Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Destiny 2 is Bungie’s sequel to their 2014 $500M gamble, Destiny. Set shortly after the events of the final expansion of the previous title, Destiny 2 opens with your world crumbling and takes you through a campaign that is surprisingly long, if shallow. Rounding out a mediocre at best campaign, is the same experience on multiplayer as found in the original Destiny; if you are doing strikes, who cares about level design, just get to the end to get the gear. Destiny 2 is still a grind and has developed no depth to bring it to “quality sequel” status. It is, and should have been, no more than the next DLC for the original. Rather than a fully-fledged game, Destiny 2 is a half-hearted attempt at saying “You wanted story, so we paralleled the greats and made a shallow experience to add to the already-mundane experience that you have been playing since 2014.”
Since Valve hung up the Half Life hat, Bungie reigned as the best storyteller in the first person shooter (nay, video game) business. Destiny 2 just proves that they are a washed up studio trying to get by on the laurels of the once-great.
Destiny, Activision/Bungie’s giant 10-year, $500-million game came out in 2014 and was polarizing; those gamers expecting a newer, bigger, better Halo franchise with a deep and incredibly interesting universe were drastically let down (as I was) by the fact that the last NCAA football game had a better story than Destiny. Fans that did not give a thought to the actual story, seeing it as a hurdle to cross in order to get to more multiplayer deathmatch-ready players were delighted. Until later in its release cycle, Destiny left out those that wanted both a decent single-player experience AND a hearty multiplayer mode (i.e. “casuals”), were oddly left out; the best gear came from grinding, the story was sub-par and no better than a lot of the bargain-bin drivel you can find on Steam in the Under $5 section (in some cases, worse, since few, if any of those titles required you to close the game and visit a website to actually read up on the story…). Needless to say, Destiny one did not deserve the $500M that Activision put in it, nor did it deserve the $140 investment that most casual players would need to invest in if they played from launch up to Destiny 2.
To start, a few of the good things about Destiny 2 … The lighting. Even on the Xbox One, which is easily the weakest of the three platforms, Destiny 2 handles lighting like it is nobody’s business. Rooms are suitably moody, the setting sun over the giant trees of the European Dead Zone (aka the “EDZ”) is suitably stunning, the dim lights in the swaying bowels of the rigs on Titan help set the dank and damp environment. The voice acting is top notch, with Gina Torres (Ikora), Joy Ozmanski (Failsafe), Courtenay Taylor (Amanda Holliday) and Gideon Emery (Devrim Kay) are the stars that really sell their roles. Sure Nathan Fillion, Nolan North, and Lance Reddick are super great as Cayd-6, Ghost, and Zevala, but their dialog actually sucks. Gideon Emery and Joy Ozmanski are the two the really sold it for me, and Gina Torres delivers a uniquely charged and incredibly robust performance. It is just a pity that the dialog for nearly every other character in the game is horrible. Even Cayd-6’s bantering with Failsafe felt limp as Nathan was given piss-poor lines compared to the wildly spectacular lines and performance by Joy. It all seemed so imbalanced.
There is one particular mission (a Strike actually) that is super great; about half-way through the Strike you will come into an open field that is full of warring Fallen and Cabal and it is great … Then I reflected on WHY it was great and it dawned on me, it is nearly identical to the beach landing portion (and the bit shortly thereafter) of The Silent Cartographer in Halo: Combat Evolved. After beating Destiny 2 (with the exception of the raid, because way too much investment in something with little/no payoff, especially since Destiny players are more about loot, not about the experience, so I would not be able to even enjoy the run, just … well, run) I sat back and reflected on the entire campaign (oh, and the ending was WTF dumb).
All of Destiny 2’s greatest moments had already happened, just in other games. The opening hour or two? Takes a page directly from the opening of Mass Effect 2… The best individual missions? They take heavy (and I mean HEAVY) influence from better games like Halo: CE, Halo: Reach, Halo 4, and Halo 5: Guardians. Many more-than-subtle moments throughout the game tying to the Mass Effect franchise. Destiny 2 does not have its own identity; instead it is just “Destiny with some stuff from other games” in it.
Adding to the long list of piss-poor elements in Destiny 2 that starts with its piecemeal story (which is still better than the first Destiny, but that is like saying that sharting in your pants is better than full on diarrhea, which it kind of is, but is still really bad), is a lack of diversity in any way, shape, or form in armor / weapon skins. I found a total of six variants of chest armor in the 15-18 hours I played, three arm armors, two leg armors, and four cloak designs. Every. Single. Hunter. Looked EXACTLY like me. The same goes for Warlocks and Titans. Everyone is so similar that you would think that someone is just sitting in the back room in Destiny 2 3D printing out new characters. In fact, there are often racks of combat robots just hanging around … That is probably what you are. The Clones in Star Wars: The Clone Wars all have more variety than Destiny 2. Hell, individual Storm Troopers from the 3 original Star Wars titles have more variety… Character design is old; the new bad guy? He is literally a Warhammer 40k Space Marine that is confused about who the God Emperor is. It is … bad. So bad.
I guess that is a good point, now that I think on it … Destiny 2 makes for a pretty good Warhammer 40k game, if a Warhammer 40k Space Marine found himself stuck in a universe where they were not as technologically advanced so they all began worshipping him on his quest to return to the Imperium.
I have seen a number of people comment on how it feels like “open-world done right” and I wonder if they are more Destiny Apologist than a realist. When we talk about “open world gaming” the first games many users think of are either Grand Theft Auto or The Witcher 3. There are other greats in there, but those two are The Greats and when looking at their interpretation of what “open world” means versus Destiny 2’s, they are quite different. For one, Destiny 2 has 5 to 6 areas to explorer; Earth, The Farm, Nessus, Titan, Io and the final area and each of those areas are small. This makes Destiny 2 more like a micro version of the various areas in Dragon Age: Inquisition, only so very much smaller. Many of the areas are no more than a few minutes of jumping / sprinting to get from one end to the other (even less once you get your Sparrow). To top it all off, other than about a dozen side missions and maybe three or four main missions, the various areas are downright boring, even with their repetitive Patrols and near-constant exactly-the-same public events.
Destiny 2 is no more than a DLC / expansion to Destiny and is undeserving of being a full title launch. Though it has a mediocre story that is worlds better than the first, the fact that it was so easy to pick up on the influences of the various levels and gimmicks in game led astray from being an homage to being a mockery. Classless humor, poor dialog, and stale gameplay adding to running through what are effectively the same corridors from the first game, with the same enemies, with the same weapons, brings about Destiny 2’s crowning achievement: you literally paid $60 USD for exactly the same game that you already paid $140 for.
Though for all the negativity and sameness, Destiny 2 is largely an enjoyable, if old, experience. A pity gamers are so blindly defending games as apologists and not standing up and saying, with their wallets, that they want something new, something better. We all know that Bungie can do it …Score: 6.5 / 10
They just refuse to.