Destiny 2 has been out for almost two weeks now, which means we finally got enough time with all that is has to offer to provide our full review. You can find our review below in video form, or written if you prefer to go old school. If you want the Cliff’s Notes version I can tell you that Destiny 2 is lightyears beyond what Destiny was when it first launched, and that it will win a few end of the year awards. I’m not saying GOTY, but it will be in the running for that and plenty of FPS specific awards, so yeah it’s pretty great.
Head on down below to check out the full review!
Hey now you light loving Guardians, Matt Heywood here from EntertainmentBuddha.com to finally officially review Bungie’s Destiny 2, which is far from the vanilla Destiny we got with the first game’s release.
There will be no major plot spoilers present in this review.
Let’s get this out of the way first, Destiny 2 is leagues above Destiny’s initial experience. This is true in all facets of the game. Everything from the fleshed out campaign to the tweaked gameplay feels finely tuned. I have to also mention that I love the controls now, which are more in line with traditional FPS mechanics, but the gunplay just feels so damn smooth and efficient that it even made me feel like a FPS badass again. For the first time it finally feels like we’re getting the experience Bungie first promised when it teased its deal with Activision to bring a new IP to the gamingsphere a few years ago. That’s a bloody fantastic revelation, because we know this studio’s pedigree in this space and its ability to create intoxicating worlds with cool characters and top-notch gameplay, and it finally shows in Destiny 2.
The game’s world just feels more alive than before, which is noticeable in the solid campaign, as well as the social aspects and MMO-esque game modes. To me the most noticeable improvement over Destiny is the campaign itself though, which is now a full fledged FPS campaign in every sense of the word.
There is an entertaining story to follow with actual cutscenes to bring your muted Guardian to life, as well as to give key NPCs more of a role in your experience over only handing out quests and gear. You experience more of the world that Destiny resides in than ever before, and you get to understand the Guardian culture a bit more, as well as what life is like outside of the Tower in Earth’s last city.
The Traveler even plays a larger role this time around, so it really felt like Bungie put a focus on narrative in Destiny 2, which gives the game a key ingredient it was missing the first time around. I found myself actually caring about the characters and the conflict they’re embroiled in thanks to the story provided. I now truly am invested in the world of Destiny, and have had a very hard time putting Destiny 2 down, which is far from my situation with the original. Having actual stakes and goals to work towards in the campaign just makes everything about Destiny 2 feel more polished, and it only helps to make its social-centric setting feel more alive.
Speaking of which, the way the social spaces are baked into Destiny 2 is also a huge improvement over vanilla Destiny. Outside of the game’s first hour and a half, you’re pretty much thrust right into social play areas, which are now loaded with other players and activities to keep you busy if you don’t feel like rushing through the 6-8 hour campaign. Maps open up fairly quickly after completing a main mission on them, and then from there you can choose to explore freely and just live in Destiny 2’s world, which is really what this game is about after all.
Many times I’d find myself en route to a campaign mission, but then I’d get sidetracked by joining other Guardians for a random public event, or just by trying some of the adventure missions that would populate a map after you completed the opening campaign mission. It never felt like I was being forced to complete parts of the campaign to enjoy the other aspects of Destiny 2, so the experience is very fluid throughout, and makes it feel like the world comes alive around you, and that you’re not the only Guardian trying to save the day. It truly is as close to an MMO-lite FPS as it gets, and while the genre has never captured my gaming soul, this iteration of its formula has.
Destiny 2’s campaign is great — it may be a bit too easy in parts — but for the most part it provides an entertaining experience that was sorely lacking in the original. Although, I do believe the most fun to be had in Destiny 2 lies within its social modes. Strikes are once again fantastic little jaunts to score some killer gear, and they’re varied enough and challenging to make them worth replaying. I’m also a big fan of the mini-adventures that pop up on maps, as they help to flesh out the campaign if you play them as you unlock new campaign missions, but even after the campaign they still provide deeper insights into the world of the Guardians. I’m a sucker for lore, so any little bits of information I can glean are always appreciated.
Patrols are fun as well, but to me the most fun I’ve had has been with the Public Events, which literally pop up about every five minutes now, and they’re always good for scoring loot. Loot drops in general are noticeably better, but for some reason I still haven’t scored a random legendary drop in the wild, so the game is still very random in terms of those types of drops.
The Crucible also provides plenty of fun, and that proclamation is coming for a gamer who has avoided FPS multiplayer modes for a few years now due to my ability to suck really bad at them. I’ve found that the same damn near perfect controls carry over to this PVP mode, and the actually make me feel competitive. I definitely plan to spend more time in the Crucible this time around, which again goes to show how the extra layers of polish in this game have made it a must-play experience.
Destiny 2 is not a perfect game though, because a few issues still exist. I’m not talking about technical issues, because I didn’t come across a single one playing on the Xbox One S. I’m referring to a few of its core mechanics, most notably its progression system. Just like Destiny, you can hit max rank before you even finish the campaign, and then you’re left with the Light power grind. There will always be a grinding aspect to a game of this nature, but I would have preferred to still be earning XP as I grind versus hoping for random loot drops to get my Light level higher. One can only grind so long without a reward, and yes, I still haven’t found a legendary or greater engram in the wild, so while Rare loot drops are more common, it’s still a struggle sometimes to get the gear you need without replaying certain scenarios over and over again. If your standard level didn’t progress so quickly you could at least feel as if you’re making progress towards it while grinding, but alas we’re left with the old hurry up and wait for the next expansion formula to up your level from the first game.
I didn’t love Destiny. I appreciated Bungie’s vision for it, but I never felt like it lived up to their own hype. It felt bland and repetitive, which didn’t really make it much fun for me to play. Destiny 2 on the other hand is exactly the experience I think Bungie was going for all along. It feels like a complete game thanks to the fleshed out campaign and plenty of social and end game modes. It’s technically sound, and has some of the best feeling FPS gameplay I’ve experience in quite some time. There is no shortage of things to do, but the repetitive nature of an MMO is still present, which is to be expected, so I don’t find that to be an issue. Outside of the very fast leveling system I don’t have many issues with the game at all. I guess I would have personally liked better loot drops, but even that complaint sounds like it’s more of my problem than everyone else’s.
Bungie really came through on Destiny 2, so it earns itself a 9 out of 10 from your friends here at EB. It’s a must-play game in 2017, and will surely earn more than a few end of the year gaming awards. I’m not sure if it’s the Game of the Year, but I wouldn’t be opposed to having it in the discussion. If anything else it will provide you with plenty of content to warrant a purchase, so if you’ve been on the fence over getting it, consider this your push to do so.
Thanks for watching, I’m Matt Heywood signing off for EntertainmentBuddha.com, where we make you a better geek, one post at a time.
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Review Statement: The author of this review was provided an Xbox One code by the publisher for the purposes of this review.