Destiny 2 has been out for a week, and it’s already reached over 1 million concurrent users, so it’s safe to say that Bungie’s follow-up to Destiny is shaping up to be a huge success. Pretty much anyone that has played it has expressed how much better overall it feels than the original vanilla Destiny, which is the core game that released in 2014. Everything from the gameplay to the social aspects and the campaign have been improved, and for the first time in this young franchise, it feels like Bungie launched a complete game, rather than one that felt a bit hollow like vanilla Destiny.
While I’ve been taking my time making my way through the game and getting to max level, I can’t help but appreciate the more fleshed out campaign experience in Destiny 2. I’ve enjoyed the campaign immensely — so much so — that it makes me wish that Destiny featured the same approach to its own story. If you remember, Destiny’s campaign was hardly even a campaign thanks to the lack of cutscenes and lore. In fact, the only way to really get any lore or history about the game’s factions required you to leave the game and go read Grimoire cards online over at Bungie.net. It was one of the strangest methods to flesh out a video game’s story I’ve ever seen, and it definitely led to Destiny’s campaign feeling flat and uninspiring.
After completing Destiny’s campaign I really didn’t have a clue about each faction’s motives and reasonings for doing what they’ve done up until we meet them in the game. You had the Fallen, the Vex, the Hive, and the Cabal races to contend with, and they all seemed to hate your guts, but it was never clear why or where their transgressions came from unless you took the time to find out online. Bungie ultimately fixed some of these lore issues with subsequent expansions for the game, but for people like me it was already too late since I didn’t quite grasp what the hell the galaxy was up to during my run through with the campaign. I just didn’t care about why these factions hated humanity, which ultimately led to me not really caring about the game in general. I mostly tuned out of Destiny 1 outside of dabbling in the new expansions, with The Taken King being my favorite thanks to its focus on narrative.
When we fast forward to Destiny 2’s campaign, it feels like most of these issues have been fixed, which makes the game and its particular story stand out and feel more important. With that being said, I do feel that the first game’s lack of focus on its campaign has hampered my knowledge of what’s going on in the sequel’s story. I’m familiar with the factions and their names and appearances, but in the end I still don’t really have a clue what their motivations and end games are. I just know that they hate my guts and each other’s guts, so at times we can all get along and blast our enemies to bits, but outside of that I don’t really have an idea of why they’re doing what they’re doing. Except for the Red Legion, which has a very clear picture of what they intend to do and how, thanks to the excellent cutscenes involving their leader Dominus Ghaul.
Ghaul gives us the big bad that was lacking in Destiny to focus on, and his driving motivations are what shape the narrative. This gives the world much more life and emotion, and makes playing the campaign very enjoyable and rewarding because you’re working towards an end game. You have a particular person to hate, and you have motivations for revenge, which are all you need in a solid FPS narrative.
Destiny — after a few patches and expansions — eventually became a very fleshed out title, and we all probably know more than a few gamer friends that poured hundreds of hours into it, so I’m not saying it was a bad game by any means. It just dropped the ball with its initial launch and campaign, which was very weak in terms of storytelling and world building. Now with the arrival of Destiny 2, it’s clear that Bungie took notes on fan feedback, because it has been improved upon in almost every aspect. Most notably, its campaign, which is much more detailed and emotionally charged this time around.
Unfortunately — at least for someone like me who didn’t bother hunting down Grimoire cards and reading them online in Destiny — the lack of world building in that game has stunted my knowledge of the various factions’ driving forces to do what they’re doing in the sequel, so as this editorial’s title suggests, I would have loved for the Destiny campaign to be styled after the sequels. Either way Bungie has crafted what looks like one of 2017’s video game gems, so while it took them three years, the company has finally paid off on its bold promises for the franchise it teased after revealing its new post-Halo project to the world.
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