Review: Destiny 2

This review was done using the Playstation 4 version

I’ll be really honest right off the bat. Destiny 2 is amazing in many ways. It succeeded where the first has failed mostly: a story that is fine enough to understand while accompanied with a flow that is easily hold on to. The original was a mess at launch and under much controversial development issues, it is not surprised many would be skeptical when Destiny 2 was announced. Moving forward after a few weeks from its launch day, Destiny 2 has been a blast. Bungie seemed to have took what they learned and made most, if not all, improvements. Everything just runs smoothly, from the leveling process to discovering new locales and hidden treasure is exciting.

At least this lasted for a while.

Destiny 2 kicks off with the destruction of the Tower by the onslaught attack from the Cabal. The guardians are then tasked to take back the city from Lord Ghaul, commander of the Red Legion. The story in Destiny 2 is relativity short and sweet. The plot is common and predictable but it works to the game’s favor. The writing is nothing to shout about. The dialogue between involved parties seems like they came straight out from a Sunday morning cartoon. They’re acceptable and can be fairly entertaining though there are some moments where it feels cringe worthy.  For anyone that has played the original would find this a good change nonetheless where the interaction in the original was almost non-existent.

 

Two steps forward…

The three character classes – Titan, Warlock, and Hunter – have all been simplified relatively. The trees in each subclasses now consist an upper or lower power path with a few grenade, jumping, and power options. It seems like a reduction on first glance but it is enough so that each still has distinct abilities and playstyles that work well together in traditional tank, support, and damage-dealer roles. Figuring out how to use subtle customization and weapon pairings to make the most of a chosen build is still a rewarding experience. For example, as a Titan you can build into an Arc damage type subclass which could then receive a boost from a Warlock that’s using Arc projectiles, if it’s planned properly. Each subclass also gains some utility and support passive skills that can benefit to a team dynamic, depending on a correct utilization.

Bungie kept what made the first game enjoyable, the gun mechanics and controls. Each gunshot feels so satisfying be it a body shot or a headshot. Along with the vibration feedback from the DualShock 4, the kick from every short fired feels immensely good. As for any changes, guns these time will not be getting randomized perks, instead all will be fixed depending on which variety of guns. What this means there will no longer be the needs to grind up activities in order to get that “god roll” version of a gun. The list of perks available for each guns aren’t as extensive as the original but the available perks are more useful in application. There isn’t a perk that can be deemed useless. This also applies the same for armors.

The stats in Destiny 2 is different albeit subtly, this time around there is Mobility (Agility) Resilience (Defense) and Recovery (Health recovery). Unlike in Destiny 1, they pretty much contribute almost to nothing, however, this time around they actually worked as intended. I maxed out my Resilience at 10 and I noticed I was able to take in a lot more shots compared when I had 5. This change allowed me to experiment various stat build in order to find that sweet spot. Nonetheless, does it play a huge role in the game? No. In fact having 1 Resilience would still be able to get you out of rough spots as long as you know when stay out fire when needed.

Flying between planets this time around is no longer a drag. There isn’t a need to go back orbit and choose the next planet. Pressing the touchpad opens up the Solar System and from there choose a planet and the selected spawn point and then just blast off. All of these can just be done anywhere be it in the Tower or on another Planet. This was truly a marvel to experience for me as the flow to change destinations in Destiny 1 was a chore. Kudos to Bungie on this one.

The other aspects of Destiny 2 is largely the same. Once the campaign is completed, the game opens up to a variety of activities including patrols, strikes, raids, and weekly missions. There are new additions such as Lost Sectors as well as Flashpoints. The flow at this stage is unchanged, choose an activity and play to your hearts content or at least until where your quest would tell you to stop. This also brings us to different change. There are no longer any bounties to pick up, instead they come in the form of daily challenges and weekly milestones. Each comes with feasible rewards. Milestones grants you Luminous Engrams while some grants tokens that you could exchange with a NPC that would grant you a Legendary Engram with a random chance of a loot.

The flow of things may seem to be going into a chore but thankfully Bungie has made much improvements in the progression of things. Changes in progression isn’t huge but it is in the right step towards a better experience towards any guardian. The options are laid bare and up for the choosing in any timely manner. The raid in Destiny 2 is still the crème de la crème experience of the whole game. I would not wish to spoil much but other than to say the experience is by far the most challenging yet fun for veterans as well as new comers. It is a definite must to experience it at least once hence the effort to get to the level requirement is well paid off.

Next addition on the table is the clan system. On the original, the clan functions nothing more than just a name under your ID but this time around it is more full-fledged. The clan system however is still barebones but still it functions as intended. Apart from being able to play together with friends under the same banner, joining up a clan has fringe benefits. Such benefits includes having a much better completion reward for Public Events or getting rewards from eliminating Cabals. Apart from that being in clan allows you to obtain free engrams from Hawthorne when any of your clan mates completes a weekly activity. If the raid was completed, you will get an engram that gives a random armor or weapon from the raid. It is a nice addition especially for those that aren’t able to find time to do the raid but wish to be part of the achievement.

