Shelby: Yeah, I remember saying that I wouldn’t buy it at launch. Well, I technically didn’t, so I’m not a liar!
Shelby: It’s really difficult to make a principled stand on not buying something when your wife turns to you and says “We’re going to Best Buy today and getting a copy of Destiny 2 for you, so we can play together.” She wasn’t kidding, and I’m not one to turn her down when she offers to buy me video games. So it happened.
And I have to say, I’m actually liking it.
And I kinda hate that I do.
Jen: What he isn’t telling you guys, is that I was the first who initially said they wanted it despite the flaws of Destiny. It may have had its flaws (what game doesn’t these days?), but I am particularly driven to space games (I’m not looking at you Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare) I mean real space games like the Mass Effect Trilogy (not you Andromeda). So I was naturally drawn to the idea of a second Destiny, flaws and all.
Shelby has covered a lot of the ins and outs that make Destiny, well, Destiny, but my portion will be more to add flavor and details that I find make the game worth playing.
Shelby: As for this review, I have the sneaking suspicion that fans of the original already bought this sequel. Those that completely hated the original will hate the sequel as well.
However! Those folks that were on the fence? You need to read these words from Jennifer and I. Both the good and bad of Destiny 2 need to be known. This is important work, as you know.
Shelby: If there was only one thing that I gave credit to Destiny 2 for, it’d be that the gameplay is absolutely fan-freaking-tastic. The player movement, gunplay, and power usage is wonderfully fluid. The tweaked classes and abilities, streamlined equipment, simplified interfaces, and general awesomeness makes for a sublime experience.
One may assume that things are just the same, with the gameplay carried over in its entirety from the first Destiny, and they wouldn’t be entirely wrong. Destiny 2 handles very similarly to its predecessor.
Perhaps it’s just a product of recency, but I have to say that Destiny 2 makes you feel like a total badass. This might have something to do with the way that fights are scaled to each player. Gone are the usual player level requirements. Instead, both player level requirements and the Light level system are gone in favor of a Power level system, making things a little more simple at least. There’s no shift in focus from player level to Light.
Bungie took an already simple system and made it far more simple, while still making some stylistic changes to things like the skills and location selection screens.
Speaking of the locations, Bungie thankfully made it to where you can travel directly from one place to another without returning to orbit, and also included some fast travel nodes in each region.
Unfortunately, the regions seem just as small as in the previous game, though there’s a little more to do. Instead of only having Story and Patrol missions, Bungie has added Adventures (side missions), Lost Sectors (dungeons), High-Value Targets (mini-bosses), and even made Public Events easier to find.
It’s Destiny, just with a little more.
Jen: Shelby makes some phenomenal points here. The overall gameplay for Destiny 2 is well done.
In Destiny (before the DLC) you got two elemental classes. In Destiny 2 you get three. I routinely play a Warlock (because I am traditionally the stay away and pick enemies off person). The elemental classes are: Solar, Void, and Electricity. As a Warlock, you start off with using the Solar class which means you go around burning everyone. The Void elemental class has a Super that sends out a giant ball that destroys whatever it lands on (but other than that, it seemed kind of weak). Then you get the electricity elemental. Holy cow, that is a powerful class to have.
As a Warlock, the melee electrocutes, not only the enemy you’re meleeing, but also the other enemies in close proximity. And the super? Yeah, you get to become a levitating Darth Sidious with electricity shooting out of your fingertips…. Anyway, all the classes get these three but not in the same order. Each class’s elemental powers are different too, so that you get a well-rounded team if you have all three. I think Bungie did a great job in making each class differentiate from the others. Also, the powers you get just make you feel… Well, Shelby said it well up above… “Like a badass.”
What makes you feel even more powerful are your weapons. I am particular to wielding a Scout Rifle, my Solar Hand Cannon, and a Rocket Launcher. Shelby likes to mix things up and doesn’t stick with a set layout (which is fine if you like to play that way. I just like knowing what to expect from my weapons in each fight). My layout wouldn’t be so bad, I was actually lucky enough to get the weapons I want, but that has a lot to do with the way the loot system is set up (more on that later?). I still have not found a Legendary Scout Rifle in my kinetic weapon slots. Other than that one annoyance, the gameplay and whatnot, is super awesome-sauce.
Shelby: What kinda sucks is that some improvements were made, while other annoying aspects of the first game weren’t really addressed. Getting geared up is still entirely random, with a couple instances of receiving decent loot interspersed in the game. You’re at the mercy of RNG-Jesus at every turn.
Do you want a cool Auto Rifle? Good luck. You might get one right away, or you might never get one. What makes it worse, is that there really isn’t a surefire way to increase your odds of getting what you want. You do get Legendary Engrams for turning in coins to the various folks in each location (which is nice) and it’s possible to get at least one Legendary Engram a day in each location, but it’s extremely grindy.
It can also feel anti-climactic to find chests and complete side quests on each world, because often your only rewards are Glimmer and coins.
Shelby: As with the original, Destiny 2 looks pretty damn good. It’s difficult to compare the two, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t praise the visuals and soundtrack in Destiny 2. They’re both pretty phenomenal, though I’d like to go on record by saying the music is perfect for this newest iteration. There’s something about the orchestra and vocals they used in the composition that just drips of epicness.
