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Destiny 2 Review - Bringing the Big Guns

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Destiny has always held a very special place in my heart. Yes, I know the original game had some issues, but I cannot fault it in what it succeeded in doing. Bungie created something so unique that it is still unmatched today. To have a game that spans across so many different genres so perfectly is truly a marvellous feat. Destiny was not without its shortcomings as the game had various issues that ranged from lack of a decent matchmaking system, to often the lack of general content to keep players coming back for more. The magic here is that no matter how dry the Destiny season was, I kept finding myself in the game doing the same old repetitive things over again. 

Destiny 2 is not only a redeemer, but it once again proves that Bungie has this knack for creating something unique in its own way. The follow up to the 2014 hit is bigger in every way and feels more polished than ever. A new smart levelling system means less grinding and a more reliable way to level up, more activities mean more sleepless nights trying to get that perfect set gear, and of course, the social aspect of the game, one of the defining features, has been turned up a notch.

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Take back the Light

The Red Legion led by a power hungry general have arrived on Earth to take back what they claim is theirs, the light of the Traveller. In their quest for power, they lay waste to the Tower, what we once knew as the main social hub for the original Destiny. With everything blown up and nothing left to save, you are thrown out of the area and given two options. You either give in and all races in the galaxy fall to Ghaul, or you find a way to reclaim the light and form a rebellion against him. 

While the latter seems like the easy way out, this is Destiny and this constant fight between good and evil is what we love so much about the game. While the main campaign is short-lived, it packs some of the best set pieces I have seen in gaming in a long time. It is those moments while running across a giant sun-destroying machine to blow it up, and venturing deep into the core of Nessus to discover a lost ship that made the game worth the time. Bungie has upped their game when it comes to the sheer scale of the game and its worlds and missions. 

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As we as a team fly around the galaxy to stop the Red Legion we gather loot, Destiny 2's best new system. Instead of being held down by what weapons you are using, Destiny 2's weapons system gives you more variety over what you can equip. Gone is the Heavy, Primary, and Secondary weapon slot, and now you have an Energy, Power, and Kinetic slot. What this means is that the guns are now classed into these three slots rather than always being specific to each one. This all means that you will be able to equip say a hand cannon in both your Energy and Kinetic slot, and a shotgun in your Power slot. 

Freedom in Weapons

The new weapon system does indeed give you more freedom as I, for one, never made use of a secondary weapon much in the first game and now I can equip what we knew back then as a primary weapon into two slots. It also means that chances of you getting a hybrid gun, those that should be in a specific slot but are exotic and the rules don't apply, are pretty high. I looted an awesome grenade launcher that would have had to be equipped with the Power slot, but its perk lets me use it in the "secondary" slot also known as the energy slot.

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While this new weapon system is great, it does, however, come with a downfall. Destiny 2's power level system requires that you infuse your higher weapons into your lower ones if you want to make that guns as powerful as your end-game gear. The new weapon system restricts this to weapon classes. So you can no longer infuse just any gun into another to level it up, rather you have to stick to the gun type. This meant that I would have to grind to get a hand cannon in order to infuse it into my Sunshot, which is another hand cannon. 

The same goes for gear like arms and boots. This new Power Level system is adaptable, but it does mean more grind in the end. Destiny 2 also has some fantastic new pieces of gear to find around the game, and the Legendaries and Exotic items all make their return with new and old ones. Some of the best pieces of gear are the exotic ones with everything from a silver crown and stunning gold-trimmed wings for the Warlock, to fire-infused chests for the titan. They all have great perks and the hunt to gather them is always exciting. 

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Avengers.....oh, Guardians Assemble

Character classes and this gear all go hand-in-hand to make sure you can build the perfect class, and Destiny 2's class system has been simplified to benefit from this. All three sub-classes return with the added change of one for each class. The Warlock has dropped self-res for a sword-wielding Pheonix person known as the Dawnblade. The Titan has lost his bubble for a Captain America clone that tosses shields at enemies, and the Hunter now uses a staff imbued with electricity to slice his enemies up. 

While these classes are all fun to use, I found the limitations in their other actions a bit of a downer. In the original Destiny, you could choose from various nodes that equipped class perks, grenades and your melee attack. In Destiny 2 that is all gone in turn for the ability to choose between two preset class builds. Other than your grenade and new circle (B) ability, the perks for how your character behaves and buffs you get are all packed into one of two selections. 

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Sure, this system might be great for newcomers, but I preferred to decide between the already-short list of characters perks and abilities. It's now one or the other. Saying that you then have the gear perks to compliment these set choices, so, in the long run, it's great, but the freedom from the original was better. Gear now has mods which you can find throughout the game which gives each piece an extra added benefit. 

