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Destiny 2 Feels Far More Alive Than Its Predecessor

William Murphy Posted:
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I’ve Played Destiny 2’s live version for about an hour so far, maybe more. And I can already tell you all it’s far better than the original was. Is it “Just More Destiny”? Yes, but it’s also got more heart, more story, a better explorable “world” and tons of quality of live improvements. It’s making the wait for the PC (and in my opinion better) version feel that much longer.

Some minor spoilers content ahead!

If you played any of the betas, the first 30 minutes or so of Destiny 2 do little more than set up the story. But unlike the beta demos, you don’t start the game at full light and level 20. You start at level 1, and maybe 100 light power. And when Dominus Ghaul corrupts the Traveler and strips you of your light, you wake up in the Last City, overrun by the Red Legion, and without the powers and immortality that Light gave you previously.

In many ways, Destiny 2’s story feels like a retcon, and I’m as sick of that term as you are. But here, it fits. Destiny 2 is a do-over for Destiny 1’s hard-to-shake track record of being an excellent shooter with a shitty story. This is a way to take the core gameplay of D1 and improve upon all the other bits. Bungie can do with a sequel what they just can’t do with another expansion. And frankly, as an aside, I kind of wish MMORPGs would take this “sequel every few years” approach instead of just clinging to life for decades. But that’s a whole other story.

I’ve only played Destiny 2 for about an hour. Having just moved to a new house and with an office in the basement away from the router, my connection over wifi for the PS4 is just abysmal. I’ve got to wait on Amazon to deliver my D-Link Powerline before I really dive in. But what I have played has made a markedly better impression upon me than Destiny 1.

Namely, Destiny 2 feels more alive. Not just in its AI and explorable worlds (the European Dead Zone is fantastic), but in that the game tries harder to connect you with people. It’s still not on the scale of an ESO or a GW2, but Destiny 2 funnels people into your non-instanced content far more frequently. They want you interacting and playing with people more, even in the open world, and in that way it reminds me of Guild Wars 2. They funnel you into public events more, much in the same way Guild Wars 2 does.

Loot drops a lot more often too, at least from what I can see. The best stuff will still be in the Strikes and Raids, but open world mobs drop lots of leveling upgrades and vendor stuff that helps you save up for better weapons from vendors.

Perhaps it’s because the opening salvo of the narrative is far more interesting, or perhaps it’s because you spend far less time in “orbit” between activities (and loading is way speedier on the PS4 Pro), but overall it feels like Destiny 2 looked at its older brother and said “I can do that better”.

Will the game have the legs I’m hoping for? It’s too early to tell. But I’m probably in the minority of Destiny players that just couldn’t get through all of D1 and its expansions. I’m not a huge fan of the console controls, more than anything. I know House of Wolves and Taken King did a lot to make D1 better, but it’s the PC version I’ve been waiting on since the original’s release.

What I can tell you is that Public Events, Adventures, and random exploration feel really satisfying in the European Dead Zone – Destiny 2’s first “open world” zone. The story missions are great, the dungeons will be exemplary, but if the open world content can be fun for the long haul, I think we PC gamers are in for a treat come October 24th.


William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.