Review: Destiny 2 – A Path That Was Tainted by Darkness

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Pros:
+Social activities are an absolute highlight for the Destiny 2 experience
+Reward systems for all activities have been heavily upgraded since Destiny
+
Guided Games make it absolutely fun to attempt Nightfall runs
+The reputation system has been restructured and offers more incentives to play
+More exotic quest lines, which is an absolute thrill to have
+Extremely smooth frame rates on PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One

Cons:
-Raid Guided games is absolutely useless and broken
-Subclass talents have been completely restructured and restrict any and all customization
-Extremely short story… Still. Side quests attempt to save the day


[Editors Note: Our review has been updated to reflect that the connection errors have ceased since the recent hotfix]


Since the 2014 launch, Destiny has come a long way. Bungie should be proud that their MMOFPS has managed to do so. When the game first launched it was plagued with issues ranging from its short story, lack of content, and even a laughable reason as why players should continue to play. Let alone was its DLC questionably short for the price, it didn’t provide fans with what they had hoped for, and left some – like myself – feeling betrayed by the staggering cost to continue playing and experience a story that made little-to-no sense.

 

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It seems Bungie took note of that with the releases of Destiny Expansion I: The Taken King and Destiny Expansion II: The Rise of Iron. The company did a lot to improve upon story elements, duration, and sizable content to enjoy. While the game received two major expansions and two DLC’s, the game was a brutal lesson in consumerism and even gameplay balancing. In preparing for our review for Destiny 2, we spent a lot of time discussing the changes that were made, and how Destiny 2 could even overcome the odds that it faced.

For the review, we even discussed how Bungie’s “persistent-world shooter” has evolved over the years and what Destiny 2 has seemed to learn from the first entries shortcomings. To be blunt: We felt it was more of an overall expansion to the previous game, rather than a true successor. Lets be clear here, it doesn’t mean we think the game by any means bad, so lets take a look at why we feel that Destiny 2 is the expansion we’ve been waiting for since 2014.

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Destiny 2 Should be Seen as a Reboot, Not a Sequel.

Like it’s predecessor, Destiny 2 takes place in a distant future. A future where humans, exos, and awoken have become holed up in a walled stronghold known as the “Last City”. Their cause for this fortress like place of residence? Alien forces have attacked the solar system. Settlements throughout our solar system have been wiped out and serve as relics to humanities Golden Age. An age that came, went, and was almost forgotten as humanity continued their fight for survival.

With peace having seemingly found way to humanity through the use of the Light and the Guardians that wield them, it seemed all would remain calm, and safe for those within the City. Much to their demise, a new faction of Cabal have found their to earth, and has decided to show the Guardians where they stand in the scheme of things. Lead by the alien emperor Dominus Ghaul, The Red Legion have launched a sneak attack upon the city, rendering its defenses useless, and those within the City are expendable.

His goal is simple: Take the Traveler’s Light and use it for himself. As a survivor, you’ve been tasked as Earth’s last Guardian to find a way to re-obtain your powers, mount a counter-offensive against Ghaul, and stop any threats that cross your path. While this is a welcomed change, it doesn’t help but feel that Bungie was pushing the story forward, and did so by forcing out a new story arch.

If you’re expecting an extremely thick and enjoyable plot, you may be a bit disappointed to find out that the plot is about as thin as a piece of paper. It’s simple: Find the Vanguard leaders once you see your light return, find a weakness in Ghaul’s plans, and stop the Cabal from destroying the solar system. While this approach is enjoyable, it still feels small in scope, and only somewhat enjoyable as the story seems to wrap-up faster than it began.

Even the size of planets such as Titan and Io are dumbfounding, sending players very briefly across their landscapes. Nessus and the EDZ are significantly bigger, both standing at close to the same size, if not bigger than Earth, Mercury, and the Moon in the previous entry. Sadly, it almost seems that the planets from the previous game should have been implemented in some form into Destiny 2.

While they aren’t present, they are dearly missed, and could have provided entirely new approaches due to the effects the Cabal invasion had upon them. For now, we can only assume that they’ve been wiped out, and that Cabal have taken control of the planets for themselves.

