I’ve been a Bungie fan ever since the days of Marathon, and I’m an unapologetic Halo faithful. But Destiny never really grabbed me in the way I had so hoped that it would. Repeated attempts at living my life vicariously through my custom Guardian solo and with friends ended in frustration and sometimes boredom. The entire spectacle was one of dullness and overtly serious “lore” that I couldn’t get into, especially with Destiny’s plodding opening and uninspired cast of characters.
But with the massive hype surrounding Destiny 2 and my responsibility to cover one of the biggest games of the year, I decided to fully embrace Destiny 2 and jump into it with fresh eyes (essentially a newbie to the lore) to explore the shooter’s intricacies, and everything else that sets it apart from the rest of the pack. Having tackled it for a week, did this Destiny newbie come out with a greater appreciation for the game and its addictive series of quests?
The answer is an overwhelming yes. From the first moments of the explosive beginning, I already knew I was in for a raucous ride. Destiny 2 seemed like a much more varied affair from its opening moments, serving up a heaping helping of story where the fight was taken through splintered walkways and tight corridors as wave after wave of enemies descended upon my person. I was breathless, staving off the enemy with a vigor I never felt before when dabbling in Destiny. I felt something like purpose. I felt like a Guardian.
As the Tower social hub from the original Destiny is assaulted by a new faction of Cabal known as the Red Legion, Destiny 2’s much more involving and engaging narrative splinters off into the first three missions that act as a tutorial while simultaneously heralding in a new era for Destiny as a whole. I realized that, for the first time, I actually cared about the events unfolding around me. I began to remember names and happenings. I wanted to be a part of this universe.
Of course, the opening sequence meant to remind you of how far you and your Guardian have come after the events of the first Destiny meant nothing to me since I hadn’t been on board the entire time, but after pushing through the first three missions to come out on the other side a freshly-minted Destiny 2 fan, I felt a sort of longing I hadn’t actually felt about the series before.
I can safely say that the expanded story scenes throughout the opening moments and threaded between missions and side quests in Destiny 2 so far were the greatest draw for me. Meeting Vanguard leaders Ikora, Zavala, and Cayde-6 was a highlight of the epic opening level, as was coming face to face with an established villain that gave me a reason to keep fighting. Dominus Ghaul, having stripped me of my Light and forcing me to take on a quest to save all of humanity, felt like much more of an immediate reason to fight than some nebulous evil that seemed to have penetrated the world in the original game for some reason.
With a new reason to care about my companions and the in-game world as a whole, I felt a new resolve to keep trying. It was a breeze this past week to level my Hunter, regain my Light, and venture out with new subclasses and equipment. I even spent some time within the Crucible, something I wasn’t even remotely interested in before.
There’s more to love about Destiny 2 having experienced annoyance with the first game, however. I found the improved map that you can use any time an enormous help when it comes to figuring out which story mission to go to next, especially since the quests are sorted by planet, which you can actually stay on this time around.
There are a myriad of changes just like that one which enhances the experience tenfold, even if they don’t seem like totally significant alterations at first. Where I felt like I was wasting my time on certain actions before when dipping my toes in the water, Destiny 2 streamlined things in a big way. The framing of quests, the requirement of leveling to 20 before receiving a Sparrow to force you to slow down and pay attention, and several other tweaks made me feel much more like I was playing a role in a massive campaign rather than an interchangeable drone in an MMORPG.
I’ve still got a ways to go when it comes to discovering everything there is to see in Destiny 2, like many of you, I’m sure. But this time around I feel like this is a world ripe for me to explore without any of the aspects I so strongly disliked during my first dalliance with the original Destiny. I can’t wait to see what’s still out there to find.