In 2014, the developer of the Halo game series, Bungie, gave gamers an original and interesting online-only game: Destiny.
The game takes place in a futuristic universe where the gamer play as a Guardian, a space-traveling soldier that uses powers given to them by a mysterious god-like machine known as the Traveler.
Guardians fight off various races of alien enemies, each other in player versus player competitions, and work really hard to get the coolest and most powerful gear. Some players, myself included, instantly fell in love with this game and even became somewhat addicted to it.
However, with the original release of the game, many other players found it unappealing. The game was lacking in story, and, where the story was present, it was basic and lackluster. A lot of characters felt like they were simply background props with little to no personality and often were portrayed by terrible voice actors.
Other players were turned off by the sheer amount of time and “grinding” (repetitive monotonous tasks and missions the game had) in order to find good gear. This game wasn’t made for casual gamers.
Bungie alleviated some of these problems with subsequent expansions, but some of the greatest expansions weren’t released for almost a year after the game’s release. The game got better with each expansion, but the gamers Bungie needed to impress were long gone due to the frustration brought by the base game.
Now, in 2017, Bungie has gifted gamers with Destiny 2.
It’s good to say outright that this game is a huge improvement over the first. Bungie has learned from many of its mistakes in the original game. Destiny 2 is incredible.
From startup, Destiny and Destiny 2 look similar. There are improvements in graphics and detail, with a few noticeable artistic differences, but nothing that makes a major difference. The player can use their Guardians from the previous game if they are returning players, or they can create a new one from scratch. The story of Destiny 2 doesn’t change with this choice.
And yes, there is a story.
The most noticeable difference between this Destiny and the first is the main narrative. The Red Legion, a faction of the Cabal (an alien race introduced in the first game) destroys the Guardian’s city and attacks the Traveler, causing the Guardians to lose their powers and become mortal again. The leader of the Red Legion wants to steal the Traveler’s powers for himself, to become immortal and powerful like the Guardians.
It’s a fresh story, implemented in a fun and memorable way. Along the way, you meet some old characters, now fleshed out and thriving with personality as well as some great new characters. Failsafe, a malfunctioning A.I. with personality issues, is by far one (or two) of my favorite characters.
The story in the first game was what, again? I started the first game several times with multiple characters and can’t tell you what it was. The story of the first game was something to just push through and work past so that the gamers can get to the player versus player and raids with their friends.
Another change in Destiny 2 is the subclasses. The Guardians in the Destiny universe are divided into three classes with different powers and playing styles, which are in turn divided into three subclasses that use different kinds of powers.
In the first Destiny, these classes and subclasses meant nothing more than what super attack the player charged up and used to annihilate their enemies. There were different jumps and different grenade types, but the way each subclass was played was almost the same.
Destiny 2 fixes that. The three classes, Titans, Warlocks and Hunters are still as different from each other as they were in the first game. Titans are Guardians with high defense and offer a tank-like style of playing, Warlocks are more rounded out with low defense but healing abilities, and Hunters are more focused on movement. But their subclasses are all vastly different in techniques, making each class incredibly diverse.
To add to this diversity, the subclasses are now divided into two attunement styles. These give the players choices like focusing more on healing or dishing out more damage, running faster and being able to turn invisible or having better grenades and being able to track your enemies.
The game can be overwhelming at first, but it allows for players of all kinds of playing styles to create a Guardian that perfectly matches how they enjoy playing. It also makes the game, especially player versus player matches, much more interesting.
One subclass from each class was significantly changed from the original game. The player starts in these subclasses, unlocking the other two later in the game. Initially, I wasn’t happy about this change. The Hunter’s Bladedancer subclass, with its teleportation and invisibility ability, was my favorite to use in the first game. However, in Destiny 2 it was replaced with the Arcstrider subclass, making it more focused on movement and melee attacks. Many players seem to enjoy being Arcstriders, but I’ve since taken to the Nightstalker subclass for my hunter. Its new abilities can make it similar to the original’s Bladedancer.
