Review Destiny 2 (PC)
Well folks here we are; it’s been a little over a week since Destiny 2 was released on PC and boy-oh-boy am I having a fun time with it. But also, I’m a bit annoyed. And I don’t want to exaggerate my frustration either--let me be clear, I am really loving Destiny 2. I highly recommend it for anyone with a solid group of gamer friends that wants to tackle some challenges online together. However, there are some decisions made by Bungie (and perhaps due to timeline pressure from Activision), that make little sense to me and certainly hurt the initial release of the game.
I’m a positive guy! So let’s start with some aspects of Destiny 2 that are great. At the top of my list, above everything else, is the soundtrack. My goodness do Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori deserve an award for this soundtrack. It is so damn good. You should stop reading, open up that link above, and listen to the soundtrack in the background as you’re reading this article. You’ll be impressed, I promise. Now, imagine that soundtrack playing in the background and seamlessly integrated into your gaming experience, the musical cues hitting points during your firefights and important campaign moments perfectly. Astounding work, truly; the Destiny 2 soundtrack is as close to gaming soundtrack genius as it can get.
This soundtrack, coupled with the insanely beautiful environments of the game, create an unreal experience for anyone that takes the game slowly. If you pause and look up, especially on Nessus and the EDZ (European Dead Zone) you will be inspired, which is definitely hard to do in a video game, and oftentimes an experience that only going out into nature provides. The environments, the foliage, the structures, the creativity placed into the world around the player is exceptional. The experience around the player is just so well executed in this game--the environments and the soundtrack--exist around the player, around their guardian, and immerse the player into these strange worlds seamlessly. The pinnacle of this effect is the ‘Leaving the City’ level (you can watch it here if you haven’t played it). Wow. The strings playing that simple, repetitive piece that pulls a deep sense of yearning for safety out of the player is beautiful. The rocky crags with snow caps opening up around you, the blanketed thin mountainous paths, the vistas of the captured Traveler appearing before you, all create a sense of awe within the player as that ever-mounting tension of not wanting to perish permanently drips in the back of the player’s mind. It’s astounding!
And the voice acting, folks, is really pretty good. Cayde (of course Nathan Fillion is stellar), Ikora, Ghost, and huge shout out to Failsafe are certainly the highlights. I also love the increased dialogue that characters have when you are accepting or turning in a quest. I found myself sitting there listening to the characters talk about the upcoming mission rather than simply reading the text on the right side of the screen and busting through to the next objective. If you skipped these conversations, I highly recommend on your next play-through to take a pause and listen to the characters, you will appreciate the voice acting that much more.
The end game is grindy, it really is, but if you’re playing with friends, you really won’t notice as much. There’s a social aspect to Destiny 2 that is only replicated in other MMOs. It’s a game that survives on its social community and I’ll admit the cooperative play is really fun. I love loading up the game, grabbing a few friends into our fireteam, and launching into some strikes. This cooperative play is awesome, and the fact that the game is so well optimized for folks without super-duper gaming computers opens up that access barrier and really allows for a lot more people who would ordinarily not be able to play a 2017 state-of-the-art release to grab Destiny 2 and hit the ground running.
I also wanted to mention Devrim Kay. He’s the franchise’s first gay character. Didn’t notice on your play-through? Well, in my opinion, that’s pretty damn cool. It’s awesome to see representation in games where you’re not hit over the head with it, and as a gay guy myself, I appreciate his characterization a lot.
My last positive? Summoning Orbo (did I name it Orbo? Yes I named it Orbo). Me and a friend spent about 30 minutes of our time figuring this thing out and I have to say it was the funniest 30 minutes of gaming I’ve had in awhile. I love that Destiny 2 follows in the footsteps of Destiny and has all these little secrets and easter eggs in it, it really makes the game that much more fun to play.
Alrighty, onto the room for growth and some of my frustrations. Destiny 2 in its most basic form is an MMORPG. It is! Yes it has a FPS element that no other MMORPG has, but it is definitely an MMORPG, and as much as the game wants to hide that, it really should have looked to the genre for some improvements. For example, Destiny 2 not only fails to add any new enemy races, it fails to add new races or new classes for the players. This is ASTOUNDING. Not one new class? Not one new race? It is actually so intensely laughable that it’s beyond unforgivable. Basically every MMO expansion/sequel provides new player races and characters, which just makes the game more customizeable and adds a little more flavor and lore to the players’ new experience. Yeah, this isn’t a make it or break it item, but it’s definitely stunning to think that no one at Bungie saw this as a flaw, especially when they have an entire history of MMOs to look back on for inspiration.
Additionally, despite a few cool and creative moments in the campaign, that story is weak. It’s not bad, per say, but it is weak--it’s incredibly short, and despite a few odd moments where I definitely made a mistake, it wasn’t all that challenging. I was actually surprised that the final boss fight was so easy, and I say that in the humblest, "I'm not a pro-gamer" way. PVP and the Strikes so far have definitely proved more challenging than any single point in the campaign, which is unfortunate. And overall, the story as written was just okay, when I was looking and hoping for a marked improvement over Destiny. If Anthem proves to have a more fleshed out and complex RPG component, I guarantee you will see a big flight of players from Destiny 2 to Anthem and those players will not return.
There are also a lot of minor issues that need to be fixed, and I am hopeful they will be in upcoming patches. The three that currently grind my gears are the lack of an ‘All Chat’ to communicate with players around you, the inability to see your fireteam's location on the map, and the fact that I cannot adjust the music volume. I feel like all three are pretty standard in games these days (what other large 2017 multiplayer release doesn’t allow you to see where your party members are on the map?) and are just silly and downright lazy to not have included in the release of the game.
My last gripe with Destiny 2 is the fact that there is an expansion that I have to pay for being released 6 weeks after the original release of the game on PC. I won’t bog you down now, cause I do so in next week’s podcast, but I simply find this to be truly ridiculous. I literally just paid $60 for the game and 6 weeks later I have to pay another $20 for content that was almost assuredly finished before you sold me the original game? That’s a low blow to your consumers and players, Bungie. Low blow.
So though I complained for the last four paragraphs, do I think Destiny 2 is worth it? I do, but under the condition that you have some gamer friends to play it with. Destiny 2 truly shines when you’re playing with a team and overcoming challenges together, fooling around at the Tower summoning Orbo, or kicking butt in PVP. Enjoy the game for what it is and you’ll have a grand old time; focus on the negatives (however right you may be) and you will miss out on what Destiny 2 is--a fun shooter to play with your friends.