Ryu’s Musings – Destiny 2 (PC)

destiny_2_hi_rez_artwork_characters-1Language: English (Audio), English (Subs)
Developer: Bungie
Publisher: Activision
Format: PC/Battle.net
Type: FPS/Action Shooter
Demo Box: PC
Synopsis: Humanity’s last safe city has fallen to an overwhelming invasion force, led by Ghaul, the imposing commander of the brutal Red Legion. He has stripped the city’s Guardians of their power, and forced the survivors to flee.

You will venture to mysterious, unexplored worlds of our solar system to discover an arsenal of weapons and devastating new combat abilities. To defeat the Red Legion and confront Ghaul, you must reunite humanity’s scattered heroes, stand together, and fight back to reclaim our home.

Destiny 2 is an action-shooter that provides an unprecedented combination of cinematic storytelling, thrilling solo adventures, in addition to co-operative, competitive, and public gameplay — all seamlessly woven into an expansive online world. Rally your friends or venture out as a solo player. The choice is yours.

Destiny 2 was a game I was both dreading and anticipating. The reason for this was because I was one of the ‘whales’ that preordered the first game with it’s sky high price. Naturally I ended up regretting this due to how bad Destiny 1 was at release, and in fact stayed bad all the way to the third expansion.

When Destiny 2 was initially announced I was unimpressed. When it was confirmed for PC I was still unimpressed; it wasn’t until I’d started to learn of the changes they’d made that my outlook started to change, but even then I was still unimpressed, and wary of throwing more money away. It wasn’t until the PC beta that I started to have some desire to play the game, and as it got closer to release day this only rose, as more and more info was released.

In the end I gave in and once again preordered the game. So, has it lived up to my expectations? Yes, and No.

Let me start by saying, I highly recommend this game, it’s blown me away with how much fun I’ve gotten out of the game! But I’ll also add the caveat of ‘if you like the action shooter genre’. If you like looter shooters this could be a good game for you.

They’ve improved the game in some significant ways, but also made a few mistakes along the way; so lets get right into it!

Firstly we have the way the story progresses, and I think this is in itself probably the biggest change to the game, the fact it has a sensible story! Bungie are a lot like Blizzard, being masters of the cut scene; drawing you into the universe and making you want to play the game. This is proven here, with some amazing cut scenes telling a phoenix styled story of the fall and rise of earth.

Over the course of the game we get an exciting story as the Guardians fall into the dark, one rises up and finds a spark of light, giving them the ability to fight the encroaching darkness. Culminating in a battle of light verses dark, and the rise of the Traveler once more.

As I write this it sounds like a thrilling story, but honestly, although it’s not a bad story it’s as cliched as they come. Ghaul, the big evil of the game comes across as a petulant child throwing a temper tantrum so his dad will pay attention to him. Even to the point of screaming ‘do you see me know’ quite a lot.

Now the core concept of the story, and it’s plot, isn’t really that bad. It’s actually a classic story that is done justice by the visuals we get in the cut scenes. But sadly the script fails to rise to the occassion.

One of the biggest missed parts of the story is the actual fall of you the player. You’re stripped of you’re powers and actually have to worry about dying, for all of 5minutes. Even then, dying dosent result in a ‘game over’ just the usual you died and respawn screen. I felt this was a huge lost chance by Bungie.

The voice actors are pretty darn good, though Claudia Black is criminally miss-used in this game!

In fact the core issues with the story are the same issues the previous game had. The universe bungie has created is a rich and vibrant one, full of lore and information that make the so much better. In the previous game they hid the lore on these stupid cards that you had to go out of game to a website to read and learn from. This was a huge complaint in the previous game, so this time around they listened and got rid of the website. Great! You’d think, sadly though they went to the other side of the spectrum and got rid of the lore completely. As a result we now have this rich and vibrant universe, that’s as dead as a dodo.

Bungie had so much potential with this game, and they didn’t run with it.

Now lets talk gameplay, in Destiny 1 the story played out in a series of horde mode ‘cover the ghost’ missions (god’s they were painful!), followed by a strike where you killed a boss. As you ‘completed’ planets you unlocked planetary patrols, which were essentially grinding.

This time around they’ve changed things up, and the changes lead to a better flowing story and made the grinding more enjoyable.

Planets have a number of different types of activities: Core, Adventure, Patrol, Lost Sectors, Public Events and Specials.

The Core missions are the main story line. Adventure are also main story line missions, but aren’t part of the core story. Rather they’re supporting missions fleshing out characters and lore. Whats more these become repeatable once you’ve finished the game, giving extra tokens and gear.

Patrols, are the same as the first game, but aren’t unlocked per planet. Rather you run a Special mission which when completed unlocks patrols for all planets. Sadly, these patrols haven’t really been expanded on, and do result in the same few lack lustre missions. Beyond grinding tokens to level up the vendors they’ve got no real purpose.

Special missions, tend to be multi part missions spanning a couple of missions or even strikes. The end result of these is usually quite significant, ranging from starting patrols, to exotic weapons and armour.

Public Events, are two tiered events that take place out in the world. They’re relatively tough, multi-person events that result in a lot of XP, loot tokens, and money. These missions have two levels, the first being normal, and the second triggering if you complete certain objectives, is the Heroic Event. The Heroic Event naturally grants better rewards. I say relatively tough, because they’re only tough solo, even then these are solo-able at times.

Lost Sectors, these are hidden locations that you find dotted around the zones. Each of them requires fighting through some slightly tougher mobs, killing a mini boss at the to get the loot.

