Ombra Reviews Destiny 2 (PS4, Review in Progress)
Minor(ish) Spoilers Ahead...
After spending roughly 60 hours adventuring around space in the Destiny 2 universe, I’m very confident in saying this is a sequel that not only lives up to its predecessor but surpasses it - by a longshot. Gone are the days of endless grinding to maximize the potential of your weapons and armor in order to take on increasingly formidable opponents. In it's place is a (less endless) more built-out ranking system that allows for item modification and the infusions, which works significantly smoother and is more rewarding than it’s predecessor. Item drops come frequently as you roll through campaign missions, side adventures, public events, and the crucible - and the best part is that they actually mean more. These drops are based on your current power level allowing you to find more powerful gear on a consistent basis, which moves the needle for players more effectively, because it provides a legitimate ranking structure as they progress. Along with these drops comes the much simpler currency system: each planet has a singular contact who will sell you weapons and gear for tokens (such as EDZ for Earth and Arcology on Nessus, just to name a few), which you can acquire by completing tasks on that specific planet. This is in addition to Glimmer, which was a main currency from the first Destiny, and Silver - which you can buy outright using your real-life human dollars. All these adjustments make attaining the XP level 20 cap feasible for players of all skill levels, which, based on even the earliest reviews of Destiny 2, is a welcome shift. Once you hit the XP level cap of 20, your focus as a player moves to bumping your “Power Level” - which is the average power of all your equipped weapons and armor (formerly known as Light Level in Destiny). While there is a bit of level grinding that occurs once you hit power level of around 265, it’s entirely tolerable due to the episodic updates that occur every Tuesday. With these updates, new “milestones” can be accessed, which can get you that desperately-needed bump in your power level. Milestones can be anything from competing in multiple crucible (PvP) matches, participating in public events with other players, or gathering clan xp through specific task completion. While it can be frustrating clawing your way to the power cap of 305, Destiny 2 has made it so you don’t need to pour countless hours to reach it. Realistically, you could devote about five or six hours a week once the milestones and weekly nightfall strike reset. This alone makes it so if you don’t have a ton of time during the week you still won’t feel left behind by others who can devote more. Everyone’s happy!
The class system is separated into Titan, Hunter, and Warlock, and each class will have two additional subclasses that allow for different glide techniques, grenades, and supercharged effects. Titans are designed for brute force and taking punishment, which causes them to lack some mobility. The Warlock class is set up for more of a balanced approach: they are more mobile than Titan but not as resilient. Hunters are a mix of stealth and speed, but the tradeoff lies in resilience. Each class is structured to attract a certain playstyle, but their offsetting attributes allow for balance when playing PvP in the crucible. The diverse specialties of each allow for an opportunity of some really pure teamwork when playing with your clan or fireteam. Nothing like taking on a small army of Fallen with your three buddies in space.
Crucible remains but with a 4v4 structure, rather than the 6v6 of Destiny. The change is a pretty welcome one as it has never felt difficult finding an enemy in game. Lowering the amount of players also allows for quicker matchmaking, which is always nice. Crucible is separated into casual, competitive, and the weekly Trials of the Nine. As the name suggests, Casual Crucible is for quick games. Here you will join a queue and be randomly placed in one of the game modes such as Clash, Control, and Supremacy - all with their own objectives and play structures. Competitive Crucible pits two teams against each other in a fight to win seven contests in a series. Trials of the Nine is live every Friday to Monday, and poses a serious challenge to any four person fireteam who wants to attempt it. If you win seven straight games in the Trials you will be granted powerful gear. The one qualm I have with the Crucible is that, while all the game modes are fun in their own respect, players don’t have the ability to select which one they want to play. You are simply allowed to choose casual, competitive, or the Trials - and once you do, you’re queued up and randomly placed in a game mode. Bummer.
It seems almost insane that I’ve discussed so much without even touching on the campaign - which isn’t a knock on the campaign at all since Destiny 2 was a vast improvement over the original in that regard. If anything, waiting this long to touch on it is more of a testament to just how much you are able to do in Destiny 2. It’s (almost) endless.
Before you get started, you are given a history of all that occurred in Destiny. The story picks back up by a massive attack by Dominus Ghaul and his Cabal Red Legion. He takes everything you earned in the original from you, says a some pretty mean things, and literally kicks you in the head off of a huge drop, and you fall what can only be described as an absurd distance to the ground. You are awoken by the crackling, distorted voice of your ghost (who is sadly no longer voiced by Peter Dinklage) and are forced to limp your way back into the fight. Unfortunately you have no bullets on this little trek, and you can’t be resurrected, which is heartbrokenly reported by your ghost. This total vulnerability, combined with the game’s score adds a wonderful sense of not only deep immersion to these opening moments, but also tension and pure fear. Without spoiling too much - you’re soon reunited with some friends, given a few starting weapons, and sent on your way to complete missions in an effort to strike back at Ghaul. Destiny 2 does a wonderful job at flushing out Ghaul through cut scenes and some solid character development, making the inevitable confrontation entirely satisfying. Accompanying you on this journey are side characters like Cayde-6, Zavala, and Ikora who all showcase their individual personalities regularly (and help you out in some cool and unique ways). At the end of the day, Bungie certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel story-wise: bad guy attacks good guys, good guys work to get revenge. What they have done, however, is create their own meaningful version of that storyline. Those who complete the story won’t forget the time they spent with these characters any time soon. Gameplay and gunplay are smooth, environments are rich, and the time investment is readily rewarded. If you’re still reading - I hope I’ve made my ultimate take on this game clear: it’s pretty damn great.
At this point, I’ve done all but completed the Leviathan Raid. Manny and I will be teaming up and streaming up with the awesome crew at Sasquatch Armada, and will be hitting that soon - so stay tuned! For a more in depth look into Destiny 2 we’ll also be releasing a two-part podcast series covering the nuts and bolts, so keep an eye out for that as well. Until then - good luck, Guardian.