Destiny 2 Review
Humanity thrived under the watchful eye of the Traveler who, through the light granted to it’s chosen Guardians, defended Earth from the onslaught of many foes. Until today. Today, Guardians and the inhabitants of Earth will face a threat like none ever imagined. With the Last City in ruin, your light ripped away from you and chaos reigning supreme, where will we find hope or the strength to make it through the night?
9 September 2014 saw the Launch of the first Destiny game. First and foremost, it is very important to make one thing very clear. Destiny, is a game yes, but in the larger scale of things, it is a culturally rich motivator of social interactions that crosses so many barriers and unites individuals both locally and around the world, much like how the Guardians are perceived in the game. Clans achieve so much together, being serious and pushing the all night raids and also chilling out in voice chat talking “smack” and passing around friendly banter between friends and clan members for jest. I said that for this reason: When you think Destiny, you also need to think community.
Why a Sequel Instead of an Expansion?
The developers put this explanation very nicely, “By putting a number after the title, it gives the impression of something new!”. I agree, and what better way is there to not only excite the already vast existing fan base, but to stir up interest from potential new fans? The way Destiny 2 starts off, by throwing you right into the action, gives you enough lore (story) to both satisfy current fans that know everything about the world of Destiny but also feed new fans enough story to get them hooked and not blatantly feel like they have missed out on Destiny 1 and it’s expansions (even though they have).
Guardian. Our Hope Rests in You!
Destiny 2 starts off with a glorious cinematic in the beloved Tower where Zavala (Titan Class Vanguard), Ikora (Warlock Class Vanguard) and Cayde-6 (Hunter Class Vanguard) discuss the state of their early warning satellite system and why it could be offline. Shortly after, a huge enemy fleet of ships blast their way (literally) through the clouds and reign down missiles on an unsuspecting city, leaving it decimated. One very special ship, attaches itself to the Traveler and we can only assume at this point that the enemy is here to capture the ancient machine. You then arrive at the city and start fighting your way through the Tower with very limited weapons and a light level of 100. The enemy is identified as the Red Legion, and after meeting up with each of the Vanguard as you progress through the intro, learning that the Speaker has gone missing, you head up to the leader of the Red Legion’s ship to try and stop this attack. You come face-to-face with Dominus Ghaul, the leader of the Red Legion, who activates a cage around the Traveler, blocking the light from reaching all Guardians, including the Vanguard as well as the link between you and your Ghost gets severed. Ghaul kicks you down from his ship and boldly states that “The Light belongs to Me!”.
Backing up a bit for the new guys. The “Light” is your power level, which determines the strength of your attacks, abilities and your defense. It is something that Guardians received as a gift from the Traveler, allowing them to die and be brought back to life during battle by their Ghost. A “Ghost” is a floating AI robot that will make you think of a rubiks cube by it’s movement, that assists you through your adventures, speaks to you and stores your light/soul which it uses to revive you when you have fallen in battle. “The Speaker” is a character in Destiny that has a drive to uphold the values of the Traveler and claims to “Speak for the Traveler”. He is very well respected and loved by the inhabitants of the last city,
especially the Vanguard and Guardians.
Back to the Story. You wake up after quite some time, in the ruins of the city, without your ghost, and badly wounded. You then stumble your way through alley’s, river channels and finally find your ghost, who can sense you, but is unable to connect with you, which means, you cannot be revived if you die! You both venture out of the city, and a few days pass before you regain enough strength to follow a vision you had while you were unconscious after receiving your beating from Ghaul. You find a camp littered with Guardian corpses and pick up an SMG, which you use to fight your way through waves of Red Legion hounds, eventually, meeting up with Suraya Hawthorne, a refugee clan leader that has rallied the last of the survivors and is heading as far away from the city as possible. You end up at the Farm, in the European Dead Zone (EDZ), which is the new Social Hub (the same as what the Tower was in Destiny 1) which is a settlement found in the shadow of a broken-off piece from the Traveler, called “The Shard of the Traveler”.
Despite heeding Hawthorne’s warning, you head out to explore the shard, where some pretty cool stuff happens (I cannot rob you of this exciting event). Armed with news that could seriously change things and turn the tide of this Red War, you help out a friend of Hawthorne’s in the EDZ named Devrim Kay. Together you set up a communications relay network, through which you find out that Zavala is on a different planet with a few key military members. You decide to go seek him out to share your news. After helping Zavala regain control of his region, you are tasked with finding the rest of his Fireteam (Ikora and Cayde), who are each also on a different planet, trying to figure out a way of defeating the Red Legion and ultimately, Dominus Ghaul, hopefully meaning, you can retake the lost city. This is where I will end the campaign summary, because it is such a good story, I do not want to give away too much. You need to experience it for yourself.
When it’s “All Over”
Once you have concluded the campaign, and reached the level cap of 20, the game mutates, slightly changing it’s focus. At this point, the average player should roughly be at a light level of between 200-210 depending on their gear load out. You receive a few rewards, in forms of Legendary Engrams, Exotic Engrams, Bright Engrams and Faction Rewards from your Vanguard Leader for completing the main story. Once you talk to all the Vanguard, you unlock what is called the “Milestone System”, which completely reworks and replaces the Bounty and Daily Challenge System from Destiny 1. These Milestones guide you through post game progression, giving you goals to achieve, which then reward you with Powerful Gear items through Luminous Engrams. You are encouraged by the Milestone System to revisit each of the 4 Planets (Earth, Titan, Nessus and Io) you ventured on to take part in Public Events, Patrols, Adventures and also enter the Crucible (PvP) to increase your light level. The Crucible currently offers two modes, Quick Play and Competitive, both randomizing the match types.
