With the campaign vanquished, we’re ready to give a tentative score.
After a solid day and a half of Destiny 2 and streaming an unhealthy amount, I’ve now beaten the campaign and dipped a toe into the endgame content. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.
Thankfully, I think we can put the story memes to rest. In Destiny 2, this series finally has a campaign worth celebrating. Even though it stumbles with an abruptly ended character arc, it still hits all the high notes it needs to and left me feeling satisfied. Artistically, there are moments that stopped me dead in my tracks. Not since Mass Effect 2’s Shadow Broker DLC have I stopped in the middle of a fire fight to admire the world I had been placed in. Sitting next to the sun while fighting a drill the size of a skyscraper makes it feel like the task at hand is larger than life by flooding the screen with color and spectacle.
Given how great they look, it’s a shame there is no way to choose which of Destiny 2’s story missions you would like to re-experience like you can in Destiny. Instead, you’re given “Meditations” that allow you to replay one of three pre-selected campaign missions at a higher Light level, but none of them are among my favorites, such as the final few levels which were a special treat from a gameplay and visual perspective.
Another surprising misstep mechanically (which you can add to the baffling withholding of Sparrows) was a final boss fight that really turned out to be a letdown. After 10 hours of buildup, the final encounter fizzled out when, due to super ability restrictions, I had to resort to finding a safe spot and shooting the ultimate enemy in the foot until he died. It seems as though the encounter was meant for projectile supers, but without knowing that going in I hadn’t yet earned one that could do effective damage until after the campaign had ended. It was especially odd because Bungie has shown that its designers know how to make Strikes interesting from a mechanic perspective in Destiny 2, and their ability to craft superb boss battles in Destiny’s Raids made the boss portion of the ending a surprising disappointment in what was otherwise a fantastic run.
After the campaign ends you can still experience some new story events via Quests you can play on each location in Destiny 2. These not only flesh out the new characters we’ve met in those places, but do a good job of showing you new spots you may have missed and fun encounters you’ll have fun playing with a Fireteam. They also end with big rewards like exotic quests and coveted legendaries, making them a great way to continue your climb to max Light. I’m hoping that they add on to these with more quests, either daily or weekly, as some left me wanting more in a way that’d turn from eager anticipation to bitterness if it’s not delivered reasonably soon. I certainly hope this won’t be the last we hear from my favorite new character, Failsafe.
I’ve just hit level 258 at the time of this writing and I’m waiting to complete Nightfall, which is basically a raid-level activity that promises big rewards that could push me to the next level. (Updates on that later.) The Strikes have thus far satisfied my hunger for more story and sweet loot, but beyond that I’m left looking to the Destiny subreddit and asking what’s next in terms of PVE content? If Destiny 2 has a lot of additional things to do, it hasn’t made those clear yet, and that’s concerning.
The new subclasses are fun to play as because they mix the visual spectacle with new storyline and interesting enemies to fight. I found myself trying out each to get a feel for how each plays and finding that I can still move the way I’m accustomed to while getting unique benefits for each. It’s all about how you want to support your team. Do you want to protect them? Go bubble Titan. Need a projectile? Each character offers something for you. You simply need to spec into them, but the mastery comes in how you’ll work as a team for something like the Nightfall. Once in the Nightfall (and presumably the Raid) your weapon, super, and strategies become paramount.
Enemies have changed up their tactics making for interesting encounters that may make them feel like bullet sponges when you’re underpowered, but after you’ve been put to the test in an event like the Nightfall their different strategies shine. Hitting their shields with the correct damage type is absolutely necessary to survival, as is prioritizing targets. Arriving in a room, shooting the red barrels to take out a large group of enemies, and then moving on to the next most important target as a group based solely off of that enemy’s strategy has to be one of my favorite parts of Destiny 2. And so far, it looks like the days of awakening the Hive are thankfully in the past.
But again, the PVE content is running thin, so I’ve turned my attention and aggression toward other players. With the exception of one bizarrely laggy match where players didn’t even spawn, my biggest hurdle has been finding a full group of PVP players to battle against – presumably because most haven’t burned through the campaign as quickly as I have, and because of reports of PSN outages. We’ll see how that shakes out in the next few days, but right now it’s resulting in some long wait times to get into both the competitive and casual modes. Once in, though, I’ve had a great time and still have yet to find a map that felt one-sided. The balance in the Crucible for Destiny 2 has really been a pleasure, and I feel like it’s an improvement over the first. It’s a controversial opinion as many veteran players will miss searching for the “perfect” roll on a gun, but weapons feel much more tuned, in that when I lose a fight it feels like I’ve made a mistake during the encounter rather than a gun or roll that’s letting me down. I love that, and hope to see a few different weapon metas arise for PVP fans instead of a “one loadout for all meta” that we experienced in the original.
It should also be noted that as of this writing some PS4 players are currently locked out of Destiny 2. Log-in queues were expected for an online game of this magnitude, but being entirely locked out, whether it’s Bungie fault or Sony’s, is a pretty major issue. I’ll be watching to see if it’s fixed, and of course, you can keep an eye on IGN for more.
So far, while I’m in the endgame grind I’m still having a good time, and I’m excited to hop back in and get my first max-level character. But as I mentioned, there’s not a lot of clear direction from Destiny 2 after completing the campaign, and as much as I’ve loved the story I’m left feeling like I’ve seen it all, and I’d really like to see more. The upcoming Raid and Trials multiplayer mode do promise more narrative threads for me to pull at and I can’t wait to dive in to see if they satisfy my content hunger pangs. Still, I’m thrilled to see Bungie deliver on its story promises and give a more balanced PVP experience. Check back for more soon, and you can keep watching my livestreams as I scour the post-campaign content to get ready for the Raid.
If I had to score Destiny 2 now, I’d give it an 8.7. On the IGN review scale, that means “Great.”
Read on for previous updates and archived livestreams.