Review-in-Progress - Part 2
It’s been a busy week for Bungie’s magnum opus. Over 1.2 million Guardians have been logging in to Destiny 2, even though physical box sales are on the wane. Leviathan - the first raid - got patched in and completed within a matter of hours. And, following reports from players about the artwork, a gauntlet is being removed.
Despite all the goings on, our review-in-progress continues this week. I’ve spent the time diving into Crucible PvP; exploring quests on Titan, Nessus and Io; unlocking the Titan Striker subclass; and digging through the Public Event system. If you’re not up to speed on Destiny 2, take a moment with Part 1 of our review.
Yet, as I look back on this second week in Destiny 2, I can’t help but feel struck by two nagging concerns. The story, though well told through gorgeous cutscenes and talented voice acting, feels a touch formulaic. The public events, although rewarding, are starting to feel repetitive. Is the sheen starting to wear off the shiny newness already?
Getting the Band Back Together
Last time, I talked about how Destiny 2 starts with complete loss - the Tower, the Light, the ramen shops - everything. So far, the campaign has been about pulling the pieces back together, starting with a small refuge known as The Farm, on the edge of the European Dead Zone.
Even so, a Guardian is nothing without their Light. No sooner did I get my powers (and immortality) back, than I was whisked away to the watery moon of Titan in the service of Zavala. An old complex of platforms and towers, much like a gigantic oil rig, would serve as a base of operations. At least, that’s the plan after I’ve cleared the Hive out from it. Zavala’s plan was to reunite the Vanguard, and together take down the Red Legion Cabal.
Bouncing from Titan to Nessus, a minor ice-planet, and it’s Cayde-6 that needs help saving from Vex; the charismatic Hunter has a plan, but needs some tricky tech to pull it off. Fighting off the androids in the first Destiny was always something I enjoyed, but the frosty ball felt like their home turf, as it had largely been converted into a machine world.
Packing up from Nessus, it’s over to Io and lending a hand to Ikora Rey. Jupiter’s moon was the last place the Traveller touched before the great Collapse, partly terraforming the planet and infusing it with energy. It’s a sacred place for Guardians, with a few secrets still locked away.
While each planet helps to propel the story along, there are also similarities in how they’re designed, and the formulaeic approach is a little disappointing. Each planet has a Vanguard that needs aiding to unlock further missions. Each has a main race (such as the Vex on Nessus) and an opposing race (in this case, the Fallen). Each has a dusting of loot chests and a clutch of Public Events. And each has a vendor to grind reputation with in order to get Exotic Engrams, also known as Phat Loot.
It might sound like I’m complaining - and I guess I am in a way - but I expected a little more variation for one of the most generously budgeted games of 2017. I’m not saying that it isn’t fun, but there’s a nagging concern that longevity might not be all that great.
Of Clans and Crucibles
With all the other news this week, this one may have slipped under the radar, but Clans were finally enabled in Destiny 2. It’s now possible to group up under a more permanent banner, contribute towards more rewards, and even unlock perks. We even have a... ahem... emerging one for the site. Seriously, Bill Murphy and I could do with a few more Guardians on our team.
Strikes will have to wait another week, but the Crucible has been an area where I’ve sunk some time. It’s no secret that using a controller is my least-preferred method of playing an FPS, but Destiny 2’s PvP is surprisingly engaging, with a focus on slower-paced team play. I am, however, aware that this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, with some preferring individual skill and fast-paced action, which doesn’t seem to be apparent here.
Because the gunplay is good and the game modes are varied, it’s a fun and refreshing way to spend time. Matches are also duration capped at 8 minutes, which feels about right for squeezing in a couple of games during a half-hour break. I might need some more practice, but I’m certainly not going to grumble about how it works. It’s just a shame that the whole thing isn’t more rewarding, at least compared to those Public Events.
Super Mario Guardian
If there’s one thing that’s stuck in my head from hopping between locations, it’s that there seems to be a growing focus on platforming during the campaign missions. It didn’t matter if I was jumping between rickety gantries above the great waves of Titan, or vaulting over Vex ‘Mind Fluid’ in the caverns of Nessus - knowing your jumps felt almost as important as being able to use cover. Just give me a mushroom and a pair of blue dungarees...
Outside of the Campaign, Public Events have been a huge for me, particularly when they’re tipped over into Heroic mode. Turning up with a ragtag bunch of strangers and pushing an event into escalation - it all feels very Rift, right? As our own Garret Fuller mentioned, it’s also one of the surefire ways to earn huge amounts of XP and get hold of those Exotic Engrams for loot.
Next week, I’ll be chewing through Strikes, climbing to level cap, and wrapping up that single-player Campaign. For now, though, Destiny 2 is playing a tune that’s starting to get a little too familiar.