Destiny 2 has been out for over a month, and I feel like it’s the time for me to finally get this full review out even if it is “late” (although the PC version doesn’t release for another week). I came into Destiny 2 as a hardcore, dedicated Destiny player with over 2,500 hours logged in the first game. It’s because of my love of the game, or franchise, that this review will be the longest one we have ever published and will tackle the game from different perspectives and dive deep into different aspects of the game. It’s a review first, but it’s also feedback for Bungie on what could be improved and what I feel is working really well.
I’m not sure of the exact amount of hours I’ve spent in Destiny 2; I do sometimes leave the game running even when I’m not playing. I do know that I’ve played probably more than I should have, with many late night sessions. I have three characters, one of each class, that sit between 300 and 305 power level and I’ve beat the campaign and leveled to 20 on three hunters, three warlocks, and a titan (I occasionally delete my third character, it’s just what I do). So I’m well versed in the story and the climb from regaining your light to saving the city. I’ve done Nightfalls, completed the Raid, played some Trials, and Iron Banner. I’ve seen everything the game has had to offer in this first month, with the exception of the Prestige Raid which launches later this week.
This will also be a review filled with spoilers. The game has been out for a month, as far as I’m concerned the time to worry about spoilers has passed. With that said, we’ll begin with what I’ll call the “main game” and that is the campaign and the grind from level one to level 20.
A widespread complaint with the first Destiny was the lack of a story, or rather the lack of a coherent story. The original game’s story was a stitched together salvage job of a story cut out and re-purposed. It’s no surprise then that the “campaign” made little sense. That’s definitely not the case with Destiny 2; it has a coherent story with a beginning, a middle, and an end.
The game begins with the Cabal Empire’s “Red Legion,” led by Ghaul, attacking The Last City and bombarding The Tower, your social hub from the original Destiny. You’ll defend the Tower, but ultimately lose that battle as Ghaul reveals himself, steals your light, and knocks you off his ship which you somehow survive despite having no light. You eventually find your Ghost, meet up with some survivors who take you to The Farm, and then head off to a Shard of the Traveler to get your light back.
If I have a complaint here in this beginning part it’s that you get your light back a little to fast. Ghaul gives this big speech about you not being worthy of the light, that you’re not brave, and he’s going to reacquaint you with the fear of death. For all of that, we got a slow walking combat free treck out of the The Last City followed up with some very minor combat on the way to the Farm. Then we do one little small mission and get our power back.
I would have preferred to spend more time having “the fear of death.” I would’ve liked to have lived in a “world without light” for a large chunk of the story rather than just the first 20 minutes. I get that it wouldn’t be a Destiny game without your super abilities and all that, but I believe it would’ve been better for the story if you didn’t immediately get your light back. That’s a minor complaint honestly.
Once you get your power back, you spend some time in the EDZ before heading off to Titan to reunite with Zavala where you begin your quest to reunite the Vanguard. From Titan you head to Nessus to get Cayde, and then Io to get Ikora Rey. Once the band is back together, the plan to exact revenge on the Cabal, take out their Almighty weapon, defeat Ghaul and save the Last City begins to take shape. Doing so unlocks a new social space, a new Tower. Of course all the vendors move from The Farm to the Tower, and this essentially renders the existence of The Farm pointless.
Overall, the campaign is very well done. It’s a huge improvement over the first game, which I suppose is almost by default of this one actually having a story. If you play the campaign as the main game, meaning you don’t care about “end game” content, you’re looking at about six to seven hours to complete the story and some of the side missions during the parts where you need to raise your level before tackling the next story mission. It could be a little longer depending on your experience with Destiny and overall skill at the game, but Destiny is not a challenging game at any point during the campaign.
The campaign missions themselves are pretty fun, and changes things up quite a few times with tank missions where we get to just blow stuff up. I liked it a lot. It’s a shame then that you can’t replay the story without creating a new character. If you like a specific mission, you’re only hope of playing it again is to just wait until the week it becomes available as one of the three story missions available as part of Ikora’s weekly Meditation. This is a step backwards from Destiny’s replay any story mission at any time philosophy, and the higher difficulty version found in the Meditation is also a huge step backwards from the Daily Heroic of Destiny 1.
Patrols, Public Events, Adventures & Lost Sectors
I spent a lot of time in the first Destiny just doing Patrols. The gunplay in this franchise has always been so good that just walking around the open world shooting the same enemies in the same places time and time again was always fun. Luckily, you can have a ton of fun doing the same in Destiny 2 and it’s more rewarding to do so.