Also making a return are the resources you find scattered around the different planets, each having their own one, coming in both normal and exotic variants. These are used at the planetary vender to level them up, and not a lot else.

Finally, we have challenges. These, again, have different levels. Firstly you have the weekly ones, then you’ve the daily ones. The weekly ones reset every week, and consist of things like doing the raid, or Nightfall Strike, fighting in the Crucible or gaining Clan XP. Daily challenges take place within Strikes and on the planets. For example you might get a challenge that say something like: Clear a Forgotten Area in Sector XXX, Loot 3 Fallen Crates, Gather 10 resources. Completing all three will give you some tokens, XP and money.

Strikes make no real appearance if you follow the story, rather they’ve been moved off planet to their own little section, along with Nightfall, Crucible and the Raids. But these, in and off themselves haven’t really changed from Destiny 1, beyond having challenges added to them.

After all that, how does the game play? Well, depending on how you look at things this is either good or bad. Honestly the game is to easy. With the exception of things like Nightfall and Raids, which have a higher difficulty, the game plays like it’s on easy mode. If I find your game easy, then you’ve got problems! On the other hand there is something to be said for having the core game be accessible to all, including those who are not FPS super gods. Though I do wish they’d followed the same as Destiny 1 and allowed you to increase the difficulty based on your power level.

That said, I do like the guns, they’re very satisfying and have a lot of ‘oomph’ behind them. I find it very satisfying to run around blowing stuff up and watching heads exploding when you get a head shot.

The game does have auto aim, and this is one area that is definitely in need of improving. The auto aim is to powerful, and also brain dead. You just need to wave your gun in the direction of an enemy for it to snap to it. This can be very annoying when you throw a grenade at one mob, then turn to face the next and fire your super; only to have the auto aim whip you around to the mob you just grenaded wasting the super. I’ve had this happen to me a few times times sadly.

Graphically the game looks like Destiny 1, but I have to admit it ‘feels’ better on the PC. It’s not a graphically stunning game, but it is at times, a good looking game.

Sadly though, Bungie have opted not to do anything with the ships, and they’re once again nothing more than loading screens. This is, quite frankly very disappointing and a huge failure on the part of Bungie and Activision. This would have added a new lease of life to a game that does get a little bogged down after a while.

It’s also worth noting that they actually took a step backwards in terms of UI design. Especially when it comes to inventory and missions. Missions end up taking a space in you’re inventory of all things. See the below images for comparison of D1 and D2 UI.

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As you can see the Destiny 1 UI is separated into sections, each section is self contained, and looks the part. Destiny 2’s UI however is cluttered, and the entire mission log and bounties section is missing.

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Also conspicuous by it’s absence are bounties, which were a big thing in Destiny 1.

Now, before I end this post lets talk about the drama. There’s two areas to talk about so lots get the first and most evil out the way. The loot boxes, or Bright Engrams. Like a lot of games this one has it’s loot box system. They’re expensive, more than they should be IMO, but contain mostly cosmetic items. I say mostly because you can get Ghosts and Sparrows (bikes) from them as well. Ghosts can give you bonus xp, highlight chests in the world, or generate weapons data for the vendor. The sparrows, while only being modes of transport come in 3 speeds, 140, 150 and 160. So arguably you can say there’s a bit of ‘power’ being bought.

However it’s also essential to note that you also do get one Bright Engram for free every time you level up past level 20. So you can just get by on those. Also worth noting that all of the shaders I’ve ended up loving have dropped for free in the world, or as Faction rewards.

Yes the move of making shaders a 1 time use is a dick move, but given how frequently they drop I don’t really see it as being an issue.

Finally lets talk about the mass bans. Like any MMO styled game there’s going to be bans, and Destiny 2 has had a lot of bans in it’s first few weeks. However Bungie have confirmed that almost all of those banned have been so because of cheating on their part. In the first round of 400+ bans only a few were found to have been banned for actions in the beta (basically they cheated in the beta and were banned). So their ban was over turned. Bungie came out and explained that no ban was automated, it had to be actioned by them.

Sadly, like a lot of games in this genre, cheating is pretty rampant. Most developers (looking at you Blizzard and Valve) are slow moving taking a while to do anything. So personally it’s nice to see Bungie be all over cheaters, hitting them hard and fast.

So, with all the criticisms I’ve levelled why have I dropped over 100hours into this game. Simple, it’s fun and its satisfying. I can’t really explain it any other way. Despite the story being weak, right now, it has the potential to grow and surpass itself. However what’s really important is that the core gameplay is fun, it’s addictive and satisfying. I frequently find myself saying ‘5 more minutes’ and 5hours fly by.

While I do think Bungie needs to work on several areas, such as the UI, I have to admit the game is amazing fun! Was well worth me preordering, and has reinvigorated my desire to play this franchise.

So as you can see, it’s a Yes and No answer. Honestly, if asked to reccomend this game I think I would. Given my play time of over 100 hours, even if it never went beyond this, it would have been good value for the money spent on it.

Addendum: Forgot to add this into the main post, but it’s something I really want to talk about, the Raid. Destiny 2 only has the one raid, and frankly I, and the clan mates I ran it with, all found it it a glorious and yet frustrating ride. There were a lot of mechanics to learn that required team work, as well annoying as hell platforming skills. The end result was one of the most satisfying raids I’ve ever played in a game!

And finally, just casue it’s possibly the best best ever bit of promo material I’ve ever seen in my life:

Author: Ryu Sheng