I, uh… I don’t know what else to say. Jennifer? Mind taking over for me?
Jen: I actually did a presentation in one of my last classes in college on why video games should be considered art. I used a lot of pictures from Horizon: Zero Dawn, but, if Destiny 2 had been out at the time, I would’ve used screenshots from it too. I was blown away by Bungie’s ability to create a “natural light” for Destiny, something about the soft light makes the game look that much more real. But, somehow, Bungie made the Destiny 2 graphics even more pretty.
You start the game by getting your butt whooped by a
brute cabal warlord jerkbutt leader. Before you get your ass handed to you, you get to watch as the Traveler gets its butt kicked. During that time you get to look over the city and at the Traveler. Now, you should know, I am a sucker for pretty things (just ask my husband), and looking over the burning city is very pretty. The next moment I found myself making a “whoa” sound, was when I was stuck in the wilderness, outside the city, looking around like a paranoid psycho because I could die now (it was serious and I had a super crappy gun), and looking over the mountain I was apparently wandering around on. Guys, it took my breath away….
That was until Shelby looks over and says, “You know that’s just a sky box, right?” A sky what? So a sky box is where the people who make things look nice create a wee little figurative box to put the environment into. What you see looks pretty from far away because you can’t see details (they wouldn’t be there even if you got up close). Kind of like when you go to the edge of the map, when you’re not supposed to, and things seem a little fuzzy? Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about. I promptly ignored him, took my screenshot, and continued to be amazed by all the pretty sky boxes that Bungie created. They have a knack with lighting.
Beyond your typical sky box, Bungie uses a variety of colors in their game. Currently, Shelby is on Nessus using a red sidearm, in an environment of greens, purples, grays (okay, not a color, but still nice looking). He did have purple hands earlier but I see those are gone now. During your adventures you get a whole range of shaders, with bunches of colors that can be a little out there, that you can add to your guardians guns, clothing, and vehicles. I stick with neutral colors except my helmet and gloves are a light gray with light blue accents (its quite lovely actually).
But, if you wanted to, you could go all out and have a weird purple and orange guardian, or green and yellow, or…. The possibilities are as endless as your stash of shaders. The only problem is they’re one time use, so once you use it on your gun, and you get a new gun, bye-bye shader. The point is, is that Bungie provides an environment with vibrant colors that are pleasing to the player’s eyes, unless you don’t like color, then you probably shouldn’t play this game… Or go outside.
Shelby: Like many sequels of other franchises, Destiny 2 is rather derivative. It already suffers a bit from a lack of an original idea. The narrative focuses on gathering up the team of Guardian leaders in the hopes of taking back The Last City and The Traveler. The closest that Bungie comes to breaking new ground is with a realization that imminent doom is approaching, in the form of a Cabal superweapon.
It’s almost as if Bungie didn’t have the time to come up with something more interesting, or simply didn’t care. It all just feels too easy, and it’s never explained why thousands of player characters can gain back their Light, but the main leaders of the Vanguard can’t for some reason. Why didn’t Zavala, Ikora, or Cayde-6 ever have those visions?
I suppose that’s because there wouldn’t be a reason to go to the far reaches of the solar system to find them…
Jen: Yeah, so the story isn’t very unique, but it’s still fun! It’s your typical hero story. Something bad happens and you have to figure out how to bring everyone together and save the day. I feel like they could have delved deeper into the story, but, at its base, it is a first-person shooter, not a role-playing game. I think the Destiny games would do well as RPGs, like really well, but I can understand the focus to make it more of an MMO (whatever that reason is).
STORY AND MULTIPLAYER
Shelby: While it’s rather… predictable, the story of Destiny 2 isn’t terrible. It’s actually not that bad, with Cayde-6 being a particularly entertaining character. As long as you’re willing to overlook some gaping plot holes (which many players are likely to do in a game where the primary focus is the gameplay).
As I mentioned before, the premise of Destiny 2 is that the Light has been stolen away from the Guardians by the Cabal, in the effort of conquering our solar system and consolidating even more power for their war machine.
One of the most interesting consequences of Ghaul’s takeover is that all Guardians lose their access to the Light. There’s little to fear though, because instead of players being forced to make do with what they have for a while (which would make the game far more interesting in my opinion), you almost immediately get your access to the Light back. The justification for this being a “vision” of sorts that guides the player’s Guardian to a shard of The Traveler.
I almost forgot to mention this, but the story is actually in Destiny 2, and not solely in the form of babbling exposition from your Ghost. Sure, your little light bulb (which does a terrible job at being a flashlight) still spouts off some commentary about the happenings around you, and gives a little background information on random crap you find in the world, but the majority of the game’s story is told in cutscene dialogue. It appears that Bungie remembered the way they revealed the Halo series’ intensely deep lore.
I know I sound a little snarky about it, but I do feel I need to commend Bungie on taking criticisms of the first game to heart and putting the story in the game.