A gun, for example, can be equipped with any mod and these mods range from changing the element of it to increasing element recharge on a set subclass you are using. This way you are never restricted to how you gear affects your character. If you decide to stick to the Dawnblade and pump all your gear with a "Solar abilities recharge faster" mod, when you change to Stormcaller, you can then switch all these mods out for Arc.

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Stunning Strikes

Destiny 2 feels like everything we did originally is a step up. Missions have become strikes, strikes have become mini raids, and the Raid, which we will talk about later, is another fantastic example of excellent video game development. In the end, the activities truly hold the game's most iconic moments. Instead of having a cluttered quest log like the past game, objectives are now given to you as Milestones. These are set things you need to do that grant you rare and powerful gear. They reset once a week and offer great ways to level up your character and find the best gear in the game.

Each activity is now also complimented with three daily challenges that are given automatically when starting something. These too give rewards and XP. If you are worried there is nothing to do after the game's main campaign then never fear. Destiny 2' Strikes are rewarding and fairly long, and the open world hubs are the game's best places to play. 

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Each world is explorable and the sheer size of them is truly remarkable. There are also various activities that will keep you busy while exploring each one like Public Events, adventures and side missions which almost always result in an exotic weapon hunt. The open world hubs are filled with enemies, loot, hidden lost sectors to explore, and each one has their own levelling system too. 

While you explore these hubs you will earn a token that can be traded back into the hub's representative. Gather enough and you will get a Legendary Engram that will have high power level gear to help boost your stats. It is a case of rinse and repeat and something we are all used to in the series. Go on daily, do some things, get some loot, change a character and do it all over again, or wait until next week for the Milestones to refresh. 

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This is a normal experience in Destiny and I am happy that they worked on making sure the amount of content we have has been doubled. Of course, you have the Raid and the weekly Nightfall to add to this too. So far the two Nightfall variations I have experienced have been great. In Destiny 2 the new modifiers are strange but effective. In one Nightfall I had to get to the end within a certain amount of time and each enemy I killed gave me more time on the clock. The second one was also timed but instead of killing, I had to jump through time hoops to get the time back.

The Leviathan Awaits

Destiny 2's biggest post-game content is its Raid and there is quite a lot of pressure on Bungie to deliver something truly unique. The Leviathan Raid is one of the most intricate Raids I have ever played through in the series and stands as a pinnacle of video game design. The Raid sees you head to the top of the Leviathan, a world-eating machine that consumes planets and mines its minerals from what it eats.

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Calus, the mad Emperor's palace is where most of the raid takes place and it is on top of the highest point of the massive machine. Throughout the Raid, there are various group activities to participate in that require a great amount of team work and dedication to get done. From sneaking around a hound-infested room to killing them using buffs from plants to defending yourself from bathers in the Cabal's royal bathing house.

The entire Raid gives you this sense of scale and just how filthy rich the emperor is to have this palace soar high into the sky. Each and every wall is trimmed with gold as the artwork drapes around every corner of the Leviathan. The challenges are hard, but once you know how to overcome each checkpoint the experience seems easier. The only issue I had was that the loot drops were abysmal. After an entire run through, my gear barely changed and I got very little new Raid Gear to show from my attempt. Still, the Raid is one of the best of the series and I look forward to doing it every week now. 

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PvP comes in four

Last, but not least, in the post-game content is the PvP side of Destiny 2. The sequel sees the game mode turned up a notch as the experience is much faster and team orientated than before. Instead of the 6v6 we had before, Destiny 2 is limited to a 4v4 showdown. This immediately turns each match into a team effort as it means you only have three other people to stick around with in order to fight the other team. There was seldom a moment when I was left alone to fend for myself, and if there was it was because I went off on my own and my team died. 

Maps are great to master and cater for all player types and the change in the weapon system compliments this all too. Ammo drops have also been drastically changed, which now sees heavy ammo (power in Destiny 2) being able to be picked up by one person only. This again affects the team dynamics and how you approach each game. As the months go on I cannot wait to jump into the timed PvP modes like Iron Banner and Trials of the Nine. Destiny 2's PvP is simply fantastic in so many ways and is now a leader in multiplayer gaming. 

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My biggest worry was that Destiny 2 would feel like an expansion and I could not have been more wrong. The game is refreshing in every aspect while keeping fans of the series happy by making sure it is true to what made the game great in the first place. In the months to come we will get new content, weekly Nightfalls, and of course, new expansions and I cannot wait to experience it all. The true magic is in the game's content and how much there is to do and see. There is simply nothing else out there that brings this amount of action and excitement into one package as beautifully crafted as Destiny 2. This could potentially be my Game of the Year. 

Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC (24 October) | Played On: PS4 Pro Release Date: 6 September 2017 | RRP: R999

This review was based off a copy of the game supplied by Activision.

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"My biggest worry was that Destiny 2 would feel like an expansion and I could not have been further from the truth."

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