2 Years Later, Should You Play Destiny 2?

Credit: Bungie

The road to the place that Bungie’s ambitious science fiction looter-shooter game Destiny 2 has been paved with plenty of ups and downs.

In my initial review of the PC version of the game, I wrote that “there are a lot of reasons to be cynical about Destiny 2. Failing to bring the first game to PC was, at best, a mistake and, at worst, arrogance gone awry. However, even if you’re a jaded holdout like I was, you’ll probably have a great time with Destiny 2 on the PC.”

Unfortunately, not all that long after launch, the amount of reasons to stick with the game began to seem shorter and shorter. The limited and unrewarding endgame experience in Destiny 2 at launch failed to hold my interest and it didn’t take long before I - and most of my friends - left Bungie’s shooter behind in search of greener pastures.

Eventually, new content did arrive for the game. However, the relatively-expensive price-tag involved (owing to the lack of any seasonal discounts) and the poor word-of-mouth around Curse of Osiris (regarded by many Destiny fans as the worst expansion in the series’ history) made jumping back into Destiny 2 feel like a bridge too far. It was too little too late.

Credit: Bungie

But after playing Anthem and finding the gunplay in Bioware’s looter-shooter lackluster, I wanted to loop back to Destiny 2 and affirm my suspicions about everything that Bungie’s loot-shooter got right. And returning to the game, I found plenty of new things to love about it.

Two years after the franchise made its PC gaming debut, Destiny 2 just might be the gold standard for the genre.

Let’s Recap

But before we get to that, it’s important to take stock of where Destiny 2 was at launch. At that time, more than a few core issues were raised - not only by reviewers at the time but also by the broader Destiny community.

These included:

  • A lack of endgame content

  • Limited strike variety

  • An “OK” story campaign

  • PVP lacked balance and structure

  • Limited enemy variety

  • Repetitive mission design

  • Frustrating weapons system

  • Uneven loot distribution

What Did Bungie Promise?

Credit: Bungie

Shortly after Destiny 2 launched on PC, Bungie issued a shortlist of changes they wanted to implement for the game on their official blog. Then, in November 2017, the company elaborated on its broader vision for how they wanted Destiny 2 to evolve over time in a blog post called ‘The State of Destiny’.

Here, they revealed that “Destiny 2’s post-launch game systems, features, and updates are being designed specifically to focus on and support players who want Destiny to be their hobby – the game they return to, and a game where friendships are made.”

“We want Destiny to be a game that fits into your life, providing you with reasons to log in and play with your friends, clans, and families. We want Destiny to be a world you want to be a part of.”

What Did They Deliver?

Year 1

Destiny 2 officially launched on the Playstation 4 and Xbox One X in September 2017. The game made the jump to PC players approximately a month later.

During this initial launch period, Bungie rolled out a bunch of endgame-focused content in the form of the ‘Leviathan’ raid encounter and social events like faction rallies and Iron Banner. PVP-focused fans of Destiny’s Crucible mode could do battle across twelve different maps and PVE-minded players had six Strikes to tackle.

Credit: Bungie

Destiny 2’s first expansion, Curse of Osiris, brought with it the new location of Mercury, a few more hours of story content, two new Strikes, three new Crucible maps and a new Raid Lair: Eater of Worlds.

Curse of Osiris also raised the game’s level cap to 25 and the power cap to 330.

Destiny 2’s second expansion, Warmind, raised the bar further, allowing players to push themselves to Level 30 and up to 380 Power. It also added the new location of Mars, several more hours of story content, a new dynamic public event called Escalation Protocol, two new Crucible maps plus three new Strikes.

Credit: Bungie

Warmind also brought with it a new Raid Lair - Spire of Stars - and introduced the Valor and Glory progression systems into Destiny 2’s PVP modes.

Year 2

Releasing roughly a year on from the game's launch, Forsaken is the third and most significant expansion that Destiny 2 has had to date. It added a dozen or so hours of new story content, two new zones (The Tangled Shore and The Dreaming City), one new Raid, two new Strikes and the new Scorned enemy faction.

Credit: Bungie

In addition to raising the level cap to 50 and the power cap to 600, Forsaken also introduced a new multiplayer mode called Gambit. Out of the gate, this new PVP mode launched with a total of four maps.

Following Forsaken, Bungie introduced its next slate of DLC content for the game: the new Destiny 2 Annual Pass.

