Destiny 2 Review in Progress on PlayStation 4
Note: This is not our final review of Destiny 2: Forsaken. It covers our impressions of the early part of the expansion’s story campaign, Gambit, and other general early impressions. Everything else, like the post-game content and the new Raid, will be discussed in the full, scored review. We’ll keep this pretty much spoiler free, but if you want to go completely into Forsaken 100% blind and free of even the most minor of spoilers, you shouldn’t read on.
Destiny 2 desperately needs Forsaken to be everything Bungie has hyped it up to be. Unlike Destiny 1 which was able to comfortably bridge the gap to Destiny 2 with just a few minor bumps along the way, Destiny 2 will not make it to Destiny 3 as smoothly if Forsaken is a flop.
Although it’s too early to say right now, hence the review in progress, Forsaken, in our brief time with it prior to release, has impressed, and left me feeling hopeful that Year Two of Destiny 2 can be similar to The Taken King era of the first game. If everything comes together the way that it appears to be, Destiny 2 might on be the brink of entering its golden age.
First up is the story. Forsaken’s campaign is by far the most interesting in the series to-date because of the death of Cayde-6. Forsaken’s campaign is a story about revenge, and after Cayde-6’s untimely passing, we’ll be hunting down those responsible one by one. We’re not sure yet if the death will lead to a proper payoff narratively, but it does at least lead to some really sweet missions. I’m not able to spoil all of the contents just yet (nor would I want to anyway), but I can say that the main highlight has been the fights versus the Barons, as they are among the most entertaining seen in a Destiny story to-date. Even though they are oddly regulated to Adventures on the Tangled Shore that you can tackle in any order instead of proper story missions, they are pretty much mini-strikes, complete with a boss fight at the end that make use of never before seen features to challenge and surprise players. The Barons (and the Scorn/Fallen seen in Forsaken in general) have a shocking amount of personality, especially for a Destiny game. They actually have worthwhile things to say, similar to Ghaul in the main campaign, and I hope that this continues to be a trend going forward.
Speaking of strikes, while we’re going to save our full breakdown of Forsaken’s strikes for the final scored review, one of them, which I won’t spoil for you just yet, is hands-down the best strike Bungie has done in either Destiny game. You’ll know what it is when you play it.
The Tangled Shore is one of two new major locations that will be seen in Destiny 2: Forsaken. It’s the more familiar of the two. The Dreaming City will be an end game location similar to the Dreadnought from The Taken King, filled with secrets and new PvE activities. The Tangled Shore is more like a standard area such as Mars or Earth, which houses a lot of the campaign, and other features players are used to such as vendors and public events. I’ll have more to say on both The Tangled Shore and The Dreaming City once I’ve had more time with them now that the game is live.
There’s likely going to be a lot of dormant Destiny 2 players considering returning for Forsaken, and these players will instantly benefit from the updates that have been made to the general gameplay since launch, with the most dramatic releasing recently leading up to the launch of Forsaken. Weapon loadout has been completely overhauled, and guardians now have way more flexibility in creating their favorite weapon set for any situation. I won’t explain every detail, you can read about that here, but the long and short of it is that shotguns, snipers, and fusion rifles are now able to be used in the energy and kinetic weapon slot. The cumbersome mod system will be thrown out in favor of a simplified, and more fun feature that allows you to essentially attach an extra perk roll to your most prized weapons. There’s also exotic equipment tweaks, changes to milestones, the new Triumphs section, more vault space, etc.
Clearly, nothing was too sacred to be changed, or off the table for Bungie. They have used the Forsaken expansion as an opportunity to make sweeping changes that have greatly enhanced the quality of life, and the fun factor of the game. Thanks to all these changes, I’ve probably played more Crucible in the week leading up to Forsaken than I did the entire 12 months preceding it. The Crucible isn’t a chore to me anymore, and I’m back to playing it for fun without needing any sort of carrot to motivate me. I just want to play.
I used to be a 50/50 PvP/PvE player in Destiny 2, but the banishment of dynamic weapons like snipers, fusions, and shotguns created a meta that favored mid-long range engagements that favored the use of the less flashy, more standard weapons such as auto rifles, scout rifles, and hand cannons. It was not fun to play in.
With the changes to the weapon loadout and ammo system, combined with the Go Fast update a few months ago, Destiny 2’s PvP is fast-paced and fluid again. The people who prefer hanging back can still do so, especially now that snipers are viable again, but now that fusions and shotguns are in play again, close range players have what it takes to break through entrenched positions and force everyone to move around, which, again, is a great thing. Was it more “balanced” before? Possibly. Was it fun though? No, it definitely wasn’t.
I’ve written about Gambit a ton, but more time with it has only sold me even more on it. Competitive co-op games are very underrepresented and it’s surprising considering how popular PvE is in games that feature fully fleshed out competitive and cooperative experiences like Destiny 2 does. Racing against another team to see who has the better PvE skill is exciting, and Gambit features just the right amount of PvP, just a little dash to give it some edge, without turning it into a full-fledged Crucible mode. The closest thing to compare it to is the feeling of being invaded is Dark Souls, where the notification sends you into a frenzied state of paranoia. You and your teammates will have your head on a swivel looking for the invader, and just the mere presence is enough to ruin your flow. Meanwhile, playing as the invader is like playing as a secret agent infiltrating a place you’re not supposed to be, and is like a mini stealth/assassination game, something that is unlike any other feeling I’ve had in Destiny to-date. Bringing a game back from the brink with a couple of clutch guardian kills is oh so satisfying. I’d tune into Gambit if it were an esport; it’s that entertaining to both play, and watch.
The Crucible is in the best shape it’s ever been in Destiny 2. Gambit is a worthwhile new game mode, and there’s really only one thing left that Bungie has left to achieve in order to finally right the Destiny 2 ship: it’s PvE. Yes, while the lackluster PvP didn’t help matters, the lack of depth in PvE is the root of Destiny 2’s problems. It’s something that we have not been able to properly evaluate yet, and will be the main topic of our final, scored review which you can expect shortly after the release of the raid, Last Wish.
Closing note: Activision covered Twinfinite’s travel expenses to allow us to attend the preview event that provided us the information we needed to complete this review in progress.