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Failsafe Steals the Show Throughout the Game

Whether you are ready for it or not, the game is full of unique, and new personalities fans have yet to experience. Characters such as Failsafe, Asher, Sloan, and Devrim serve up a nice cast we’ve not seen before. Their presences are quite welcome in the state of the game. Their personalities are bright, lively, and a nice addition to the already established Vanguard and those whom help operate it.

However, there’s one out of them all that somehow steals the show more than others. Her name – rather the A.I.’s name? Failsafe. Played by Joy Osmanski (Santa Clarita Diet), is one of the most unique of them. This little A.I. is far from as robotic compared to Ghost. Her characteristics are what bring everything full circle. Not because she has a single personality, but rather, she has two. Her personality is one that’s split between an optimistic side that is rather joyful, charismatic, and enlightening. Don’t believe me? GameplayOnly has a great video compilation below to watch.

Her other side is less optimistic, which makes it all the more amusing since it comes off as some melancholy emo, with sociopathic tendencies. While characters such as Ikora Rey, Cayde-6, and Commander Zavala are certainly enjoyable, but no where as near as Failsafe herself. To be honest, she’s the one whom should replace ghost, or offer us a way to gain a portable version of her. While that will certainly happen, we can only wonder why such a character was only used as a supporting role, but with characteristics, and traits aside, we need to talk about Destiny 2 on a under-the-hood level.

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Don’t Fix What Isn’t Broken

Whether you want to admit it or not, Destiny 2 hasn’t really changed under-the-hood. It’s just a polished version of its former self. Classes have seen a slight tweaking, taking away the old talent trees we had grown used to. Long-gone are the days of picking talents that allow you to focus upon stats such as mobility and battle recovery.

To alter it up, the stats have now been removed, and placed upon your Guardians gear. This allows you to tweak your stats as needed in order to help better fit your play style to match your gear. While these tweaks seem viable and completely game changing, we’re actually getting slightly less when looking under the hood. Characters will find themselves receiving less customizability when said and done.

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Players are instead given two sub-sets abilities for each of the games subclasses. While this change is moderately pleasant, it does bring a foreboding outlook to the future of the franchise. Why give us such a limited setup? Is it scary to think that some players would like the ability to make their Striker have ‘Seismic Strike’ and ‘Trample’ working side by side. Instead they are no separated. There’s not a chance that I can make these two interesting abilities coincide in a single spread of abilities for me to take advantage of.

That’s not without saying that the two could seemingly be overwhelming to some. A supercharged ability that will allow me to extend its duration per kill by charging at people? Well, it can be stopped, right? Of course. I’ve bad people stop me mid supercharge on all three classes with little to no hesitation. That’s not to say that supercharging doesn’t come with its own perk of taking seemingly less damage than before with Destiny through all three years of the first entries lifespan.

So what’s with this sudden change? Was it even necessary? It’s not like the classes needed it.

 

 

Matchmaking is Still an Irritating and Problematic Ordeal

Lets get this straight. Remember how at E3 they boasted their new matchmaking system where you can group with anyone, at anytime, for anything? Remember how we were told that raiding this time around would be a lot easier thanks to their new matchmaking protocols called “Guided Games”? Well.. Lets be honest. It sucks. Really bad. As someone who doesn’t have just at on of friends that play Destiny 2, I’m left with two options. One, I can use websites and social media to help matchmake my Power Level 300 Titan into the raid. Or try to use the “Guided Games” function.

For my first attempt at the raid without a group, I decided to sit it out to see how well this new matchmaking function worked. Seeing as it costs 1 ticket for the guided games, I decided to acknowledge this cost, clicked my option, and was quickly given the needed guidelines that I would need to meet in order to participate. My second option? It wasn’t viable. My queue was almost two hours long. Let me state that again, Bungie. TWO HOURS LONG. Not 45-50 minutes, but TWO HOURS for a function that was promoted to make matchmaking easier.