Rather than offer two medium-sized content drops per year as the previous Season Pass had, the new Annual Pass broke down into three seasons - each of which added new content to the game on a more frequent week-to-week basis.

Credit: Bungie

The first of these seasons, The Black Armory, rolled out over the course of December 2018 to February 2019. It added the Black Armory weapon-crafting system to the game alongside a new Raid - Scourge of the Past.

Black Armory also introduced new Forge-Crafting activities, exotic quest lines plus the Triumph and Collections systems.

The second season, known as Joker’s Wild, added the new Gambit Prime and Reckoning activities alongside some new story content and exotic quest lines. It also brought with it a new seasonal event in the form of Revelry.

The Season of the Drifter is set to last from March through May.

Credit: Bungie

The final season of Destiny 2’s annual pass is the Season of Opulence. This is due to arrive in June. Details are not yet known but Bungie say it will add a new Raid, new secrets and a new match-made activity akin to the forge-crafting added by The Black Armory.

What’s Been Fixed?

A lack of endgame content

Between the additional Raids, Strikes, Crucible progression systems, exotic questlines, Triumphs and Gambit, Destiny 2 now has a significantly improved variety of endgame content at its disposal.

Credit: Bungie

The long tail of things to do and see here isn’t quite as enormous in scope as something like World of Warcraft or Warframe but it’s a major improvement over where the game was at launch.

Limited Strike variety

At launch, Destiny 2 boasted six Strikes.

The Strike playlist is now more than double that, with fifteen Strikes total currently in the game. Additional strikes would always be welcome but, right now, things are pretty good as far as variety goes.

An “OK” story campaign

Although Bungie haven’t taken apart and rebuilt the core story campaign of Destiny 2 as they did with the original Destiny, the addition of the Curse of Osiris, Warmind and Forsaken expansions has left things in a much better place overall.

Credit: Bungie

I’d even go so far as to say that the storyline in Forsaken is a highpoint for the franchise thus far. Where Destiny 2’s story campaign made the leap forward from mediocre to competent, Forsaken is simply excellent and a must-play for fans of the series.

PVP lacked balance and structure

Although the nature of the competitive balance and gun design in Destiny is one that’s probably always going to be in flux, Bungie’s track record for resolving PVP balance issues over the last two years has been relatively strong. There’s even been room for a bit of fun.

Credit: Bungie

The introduction of the Valor and Glory progression systems has also served to make Crucible a bit more appealing to more casual players.

Limited enemy variety

Although I’d still like more of this, the introduction of the Scorned has helped shake up the rhythm of Destiny’s encounters in a meaningful way. You’re still not getting the level of variety you’d get in other loot-driven games like Diablo 3 but Bungie have definitely begun to move the series’ status quo in the right direction.

Repetitive mission design

This is a trick one to resolve. Inherently, loot-driven games like Destiny are kinda all about repetitive design.

Still, credit where it’s due, Bungie have done a good job of fleshing out the number of activities players can sink their time into. It feels like there’s always something rewarding that  you could be doing: whether it’s advancing an exotic questline, farming motes in Gambit Prime or working away at one of the game’s Triumphs.

Frustrating weapons system

One of the more frustrating changes that Destiny 2 made relative to the original game was that it restructured the weapons system in the game.

At launch, all Fusion Rifles, Sniper Rifles, Shotguns, Swords, Grenade Launchers, and Rocket Launchers fell into a single weapon slot called Power Weapons. If you’re the kind of player who enjoys playing with these more specialised tools, this meant you had to choose between playing the way you wanted and the way that was most optimal.

Credit: Bungie

Thankfully, with the arrival of Forsaken, Bungie changed this aspect of the game up by changing the way that ammo and weapon slots worked.

2 Years Later, Should You Play Destiny 2?

Though the price of admission hasn’t dropped as quickly as you might expect of a game that’s now two years old, Destiny 2 feels like a contender for the gold standard of the looter shooter genre.

Destiny 2 as it is today feels like Diablo 3 as it feels today. Bungie have done an incredibly adept job of evolving, expanding and actively improving almost every aspect of the experience.

With Destiny 3 rumored to be around the corner, it’s unclear what the long-term prospects of the second game in the series look like. Still, right now, Destiny 2 an incredibly easy game to recommend. It looks great, it plays great and there's a ton of value here for those who like a game with a long-tail to it.

Credit: Bungie

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Fergus Halliday
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