It is very enticing when an engram gives a gear that is not just new but one that would increase your Power Level higher. Yes, it is called Power Level. There isn’t much change other than the name. It is still works the same to Destiny 1’s Light Level. The flow of the game largely consist of playing out weekly and daily activities in order to earn engrams in hopes to get something that would contribute to the Power Level which in turn would make higher level activities such as the Raid and Nightfall more tolerable. Especially early on, there’s so much to do it’s almost overwhelming. I found myself frequently getting distracted from the activity I embarked upon by something enticing, like a roaming boss or public event that promised some quick loot. It’s a good problem to have, in that I never felt bored, but bear in mind that all of these are catered to lower leveled guardians

The Crucible also gotten some slight makeover. The fireteam has been cut down to tight size of 4 instead of 6. While this had garnered some complaints but there is a good reason for it. Back in Destiny 1, the major complaint in the crucible was the lack of teamplay. The pace was fast hence everyone is running and gunning at every opponent they see. It was fun nonetheless but it promotes no teamwork at all. Coming back to Destiny 2, the form factor as a 4 man team is more controlled. Everyone is encouraged to stick together in order to win more gun fights. Rather having a strong solo presence, this time team firing is more prioritized. The better the team plays out, the better the outcome of the match is. It goes without saying that playing with a fireteam benefits the most and it complements the whole experience tremendously. The practice of teamplay is very beneficial especially when one decides to embark to the Trials of Nine which Destiny 2’s equivalent to Trials of Osiris.

 

…three steps back

While the changes are all good and dandy, there are still some jarring issues that it’s quite hard to put a finger on. Most can be dismissed as odd decision making while some can be seen as the best it can be done due to the limited space the game can stretch out. Nonetheless, knowing Bungie by now, these things may change down the road, probably.

Despite the abundance of activities is thrown around at first glance, the problem of content drying still persist. Depending on how much time is invested, the amount of enjoyment is varied from one guardian to another. Having spent almost 100 hours in the first game, coming into Destiny 2, the fact still exist. The more time that is spent, the less amount of things you can do in the game. When it reaches to that point, the less time you will see yourself spending time in it until the next content drops.

Destiny 2 sees the introduction of Mods. These mods are meant to give additional boost in certain areas for a guardian such as cooldown reduction on grenades or increase in Resilience or improve weapon handling. On paper, they sound like working ideas but in actuality they are poorly implemented. How so? There are only a limited range of mods that are available and yet Bungie decides to artificially inflate the number by dividing them into functionally-identical, slot-specific items. You can have an ordinance mod that is either for the boot or chest. So if you are looking to slot in the boots, you have to specifically craft one that is for the boots. Simple yet troublesome.

What makes matters worse is there is no reliable avenue exists to get that specific mod. You need to farm or purchase random Rare Mods, hoping to get three of the desired item so that you can convert it to Legendary, or break down other Legendary Mods to craft a random one. Let’s not forget that the mod itself is a single item consumable. There is no way as of now, to remove the mod. So what happens when you’ve gotten a new piece of equipment that will be replacing your current modded one? That’s right, you got to go through the whole process again. Not to mention it cost 5000 glimmer just to slot in one. This totally kills the excitement as well as the incentive of making the mod. One can hope that Bungie does make a change to this system as there is no true benefit in slotting the mods other than to boost your Power Levels by 5 per mods.

The vault in Destiny has been one place that is very personal to every guardian and that goes without saying the ability to manage the collection of gears that has been collected. However, I can’t comprehend with the vault that is designed for Destiny 2. In the original, the vault was not perfect but at least it eases the management by separating between weapons, armors and other miscellaneous items. However, Destiny 2’s vault decides to clump weapons and armors into one space. While they did segregate consumable and miscellaneous items accordingly, the rest is a huge mess. Furthermore, there is no option to personally arrange the items accordingly. There is an option to sort things based on rarity and latest, but these are only temporarily. The next time you visit the vault, it will be back to the default sorting settings. It doesn’t help either that the game loves throwing lots of loots at an early stage.

On the Crucible side of things, the direction towards a more teamwork is a good change however these also means it actually enforces the idea that in order to win or at least able to enjoy the PvP aspects, one needs to be in a team. Destiny 1 has a relaxed air in it where you don’t have to go all out to at least win 1 or 2 matches. However, Destiny 2 becomes a mixed affair. Many times I suddenly gotten a bit more serious then I should in order really win the match especially when I decided to go in solo just to complete the Milestones. It’s difficult to feel relaxed and play comfortably when the situation forces you to put out your ‘A’ game almost all the time. Another thing to point out is the playlist has been reduced to two, Quickplay and Competitve. The former consist of the usal mix of Clash, Supremacy and Control while the latter has Survival and Countdown. It does give some refreshing pace but in the long run it can be more than just annoying especially when you get matched into Supremacy for 5 times in a roll. Heres hoping for a more larger selection of playlist that allows player to choose what modes to play.

Again, one can only hope for a change. It is easy to feel appreciative to what Bungie has done for Destiny 2. As someone that has played the first, it very normal to immediately noticed the good changes and neglect the other aspects. All in all is because I do like Destiny as a franchise that I would hammer upon this downsides because I wanted the game to keep on improving. Nonetheless all of these are under the basis of preference.

 

Pros

  • Improved storyline that that is easy to follow and entertaining to participate
  • Sound effects greatly improved
  • A far better progression pace and more options to choose
  • Shooting controls and mechanics remains strong as the first
  • Activities are an abundance, at least at early stages
  • loading times when switching planets improved tremendously
  • Crucible still fun as always at least for those that favor the mode
  • Clan system is very helpful
  • The raid remains to be the best PvE activity in the entire game

Cons

  • Many things featured in the game not utilized well
  • Mod system poorly implemented
  • The vault is terrible
  • Crucible modes are too rigid
  • Content drying still an apparent issue

 

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