GAMING POINT OF LOU – THE DESTINY 2 REVIEW
Destiny 2 made its debut back on September 6th, and while my initial reaction was to rush out a review, I decided to wait a couple of weeks, to really dig into the game to see what it had to offer. Regular readers will undoubtedly know that I have a soft spot in my usually cold dead heart for Destiny 1, some of my absolute favorite gaming memories were made during the course of that games life cycle. So it was with much excitement, mixed with a hefty dose of trepidation (due to a very underwhelming beta) that I began to forge my legend in D2.
D1 was heavily criticized for it’s lack of a cohesive story. Due to a high profile split with writer Joe Staten a mere twelve months before the game shipped that forced an eleventh hour rewrite of the whole story, most of D1’s background was tied to “grimoire” cards that were only accessible from Bungie’s website, so it was only the truly dedicated that bothered to dig deep into the lore surrounding the game, so it comes as no surprise that this was the first item that Bungie decided to check off its “to do” list, and the effect is noticeable, sporting the highest number of cinematics in the company’s history (remember this is the studio that gave us Halo 1, 2, 3, ODST, and Reach) their dedication to telling a complete, and cohesive story was a welcome change from their previous offering. Long story short, a Cabal Warlord named Dominus Ghaul decides he wants the Traveller (the mysterious entity that gives the guardians their powers) for himself, and he destroys everything we hold dear (including our precious gear) in his attempt to claim it. Of course we aren’t going to take that lying down, so the fight to reclaim our home, and our power begins. I’m not going to spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t had a chance to play the game, but over the course of the eight to nine hour campaign, players will be treated to some fantastic story telling, and set piece moments.
While the lack of story was always a major black mark on D1, the gameplay was not, Destiny set the standard for first person shooters, and D2 continues that trend in spades, your guardians movement is fluid and precise, and the shooting mechanics are a dream, each firearm “feels” different, and something that works for you may not for someone else, thankfully scout rifles have been fixed from the beta (they felt exremely underpowered), but hand cannons (think .44 Magnum’s) unfortunately still feel a bit off. I’m still not a huge fan of the dual primary setup, but it has grown on me to the point where I don’t mind it as much, mostly due to the fact that Bungie upped the TTK (time to kill) on the lower tier enemies, they don’t feel like bullet sponges anymore, and that balance change is a most welcome adjustment. I still miss the ability to have a high damage sniper rifle and rocket launcher available for melting bosses, far too often final boss battles seem to drag on too long as you pump mag, after mag, after mag into them while seemingly doing very little in the way of damage, and this can get a bit tedious after a while, it seems like an artificial way to increase difficulty without actually making it more difficult.
Ability cooldowns, and subclass build options are still a massive disappointment, and I’m sad to say that it hasn’t changed much from the beta, it still takes far too long for your grenade, melee, and super to charge, and even with mods, and gear that reduce these cooldowns, they are still far too slow, I can understand the necessity in PVP, but in PVE it is more of a hinderance, I find myself holding onto my super, and grenades instead of using them, and that’s a shame, as we are supposed to be space magic wielding badasses, not resource managing accountants. I also find it annoying that I cannot spec my character the way I want, instead your subclass is offered two “paths”, and these path selections are all or nothing, you can’t pick, and choose what abilities you prefer, very often I choose my path based on a singular ability, and the rest didn’t really matter, why Bungie decided to go this route is a mystery to me, there was abosolutely nothing wrong with D1’s setup, and I hope that they return to allowing us to play our characters the way we want, not how they want us to play them.
Endgame content is Destiny’s bread and butter, the ability to keep you logging in day after day, week after week, grinding for that one piece of better gear is paramount to it’s success. This is where in my opinion D2 falters the heaviest, while there are undoubtedly far more things to do: public events, strikes, lost sectors, adventures, and side missions just to name a few, there is very little incentive to actually DO them after a certain point. Without strike specific loot, random perk rolls on the guns and armor, and legendary engrams that drop above your current power level, you quickly get bored doing these tasks over and over ad nauseam just in the hope of obtaining an exotic piece of gear, which is the singular thing that can increase your power level (it will always be light level to me, D1 players know what I’m talking about). I really hope that Bungie adds strike, and public event specific loot tables in a future update, even if the gear has an obnoxiously low drop rate, it would still get me to grind these activities for hours on end.
I have never been much of a PVP player, so I don’t spend much time in those game modes, but what little experience I have had in them has been underwhelming to say the least, not in terms of balance, in that regard it is light years ahead of D1, but in just the sheer enjoyment of it. PVP now feels like every other gerneric FPS on the market, everything that made it special, and different is gone, all engagements happen at the same distance, and the ability to play to your taste has been stripped away, (as a matter of fact, I believe I wrote something very similar in my beta review, I think I just plagiarized myself, can you even do that?) Even though I stunk at PVP I always enjoyed the craziness of it, shotgun rushers jumping at you, snipers trying to pick you off at a distance, grenades flying, supers touching off every two minutes or so, it was beauty in chaos, and I miss it. I’m also not a fan of being told what game mode I have to play, no longer can you select control, or clash, or rift, etc.. Now, all players get lumped into one pool, and the game rotates through the game modes, which stinks, because control was all I really enjoyed playing.
All in all, this game feels like one step forward and two steps back, I know it’s early on in the games life cycle, and there is a major content update planned for December, Bungie has also expressed thier commitement to constant, and timely updates, hopefully avoiding the long content droughts that plagued it’s predecessor. At the end of the day, Destiny has always been about the camaraderie, and the memories I’ve made while playing, making real friends, and forging real relationships with my clanmates, getting together to just shoot the breeze, and have a laugh while playing is the true highlight of the game, and that alone is enough to keep me coming back, and if you are lucky enough to have a group half as awesome as mine is, you will too.
Until next time everyone,