The big addition to the open world zones of Destiny 2 is a map. This map shows all the available activities to do; story missions when you’re working through the campaign, quest missions, adventures, and also lost sectors, regional chests, and public events. For some of these activities you can set a way-point, but for the most part getting around the world is super quick due to the inclusion of fast travel nodes.
No longer do players have to rely on third party websites or apps to know when a public event might happen. The map in Destiny 2 shows where a public event is getting ready to occur or is in progress, complete with a timer. No more guessing and waiting, if it’s on the map it’s going to happen. Unfortunately, there are some issues with its accuracy, as I have entered areas where there is no public event shown on the map but one is just beginning or is already in progress anyway.
Public events amount to the most farmable thing in the game because they happen so frequently and are easily trackable. More often than not, you’re reward will be some rares, but do enough of them and you’ll get an exotic engram.
Adventures and Lost Sectors are both new activities to do within the open patrol worlds of Destiny 2. Adventures are relatively short side missions that offer some story and lore for the location. These were advertised as being like if grimoire were in the game and told through a story mission. I don’t think that’s really the case at all. People wanted grimoire, the lore cards, to actually be accessible in the game. These adventures are fun, but they aren’t “grimoire in the game.” They also aren’t worth playing more than once.
Lost Sectors on the other hand are a huge disappointment. I had such hopes for these, but as they are they’re really only worth doing while you’re leveling to 20 and then while you’re leveling to 265. After that, they’re worthless. These should have been much more challenging to do and harder to to find, and should also be more rewarding as a result. There’s so much content in Destiny 2 with the addition of Adventures and Lost Sectors, but the problem is that there’s no actual reason to do it a second time because there’s no real reward for doing any of it.
Strikes & The Nightfall
Strikes are fun to play with friends. The overall design if the strikes are well done and largely enjoyable. The bosses aren’t really bullet sponges, and there aren’t any areas to just hang back safely and pick a boss off like in vanilla Destiny. They’re very well done.
Strikes lack interesting rewards though. They aren’t really an end game activity, and unfortunately they have no strike specific loot. Thus, there’s no real reason to run the strike playlist, aside from doing the occasional strike for fun. It also suffers the same way the campaign missions do; you can’t just pick the strike you want to play when you feel liking playing one. You have to hop into the playlist and hope the one you want comes up before you get tired of doing them for a few measly tokens. It needs to be fixed to where you can select the strike you want to play when you want to play it.
Where strikes get interesting is with the Nightfall. Unfortunately, this is also largely a miss. There are two difficulties for the Nightfall; Normal and Prestige. They’re the exact same with the only difference being Prestige is 300 Power and a shorter time limit.
This system doesn’t work for me. They had an opportunity to reset two of the endgame weekly rituals to their original form (Weekly Heroic and Nightfall) and they blew it. What’s called the normal Nightfall in Destiny 2 should’ve been considered a Weekly Heroic with a 260 and a 280 power level requirement. The rewards could’ve been tokens and tokens with a bright engram for the 280 version. The Nightfall then would’ve just been the 300 version.
There are less modifiers in play, and modifiers that aren’t as interesting. The two Nightfalls ultimately aren’t that rewarding, and with the timer and lack of interesting modifiers simply isn’t as fun as it was in vanilla Destiny. Again, not as rewarding either. The Nightfall used to be something you ran hoping to get an exotic that was actually fun to use, or even rare, and an XP boost for the rest of the week. It was fun, and with the Nightfall modifier (wipe and you return to orbit) it was challenging to a degree. The timer isn’t fun because there’s nothing to be gained from doing the nightfall, regardless of difficulty level.
The Leviathan Raid
The Leviathan Raid is quite fun, and it is easily the best piece of content in vanilla Destiny 2. It feels like a mixture of King’s Fall and Wrath of the Machine in that it’s got puzzles and is more team oriented with a focus on mechanics. It can also be completed in the speed of Vault of Glass or Crota if your team is efficient.
I like that the raid has a central hub location from which each encounter starts. It’s very unique for a Destiny raid, and the act of opening encounter doors is pretty fun and very easy. It’s also a fantastic glimmer and legendary engram farm. The door opening Castellum sections make up a bulk of the combat in the Leviathan and serves as a fun “come down” after the mechanics driven encounters. It’s a much better in between encounter segment than a jumping puzzle, which thankfully this raid doesn’t have (some underbelly stuff not included).