Don’t get me wrong in understanding that this is entirely in [Beta] as the game suggests. But what about the optional choice for me to pick what clans I want to play with? What about me looking to see just how these clans operate? I’ve never been offered that rather it was in Nightfall or even searching for a raid (which I’ve only had this work once for).

While it sounds like matchmaking would have this figured out, we can only wonder if it will ever have a level of matchmaking for the raid(s) like what World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV have implemented. While I do wonder how far Guided Games will go, I do not see it beneficial at this time – at least for raids. It needs rebuilt and it needs restructured in order to lower down the games queue times.

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The Connection Errors and The Tower Black Screen Issues

When looking at reviewing a game, it’s hard not to find flaws, after all, and that’s because every. Single. Game. Has. Them. Yep. Every single one has flaws you can find underneath the hood if you look deep enough. However, Destiny 2‘s biggest problem isn’t the aforementioned issues or shortcomings. It seems the servers are still problematic, but only on the PlayStation 4 version.

After testing across multiple PlayStation 4’s, Slim and Pro models, and multiple ISPs – I’ve found the problem not to be exclusive to me or them. It is simply a PlayStation 4 issue. Why? I’ve not a clue, I’m not a networking genius, nor do I intend to be, but the real problem is that the Xbox One version doesn’t have these issues. I’ve yet to see a “Connecting to Servers” issue, I’ve not seen any error codes pop up on the Xbox One, but that makes you wonder about the PlayStation 4’s state of the game.

While the connection errors are possible due to the PlayStation 4 versions net code, there’s also some other issues we need to talk about. Players, even weeks after release, are still encountering black screens when loading into locations such as The Tower have been finding themselves stuck on a black screen. Even while on that screen, audio is still playing. They can hear players moving about, NPCs talking, and even access their character screen as well as its accompanying menus. However, we have noticed that connection errors have been slowly dying out with each hotfix that has been applied and noticed they are less frequent before, but they still don’t alleviate the Tower issues.

The only fix? Log out and back in. Then head back to The Tower. If you’re with a fireteam, it’s problematic, and can cause a bit of frustration when trying to stick together while playing. But not all is bad in Destiny 2.

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Destiny 2 Also Does a Lot of Things Right

While it seems I’ve certainly been hounding on Destiny 2, these small troubles need mentioned. We needed to stop acting like they can be ignored on an operational level. They can be fixed, this is true, but they aren’t. They still exist and there’s nothing we can really do in order to fix them. But what we can also do is discuss the light at the end of the tunnel. The light that gives us hope for a brighter future. A future where Destiny 2 continues to show the rapid growth and continued improvements to the overall experience.

Unlike the previous game, Destiny 2 shows that Bungie has been listening to players. They’ve removed the Grimoire, which held much of Destiny together through its somewhat unique out-of-game experience, which required players to use a browser or their phone to read the games backstory. Instead, Destiny 2 has hidden some of its story not through its side quests, adventures, or the “Meditations”. The team has implemented some of the games lore through the use of exotic items.

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Every-single-one of them feature a unique story. Which is highly appreciated since it gives us more to think about, more to learn, and a extreme amount of depth compared to the previous game. The only downside? You have to earn it. You have to earn knowledge across three different classes, and dozens of exotic items.

Let alone do the exotics provide an interesting sense of the world about the Guardians, it also gives us an idea that there are stories that have yet to be told, and offer Bungie a lot of room for story telling. It also offers a lot of room for stories we could potentially see in future titles or content drops.

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Destiny 2 also manages to deal with clans in a much better way than previously. It’s no longer required for fans to head over to the Bungie.net website, add people, remove people, or even change settings. Much of this can now be managed in game and on mobile, which is a nice change of pace, and offers more sense of community than before. Unfortunately, I’m not much of a social person as far as Destiny 2 is concerned. I’ve yet to truly take a dive into the clan functions.

As you can see, my groups clan, ‘The Twelve Monkeys‘, isn’t even that active due to us having 5 members. Only 2 of them being active. Destiny 2 truly does emphasize the use of clans and social utilities. It’s not shy about what Destiny 2 is about. It’s about the community. It’s about working together. It wants those whom play together constantly to do so and enjoy what they do. This emphasis is truly important compared to that of Destiny.

