows you to group up in any way you see fit without complication.
The biggest changes in the multiplayer are on the competitive side. The move in team composition from 6v6 to 4v4 allows for a more strategic game. You can choose to move as a pack but going lone wolf won't punish you as much as before. Additional improvements to the PvP experience include a hud that lets you track the status of teammates and opponents alike. At any time, you're able to know information on your objective, which players are currently alive, and even who has a fully charged super they're itching to unleash. This kind of information can make the difference between wanting to hang back and play it safe or going for the power play and charging at your opponents. There is a still strong metagame present in the Crucible that becomes obvious as soon as you notice yourself against a team of MIDA Mini Tools or Coldhearts. It becomes a decision between learning how to beat the system or simply utilizing what works. While it would always be preferable to take on PvP in a more balanced environment, there's also something to be understood about a winning combo emerging from all of the possible options.
Destiny 2 improves upon the look of the original title adding more in the way of character details and the visual effects of weapons and abilities. While none of these changes is the most noticeable the effect shows progression in the capabilities of the engine but also gives returning players the feeling that they're back in the universe and not playing an entirely new game. Effects on supers are more eye-popping than ever as you see your Guardian wrapped in fire or void energy no longer looking as much like the energy is just wrapping around but that it's bursting from your very core.
The soundtrack and effects that are included in Destiny 2 are another powerful part of this game. Each piece of music works to add a sense of grand adventure as you work your way through all that the game has to offer. The range of music that is present conjures images of war and noble battles with the combination of a strong percussion and triumphant horns before drawing the player into the mysteries presented with strings and almost haunting vocals. There are similarities to be drawn between the Destiny 2 soundtrack and Halo's as the composer, Michael Salvatori, worked on both. The music often works not to just accompany the feel of the game but enhances it.
Destiny 2 has worked to not just follow up on what fans enjoyed about the original game but demonstrate Bungie's ability to listen to their fanbase and use that to guide some of their decisions. Whereas many felt that Destiny eventually became the game that it should have been at launch Destiny 2 has launched as a complete package combining an entertaining story, replayability, competitive PvP combat, and plenty of challenges for those who what to show what they're made of. Bungie's roadmap for the future also shows not only the great promise of continued support but that going forward players who feel they have done all that they can keep returning for more.
Our Destiny 2 review was conducted on PlayStation 4 with a copy provided by the publisher and on Xbox One with a copy purchased by the reviewer. It is also available on PC via Battle.net. Pop-Tarts were purchased for the purpose of XP modifiers and a cool Sparrow.
Bungie takes players back to the Destiny universe with an improved sequel that's a no-brainer for faithful fans. Even if you're just looking for a new loot shooter, it may be time to become legend.
- An Actual Storyline
- Drop In Drop Out Multiplayer
- Improved Loot System
- Balanced PvP
- Shallow Narrative
- Exotics Aren't As.... Exotic