It’s also nice that the way this raid is setup with the Castellum as the hub allows for the encounters to rotate each week, just to keep things somewhat fresh. It just feels better than doing the same thing in the same order every week and works for this raid (I’m not saying it needs to become the standard).
The Leviathan seems daunting the first time you do it. But, like every raid before it, it’s not bad at all once you get a hang of the mechanics.
The Royal Pools (or Bath House) is essentially the Totems from King Fall but doesn’t take as long. It’s a very simple encounter with minor combat, but requires everyone to contribute and do their part. I like it well enough, mostly because it’s quick and painless (well mostly).
The Pleasure Gardens can be a tough one, even though it’s really the safest encounter. Outside of the very beginning, there’s no combat for the most part. Kill the enemies to start, and then four guys grab pollen while two take control of a prism weapon. The four with pollen need to navigate a dark, foggy garden to get to spores so that the prism holders can shoot the spores to grant an “empowering spore” buff. Prism holders have to deal with a Beast Handler each time a spore goes off, and the pollen runners have to be wary of the the six War Beasts bosses that are roaming around. Get enough empowered spores to be able to kill all six dogs, preferably at once. It’s a very simple encounter, but one that is easy to cause problems in part because the beasts can be glitchy and also because it’s quite easy for pollen runners to get disoriented. Overall, it’s a pretty fun encounter.
The Gauntlet is my personal favorite encounter in the raid. Like the other two encounters, this one has minimal combat. Kill some enemies at the beginning of each phase, and then you’re free to do the mechanics portion. This encounter requires two people to grab a psionic charge and be teleported onto a track to run an obstacle course. There’s a charge inside that will require folks on the outside to shoot the correct arrows for the runners to be able to advance. It takes longer to explain than it does to actually do it. Nothing is challenging about this encounter until the end, where all six players grab a charge and run the gauntlet together. However, there’s only four recharges per station, so the people have to alternate out. You need three people to make it through to slam at the end, but if someone dies early then it’s a wipe because the people still running the gauntlet won’t have enough time to get out and revive the player before the shared fate countdown reaches zero. I love this one, running the gauntlet is my favorite part of any Destiny raid yet. It’s simple, but it’s fun.
And then there’s the final encounter, the big boss, Emperor Calus. This encounter is most similar to the Atheon fight from VoG, although not random. Kill adds at the beginning of the encounter, and then everyone gets teleported to a shadow realm. Depending on your strategy, three or four people stay inside, and either three or two people grab orbs and return to the Throne room. The folks in the Shadow call out symbols and kill projection psions (essentially three guys killing oracles) while the guys in the Throne kill adds and punch the psion whose symbol doesn’t get called. Once a damage phase can begin, the guys in the Shadow kill enough skulls to get a large stack of Will of Force. Once they return to the Throne to begin damage, all players group up on one of four pillers and begin damaging the boss and work their way around to each piller for the duration of the phase. Just like standing on a ledge in a bubble and hammering away at Atheon. It’s not difficult, but some issues in the Shadow can cause problems and wipes.
All in all, the Leviathan Raid is possibly my favorite Destiny raid yet. It not, it’s definitely close to the Vault of Glass in sheer fun factor, with some of the team mechanics of King’s Fall. It’s a very well done raid.
My only problem with the Leviathan is the loot. The armor looks decent, but of course the Hunter armor is Mobility (which is worthless) and there are no unique perks for the armor and the weapons also don’t have any perks that make them particularly useful in the raid specifically. This is a serious let down. Perks that help with the raid were great, and there are numerous perks I can think of that would make this raid slightly easier yes, but more importantly more fun. How about a perk that keeps you grounded when a psion throws their little void bomb at you? Faster reload while you have a Force of Will buff? Harder to be detected by the War Beast? Increased speed while carrying a psionic charge? There are tons of possibilities, and the fact that there are no unique perks for the raid armor (or any armor really) is a huge let down. I’d say the raid armor also needs the ability to roll with a different stat. I want restorative hunter armor, not this mobility nonsense.
The End Game Grind: Power Level, Mods, Gear, Tokens and Shaders
Destiny 2 has a bit of an end game problem. And that problem is that there isn’t really much of an end game, at least not for a dedicated hardcore player… those of us who easily put in over 1,000 hours into the first game.
