It’s been a minute since our last Patch Notes, and this one is certainly different. In our previous articles we’ve looked at some titles you may have passed on that have improved with free and paid DLC and patches. Today’s article is different, however – Destiny 2 is a game you should wait on some more.
The original Destiny, launched in 2014, remains the game on the current set of consoles that I’ve put the most time into. In fact, its around 500 hours – considerably lower than a lot of players. Launching with a meagre content offering, Bungie/Activision charged for two disappointing expansions before finally “fixing” the game a year on with The Taken King expansion. Rise of Iron built on this extensive rebuild in 2016 and somehow, at the end of this process, Destiny felt like a true execution of Bungie’s vision.
Imagine the player base’s surprise when in 2017, Bungie announced Destiny 2 – and that progress would not carry over from the original. There were story reasons for this (your stash, along with everyone else’s, was destroyed in a devastating attack) but most were ready to persevere – after all, this was a sequel, not an expansion. Bungie and Activision would have to earn the big “2” in the title.
Destiny 2 launched in 2017, and everything seemed rosy. The review scores were an improvement on the initial release of Destiny, and there was more content here. The story was improved, if not by a lot. The raid (the highest level of content in the Destiny franchise) was exciting, if less so than earlier ones.
Then, the trouble started.
Finishing the raid and Trials of the Nine (a high level competitive mode), you’ll find very little left to do. Even with Destiny 2’s expansions (more on those later), there still isn’t enough content to keep you playing. An increase in the “time to kill” meant a disappointing step back in PVP modes – the meta soon became running in packs, unable to eliminate enemies alone.
A huge part of Destiny’s appeal is the constant acquisition of new armour and weaponry, but it soon became clear that the majority were reskins of each other – at least on a visual level. Even exotic weapons and armour were less desirable than the top-tier weapons of Destiny 1.
On top of that, “shaders” which are used to change the colour of these pieces are now consumables and can only be used once. While it is easy to collect shaders, but it was the first in a few ways that Bungie began to nudge players towards the Evervrese shop – a place to spend real money.
The most egregious of these nudges was an issue we may not have known about had there not been someone in the community putting the time and effort in to identify it. Without warning, Bungie ensured that constantly grinding would lead to diminished returns – grinding is a way to earn “Bright Engrams”, bundles of items you can only get from the Eververse. By throttling the experience points earned by up to 95%, Bungie essentially incentivised paying to skip the grind. The concept isn’t unusual in games with a heavy progression component, but Bungie essentially lied about the amount of experience players were earning. This has been “fixed” now insofar as the system has been removed but Bright Engrams take twice as long to earn.
Seasonal events in Destiny allow for new loot – primarily cosmetic. In Destiny 1 they can be earned by completing challenges but Destiny 2 put them behind a paywall in, you guessed it, the Eververse. Thinking of grinding to complete the set? No luck, you couldn’t earn them through PLAYING THE GAME.
The hardest thing to swallow is the addition of two expansions since launch. Curse of Osiris launched in December and locked players who hadn’t purchased it out of parts of the game they previously had access to. It didn’t help that the expansion itself was expensive and featured around an hour and a half of dismal story content. New loot was still disappointing, and no new enemy races were added.
Warmind, Destiny 2’s second expansion fared better – introduced more interesting lore tidbits and some more inspired weapons. But the content was still thin – the new “race” were reskins (Destiny hasn’t added a new race since 2015’s Taken King, and even they were zombified versions of previous races), and the campaign only lasted around three hours. The worst part is that Bungie made similar mistakes with Destiny 1 and clearly didn’t learn from them.
So why not write Destiny 2 off? There are two reasons.
Destiny 2 has received numerous tweaks and patches outside of paid content to bring it more in line with Destiny 1. In the original game, you felt powerful, but Destiny 2 felt slower and your abilities were a lot less lethal. The “Go Fast” update increased movement speed, while a similar update released at the same time as Warmind gave exotic weapons a huge buff. All of a sudden, PVP felt refreshed, and replaying the existing content became more exciting. Destiny is widely regarded as the best feeling first-person shooter, and this has only improved with these additions.
The second reason is that the Forsaken expansion due in September looks to be a reboot of Destiny 2 in the same way The Taken King rebuilt Destiny 1. It adds a new story, new planets, new enemies, new gear and plenty more. A new raid is included alongside a new “Endgame area” which is constantly shifting, revealing new areas for hardcore players to discover on a near-constant basis.
The issue Bungie has now is convincing people this expansion is worth the price of admission. Too many players have been burned by Destiny 2’s decision to focus on microtransactions and the disappointing expansions that followed. They’ve also offered an Annual Pass for hardcore players with three smaller content drops throughout the year – this could reinvigorate the game for those willing to pay, but I think a lot of people will be holding fire on anything at this point, such is the lack of faith in the development.
As a result of all this – I can’t recommend Destiny 2, not now at least. Maybe after Forsaken drops in September, I will. If Forsaken lands with a thud, however, I don’t think we’ll see a Destiny 3.