Destiny 2 (PC) review
Destiny 2 very much sees Bungie learning from the mistakes they made in Destiny 1, but in learning and attempting to correct them Destiny 2 feels somewhat bland, not bad but nothing stellar. In my review of Destiny 1 I mentioned that one of the big issues with the first Destiny game was its poor story, I believe I said, “The problem with the story is that it felt rushed and incomplete with story elements thrown in and never resolved.” So with that said I think I’ll start this review of Destiny 2 by looking at its story.
First and foremost, Destiny 2’s story is far more concrete with a beginning, middle and an end. In Destiny 2 the story revolves around the Cabal forces of the Red Legion and its commander Dominus Ghaul successfully attacking the Last City and imprisoning the Traveller in a cage, this cage causes all Guardians (including you) to lose your Light, the power that allows you to use your abilities and make you immortal. This attack has left everyone scrambled including the Vanguard, which is comprised of Commander Zavala, Ikora Rey and Cayde-6. The Vanguards are teachers and leaders of the game’s three classes, Titan, Warlock and Hunter, so without them, any hope of retaking the city is lost. However, while you have lost your powers you find a helping hand in the form of Suraya Hawthorne, a non-Guardian human who lives in the outskirts of the Last city and helps refugees. She is no friend of Guardians, but she points you to a shard of the Traveller located in the European Dead Zone (EDZ) when you reach this shard your ghost interfaces with it and it restores your light.
Now, with your light returned you look for a way to defeat Ghaul and his Red Legion, to that end you learn Zavala is planning an assault and so you head to Titan to join up. Once on Titan, you learn that Zavala’s plan isn’t going well, but once you reveal your light has returned and restored power to his base, Zavala regains his determination and tells you to find Ikora Rey and Cayde-6 in preparation for an assault on the Cabal controlled city. While you easily gather Ikora and Cayde, there is a problem, the Red Legion has deployed a powerful weapon called the Almighty, this weapon has the power to destroy the sun and subsequently the entire solar system, and so before taking out Ghaul, the Almighty must be destroyed.
After destroying the Almighty and witnessing a great cutscene of the Vanguard defeating Cabal, you take on Ghaul, who has now absorbed the light from the Traveller, but in the end, you defeat him and the Traveller rips open the cage and restores its light not only to the solar system but to the universe.
As you can see, Destiny 2 has a strong three-act structure. The game starts with you losing everything then goes to you gathering your forces for a counter attack, and finally attempting to retake what was lost at the beginning of the game. So, in terms of structure Destiny 2 offers a solid story, but much like Destiny 1 it feels rushed, the gathering of the scattered Vanguard’s is straight-forward and despite the fact the characters talk about how they are scared following the loss of the light and knowing that they are no longer immortal, they brush it aside pretty quickly. The main antagonist is also poorly fleshed out, with Ghaul flip-flopping on how to gain the Travellers’ light, at the start he wants to use the cage to forcefully take the power, then he wants to gain it by proving his worth to the Traveller, and finally, he goes back to his original idea. I think the game wanted to show Ghaul wrestle with how to approach gaining power, but in the end, it came off as odd.
The game’s main characters were a bit better with Zavala, Ikora and Cayde being relatively well fleshed out, but the character of Cayde-6, voiced by Nathan Fillion, was a standout as the character didn’t appear to take things seriously as he would complain about never getting a tank and cuddle a chicken during a meeting to liberate the Last City. Special mention has to be given to the character of Suraya Hawthorne, who we see grow from having anti-Guardian sentiment to understanding the role of the Guardians and helping Zavala make the Last City a more welcoming place.
Moving away from the story and characters, let’s look at the gameplay. In terms of gameplay, Destiny 2 far exceeds Destiny 1, especially in the navigation department. For example, In Destiny 1 to go to a new planet you had to go into orbit, select a world and go there, but in Destiny 2 you just open up your map and go to your new destination without having to jump into orbit. It sounds simple, but Destiny 2’s navigation method cuts down on unnecessary steps and loading screens.
Speaking of maps, Destiny 2 now has maps, it sounds silly, but Destiny 1 didn’t have any maps, which made the worlds feel small and removed any real incentive to explore, but the inclusion of maps in Destiny 2 makes each world fill bigger and easier to navigate. The inclusion of maps in Destiny 2 also makes it easier to find side activities, something that Destiny 1 was also lacking because on any given world in Destiny 1 you could only really do strikes, story missions, public events or patrol missions, but in Destiny 2 players had access to strikes, public events, patrol missions, lost sectors, hidden loot boxes and side-quests called adventures. What made the new side activities better is the fact you could find them via your map, so if you wanted to know where the next public event was taking place you could just simply open up your map and have a look. The amount of side-content available in Destiny 2 is very much a highlight for me.
While the side-content in Destiny 2 is good, I think it is worth pointing out that Destiny 2 removed the difficulty system available in Destiny 1 story missions, this meant that Destiny 2 story missions were incredibly straight-forward, especially if you did a few side-activities in-between missions, for example, by the time I was halfway through the story missions on Titan I had reached a light level of 213, the story missions I had to complete had a recommended light level of 60.
Moving onto the worlds in Destiny 2, I feel the game offered a nice visual variety with the run down and destroyed areas of Earth, the Methane Rivers and dockland feel of Titan, the mysterious and exotic world of Nessus, and the semi-terraformed Io. Each world I visited felt interesting and conveyed their own stories and has at least one of the four enemy factions on them.
