For all the hype surrounding the title, the original “Destiny” didn’t make a good first impression. It came across as a convoluted mess that mixed Bungie’s excellent first-person-shooter pedigree with a massive multiplayer online game.
The story was wallpaper plastered over an intriguing universe and a complicated leveling system. But something happened as “Destiny” evolved with the times. Bungie eventually improved on its concept with three expansion packs and several updates. The developer learned from its mistakes and capitalized on a sequel.
“Destiny 2” starts off with a bang that immediately establishes the stakes and characters important to the storyline. The Red Legion launches a surprise attack on the Guardians, stealing the source of their power, the Traveler, and conquering the last city on Earth.
As survivors of the assault, players become key members of the resistance. This sequel fixes the sins of the original by forcing players to earn everything from the ground up while guiding them through the ins and outs of gameplay and spinning a conventional but compelling tale.
Players will have to find their speederlike Sparrow and new ships via Bright Engrams that enemies randomly drop. They’ll have to go on missions, in which they venture into the dark forest and unlock the subclasses for their Titan, Hunter or Warlock characters. Meanwhile, “Destiny 2” uses its story, elaborate worlds and side missions to ease the grind toward level 20 and the end of the campaign.
Although the narrative is predictable, it does have a fascinating villain in Dominus Ghaul. He’s someone who desires the Light of the Traveler, but doesn’t understand why it chose humanity to bear its power over his Cabal Empire. He’s more three-dimensional than most video game adversaries. It’s a shame that players don’t encounter him more often before the last battle.
With a clearer narrative, “Destiny 2” focuses more on the gameplay. The creators of “Halo” don’t stray far from the path of the original. They double down on the elements that made it great — the cooperative gameplay. This campaign isn’t meant to be played alone, though one can.
It’s better when players form three-member fireteams and go through the adventure together. That’s how players can maximize their abilities and take on tougher missions. Titans are the vanguard that specialize in taking damage on the front lines. Hunters specialize in movement and damage dealing while Warlocks are healers who have devastating attacks. The subclasses offer varying takes on those roles.
Adding friends increases the chaos as they wander through the four major worlds, public missions and storyline quests that include armored vehicles this time around.
The big change to combat is the separation of weapon classes. Players now carry a kinetic and energy weapon in two slots. Shotguns, sniper rifles, rocket launchers and swords are shifted over to the heavy weapon slot. Most of the time players will switch between kinetic and energy weapons depending on what type of enemy they’re fighting. They’ll rely on the heavy weapons for the bigger foes.
The only minor issues with “Destiny 2” is the jumping that still takes getting used to. Newcomers will die a lot as they adjust to the maddening peculiarities of the floaty double jump. Bungie offers some alternatives with a warping blink leap, but it is still a problem. The other quibble is the variety of enemies. For a game this big, it’s disappointing that many of them are reskinned version of other foes and take the same type of tactics to defeat.
Still, those annoyances don’t mar a great experience. “Destiny 2” is more polished. Even the Crucible, which is the player-vs.-player component is decent even if one is plastered by impossibly skilled opponents online. There’s still an opportunity to earn gear, which helps improve players’ strength in both modes and keeps them engaged.
Like its predecessor, “Destiny 2” will improve over time. Bungie will refine an already well-oiled machine. The team has proven that it will continue to support the community they built around the franchise, and it should make fans excited to see where the series goes.
3 ½ stars
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC (October)
Published at Wed, 13 Sep 2017 23:00:19 +0000