The problem is that everything has been overly simplified, apparently to appease casual players (though I don’t think that’s actually the case). But casual players will play casually and then leave the game until DLC brings them back regardless. That’s just what they do. I understand marketing towards that majority and doing things to please them and make things easier for them, but there should also be something for the dedicated. Something challenging that offers up exclusive rewards, or even just something to chase and grind for.
Exotics in Destiny 2, by and large, feel cheap. Nothing really stands out as overly special or really powerful. Likewise, they’re not rare and there’s not much excitement for them. I have almost all of the exotics in the game a month into it, and at this point in Destiny I think I had three total (Thunderlord, which was a Crucible drop, Knucklehead Radar from Xur, and Suros Regime from Xur). There was excitement about getting an exotic then. I’ve dismantled almost every exotic I’ve gotten in Destiny 2, or used them to infuse something.
Of course the legendaries aren’t much better. Static rolls have made legendary weapons one-and-dones. With the exception of the raid or Trials, I either have or have had just about every legendary weapon currently in the game.
Destiny 2 showers you in loot, but the problem is there simply isn’t even close to enough loot in the game. And the static rolls have crippled the weapons because there’s not even a god roll to chase. When you get a weapon, that’s it… there will be no difference between that one and the 10th time it drops for you. That might be okay if the game had hundreds of legendary weapons with all sorts of different perk rolls, but it doesn’t have that many. And when you remove the weapons that really aren’t that good, it drops to just a handful of decent guns for either PvE or PvP.
The only grind in Destiny 2 is farming glimmer to purchase mods or use shaders. And I suppose hitting the 305 max Power Level, which is artificially delayed due to how legendary engrams will always be below your base level and the only way to advance is via a few luminous engrams earned from completing the few weekly milestones or exotic engrams. The end result is being 304 and only needing one 300 base cloak to drop to be 305. Which just means doing Call to Arms, Flashpoint, earning Clan XP, or doing the Nightfall and hoping one of your items is a cloak only to be disappointed because the game decides what you really need is more power weapons. Thus, nothing left to do on the Hunter until the next weekly reset because there will be zero progression the rest of that week.
Before I touch on the mods, let’s address the shader issue. A lot of folks have complained about the shader system in Destiny, and think Bungie turned it into a cash-grab gambling system. Some folks don’t like shaders being consumable items instead of getting it and having it forever. I’m not one of those people.
I love the new shader system. I enjoy being able to apply it individually to an armor piece or weapon. I also don’t feel it’s a cash grab. I’ve tons of shaders, and have spent absolutely nothing on silver. The game awards shaders like candy. And some of them, like the raid shader or the recent faction shaders, are worth grinding for. They’re practically the only grind. Well the only grind other than glimmer, which it costs too much of to apply shaders especially legendary ones. For me, the shader system is one of the best changes Bungie made from Destiny 1 to Destiny 2.
Mods on the other hand are trash. These are terribly implemented and poorly thought out. There are way too many mods for there to be so few. By that I mean there’s only a few types of mods, but they’re separated by armor type, weapon type, and class type. I’d by okay with that if you could actually buy the rare mods that you wanted. But you can’t, you can just buy a random blue mod. Next thing you know, you’ve burned through 50,000 glimmer and didn’t even get one mod that you were looking for and it takes forever to replenish that glimmer.
I’d rather spend more glimmer per mod and get get the one I want when I want it, than burn through half of my glimmer and not get it at all. You’re the Guardian that killed gods and just saved the Last City from the Red Legion invasion, you’re telling me that the Gunsmith doesn’t respect you enough to sell you a specific mod… you have to roll dice and get whatever it displays? That’s a stupid system.
There are no weapon mods that do anything. You can change the element type for your energy and power weapons, and that’s it. Why not have weapon perk mods, like say third eye or the real firefly (not the watered down, laughably bad dragonfly version in Destiny 2) to name just two? Then maybe I’d have a reason to keep two of my static Better Devils… one for PvP and one for PvE.
As is, mods are just an item to blow through all your glimmer on and a source of frustration because of that RNG system. RNG can be great. Playing the Vault of Glass and not getting Fatebringer makes you want to try again. Blowing all your glimmer and not getting a mod that you want, to say nothing of the three it takes to make a legendary version, doesn’t make me want to farm glimmer to buy more. It just me makes think “forget it, it wouldn’t make that big of a difference anyway.”