For the new players. Engrams are basically “Loot Capsules” that contain a special piece of gear, that needs to be deciphered by a Cryptographer. Rare gear does not need to be deciphered, but Legendary (Purple) and Exotic (Orange) Engrams give you Legendary and Exotic Gear respectively. You can equip as many Legendary items as you want, but you are limited to only wearing 1x piece of Exotic Gear, so choose wisely what you equip. Bright Engrams can be purchased with Silver from the EverVerse Vendor or earned by gaining and maxing out your avatar XP (Experience Meter) and contain cosmetic items such as Shaders, Transmog Skins and also Rare Sparrows/Ships. Silver is an in-game currency that you purchase through your console game store with “Real World Money”.
Why increase your level if you are now “done” with the game? Well, you can now access Nightfall Strikes (Normal and Prestige), Heroic Events and Raids (Currently only Leviathan), but each of these are only available to you once you reach a specific light level. Nightfall Strikes unlock at 240 Light and raids unlock at 260 Light, and if you are part of a Clan, you can get to those light levels relatively easy when asking to join up as a Fireteam (Party) and have a group pushing through the same activities. At the time of this review, the Guided Nightfall Strike and Guided Raid features are in Beta Phase, where if you are not in a Clan, you can become a “Seeker” by joining a lobby and have members from a clan become “Guiders”, running you through a Nightfall Strike or Raid, however you do require Seeker Tickets to be guided through these “Dungeons”.
Raiding and Growing Your Light
Legendary Engrams are capped at giving you level 265 light items, which makes pushing toward 300 light exceptionally tricky and time consuming unless you have an awesome Clan (like the one I am in: Mystic Marshmallows FTW!). With their help you can do Heroics, Nightfalls and Raids to earn better gear rewards, but that as well, has it’s limits. Here is where even more advanced game mechanics come into play. Infusing your gear becomes a must! Once you hit the 270 light mark, and you find a piece of gear or weapons that you like and want to keep, you should stick with them and infuse to raise their levels. You can gain an extra 5 light by purchasing 3 random mods from Banshee-44 (Gunsmith) with your acquired glimmer and creating a legendary mod to add to your equipped items and gear. Mods also become exceptionally crucial now, and selecting the correct mods for your raiding becomes circumstantial, often requiring you to recalculate your benefits and swap out mods for the right raid load out.
Speaking of raiding, on Tuesday, 12 September, an update was rolled out after scheduled maintenance, which unlocked the “World Eater” or Leviathan Raid which is in above Nessus. This raid is an insane amount of fun, and attempting to go in and complete it without knowing any tactics at all, has proven to be a time consuming ordeal, but has added to the fun and expectation of succeeding (not to mention the loot!). Admittedly, I did not join the raid right from the start and was listening in on raid chatter while my clan mates were figuring things out, but last night, I received my invitation to venture into the Leviathan and face the challenges awaiting within.
When you get to the Leviathan of Emperor Calus (the Final Boss), an honor guard of Loyalist Legionaries and Colossi are there to meet you and “welcome you”. These enemies are passive and will not shoot at you, unless shot at! They are good, do not shoot them, they are also vendors allowing you to top up your ammunition before proceeding deeper into the ship. There are essentially four main encounters to this raid. The Royal Pools, The Pleasure Gardens, The Gauntlet and lastly The Throne.
The areas preceding each encounter as well as the encounters themselves are filled with puzzles for you to figure out, by means of utilizing four unique markers/icons that feature everywhere, namely: a Chalice, a Hound, Cleavers and a Sun. Always take note of these! (They do offer subliminal guidance) Figuring out the mechanics and tactics to each encounter is tons of fun, but the execution is the real challenge, because your Fireteam needs to be responsive, coordinated and skilled, otherwise, you will spend most of your time staring at the wipe screen. Completing the raid is another Milestone, and what is to follow post raid, is still yet to be revealed.
Destiny 2 is different from Destiny 1, but still retains enough to make the old faithfuls feel at home, albeit annoyed with a few features that no longer exist or have been redesigned. There is a lot to do and keep you busy for quite some time if you are a casual player, but if you are a power leveler, you will find yourself running out of activities to do if you are pushing to cap out everything in a hurry, it is best to then create and play through the game with each Faction, which will then keep you busy for a much longer period of time. There are some really cool quests, that reintroduce an old favorite weapon as an Exotic Reward, namely, the MIDA Multi-Tool (SMG). Other Exotic weapons to persue are Sturm (Hand Cannon) and The Rat King (Hand Cannon). They do not take very long to get, but are also not instantly gained without putting in some good ‘ol grinding.
Developed by Bungie and Published by Activision, Destiny 2 Launched Globally for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 Consoles on 6 September 2017, three days before Destiny’s Three Year Anniversary! Not much can be flawed on the game from my point of view as a more semi-casual player of the Franchise, the story makes you feel like such a hero, the graphics keep your eyes glued to the screen while you try to emerse yourself within the texture dense environments and fine details. The game soundtrack, which features over 40 hours of original music performed by a full orchestra compliments the theme so well you would honestly believe that Destiny 2 is in fact your reality. At the time of this review, the title is performing exceptionally well, so well that many PC bound players are not able to hold out for the PC release scheduled for 24 October, and have purchased the console versions because of their FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). You can pick up the regular PlayStation 4 version from BT games for R915.00 and the Xbox One version for the same price. The PC version is currently still available for Pre-Order through BT Games at R825.00. Having played the PC Beta, I am very excited for that one and look forward to being able to play Destiny on all platforms. Destiny 1 had longevity, created a dedicated fan base, and I believe that Destiny 2, will improve on that, birthing many more Guardians. Go spend your money on your platform of choice and become the hero you were destined to be.