Aside from the subclasses and their likely confusing jargon, another big change in Destiny 2 was the way weapons and armor work.
Beginning with weapons, in the first game there were primary weapons like automatic rifles that did a base amount of damage, secondary weapons like shotguns that did larger amounts of damage but were harder to find ammunition for, and power weapons like rocket launchers that were even harder still to find ammunition for.
Destiny 2 changes this system. Many weapons from the secondary category, like shotguns, sniper rifles, or fusion rifles are now power weapons. Rather than having primary and secondary weapons, a player has a kinetic weapon slot and an energy weapon slot, depending on the type of projectile the guns shoot. This makes a greater number of weapon combinations a player can use, or allows them to bring two guns of the same type.
Power weapons are still hard to find ammunition for, though it is much more abundant than in the first game, meaning there are a lot more booms in player versus player matches.
Submachine guns were added to the game, increasing your Guardian’s possible arsenal.
Much like the changes in the subclasses, each individual weapon has a series of perks you can change. These might do things like sacrifice a little bit of range for more damage, or give a sword more ammunition and less blocking power.
Armor in Destiny 2 follows a similar perk system. Each piece of armor can also put points towards the player’s speed and mobility, resilience, or health recovery.
In addition to the perks, weapons and armor have mods that the player can put on them. These might change damage type on weapons or speed up the player’s melee ability on armor.
Weapons and armor also have shaders available to them, which allow the player to change the color scheme of a weapon or piece of armor. In the original game, shaders only worked on armor, and they changed the entire set.
All of these additions make the guardians of Destiny 2 much more customizable and unique to their players.
As for the gameplay, Destiny 2 has made huge steps in upgrading missions. Each mission has unique tasks, like escaping from a cave in a giant armored vehicle or shutting down a shield by blowing up its generators. In the original Destiny, activities like these were mostly reserved for the big raid missions, while regular missions were almost entirely made up of monotonous missions involving fighting off a horde of enemies while data is being downloaded and then killing a big boss. These types of missions do appear in Destiny 2, but they don’t feel as repetitive.
The structure of the maps in Destiny 2 have also undergone a huge improvement. In Destiny, the Guardians had unique jumping abilities, but they hardly mattered because the maps were almost entirely two-dimensional. Destiny 2’s maps have giant holes that the players jump down, platforms that they jump across, and even a map in a strike with 3 layers that degenerate and drop the player to the next layer as they fight the boss. That one is a lot of fun.
The PVP matches, or the Crucible, still have the game modes from the original game, plus a new game mode.
The countdown game mode, new to Destiny 2, has one team trying to detonate a charge and the other team trying to stop them. This game mode requires more team work than any of the other game modes, making it perfect for groups of friends to play together.
With the changes in weapon categories, Crucible fights are also much more enjoyable. Since snipers and shotguns are now power weapons, the constant one-hit-kills that annoyed players in the first Destiny are much less common. The matches involve tactical thinking, and a fight between two players can last much longer than before, with Titans putting up protective walls, Hunters dodging out of sight and coming back at a different angle, and Warlocks healing themselves or their teammates. The matches are more immersive now than ever before.
The most important change, though, is that Destiny 2 is so much friendlier to the casual player than the first Destiny. Playing hundreds of Crucible matches to unlock a weapon isn’t required, and nobody needs to put off homework and stay up all night with a box of energy drinks by their side just to find gear that will give them an edge. Those that want to do that still can, but it’s not necessary.
That accessibility is what I welcome the most from this new game. More people can now enjoy this game and the creativity in this universe that I’ve loved for so long. If someone stopped playing the first Destiny because they didn’t like it or never played because they heard about its flaws, I strongly recommend they give Destiny 2 a try and see if that opinion holds up. I may be a little biased, but I think Destiny 2 is a great game and a step in the right direction for Bungie.