For as terrible as the mod system is (I’ll concede that it’s a solid foundation and could eventually become something worthwhile), the biggest problem with Destiny 2 is by far this new token system.
Apparently no vendor in Destiny 2 respects the Guardian that saved them. They won’t sell you anything, instead you cash in tokens to get their mystery bag. All it is is the reputation system from Destiny 1 with everything else removed. In Destiny, you could rank up vendors and faction and you’d get a reputation package for doing so. It was a bonus reward for playing the game and earning reputation with factions. It was a bonus because you could buy just about everything that vendor had. If you had the Marks, you could buy what you wanted. It even got to the point where you could choose whether or not you wanted a weapon package or an armor package to increase your odds of getting the item you wanted (faction packages were worthwhile because they could have different rolls than the version being sold).
In Destiny 2, you can rank up a vendor much faster, but you can’t buy any of the items and you’re relying on extreme RNG. It’s no longer a bonus for playing, it’s now basically the only way to get gear outside of a legendary engram that drops in the world. The tokens are everywhere, even raid drops are now tokens most of the time. It would be okay as a supplement, but as a replacement for activity loot drops it’s a terrible system. This is a change I’ll never understand and also one that can’t be changed fast enough.
I saved the worst for last.
I LOVED the PvP in the original Destiny. I thought it was fantastic at launch, became its best version during the House of Wolves, and then began a general decline a couple of months after The Taken King. It was pretty bad at the end of Destiny in the lead up to Destiny 2’s launch. Despite how bad it had gotten, I’d much rather play any version of PvP in Destiny than play this abomination of Crucible in Destiny 2 at this point in the games life.
To set the stage, I’m very much a pro-primary user. I’m not a big fan of abilities, I rarely used my super, and outside of sniping/fusion rifles I didn’t really pay attention to special ammo or heavy ammo that much in Destiny. I also play as a Gunslinger, so I never got to rely on tracking sticky grenades.
When the PvP of Destiny 2 was revealed, I was extremely excited. Two primaries, limited power ammo, balanced abilities and longer cooldowns… finally gun skill would matter. Except that’s not what we have gotten.
Bungie thought crucible in Destiny was too chaotic, that it was hard to master because players would die and not understand why. So they changed it all up and wanted players to understand why they died and how to learn from it. Do you know why you die in Destiny 2’s PvP? Because almost every engagement is against two or three opponents. That’s what the game has been reduced to, players grouping up and holding hands playing peek-a-boo around corners teamshooting. It’s boring, slow, not even remotely fun, and generally just complete trash.
The Crucible design team should be ashamed. They took a great part of Destiny, that offered a ton of fun, and completely gutted it into this super slow mess of seeing which team can stay glued together the best.
They ripped out kill/death ratio in favor of letting everyone who did damage on an opponent get credit for “defeating” the player, artificially inflating “efficiency ratings” for everyone and generally trying to make people who get killed more than they kill feel better because they got enough assists to “go positive.”
Individual performance was a driving force for a lot of players. People would get mad at teammates for “stealing my kill” in the first Destiny. Individual performance mattered, and it was no surprise then that even in the supposedly chaotic 6v6 modes of Destiny you would encounter far more 1v1 engagements than you ever will in Destiny 2’s 4v4. The incentive for players to separate and try to get kills isn’t there; just keep holding hands and doing damage together and you’ll both get credited. It’s also much harder for a single person to carry a team by just being a good player.
It is especially frustrating when you play the game’s supposedly casual “Quickplay” playlist solo. It generally takes a few minutes to find enough players to start, and even then you can almost guarantee that you’ll be matched up against either a three or four man team. More often than not, it’s a full team who are obviously using comms and making call-outs, and generally playing like they’re in the finals of some tournament.
There’s nothing fun about Destiny 2’s crucible, from the perspective of a solo player or from the perspective of someone like myself who enjoys 1v1 battles and not constantly having to face two or more opponents at a time every time. Even in Destiny 1, there was enough skill gap where a decent player could easily go 1v2 or 1v3 and come out on top. Now, that’s just not likely to happen. That sucks. Sometimes, I like to play solo. I like to play my game, and not constantly be watching to see if my teammates are pushing or falling back because they see red on the radar and got scared. I don’t want to react to what teammates are doing, and yet that’s what you have to do in this game. If you’re running together, and they suddenly take off in a different direction, you’ll enter a 1v3 scenario and get slaughtered. It’s not fun, and it’s not something that happened in Destiny all that much despite there being more players.
