(As much as this is a review of my experience of Destiny 2, it is very much a review of my time with Destiny 2 in the first week. I am under no illusions as to the fact Destiny 2 is a massive beast, and I would be deluded to think I would encounter and take part in everything it has to offer in the week after launch, what with work and life in general, so consider this my review thus far, while avoiding spoilers because I’m nice like that- cool? Cool.)
From the minute Destiny 2 kicks in, something feels different. Whether that be from the crisp visuals or the once passive Vanguards now fight by your side, Destiny 2 takes everything from the first and ramps it up a notch, and in doing so makes something that was good to begin with so much better.
It all kicks off aboard the Traveller, the big floating orb from the first game that was responsible for bestowing upon you the power of the Light. Without wasting much time the Traveller is attacked by a faction of the Cabal called the Red Legion, led by Dominus Ghaul, a chap who is rather jealous of said powers and wants them all for himself, and in order to get them decides to enslave the Traveller in some massive bondage gear and pretty much mess your stuff up so that your link to the Light is gone. As well as your Light, gone too is all your gear meticulously collected in the first game, should you be a returning player like me.
Now depending on how hardcore you are, that will either sound like a gut punch (nooooooo – my Gjallarhorn!) or you may be more along the lines of my kind of play style in that, yeah, I had a few things saved by for a rainy day in my vault, but nothing I’m going to lose sleep over. Your character from the first game does transfer over, provided you managed to reach Level 20 and completed the Black Garden mission, but the fact Ghaul has pretty much enslaved the Traveller means that all your powers and abilities are gone, and so starting from scratch is not too much of a chore. It’s all basically a nice ruse to justify starting again from scratch, avoiding super powered players from the get go, and it works – levelling is still fun, collecting loot and spotting drops from fallen enemies is still like finding a tenner in an old pair of pants, and what Destiny lacked in story, Destiny 2 more than makes up for.
This has been the area that most people are taking note of – the fact that Destiny 2 actually has a story above having a string of missions that were loosely tied together, provided you wanted to spend the time to look for it. Granted, this is one of the bigger changes if not the biggest as differences go, but to me one of the improvements that have had the biggest impact on me are the smaller things. Environments seems to sing, feeling vibrant and alive in a way the first one didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, environments in the first one weren’t bad, but they all seemed to draw from the same dull colour palette. Environments in Destiny 2 don’t suffer from this drab effect, and they feel all the better for it. Details pop, fabrics sway in the breeze, grass feels lush and vibrant – they all just feel better.
The variety of environments encountered is a vast improvement over the first, where the planets available all felt a little samey after a few hours in each, whether that was the dull greys of the Moon or the dusty oranges on Mars. Destiny 2 again feels like a step forward in that sense, from an oil rig structure on Titan that sways and bobs with the waves, right down to the European Dead Zone on Earth that just feels more alive than the Russian one from the first. All these locations are visited in due course during the span of the main campaign (in fact, one of the complaints a member of my Fireteam fired my way was the fact that the different planets unlock a little too quickly…), but it is endgame content where Destiny 2 truly comes alive.
In fact, some might say that the campaign is merely the starter, with what comes after it the main event. Having now fully finished the main campaign with my Warlock I am well and truly in the midst of all this end game goodness, from Patrols that become available on each planet, or hunting down treasure chests or Lost Sectors for that tantalising loot. Helping out with this is a new and improved map system, that tracks the location of activities and your current game specific tasks (and even marks chest locations and lost sectors should you look hard enough). Pressing L2 reveals your progress with certain tasks, now known as Milestones, that when completed unlock… yep, you guessed it, even more precious loot.
At present this is still working as a means to entice me back in, but it will be telling to see how the drop rate and chance of encountering rare and legendary engrams has improved over the first. It was here that I found I got fed up and a bit bored during my time with the first game, as I always felt underpowered when playing with other players who just seemed to find better gear, even during the missions we were ploughing through together or when battling them in the Crucible. I guess only time will tell with that one.
With your character stripped of Light during the opening moments of the game, Destiny 2 replaces it with a Power level instead, which is essentially the same thing. Completing quests and adventures during the course of the campaign nets you experience which in turn levels your character up to a (current) max level of 20. This in turn allows you to equip better equipment, which will have an impact on your Power level. Missions each have a recommended Power, and attempting one before you’re strong enough is nothing short of folly (and chances are the odds are probably stacked against you if you do anyway). This cycle is how the endgame plays out – level 20 is easy enough to hit by completing the campaign, and the challenge then is in raising your Power as best you can by equipping new and improved gear unlocked on your travels. Completing the campaign peaked me out at around Power level 200, before I netted a stack of emblems which pushed me up and over the 220 mark. I am still a ways away from the current max cap of 300, but there is plenty of content to keep me happy on my journey there in time for the Raids.
It is here where my review peters out a little bit. The original Destiny had me hooked early on, but as time waned on so did my interest. Destiny 2 is currently my go-to game, and at present I look forward to finishing the day job so I can get home and spend a few hours sat with controller in hand blasting away on the hunt for precious loot. As a mainly solo player I did find Destiny a little difficult at times, but it did manage to draw me back with the expansion passes that were released over its lifespan, and I did eventually find a couple of like-minded folk who were happy enough to guide my Guardian through a couple of the trickier missions that Destiny threw my way.
Most of my Fireteam have progressed to playing Destiny 2, and I look forward to playing the raids as and when they happen as opposed to coming as a bit of a jonny-come-lately, but this shouldn’t put off newbies who are just starting out – Destiny still boasts one of the best user groups around, and it is never too difficult to find someone to blast through a few missions with. This too was one of the most daunting things for me concerning the first, as I would peak and then wane in interest and often not have a clue what was going on in regard to lore and what not when I did eventually return, but with new and improved storytelling mechanics hopefully this is now a thing of the past. Granted it is still really early days in Destiny 2’s life-cycle, but Bungie has proved that it will support it in the weeks/months and years to come – so much so that I even lumped up the extra cash for the expansion pass when I preordered a few weeks ago, and I hope that the balance has been struck between new activities and tasks to avoid the lulls that I felt the first game had between major events and expansions. I guess only time will tell, but for now, Destiny 2 is definitely ticking all the right boxes.
Destiny 2 PS4 Review
A massively improved campaign, satisfying combat and addictive loot all comes together to create another winner for Bungie, who have clearly listened regarding complaints about the first Destiny to smash it out of the park with Destiny 2. Do yourself a favour and give it a try.
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Reviewed using base PS4.