A Warlock, A Hunter and A Titan walk into a bar… A review of Destiny 2 from every perspective. The FingerGuns Review;
It’s rare that the entirety of the FingerGuns team play the same game at the same time but the stars aligned with Destiny 2 and we’ve been Fireteam’ing up since release. Now that the first raid has launched and we’ve all spent a signicant amount of time with the game, we’ve all had our say on it from our perspectives as we’ve each chosen different classes.
Sean Davies – Warlock
It’s no secret that I wasn’t a fan of the original Destiny. It felt like a game with an identity crisis, trapped between wanting to be a slick first-person shooter and a life consuming MMO and, in the end, I don’t think it achieved either goal. What was evident, however, is that the DNA for a truly magnificent FPS/MMO hybrid was hidden behind the uninspired plot, bloat and repetitive mission design. The foundations were all there – the unparalleled gun play, the gear loop that just needed a few tweaks, the art direction, the play-ability, the visual splendour – all hidden in the confused mutant Destiny that stepped out of The Fly Telepod looking for an identify.
It’s no surprise then that Destiny 2 builds upon what was positive about the original without revolutionising the formula. There’s no sweeping changes or transformations, so much so that this sequel doesn’t actually feel like a sequel at all. It feels like Destiny 2.0, like a DLC that refocuses on the goals of the original, acknowledging it’s downfalls, recognising its strengths, tweaking everything in light of that and improving almost everything in the process. And by Master Rahool, this game is one of the best I’ve played in years.
My biggest criticism of the original game game was the plot or, more accurately, the lack thereof. Moving from planet to planet, fighting space wizards, Warhammer 40K Space Marines and the Borg on steroids was all well and good but there was no motivation or reason to do so beyond vague mentions of defeating “a darkness”. In this regard, the improvements shown in Destiny 2 are like night and day. In the sequel, the villain is given a name, motivations and a nuanced personality. This villain then provides a metric tonne impetus for you to want to kick his ass. Destiny 2 tells its tale well through occasional cut scenes and via NPC conversations that are drip fed to you to regularly invite you to push on and enact your revenge.
The plot is realised by a voice cast that are all on top form, delivering an entertaining script that makes the cringe worthy lines of Destiny 1 sounds like a half-arsed infomercial. Lance Reddick returns as Zavala and delivers some incredibly powerful lines thanks to a much expanded role. Nathan Fillion once again brings the comedy relief with impeccably timed lines as Cayde-6. Nolan North makes the most of a much improved script for the Ghost who feels like his own character rather than just a narrator this time around. Bill Nighy finally gets some lines worthy of his incredible vocal talents which he obviously relishes with a great performance. Joy Osmanski brings the new character Failsafe to life in a truly dynamic way. Sumalee Montano, Cissy Jones, Neil Kaplan and Gina Torres all offer solid performances too, bringing memorable characters to life.
There’s only one complaint that I have with the plot of Destiny 2 and it’s that there’s some ludonarrative dissonance between the game’s narrative and the way it allows you to play. It feels like the Destiny 2 plot was designed as a single player experience and much of the dialogue and cutscenes talk to you personally as the player character and how you are the only person who can save the solar system. Except, you’re not. Destiny 2 is as much an MMO as it is a FPS, with much of the gameplay designed around a multiplayer experience. When you’re being told “You’re the only person with this power” while surrounded by other people who also have this power, it’s disjointed and takes away a lot of the importance being placed on the player’s role.
The biggest improvement in Destiny 2 over it’s predecessor is the mission design and variety. The main campaign adopts a more set piece driven experience, distancing itself from the repetitive “Hey, protect me from those bad guys for 10 minutes while I do something over here” sections of the original game. There’s nothing revolutionary here – some of this is just better framing which alleviates much of the monotony – but the game is much more action packed, slicker and varied than its predecessor and its peers.
The pacing has also been vastly improved. No longer are you constantly staring at the fantastic sci-fi and fantasy-esque environments down the barrel of a gun. Destiny 2 gives you time to breath and leaves room to build atmosphere instead of covering the landscape in a constant stream of foes. There are moments in the game when it feels like crawling through the tunnels of Aliens or walking the long corridor of the Event Horizon. They’re tense, opting for quick snap fire fights rather than long prolonged battles (of which there are still plenty to keep you busy).
Thankfully, the sublime “gun-feel” of the original Destiny still remains here. Each piece of gear feels like it has its own mini-persona. It’s easy to fall in love with the way a weapon sounds or looks as well as the way it pops the heads of the Fallen in an oh-so-satisfying sound effect as vapour escapes their body. The gear system has been tweaked since the original too, making it much more generous so that getting the guns you want isn’t so much of a grind and what you’re wielding is much more of a personal preference over what you’re stuck with.