The decision to go 4v4 for every mode was a terrible decision. It makes sense for the competitive playlist. It’s what the competitive sweaty scene in Destiny moved to once private matches became available. But for the casual player, 6v6 or even a new 8v8 would have been a vastly superior experience. Instead, everyone now gets forced into essentially competitive environments with the same crappy connections that plagued Destiny 1. Most games either don’t start 4v4, or if they do, they don’t end that way due to the amount of people who leave during a match.
Bungie claims the switch to 4v4 allowed them to better design the maps for the amount of players, yet practically every map would be well suited for 6v6. Some, like Vostok, feel too big for 4v4.
The decision to only have two playlists is also a poor choice. I get wanting to consolidate to keep the player pool larger, but a better option would have been to have a featured “Quickplay” mode, the Quickplay playlist, and then the competitive playlist. That way, if Supremacy, which I hate, was the “featured” mode of the week, I could hop into the regular Quickplay playlist and not have to worry about seeing it in there; it’d always be either Control or Clash during that week. Love Clash? Sweet, Clash is the featured mode this week so go play as much of it as you’d like.
Everything about Crucible in Destiny 2 screams Bungie, or Activision, wanting to set the stage for eSports. In doing so, they’ve removed the fun out of it completely. If you like staying right up underneath a teammate and team-shooting, then you’ll probably enjoy this version of Destiny PvP. But if you’re like me, a lone wolf who enjoys not having to constantly watch your teammates and 1v1 encounters, you’re going to hate this. And it sucks because Destiny PvP was the first PvP I had really gotten into in a long time. The only FPS PvP games I’ve ever enjoyed were Black Hawk Down (25v25), MAG (loved the 32v32 mode) and Destiny (6v6). This extremely slow, 4v4 hand-holding fest that is Destiny 2’s PvP is absolutely terrible and I find myself struggling to even want to complete the Call to Arms milestone to get the powerful engram. It’s just not fun. The hand-holding gets even worse when you throw in Titan shields and the Warlock healing rift (with the arc soul to boot).
The sad thing is, there’s a lot to like about Destiny 2 PvP design. I love the kinetic/energy/power setup of essentially having two primaries (I wish power ammo worked like heavy ammo did in vanilla D1 though). The gun balance and class balance is the best it has ever been in a Destiny PvP experience. I’d argue that pulse rifles and hand cannons need a slight buff, but most everything else is in a good spot. If you took this balance and general setup, and put it on Destiny’s PvP (preferably House of Wolves era), you’d have an absolutely fantastic PvP experience. It needs to be faster, it needs 6v6 or 8v8, and it needs to feel more like the PvP of Destiny 1.
I came into Destiny 2 excited about the Crucible changes and thinking I’d play even more Crucible than I did in Destiny. Yet I play just enough to complete the milestone on my Hunter, and then don’t touch it for the rest of the week. Fix it Bungie. Make it fun again. Sweating with blueberries isn’t fun. Sprinting forward at the start of a map and having to stop and turn around to see which direction your random teammates are going and follow them isn’t fun.
I’ve played one game of Control that actually felt like Destiny 1 PVP, and it was the only time I’ve had fun with Destiny 2’s crucible. And the reason it was fun was because I didn’t have to worry about where my teammates were, didn’t feel at a disadvantage because I wasn’t glued to them, and the other team wasn’t holding hands either. It created an opportunity for 1v1 engagements and felt faster because it wasn’t a game of peek-a-boo.
I ended up delaying this review a few days after I originally had it scheduled to post because I wanted to experience the first Iron Banner and weigh in on that. As it stands, I think this Iron Banner perfectly summed up everything wrong with Destiny 2 right now.
This isn’t Iron Banner, this first one is simply Quickplay Control. It’s yet another activity where “power level” doesn’t matter, which further begs the question of what exactly is the point of increasing that meaningless number. It’s yet another activity where you don’t get actual rewards, you get Tokens to turn in to Lord Saladin. This is a huge step back from literally EVERY Iron Banner in Destiny from vanilla through Age of Triumph. The Live Team greatly improved Iron Banner as Destiny 1 progressed. It ended in a spot where you quickly ranked up; you could easily hit rank 5 in one day on all three characters. It dropped Iron Banner loot regardless of win or loss, had fun bounties that dropped Iron Banner loot, and you could even buy a couple of pieces of Iron Banner armor and weapons from the vendor.