Interestingly, Destiny 2 is one of those games that functions as a multiplayer game no matter what you’re doing at the time. If you’re just roaming about in the world, shooting things in the face until their soul vapor comes shooting out of their necks and they explode money everywhere, you’re bound to run across another Guardian or two doing the same thing you are.
Honestly, that’s part of what I enjoy about Destiny 2. Running up to a Public Event and finding several other players pounding away at the bad guys is stupid fun, and Bungie has made it easier for players who aren’t in the elite clans to take part in Raids and the like with Guided Games. When I’m not playing with Jennifer, I find myself just roaming the countryside of Io or the European Dead Zone, annihilating Fallen and Cabal with extreme prejudice, occasionally stopping to obliterate those Servitors that Jennifer has affectionately named “Purple Worms”.
The Crucible has seen some changes as well, ditching the different player counts in favor of an across-the-board 4v4 structure for everything. This may be disliked by some of the community, but a structure like this could be good for the PvP aspect of Destiny 2, even if the Crucible being a thing prior to the end of the story campaign makes zero damn sense whatsoever.
Jen: I am not a particularly social person, so the fact that I am forced to be nice to others, even when they barely help with an event and then open the chest and run away before anyone else has a chance to go over to it (and then the chest disappears), is just… Frustrating. I really like getting headshots and picking enemies off from afar, but I can’t do that when other players hog the field and take my kills from me. Just stand there and distract them, don’t kill my baddies.
Other than the social part, the story does a better job in this installment of actually having a story. I made the comment, many times, about how Destiny was basically the prologue to the story, you know, the bit at the beginning of a book (that no one reads) that includes a small, sometimes significant, role in the overall story.
That was Destiny. And it was frustrating. You had to read the grimoires, of which you couldn’t read in game, to get any lore. I don’t play a video game to read lore, I read books to read about stuff. If Bungie really wanted there to be a whole lot of story, they would’ve made the series as RPGs, as mentioned above, and not FPS, so I can understand their hesitation in making an in-depth story for the game. The story we actually got this time, was a nice change from the first game.
Shelby: No, Bungie. Cayde-6 isn’t the wildcard in Destiny 2, it’s Activision’s shamelessness in the pursuit of profit. Unfortunately, the corporate folks at Activision have discovered that fans of the games they publish are more than willing to part with their hard earned cash for stuff they can have in a video game, so microtransactions are fully implemented in Destiny 2.
Now, I won’t go so far as to say that Destiny 2 is “pay-to-win”, because it isn’t. There are minor little things that can give you a tiny edge in terms of power, but you aren’t going to be able to buy anything with real cash that will give you a definite advantage over others.
However, the way microtransactions are implemented in Destiny 2 is kinda slimy.
You see, in the first Destiny (later on in its lifetime at least), every time you “leveled up” after hitting 20, you would receive a Mote of Light, which could be exchanged for powerful toys from vendors in the game. That’s gone, in favor of rewarding you with these things called “Bright Engrams”. Bright Engrams contain different cosmetic things like shaders (which are now one-time use… ugh), ships, equipment mods, emotes, and Sparrows. Not really a big deal there…
Except… To decrypt your Bright Engrams, you don’t go to the Cryptarch, you go to Tess Everis, who doubles as your friendly peddler of goods that cost you real money and does her job with all the subtlety of a back-alley drug dealer. That’s right, you are kindly directed to a microtransaction store to collect in-game rewards for leveling up at 20. To make matters worse, even purchasing something with real money won’t guarantee you get what you want… Instead, you’re paying for a chance to get something cool.
In other words, you’re gambling. Don’t worry though, $5.00 US will get you enough Silver (Destiny’s premium currency) to afford three whole spins of the Engram slot machine.
So if you want to throw some money at a chance to get something you want, you have that option.
Of course, if you want to give money away, you’re more than welcome to give that money to me…
Jen: I’m not a gambler and in not being a gambler, I don’t feel like spending more of my money on the chance of getting gear that I actually want. Nope, nope, nope.
Shelby: There’s a lot to do in Destiny 2 compared to its predecessor, and the run time of the story provides a wonderful way to kill some time, either alone, or with friends. It can be loads of fun, providing ample opportunity to scratch that itch of want to wreck things with sweet powers, with your closest buddies.
That said, it isn’t the greatest game that I’ve played this generation, and it likely won’t hold my attention for too long with games like Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, Forza Motorsport 7, and Star Wars Battlefront II coming out soon. Furthermore, once Jennifer and I stop playing after a while, which inevitably happens as her and I get bored with repeating game content, it will likely collect dust on my shelf.
As of right now, though, Destiny 2 holds a spot in my mind as my current addiction. I’m happy that Jennifer found a game that we can play together. I just hope it can hold her attention long enough for us to mess around with some more of the content.
Jen: I will play Destiny 2 until another mood hits me. But, like with most of my games, I will always find myself playing it again down the road (and we probably will get the DLCs).
Shelby is right, it isn’t the greatest game of all time, but it is a good game if you want to go around and shoot stuff.
Shelby: Exactly. It’s a game you play when you want to wreak havoc with friends, and that’s about it. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s definitely not the best thing ever.
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