The original Destiny was notorious for its lack of content at launch. The game was touted as having a story mode but majority of it appeared to have been stripped from the game leading to a lackluster launch and disappointment among the fans. Bungie then proceeded to release post-launch DLCs including 2 major story expansions for the game. It was clear after playing these expansions that Bungie had taken the criticism laid out by the players during the launch of Destiny and try to rectify them with each of the subsequent DLC expansions.
Destiny 2 is similarly an iterative improvement over the original game but even though the game is improved in almost every way, it is hard to feel the excitement for a sequel considering the relatively safe approach that Bungie has taken when developing the sequel. For starters, the general look and feel of the game has managed to remain the same even though Bungie has ditched the old generation consoles completely with the sequel, which always proved to be a hurdle for further improvements to the game. While the story content is a lot meatier and better executed now, the gameplay feels like it is an extension of what was already presented in the original Destiny. The UI was already excellent so reusing it for the sequel doesn’t really seem strange, but it is still disappointing to see many of the aspects of the game not offering as much of a jump as one might typically expect from a numbered sequel.
Destiny 2 starts with an attack on the Last City by the evil Cabal forces of the Red Legion led by Dominus Ghaul. The attack is an attempt to take the power of light by The Traveler. The enemy force manages to attach a mining device to the Traveler and completely destroy the upper portion of the tower forcing the guardians to escape the city and stripping them of their light powers. This story is used to set a new beginning for the sequel so your guardian feels powerless in the start. As you start to do more story missions, you will slowly regain your power and will soon return to the Last City take it back from the Red Legion.
I have played Destiny when it initially launched and I am well aware of the issues that it faced at launch. Majority of the criticism with the story was a lack of narrative focus which meant you would be doing missions randomly without actually feeling like you are accomplishing something. The story was so terribly told that majority of the lore was hidden in the grimoire cards. Those who were dedicated fans were able to get their story information from the lore hidden in the Destiny grimoire cards but majority hated the way the story was laid out. Thankfully this has been completely rectified in the sequel leading to a story mode that feels complete with cutscenes that expand on the game’s story.
There was one aspect of the original Destiny that made it memorable and it was the tightly designed gameplay mechanics that seem to have carried over to its sequel. The gunplay in Destiny is incredibly satisfying with an addictive loot system that encourages the player to mix and match their equipment to get the best result. There are lot of variables to consider for the weapons as you are able to carry a primary, secondary and a special weapon. There is elemental weakness to take into consideration as well as the strategic advantage of the each of the weapon during battle so the combat system is never lackluster but offers a lot of customization option. You will be able to discover gear from chests that are hidden across the map, or find them randomly dropped from the enemies that you kill, making up for an experience that feels like a top-tier action RPG in shooter form.
Another aspect of the game that has been touched upon aside from the story is the way exploration is conducted now. You have a semi-open world map to explore with story missions placed around it. You will be able to attempt these story missions or try some of the side content as your progress further in your journey during the main campaign. Some of the NPCs will offer you quest that are separate from the main story but offer you a good reward if you complete them, meanwhile the main story missions are better executed this time with cutscenes that advance the story. There are total of 4 planets to explore in the game and each has their own hub area this time around. Destiny was iconic for its central hub area called the Tower while the sequel has managed to add more of the hub areas in the final game. It feels much more connected now thanks to the variety of the environments offered here.
I have played the vanilla Destiny so I knew very well how terrible it was at launch. Destiny 2 honestly feels like everything that I expected from the original game. Bungie has proven to the fans that they listen to criticism rather seriously and this can be seen with their approach for Destiny 2. Progression in the original game required the player to grind for hours but this aspect is now a lot smoother now. You won’t have to waste time in useless grinding for better gear unlike the original Destiny so it is already miles better in that sense. These small tweaks might feel like they don’t matter much in the grand scheme of things but in reality, they have completely revamped the experience of the game making it a joy to play now.
That said, my issue with the game was that it felt like a more expanded version of what the original Destiny offered. Not just in term of gameplay, but also how the visuals have managed to remain practically unchanged aside from the addition of physical based lighting to the game, there are minor tweaks here and there but the rest of the game doesn’t offer much. Since Bungie has already dropped last generation consoles with the sequel, it would have been nice to get a slight boost to the visuals but it is not exactly at the top of the priority list. Good gameplay trumpets visuals easily, and this is something that is true for Destiny 2.
The lack of new classes is disappointing although the additional sub-classes feel like a good improvement, but not something that is worthy of being considered for a sequel. Honestly the major shortcoming of Destiny 2 is just that it is not that big of a jump coming off from the original, and that too was released 3 years ago. Perhaps Bungie has more ambitious plans for whatever they have planned after Destiny 2, but as it stands, Destiny 2 feels like much better version of the original Destiny that carries over the story, mechanics and visuals from the first game but polishes each aspect to a greater standard. Lastly while the first raid called The Leviathan is live now, I wasn’t able to finish it before the review but from what I have seen so far, it is a fun and incredibly challenging raid that speaks more about how Destiny 2 is able to offer this team-based experience unlike anything we have seen in other first person online multiplayer shooters.
Destiny 2 Review (Xbox One)
Game Reviewed on: Xbox One
Game description: Destiny 2 is an online-only multiplayer first-person shooter video game developed by Bungie and published by Activision
Destiny 2 is a sequel that appears to play it safe in term of innovations and instead tries to improve on the solid gameplay roots set by the original. The end result is a game that is a joy to play but at the same time, it appears to lack the excitement of a brand new entry.