Ok, saying I’m an hour in to Destiny is a bit of a stretch as I’ve played about 10 hours of it so far. But, I’ve always liked the title as a means to signify first impressions, since we started using it over at Critically Sane years ago. And that is what this is, a first impressions piece of Destiny 2.
The game has been out now for two weeks and many people have logged tons and tons of time in to the game already. I mean, on launch day I was seeing people at max level already (for reference, I am level 15 currently with 20 being the max). I’m sure you’ve read tons of pieces from people that have had copious amounts of time to dump in to the game and have gotten their opinions on them. That’s cool and if you are looking for a more hardcore opinion on Destiny 2, I’m not it.
I am a casual Destiny player. Sure, my 300+ hours in the first game doesn’t sound like a casual player but that was over three years of play and well below what some of my hardcore Destiny friends put in to the game (hours that counted out in months). So, two weeks in to Destiny 2 and I’ve yet to run a Strike and I am certainly not Raid ready. But I do have opinions. And away we go.
Destiny 2 starts off with more story than the entirety of year one Destiny. It is a big loud opening that is completely over the top. And then at the height of everything (literally), you are cast down and told to start over. The game from that point takes on a more somber tone, as you struggle with the loss of your powers and are reintroduced to playing Destiny. It’s an interesting approach that mostly worked for me as a Destiny player and probably really works for newcomers, as it puts everyone on an even playing field.
I’m of two minds about this design decision. On one hand, I’m pissed. I spent hundreds of hours with my Hunter and Bungie threw all that away with a fresh reset. It hurts all the more because the game recognized my adventures in the original Destiny (more on this in a bit) but then cast them all aside in favor of putting everyone on an equal playing field. On the other hand though, it is nice to start a game and be on the same page as everyone else. For a brief moment in time I was the same as all my fellow guardians, newly demoted and struggling to regain my light. Everyone has since passed me in the two weeks that have passed since but it was a nice moment.
One of the problems I have with the way Bungie is handling this though is in how it recognizes new and old players of Destiny. Coming in with an old guardian is cool and you are given a little static slideshow of your accomplishments in the previous game. The game pulls all your characters from Destiny one over with a big asterisk. You had to have played original Destiny before August 1st of this year for Destiny 2 to recognize your previous adventures. This might not sound like a big deal, after all who is getting in to original Destiny now? But Destiny 2 is a $60 game and OG Destiny is far cheaper, I can certainly see people giving it a go before jumping in to Destiny 2. Also I like achievements, and so I recently created a new Warlock and Titan in Destiny with the intention of chasing some of those class specific cheevos and then hoping to bring them over to Destiny 2 to chase those. I also never played Destiny on the PS4 but recently found a copy w/all the DLC for cheap and so I got it. None of those characters will be recognized by Destiny 2 and I’ll have to recreate those characters from scratch. It’s a little thing but it bothers me.
Outside of logistics though, the game plays as good as it ever did. This shouldn’t come as a surprise though as the first Destiny was one of the best mechanical shooters to date. Destiny 2 feels just as good, if not better in some cases. More impressive though is that it looks a ton better than the first game. Areas are more detailed, there seems to be more foliage, and animations on enemies are far more nuanced.
Speaking of enemies, one of the things you can knock Destiny and this game for is the lack of enemy variety that can quickly become a bit stale. Destiny 2 features the same enemy set as its predecessor – The Fallen, The Cabal, The Hive, and The Vex. It’s a bit disappointing to be honest even of the old enemies feel a bit different as they’ve been spruced up a bit. Thankfully mission variety is more focused on here and not every mission is go to point A and scan B while shooting C. I even had a Halo styled vehicle escape sequence in one mission that was awesome.
Something that doesn’t feel stale though is the new campaign. Unlike the first game’s campaign, Destiny 2’s feels better structured. I understand exactly what I am doing and why I am doing it. It is a better narrative but that is because the way OG Destiny presented its story was near nonsensical and mostly outside the game. Destiny 2’s narrative is more straightforward. Bad guys have come and busted up the Earth and you need to regroup and then assemble a team of badasses to fight back. It’s standard fare but presented in a fun way with some fun characters.
In addition to the standard story missions, there are new side quests called Adventures. Completing them provides special loot or upgrade points and feel like they flesh out the game more than what was in the past one. If they can add new Adventures to the game on a regular basis, there will be a reason for solo players (which I mostly am) to come back and play over and over again.
Finally, I’ve dabbled a bit in the Crucible, the multiplayer PVP arena. I liked the PVP in the original Destiny and played quite a bit of it. My first foray in to PVP with Destiny 2 didn’t do a lot to make me want to come back though. I like the fact that standard matches seem to be 4v4 as opposed to 6v6 but it seemed like time to kill was way faster. So while it shifted in some ways towards Halo, which I liked, it also seems like it shifted more towards Call of Duty in ways that I don’t. I don’t know, maybe PVP is more designed for max level players this time around. We’ll see.
All in all though, my initial impression of Destiny 2 is that it is pretty good. They’ve made some smart calls that I didn’t talk about here (you don’t need to go back and forth to orbit to get anywhere now) and loot drops, currency, and reputation have all been simplified and ratcheted up a notch. I can see myself sinking another 300+ hours over the next few years with this game as well. Hopefully I’ll see some of you out there as well.
Originally published at Critically Sane on 20 September 2017.