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Clans can obtain XP, through gaining XP, they can also gain special bonuses during each of the games seasons. They can even obtain special rewards by doing so. The downside? It’s not weighted between how big your clan is. The XP does not change for clans to level up based on the size of their clan. It will remain at 100k. It will require players, especially those in smaller clans, to contribute to the clans growth across all three of their characters. While this is undoubtedly a good reason to play, it’s one that feels almost forced, and not thought out all that well.

However, it doesn’t take away from the experience, and it shouldn’t take away the pride players have in their clans. They should enjoy them regardless if they get the bonuses or not. It’s a part of the pride that comes with playing Destiny 2. I’ve even been impressed with the games smooth frame rates, sound, and scenery. The game has literally been a step up from what Destiny had to offer. It seems that having ditched the last generation consoles, Destiny 2 was allowed to evolve. It’s story, while paper thin, is still enjoyable. It’s more cinematic than before and it allows players to easily enjoy the cast and crew placed before them.

Classes has even seen some enjoyable overhauls. I’ve loved my time with the Striker subclass for Titan. I’ve loved the ability that the subclass itself is no longer a one and done play style. Instead it’s more versatile. I’ve been able to run around in both PvP and PvE, using my supercharged ability more than once in order to ensure my teams survival on both fronts. I’ve even taken a liking to the fact its survivability as a CQC themed subclass is well noted throughout its talents.

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But much can be said as well about the Dawnblade and Strider subclasses. They are both versatile, one being a reiteration of the Hunter subclass the Bladedancer while the other is a combination of the Warlock’s old class Sunsinger with a touch of the Titan’s Sunbreaker in several ways. Each of the subclasses are all versatile, they all perform differently, and more-so fit what they are for.

To offset the removal of Weapons of Light or Blessing of Light, Warlocks have been given two new abilities, both of which makeup for these removals. The first is called Healing Rift and Empowering Rift. Just like Weapons of Light and Blessing of Light, both of these are rifts that Warlock’s can create, allowing them not to just be a damaging powerhouse. Both of these are useful in all situations, they make Warlock’s a support class, much as they were in the previous title.

Titan’s have also been gifted a unique take. They now have the ability to create barricades. One’s a full size barricade that blocks incoming fire while the other provides a small area for them or their team mates to crouch behind. This smaller barricade is perfect as it does allow them to aim over it while crouching, blocking damage, but also allowing the team to take out enemies as desired. We can only hope that these class evolutions pay off in the games long run and help continue growing the games overall appeal.

While the addition of Lost Sector’s (micro-dungeons) is admirable, it still doesn’t add to the games content in the way we’d hope. There’s still a lot of work that needs done. These dungeons don’t offer the risk versus the reward that some players would hope for. All-the-while enjoyable, it’s just easier for fans to take their time in order to farm Public Events instead of taking on these hidden little dungeons.

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Closing Thoughts

While it’s hard to touch base on everything with such a large title, Destiny 2 is certainly a promising title, and one that I’ve recommended to those that just want a solid cooperative title. That doesn’t go without the fact that I’ve had to mention the games flaws. It’s not perfect, it won’t be perfect, but it’s a game that has room for improvement. Even with my dozens of hours in it, I can’t help but feel that something is missing, and that Bungie will have to work even harder to move past the troubles that Destiny had when it launched in 2014.

For now, it’s easy to say that Destiny 2 is a competent shooter. It’s one that emphasizes teamwork, it emphasizes players to act as part of a larger community. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of room for improvement, and the biggest spot could very well be the company squashing any and all bugs that exist. That goes along with fixing the current horrible state that the Guided Games is in as far as the raid is concerned. Maybe it’s time that raids finally be treated like the Strike playlist so that fans can actually experience the end-game content.


Our review is based upon a retail version that we published ourselves.  For information about our ethics policy please click here.


 Final Score: 7 out of 10


About the Writer:

dustin_batgr_prof

Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.

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