I am a PC gamer, this is a PC gaming site so it makes sense then that I haven’t played Destiny. It was a PS4 exclusive and although well received it wasn’t on my radar as something I would enjoy, in fact when I heard Destiny 2 was coming to PC I was a bit ‘meh’ about it until I started to find out more details.
You play as a protector of Earths last safe city, you are a Guardian, you wield a host of superpowers and a host of awesome weapons to ultimately defeat Dominus Ghaul, the leader of the Cabal, and his Red Legion army. The screenshots and gameplay I had seen put this game squarely on my radar and I had a lot of fun in the Beta so was very keen to play the full release. Activision was kind enough to send a copy of the game my way so I could do just that. It will not affect my review in any way and as with all of my reviews I will do my best to not add any spoilers but I cannot be held responsible if something you read here ruins the plot for you.
The game is set in our own solar system and several Alien Races have converged to offer themselves to us as cannon fodder. As well as the aforementioned Red Legion you will also be killing the Fallen, Vex, Taken and Hive, each of whom has armies comprised of basic troops to mow down and then each has special units, they are a little tougher or savvier on the battlefield but essentially they all offer a different take on the same experience of kill, kill, kill.
When the game first begins there is a very annoying section, just after a crash, where you move extremely slowly, I want to say to all game developers from this point onwards, please take these pointless ‘controllable cutscenes’ out of games. They serve no purpose other than to highlight some odd scene you want to make sure we look at and are particularly irritating when I cannot skip them. I had to suffer through the same dull experience three times as I wanted to play the game with each class of character.
I want to say from the start that I really enjoyed the game as a whole so want to get the negatives out of the way first, that way if any of them are a deal breaker you will know now.
- Microtransactions: It’s a fact of life in gaming that companies want your money. They want all of it because business is always chasing profits, therefore a company doesn’t want to just sell you a game, they want you to keep giving them money for it. I abhor microtransactions and in Destiny 2 the Microtransactions are not really that micro. If you want to buy 500 silver you will pay a real-world price of £4.49. To buy 1 Bright Engram you need to spend 200 silver. That means 1 Bright Engram (think loot crate) will cost you £1.79 and I think that is a lot of money. It gets worse. If you want to change the colour of an item, a weapon or ship or part of your outfit, you will need to use a shader. Where do you find these shaders I hear you ask? Well, one place you can pick them up is in a Bright Engram. Now I don’t want to sound like I am defending Microtransactions but so far, they are purely for cosmetic items or items you can find by just playing the game. However, if I had spent £49.99 on a game, dropping another £39.99 to get 5800 silver would mean I didn’t need to play the game I spent my money on in the first place so I find it really odd that people do. I also think that these shaders are a con. You have to buy use them to colour your items, which you then go and swap out for a better weapon the second your DPS stat increases. Of course you could just keep everything the same colour as when you first get it but then you wouldn’t look as cool.
- It’s a bit, easy. I know this game was made for console but even I with my poor aim and mediocre skill set managed to complete the game alone. When I played online with a friend I didn’t die, not once and in around 45 hours, I have only died 6 times and found only one Raid tricky. This was because the people I got shoved into a match with were morons but still, I died three times in a row. The issue is as soon as you move out of the firing line your health replenishes. I wish there were a way to up the difficulty. This is not the case for the recent Nightfall raid however but more on that later.
- Level 20 cap. I was having a great time levelling up and found the RPG elements very enjoyable, that is until I got to level 20 and it all stopped. From there all I could do was increase the power of my gear so I started a new character with a different class and played the whole campaign again. I am on my third playthrough but soon I will have 3 characters at max level after an estimated 60-70 hours of play. I say estimated because Battlenet doesn’t let you see how long you have been playing a game.
If you can live with those three issues, well two and a half, I may be a gaming god and not realise it, then Destiny 2 is a superb game.
There are story missions, lost sector missions, which work like a loot dungeon as well as constant patrols and public events to take part in, after this you will eventually unlock the strike missions and when you are done with all of that there is multiplayer to get to grips with. There is a lot of game here and it all looks amazing whilst running at an incredible FPS. My system contains an i7 4790k, a GTX 980 and 16GM of RAM, I was getting over 100 FPS in general play but oddly the cutscenes appear to be locked at 30. A friend who I was playing with has a slightly lower spec machine with a GTX 960 but saw nothing under 60 FPS in his entire play time too.
After you have played through the first “tutorial” mission and the story is set up you are pretty much left up to your own devices to choose your path. You will eventually unlock new places to visit and each world has its own unique look but standing on the top of the Rig on Titan I did feel a sense of Deja vu as a lot of the map looks very similar. I think it is one of the better maps for missions however and I really liked the platform aspects that this map provided.