For a game that has been destroyed any sense of end game in the attempt to casualize everything, this Iron Banner has been the most unrewarding, unfun event in Destiny history. And there’s no way a casual would tolerate even remotely grinding this atrocious event. As of the time of this writing, I acquired six Iron Banner engrams from my tokens. I’ve gotten the grenade launcher three times, and the submachine gun twice. I want the armor. This RNG slot machine system spitting out duplicates doesn’t make me want to grind. I lose the majority of my games, and it doesn’t matter how well I do individually, and it simply isn’t worth the time it takes to get 20 tokens for a package (you get two for a loss, five for a win). Not when I have no control over what I’m going to get.
When you factor in that crucible itself, particularly Quickplay, is absolutely terrible in every possible way and in no way fun, this Iron Banner has been the worst time you could have in Destiny. Because it’s completely unrewarding; unfun + unrewarding = a waste of time. Getting my third grenade launcher in six packages doesn’t make me go “boy, I gotta grind out more tokens for another package,” it just makes me want to stop playing. Just let me buy the stuff I want for hitting certain ranks. No one complained they didn’t get a full set of Iron Banner armor and weapons in Destiny, because only two pieces of armor and two weapon were sold each time. That system worked, just go back to it.
To see Bungie go from the fantastic state they had eventually gotten Destiny into to this, it is completely baffling to me how they could get so much wrong with Destiny 2.
Destiny 2 gets a three out of five, which means “good” on our scale. It is lower than I expected to give it, and it is lower than I would have given it two or three weeks ago. It’s lower than I would like it to be because of how much I love the franchise. It’s hard for me not to compare it to Destiny, and I don’t mean vanilla Destiny I mean the version that saw a ton of updates and four paid expansions.
Is that fair? Probably not. I didn’t expect to get the amount of content we had at the end of Destiny with Destiny 2. It’s not a content issue; Destiny 2 has a lot of content, way more than vanilla Destiny did. Destiny 2 is in a better spot, mostly, than Destiny was at its launch. But Destiny had almost three years of updates that evolved the game and made a lot of great changes that were well received. Destiny 2 feels like a step backwards in many ways, because it doesn’t include a lot of that stuff.
The Vault is an absolute mess and is far worse than the one currently in Destiny. It’s terribly designed. We’re also lacking kiosk. Yes, there’s a Collections tab in the Vault that serves the same function for exotics, emotes, and emblems. But with static rolls only, I’d say there should be a kiosk for every rare and legendary weapon and armor piece in the game. That way you can see everything, and know whether or not you’ve gotten it. If you haven’t gotten it, it’ll tell you where the item drops. There likewise should be a kiosk for ships, sparrows, and ghost. Why are those three items tied to Eververse? Where’s my raid ghost that gives increased glimmer and XP when on the Leviathan?
There’s no record book, no quest section, and they eliminated the bounties and replaced them with the Challenges which I don’t like. You can’t pick the strike you want to play, there is no strike exclusive loot, and you can’t even stay with the same random team because the game forces you into a new matchmaking pool after each strike in the playlist. Crucible is a million time worse than it has ever been. There’s no excitement for exotics, no excitement for legendary engrams, no different rolls on weapons or armor to chase. There’s no grimoire, or dead ghosts/fragments… nothing to really collect, chase, or grind for.
Destiny 2 looks fantastic, plays fantastic, and sounds fantastic. But that’s the shell, and overall I’d say the game is hollow. There’s an emptiness to it that D1 never had. The raid is fun, strikes with friends are fun, but other than that it’s lacking the excitement of the grind and desire to play everyday. It’s a solid foundation, and if it were my first experience with the Destiny franchise I’d likely rate it higher and be instantly hooked, but being a hardcore fan of the first game I expected more out of the game and have ended up thoroughly disappointed as a meaningless 305 with no real endgame to enjoy. That doesn’t mean the game itself isn’t good or fun; it’s very fun and it’s very good. Spending so much time with the first game though, Destiny 2 isn’t what I hoped or imagined from the full fledged sequel. I expected it to be better than merely good.
Destiny 2 gets a three out of five: GOOD.
Gary is Owner and Editor-in-Chief of Vortainment. He’s usually posting news and reviews, and doing all the back end stuff as well. He likes to play video games, watch movies, wrestling and college football (Roll Tide Roll).