As for subclasses, I played as the Warlock and joining the returning but tweaked Voidwalker and Stormcaller classes is the new Dawnblade. Replacing the Sunsinger class, Dawnblade is more of a support role with healing circles that can heal your fireteam as well as yourself. The new Super conjures a solar blade with fire projectiles that are pretty useful in a close encounter. The other bonus of the Dawnblade class is that you can have a passive ability to fire your weapons while gliding which means no more dropping out of the sky while trying to shoot an enemy hiding in cover. The Voidwalker and Stormcaller classes are unlocked as you progress through the campaign and, to be honest, I find them both much more balanced and useful than the new Dawnblade for how I play the game but they each offer up their own style of play which will suit others.
Destiny 2 feels like an atonement for the missteps of the original. While Destiny 1 struggled to find the balance between being an impressive FPS and an immersive MMO, often feeling at odds with itself, the sequel succeeds at being both. It has all of the thrills, pomp and circumstance of its first-person shooter brethren while successfully splicing in the DNA of a persistent online world. I’ve already sank 40+ hours into the campaign, strikes, PVP in the vastly improved Crucible, adventures or just shooting aliens in the face after a hard day in the office and I feel like I’ll happily spend countless more with it over the coming months. For the first time since the release date of vanilla Destiny, I feel excited about what Bungie have in store for this world and these characters. The stage is set and if the content releases continue at this high bar level of quality, there’s every chance we’ll be talking about Destiny 2 as a potential “Game of The Generation”, never mind “Game of the Year”.
Voidwalkers for lyfe.
Rossko Keniston – Hunter
Destiny 2’s soundtrack is incredible. So incredible that I get chills thinking about just how moving and powerful it really is, and how it overwhelmingly compliments each and every movement your Guardian makes. I’m struggling to find a single piece of the score which didn’t resonate with me and I can probably state for the record officially that it’s my favourite score of the year. It’s yet another score from a Bungie game that will probably stay with me for the rest of my life and I’ll never get bored of hearing it, in a similar vein to the Halo choir, you know what I’m talking about.
I wanted to get that in at the top because I’m not sure it was getting enough love from the megaton of Destiny 2 players. I wouldn’t blame them, the vastness of the game and how much there is to get stuck into would always relegate certain sections to the ‘oh by the way’ void of discussions around Destiny 2, and that’s completely fair. I’ve probably put around 40 hours or so into the game now, and that’s with a four day holiday between release day and as I write this. I’ve annihilated the Level 20 cap, finished up the campaign, played numerous activities and adventures, taken on Ikora’s challenges, chuckled at a multitude of Cayde’s quips and generally had a terrific time exploring Bungie’s brave new world all over again.
Initially, I wasn’t going to jump in. Leading up to launch I was pretty certain I wasn’t going to buy Destiny 2. I had a good time with the original but it completely lost me once expansions started filling the world out and I just got lost in the ether of content it provided. I felt like Destiny 2 was always going to be bigger and it felt a tad intimidating. I had played the D2 beta and it was fun, but it didn’t immediately make me want to pre-order, the concern of the sheer amount of time a game like Destiny can soak up meant I probably couldn’t give it the attention it was asking of me. Then I saw that launch trailer, and dammit, I pre-ordered it instantly. FOR THE PUPPIES.
(Damn you Activision for using puppies against me like that).
I’m glad they did though, because Destiny 2 is probably the most fun I’ve had with a game all year.
I don’t say that lightly, I’ve been fortunate enough to play an absolute megaton of games this year and none of them have called back to me like Destiny 2 has. In the aforementioned four day holiday I took – the launch weekend of Destiny 2, no less…proving how uninspired I was to pick it up this year – a rather worrying amount of my time was spent thinking how much I want to go home and play Destiny 2. I spend my days agonising about it, and how I can mod my favourite weapon to ensure I can keep it on me as the game progresses, and which weapon I will choose to take on certain tasks. I think about how I’m almost neglecting(!) the game by picking up my controller to play something else. If I’m away from my console, Sean, Paul and myself talk about when we’re going to jump in together and play Destiny 2. It’s become an absolute staple of our gaming experience in less than a week since launch and I can’t remember the last time that happened. It’s fair to say I’ve become a disgusting fanboy for a game that for the longest time, I had zero interest in.