There is a lot of repetition in Destiny 2s’ gameplay. You will go on countless raids, take part in what feels like a billion public events and replay the same sections to get gear over and over but here is the weird thing, it’s fun. I would never have said this if I had just read it on paper but I had a great time. The gunplay is fantastic, finding a decent weapon in a random loot drop or getting gear from a hidden crate was worth it. You will be changing weapons constantly, the minute you find something more powerful usually and even then, you will find something else soon after. Acquiring better gear became my only goal in life. I then found myself customising my favourites only to swap them out the minute I found something better.
Movement and gunplay are the keys to Destiny 2s’ fun. They never get in the way or make you feel frustrated. The gunplay itself really is near perfect, aiming down the site, the drop off of certain weapons, the power, the feel as you make contact with a target are all nearly perfect. It was the reason I was grinning from ear to ear when I first started playing the beta and if it’s possible it feels better in the full release. Couple this with the fabulous, solid yet light feeling of your character and it’s a match made in heaven. At one point I was scaling the platforms on Titan and firing at enemies on the fly, I landed, sprinted forwards and slid to a new cover point, peeked and scored a headshot, I moved forward again and cast a scatter grenade as this landed I leapt into the air and released my superpower called a Nova Bomb that literally destroyed the big bad I had my sights on. The music, the action, the visuals all came together to give me one of those rare moments in gaming, the “cold chills”. It’s a moment for me when I get a fuzzy feeling at the back of your head, a cold chill, goosebumps and a sense of WOW. For you, it could make you cheer or cry but it’s that moment when your senses come alive and you have a physical reaction to joy. I have not had many of these in my gaming career and I remember every one of them. If Destiny 2 did nothing else I would still love it for that moment. It’s why I play games, I crave those moments like a junky craves the next fix. It’s intoxicating and, after a recent patch, it happened again!
One part of Destiny 2 that I was not expecting was the sense of achievement I got from completing the Nightfall raid. It was VERY difficult, we failed multiple times because someone would always get killed too much and rage out but once we got a team to work together, once we figured out what to do, where to be, how to fight as a team we completed the raid. I had another “cold chill” moment. For the first time ever, I had that elusive feeling twice in one game. The immense sense of satisfaction must have been felt by everyone, given how much whooping and shouting was going on. I am really pleased I persevered and didn’t take the easy route of a guided game but its there if you just can’t find a crew worthy of the challenge and want some experience with you for your first attempt.
Destiny 2 is touted as open world, and to this, I say “No it is not”, it certainly has elements of an open world but it is basically a set of levels that you can travel to and explore. These levels are broken down further into zones and whilst there are missions dotted around the separate areas it really doesn’t feel like an open world in the truest sense.
Destiny 2 wants and needs your time and I don’t just mean a few hours, Destiny 2 wants you to play the game for the next few years. There is almost too much to do and you will always find yourself helping out a fellow Guardian in some fight or other, there are random team-ups with people doing the same missions and these can be really fun if you get a decent player or two.
So for me, the longevity of any game depends on the PVP multiplayer and I am afraid to say that currently, Destiny 2s’ PVP modes leave me feeling lost. I want to love it, but there is something missing and this starts with the limited options, Quickplay or Competitive, I want to browse maps and pick where and how I fight, I don’t need someone to sort that bit for me, I have a keyboard and mouse, navigating menus is easy. I really like the point capture game modes in most games, I love them in Destiny 2 so why should I have to play a pointless team deathmatch?
The Crucible as it’s known is a chaotic experience at best. If you get a good crew, you can work as a team but getting thrust into a match without your mates and having to work out which of the three random players is trying to play properly is a pain. Unless you play with your team you will rarely get to use your third “power weapon” because inevitably xxsupersnipesxosnipesxx will take the power ammo to get a kill even if it only serves to let the other team win. Play with your mates though and you can flank the enemy, work out when to use your super and who has the right power weapon for the current situation. I play Rainbow Six Siege and often solo queue. People know you need to communicate in that game to win, most players I have met in the Crucible don’t even have a mic attached. It’s a shame because I think the multiplayer could be so much better. Something I was very pleased to see however was that the end of match score was not based solely on kills instead favouring an efficiency score which combines your assists and objective contributions with kills to give you an overall rating. In short, I think Destiny 2s’ multiplayer will be fantastic, the core mechanics of the game are right, however, it’s not there yet and needs to be refined. I am sure this will come over time and will certainly not stop me playing it.
This review has run long, I have tried to cut it down from the 6226 words that it was in the original. We aim for 1000-1500 per review and usually accomplish this. Destiny 2 is such a massive title that there was no way I could come close to 1500 words. I have hacked and removed and still, I have 2554 words. Sorry for the long read but believe me, it’s necessary.
I cannot think of any other game that has so many missteps that I would still call an essential purchase. I have loved and will love my playtime in Destiny 2 for some time to come. Even when I am playing the same missions over and over, when I am grinding, when I am frustrated at the Crucible matches, even when I think about the Microtransactions, I still want to play Destiny 2.
In summary Destiny 2 is flawed, fabulous and absolutely deserving of your time and money.