Destiny 2 – Patch Notes 2.0

Back in July, I looked at Destiny 2 in Patch Notes and found that the game had actually regressed since launch. With the arrival of the long-awaited Forsaken expansion, I felt now was a good chance to re-assess that Patch Notes article. You can read the original here.

Destiny 2 was not a bad game at launch. It was still a polished shooter, with a fun (if formulaic) campaign, and functional (if not particularly exciting) multiplayer. As we covered in the previous article, a lack of meaningful endgame content outside of the raid led to a sharp decline in player numbers, and the lack of exciting gear to chase was at odds with the game’s “looter shooter” DNA. We weren’t mad, we were disappointed.

These issues, combined with a multitude of small controversies and two lacklustre expansions meant Destiny 2 looked destined to fall short forever (do you like what I did there?).

Enter Forsaken, an impressively sizeable expansion, the tendrils of which are felt in every fact of Destiny 2. Forsaken (and the patch that arrived alongside it) have rebuilt Destiny 2 into the game it should have been at launch. Lets break down a few of the major changes and additions:

  1. Weapons could now drop with randomised perks, meaning even once the same rifle dropped for you a fourth time there were still differences between it and the others in your collection. This, combined with a new weapon system that frees up slots for more player choice make Destiny 2 more RPG-like – enabling building of new loadouts for different challenges.
  2. A new campaign with a decent story, beautiful cutscenes and not one, but two new open areas to explore. While The Tangled Shore is pretty standard Destiny-fare, The Dreaming City is a place full of puzzles and mystery. New content extends to exciting new weaponry and armour to discover, too.
  3. The aforementioned weapon changes, combined with an earlier patch to increase player speed and the lowering of the “Time to Kill” mean multiplayer has returned to being a chaotic mess in the best sense. No longer will you rely on the same weapons as everyone else – the new system rewards experimentation.
  4. The new raid is exceptionally complex – requiring the utmost communication between groups and plenty of patience.

Most impressive of all, however, is Destiny 2’s new approach to progression. A franchise built on levelling, Destiny 2 launched with enough “milestones” to complete at the start of each week – leaving players with little to no reason to play for the rest of the week. Forsaken makes smart changes to this concept – while each milestone drops “Powerful Gear” which is guaranteed to make your character stronger, these now come in weekly and daily varieties.

Log in on reset day (Tuesday) and you’ll have plenty of options. Do you want to play PVP matches in the Crucible to earn those milestones? Or play some three-player strikes with friends? If you’ve got the time, do both. Each day a new daily milestone appears, and these stack for four days. Haven’t been able to log in until Friday night? No problem – your weekly milestones are available, as are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday’s. The progression can be as quick and intense or slow and casual as you’d like, respecting the players time. In tandem with loot actually worth chasing (and some really cool quest lines), it won’t take much to get you logging in daily.

On top of this, each day you’ll have an opportunity to earn a random drop from any of the more challenging enemies you face (or for completing a PVP match) – these “Prime Engrams” give you a piece of gear a few levels above your current one to give you a little nudge towards level cap. Finishing the campaign left me hovering at around 500 power level, but the new cap is 600 – so there is plenty of work to do. It’s a colossal undertaking, especially if you’re intending to grind to the top with three characters.

As I write this, Destiny fans are currently slap bang in the middle of “The Festival of the Lost”, a Halloween event. While last year’s equivalent was a poor excuse to push people towards in-game purchases of cosmetic goods, this year’s features a new event and some really cool quest lines and rewards. On top of that, all cosmetics can be earned just through playing the game, so it seems to be a step up there.

All in all, Forsaken is the shot in the arm that Destiny 2 needed. In fact, I’d argue the franchise is in the best shape it’s ever been in. The only disappointment is the cost – Forsaken itself now comes with the two prior expansions, but if you’ve been invested in Destiny 2 since last September you’ll have a sizeable dent in your wallet if you want to play the game it should’ve been back then.

If that doesn’t sway you, however, Destiny 2: Forsaken is an incredible revival for a franchise that looked to be on death’s door. Smart progression and a respect for players’ time combine with gameplay and that oh-so-sweet feeling of popping alien heads for an experience that is still best-in-class.