How did it tempt me back (aside from puppies)? The first time Sean, Paul and myself played the game together, that’s when I realised the true magic of Destiny, and how it’s an experience that it meant to be shared. Yeah, I beat a majority of the campaign alone but as a team we dip in and out of each other’s games and give each other a helping hand when we’re available to do so. If there’s a public event nearby we’ll jump in and throw in some Fireteam XP boosts to ensure that we level each other up. Our clan is small but mighty, and if we see each other online we just simply join each others Fireteam and be on our merry way, taking down Fallen, Vex, Taken and anyone else who stands in our way without a second thought and have a stupidly good time doing it.
There are issues which I was hoping would be deserving of a little more attention. The campaign story, whilst a world away from whatever the hell was going on in the first game is still a little bare bones, it’s almost just enough to make a story worthy of the title. Narrative has never really been Bungie’s strongest asset and here, whilst we have a good but cliched villain (Ghaul’s speech before the final battle is cringe-inducing), there still isn’t really enough here to make the story great, rather than just good. I was hoping there would have been more of an effort to tell an exciting story after that cracker of an opening, but it all fizzled out for me quite quickly and instead, I was finding myself zoning out a little and just waiting for the next mission to begin. I’m a fan of all the characters (Nathan Fillion is on cracking form, as ever), I just feel they’re all a tad wasted, despite strong vocal performances from all involved.
Still, the game plays like an absolute dream, the shooting mechanics are the best of the year and as myself, Paul and Sean tear it around these beautifully created planets I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.
The team camaraderie this game creates is unlike anything else I’ve experienced for a long time, and no game has made us want to play with each other and other people, we’re a team of lone wolves primarily in the gaming world but Destiny 2 has brought us together and it makes me want to play it all the sodding time.
I’m with Sean. Destiny 2 isn’t a revolution, but it’s terrific evolution of the formula the original Destiny created and it’s taken nearly every aspect of the game to the next level. I couldn’t be happier.
Paul Collett – Titan
I have never really been a fan of first person shooters. I’m not sure what it is but they have never really interested me. I remember trying the original Destiny beta and played it for a bit and was just pissed by the number of bullets each of the enemies needed to absorb before they died. I got bored very quickly and turned it off. But something pulled me towards buying the game upon release, which I did. After playing for long enough, I finally got it. Everything just clicked. The levelling up, the Light power, the Raids, the Strikes, the bullet sponge enemies, it all just clicked and I really enjoyed the game. I played and I played and completed the same Strike over and over and over. I didn’t mind as I was getting better, powering up my gear and my god, it was the most satisfying shooter I had played. The gunplay felt right, the clicks of an ammo reload were music to my ears. Once all the DLC had arrived, I had had my fill of Destiny and moved on to other things.
When Destiny 2 was announced, I paid little interest. The thought of all that grinding again brought me out in a cold sweat. I just couldn’t face it. But again something pulled me to buying it and I’m glad I did. Destiny 2 lives up to all expectations. It’s bigger in every way. The grinding, although still present, doesn’t actually feel like you’re grinding. It just feels like an entirely different game. The missions are still “go here and shoot this thing”, or “protect that thing” but it seamlessly blends into the story so you don’t feel the repetition. The public events now feel like mini strikes with big rewards so playing them doesn’t feel like such a chore or an annoyance. When you’re looking at the map, I often found myself looking out for public events more than I was the main campaign missions.
That feeling of grinding no longer feels like hard work. It seems Bungie have finally nailed that holy grail of mixing FPS and MMO into one game that is actually fun and varied to play. The campaign itself feels more like a game. Before it was reach a checkpoint, kill a room of Fallen, move to next check point, kill more and so on. Now the levels feel more expansive, with more obstacles to navigate and basic platforming, it just feels like it has more verticality than the previous game, which in turn makes the worlds feel much bigger with much more freedom.
The new subclasses for the Titan are mouthwatering, and let you live out your Avengers fantasies. Titan Sentinal gives you a shield you can through, just like Captain America, Titan Striker gives the ground slamming power of The Hulk and Sunbreaker gives you The Hammer of Sol, which, let’s face it is the same as Thor’s weapon of choice. I don’t mind telling you, EVERY time I unleash my Fists of Havoc move on a large crowd of Fallen, I smile every single time. The good thing is that these subclasses are not all available from the start, but are unlocked as you go through the main campaign which, along with the main story, makes you go back for more. It’s this constant unlocking of new powers, weapons and armour that makes playing Destiny 2 in either campaign or multiplayer feel less of a grind and more like a rewarding gameplay experience. I can’t wait to get into the Strikes and Raids with my Fireteam brethren. but I think I’m going to need a bigger gun. Back to it.
Titan’s for realz
Destiny 2 is available now on PS4 (review version) Xbox One and PC.
Disclaimer: We purchased 3 copies of Destiny 2 in order to complete this review. For more information, please see our review policy.