Can you believe it?! Activision finally let Bungie out to play! Oh man, we’re going to have so much fun with this storytelling – oh my god all the lore’s going to be included! Quick, Destiny 2, follow me into the woods where you’ll whisper to me your secrets and I’ll hug my knees in excitement, daring to breathe only when you turn the next page in your massive storied lexicon! Come, sit in our hut where that evil step-Activision can’t catch us and fountains of chocolate milk will color our mustaches in perpetuity and…confectioneries! Oh the trees will sprinkle us with the most delightful confectioneries!
Alas, this is but a waking dream, partial and fleeting. While Activision does loosen its notoriously tight reins from around Bungie’s throat and thorax, they’re still far from creating a compelling main plot. Halo was never really my jam in the first years of Xbox but I’ve heard nothing but quality surrounding the first three entries there, which, as I recall, is the whole reason Destiny prime was such a big deal upon its announcement. And that one turned out to be a massive noodle pile of story ideas that never gelled into an actual narrative, While you can imagine all parties involved would want the story this time around to be a knockout, number duex takes fascinatingly small steps forward in storytelling, opting to just, well, tell a story.
The main handful of issues that ultimately bubble forward are with the core set-up and some unnatural seams throughout. You and the rest of the Guardians have the Traveller stolen from you by a particularly vicious Cabal sect that plan to use your stolen light to destroy the galaxy. This is a quick, simple setup that drives you with a straight motivation, but one that offers no real teeth throughout. The first mission is an onslaught of purpose and intensity that the game never finds again. Destiny 2 becomes open fields, quick spawns of enemies, and standard missions again very quickly with only the varied and well-done environments saving your attention from a swift drop.
Those seams I speak of couldn’t be more obvious and couldn’t feel any more like brand reinforcement even if a spinning “Destiny 2 Kewl!” sticker popped on screen afterwards. Lines like “I have become legend!” or compliments of various armor and/or weapons have all the subtlety of a cash register sound. In short, these cheesy lines don’t entertain even out of context, let alone when you’re trying for the second time to create a compelling world for players to sink hundreds of hours into.
While the story of Destiny 2 is lacking, some of the characters are very entertainingly written and performed. By some, I mean one. By one, I mean Nathan Fillian’s character named-OH YEAH! That’s another thing: this game actually has named characters that you can remember. Like Cayde-6, voiced by Nathan Fillion, and…others that I’m sure a quick Google search will reveal. He’s just as delightful as he was in the “complete” first Destiny. The other characters just aren’t, even in an understandably grim situation, much more than stereotypes that don’t have time to tell you why they don’t have time to develop any real traits. Ghaul, the leader of the Cabal you fight, probably comes in second for memorability with his desires to destroy, while ultimately cliche, being strong enough to give him an identity that you’d recognize beyond the norm.
I’ve focused a lot on story because the gameplay is largely an unchanged steel girder that holds up Destiny 2. There are added supers and subclasses to the tune of a handful and, as always, new legendaries to unlock along the way, but another suitable title would have been “Running, jumping, sliding and shooting the game 2”.
My personal issues with Destiny classic have been partially addressed on this side, even with my many angry letters being bounced back…. The largest remains though in that the raid, and endgame in general, is a mess. For the raid, there’s still no random matchmaking per-se with Bungie implementing a “Guided Games” idea that is basically guild matchmaking where some that have never taken on the endgame areas now can. The issue this time around is that the raid is such a time sink that hasn’t yielded great rewards – a constant issue throughout the game. I still love the concept of the raid and wish they’d find a way to make this either more social or make the reward tiers deeper. Exotic drops have been no further narrowed in their possibilities wherein your Warlock can receive Titan-only gear, but the added bat to the knee is that you will receive so very many duplicates of the same exotic drop. Not the same type with better stats. I’m talking twinsies.
The endgame in Destiny 2 is, unfortunately, just a barren as it was in classic when it first launched. And sure, the DLC reinforcements are on the way with trumpets and more price tags, but a lot of people aren’t about that life, leaving them with multiplayer and invisible compendiums to complete.
Multiplayer is exactly as fun and competent as the original with plenty of maps and your own weapon arsenal to keep you satiated on the competitive front for hours. Swords add a new element melee here that I welcome and wish more shooters would implement as a wildcard (think using the bow and arrow in The Last of Us’ multiplayer). In short, it’s fun but mostly the same.
Look, I’m all for a sequel doing more of the same and layering on top, but there’s not enough to call Destiny 2 a successful entry by that definition. Shaders have been taken behind microtransactions along with exotic weapons, and all that’s been given in return are some small fixes with mostly the same mission designs, characters, and barren endgame. The story is nice enough window dressing and the shooty-shots keep on shooting, which ultimately makes this feel like an expansion that Activision turned sequel in the name of money. We get it, companies, money must be made. That’s a reality most have come to accept. Just, maybe use a lighter touch when pushing your tentpole franchise or you’ll end up skewering your players in some tender areas.
Destiny 2 Score: