After its beta earlier this summer, many gamers were concerned that Destiny 2 was not a full fledged sequel as it was an updated expansion. And from the small glimpse that the beta allowed players, their thoughts were justified. The crucible was not very different at all from its predecessor, the strikes were nothing to rave about, while the new classes were kind of fun. Really, the biggest changes were for the story itself, but we only got a small glimpse of that. But, after spending a lot of time with Destiny 2 post-launch, it feels like a full sequel that stands above its predecessor.
Changing your own Destiny
The most notable changes introduced in Destiny 2 are the ones that make your experience flow much smoother. For example, when you finish a mission now, you are no longer kicked out of the world into orbit, but instead you stay in the world and can continue to explore or start a new mission. This gives you so much more freedom than before, letting you grind out all of those story missions on each planet at once without loading each individually, or you can go join that public event you saw while finishing your mission. A couple other small changes are:
- You can now travel to other planets without going to orbit to select the next planet to visit.
- Engrams now look for your highest power level when decrypting.
- Ghost shells no longer count toward power level.
- Quest progress is now all tracked together and accessed by going to planet overview and holding L2 to see progress and next objective.
- If you do not gain barely enough height during a jump, your character will recover and climb up a small distance.
- You can now fast travel to certain locations on each planet to access patrols or other missions without having to walk there.
- Public events are more plentiful and are marked on the map.
- Exotic shards are not required to infuse exotic weapons or armor (exotic shards and legendary marks were combined to make legendary shards and this is what Xur will be taking as currency now).
- Weapons do not level up, all options are unlocked from the beginning and “level up” materials are no longer a thing.
All of these small changes add to what makes Destiny 2 a more solid game than the first, by making some things more simple and giving more access to make each session more streamlined. When you find a new weapon, you can immediately check out what scope and other options there are, and begin using it how you would like to instead of grinding some experience to unlock all the options and then purchasing them with glimmer. Each of these changes have been for the better, leading to more enjoyable experience.
The storytelling experience has also been dramatically changed since the first. We got a taste of the new direction with Destiny 1’s The Taken King and Rise of Iron expansions, but Destiny 2 is a satisfying culmination. The majority of information is no longer monologued during a fly-in loading screen but through plentiful cutscenes and character interactions. It’s also worth noting that the majority of cutscenes are pre-rendered, so if you were hoping to see something random fly across the screen or to see Zavala T-pose in the introduction, sorry, you’re out of luck.
The story also feels much more coherent than the first game’s. The villain is introduced early and brings the destruction of The Last City from the first game, so you have plenty of time to hate him before the final confrontation. We had seen these early scenes in the beta of course, but the final game still succeeds in making you really feel powerless when it wants you to. From how depressed and disheartened Ghost sounds when fleeing the scene, to the background with the Red Legion hunting down survivors.
A slight change in choices
At launch, Destiny offered two subclasses for each character, with a third being added during The Taken King. In Destiny 2, Bungie decided to take one subclass for each faction and change it up to create a new one. The Hunters now have Arc Strider, similar to the Arc subclass from the first, but allowing for more range as you wield a staff rather than a knife. Warlocks get the new subclass Dawnblade, which lets you rain fire from above with its flaming sword. Finally, Titans can become the Captain America they always wanted to be with Striker. Even the older sub classes have been reworked in small ways. You still have complete control of what type of jump or grenade you would like, however, the super is branched into two paths.
As I remarked in my review for the first Destiny, you had multiple options with your super; shadow shot could be used once to deal damage to all foes in an area and explode them on death, or instead allow you to shoot multiple times with a small range of what the other option has. Destiny 2 combines how the super reacts with the melee ability. So, now while using the Nightstalker subclass, I cannot have my melee grenade that makes me invisible and have my single shot from the bow. The invisibility grenade is linked to the multi-shot shadowshot. Each subclass has the same type of paths, trading out one ability that you liked from the first game with a way for your super to react in a way you don’t necessarily want. It makes each subclass become a double edged sword.
As far as combat is concerned, gunplay is not dramatically changed, other than weapon loadouts. Instead of having your regular, special and heavy weapons, the classifications were changed to kinetic, energy and power. The problem here is that there aren’t many differences between the guns that are classified as Kinetic and Energy. Your Energy weapon is what would correlate to the special weapon from the original, many of them are what you would expect would be a primary weapon like pulse rifles or hand cannons. Sniper rifles and Shotguns are not classified as Energy or Kinetic, they are Power weapons, meaning that you will get a much smaller amount of ammo for these weapons than you would expect. For anyone that enjoys the close range combat of a shotgun or the longer range of a sniper rifle, you will be disappointed as you cannot use them as much as you would like.
However, Destiny 2 adds a couple more types of weapons that you can use. As we saw briefly in the beta, grenade launchers are one of the most upfront new weapon types. They would function just as you would expect, an arcing trajectory and explosion on contact. The other type of weapons is arguably more interesting; the trace rifle. The trace rifle sounds very simple; continuous stream of damage while aimed at an enemy. However, these weapons increase their damage output if you stay aimed at an enemy. The only trace rifle available now is the Coldheart, a pre-order exclusive exotic. Only those who pre-ordered Destiny 2 will be able to find the Coldheart until December 5th, when it becomes available to everyone. The other new weapon type is the Linear Fusion Rifle. As the name implies, it works very similarly to how fusion rifles work. The only change here is that the Linear version has significantly less spread when releasing its volley.
A Note on Microtransactions
Before release, there was no official confirmation of what Destiny 2’s micro-transactions would look like. Many assumed that they would be similar to what was in the original, putting special emotes behind the paywall. Now, Destiny 2’s microtransactions have been the focus of much criticism due to an RNG system. If you want to take part, you can use real money to buy silver and grab Bright Engrams from the in-game Eververse shop. These engrams contain emotes, shaders, sparrows, ships and sometimes even exotic weapon ornaments. Things like shaders and weapon ornaments were things that you could buy from Xur back in the original Destiny, and you could get sparrows and ships through completing missions from Zavala, Ikora or Cayde.
The main rage behind these engrams is that many assume the only way to get them is by paying up, but it is actually quite easy to get them through normal gameplay. After you reach the level cap of 20, every time you get enough experience to gain what would be a new level you gain one of these engrams for free (whereas Destiny 1 gave players a mote of light for each “level up” past the cap). I have found that it takes a little under an hour to gain enough experience for a new engram. So, I do not believe that Destiny 2’s microtransactions interfere with normal gameplay and mainly capitalize on those who don’t want to spend the time to grind for experience.
That said, if you liked to change up your shaders a lot in the original Destiny, this time around they are limited use items.
Leaping in the Right Direction
Destiny had its fair share of problems. During development, the team had promised more than they delivered with the initial release, but ended up delivering when it came to the post-launch content. Destiny 2, meanwhile, delivers on what it promised. It fixes many small things from the first game that lead to a smoother and more enjoyable experience for Destiny veterans and newcomers alike. And with the post game content just starting to roll out, there is a lot to look forward to in updates and expansions.