Now, of course while you are on a planet you need a mode of transport, and just like the first Destiny game you use your sparrow, a high powered hoverbike, to traverse each world, but in Destiny 2 there is a slight complication as you have to be level 20 (max level) to unlock it. Besides the hoverbike, you have access to a tank for two story missions; the tank in question is incredibly overpowered and destroys enemies in seconds.
Moving on to combat, Destiny 2 retains Destiny 1’s solid gunplay, but with some changes to your weapon loadout. While Destiny 1 had a primary, secondary and heavy slots, Destiny 2 has Kinetic, Energy and power slots. The change in Destiny 2 means that fewer weapons are tied to one specific weapon slot, for example in Destiny 1 the likes of the assault rifle and pulse rifle were both in the primary slot, but in Destiny 2 both rifles are available in the kinetic and energy slots, the only difference is that the weapons in the energy slot cause elemental damage.
Apart from the change to the weapon slots, there isn’t much to say about the gunplay. It is solid, especially on the PC as the mouse and keyboard allow for more precise aiming.
Moving on from the guns we have the player versus player content, which it turns out I am pretty terrible at, but apart from that it is a fun experience. PvP consists of 4v4 quickplay or competitive matches, the quickplay matches consist of one of three modes randomly selected by the game, the modes in question are control (domination), clash (team deathmatch) and supremacy (kill confirm). In competitive, there are two modes, countdown (plant a bomb to win) and survival (a skirmish mode where the team that exhausts all their opponents’ respawns wins).
PvP is an enjoyable experience, while I’m not a huge of player versus player games, I had some fun and the modes were well balanced as the game disables all level advantages. If you aren’t a fan of PvP the game does entice you with the potential for rare and legendary gear that work well in both PvE and PvP.
Speaking of PvE, Destiny 2 offers 3-man dungeons in the form of strikes. Destiny 2 has a total of five strikes (well six if you play on the PS4) and they are accessed via the Skirmish icon on your destinations window, and just like PvP, you can’t select your strike as you are given a random skirmish upon selecting the strike playlist. It is also worth noting that Strikes now contain a matchmaking system, in Destiny 1 you had to find players in the game, but in Destiny 2 it teams you up with other players looking for a strike. If strikes get too easy for you, you can try their Nightfall variants, which increase the strength of the enemies and add random modifiers, unfortunately, the nightfall variants don’t have a matchmaking system.
Moving away from the PvP and strikes let’s see how Destiny 2 allows for communication between players, now baring in mind that Destiny 2 is on PC and aims to offer an MMO like experience you would be forgiven for thinking that a global and local text chat would be an obvious inclusion, well someone should have told the developers because Destiny 2 contains no global or local text chat, only fireteam and whisper chats. For me, a lack of global and local text chat is mind-blowing as it means players can’t talk to each other, look for players to group up for non-matchmaking content such as nightfall strikes or get players together to take on a public event. Prior to the release of the PC version of Destiny 2 Bungie explained to PCGamesN why the game would have no public chat by saying, “What that did was it fostered a stranger culture where it was really difficult to do something – griefing was hard, right? The worst thing I ever encountered was someone that followed me around the tower for like 20 minutes, and was just mildly annoying.” Apparently, Bungie didn’t want players getting upset by conversations in a public chat, I mean it’s not like Bungie could add a feature where players could turn public chat on or off.
Moving away from Bungie’s poor chat implementation let’s look at microtransactions. Yes, Bungie has followed the trend in adding real-world money content into a full price game. The microtransactions are based on a loot box system where players are required to purchase bright engrams with silver, which are purchased with real money. The cost of silver ranges from €4.99 for 500 to €49.99 for 5,800, in terms of how much silver bright engrams cost one engram is 200 silver, three is 500 and five is 800. So, what do the engrams contain? Well, it mostly vanity objects such as ships, sparrows, emotes, ghosts, weapon and armour skins, shaders and mods. Now, I feel the last two are the list are important as the mods you can purchase do over stat boosts and could potentially benefit players who purchase them, and well shaders are tricky because in Destiny 2 shaders are single use so if you use a shader on an item you like, but later dismantle it you lose the shader, it is worth noting that in Destiny 1 shaders weren’t lost on use. It is important to note that once you hit level 20 you do receive a free bright engram every time you fill your experience bar.
In regards to issues with the game, I did experience one crash and an odd bug where I spawned in an area I couldn’t leave when I first landed on Titan, it took leaving the world and revisiting to fix it.
Finally, before reaching my conclusion let’s talk graphics. Destiny 2 looks stunning on PC and for me, the game ran at very smooth 60 frames per second, although I did notice some drops when a lot of particle effects go off at once.
Destiny 2 is a solid first-person shooter, the game offers great gunplay and a lot of content, but the game is, unfortunately, let down by the lack of any real text-chat and forgettable story.
|+ Lots of content to explore solo or with friends||– Micro-transactions|
|+ Great gunplay||– No public chat|
|Bungie||Activision||FPS||16+||PS4, Xbox One, PC||September 6th (console), October 24th (PC)|
For more information on Destiny 2, visit https://www.destinythegame.com/.
Author: Aaron Meehan
Hi, I’m the creator of SG Gaming Info. When I’m not working on my writing or creating content for this site’s YouTube channel, I like to relax and enjoy character driven story games.