Destiny 2: Review in Progress – Part 1

Destiny 2 is much better than its beta.

Now, its beta was quite good, don’t get me wrong. But coming in as a full-on Destiny newbie, the beta did almost nothing to explain itself, to prepare me for what was coming, to detail the nuances of its classes or weapons or systems. The full release, on the other hand, provides just enough hand-holding to get me up to speed. And that speed is pretty consistently breakneck. To Destiny 2’s credit, despite the pace, it never left me behind. I may have come in a newbie, but I’m well on my way to becoming a full-fledged Guardian.

I decided to go with a Hunter for my first character. I’m not particularly drawn to the hulking tank types, and being a Warlock doesn’t interest me. Hunter also allows me the most mobility, and if there’s one thing I can’t stand in an FPS, it’s not being able to move the way I want to. Your class determines the abilities you can unlock as you level up. Each class also starts with one subclass — in my case, my Hunter’s subclass is Arcstrider — and more can be unlocked as the game progresses. Each subclass has some active and passive abilities, the latter of which are sectioned off in two “Ways.” For example, the Arcstrider offers the Way of the Warrior, which focuses on attack bonuses, and the Way of the Wind, which instead focuses on mobility. I now can dodge out of the way of enemy attacks and triple jump at will. To me, nothing is more fun than taking a running leap off a cliff and triple jumping to a distant ledge.

From what I understand, the level cap is 20. Given that I’m at level 10, I’m worried that I might not have enough levels to gain the ability points to unlock everything. I’m hoping Bungie gives us some other way to earn ability points or increases the level cap soon. I’d hate to max myself out before I even get to explore other subclasses. I guess I could always start a new character, but I don’t know… I’m kind of attached to mine.

Playing through its opening story mission again (the same mission from the beta), I’m struck by the richness of the lore. Even as so much of the story was criticized in the original game, there’s something about entering a world for the first time, a world that’s already fully fleshed out, that makes me feel small. I don’t fully get what the Traveler is, or why it’s so important to save it from the Red Legion, but I understand enough to allow the plot to drive me forward. And in a game the size of Destiny 2, feeling small is a feature, not a bug.

The story so far sets me and my fellow Guardians up as something of a resistance force. Our home has been taken over, we’re scattered to the four winds, and we have to regain our Light and find a way to fight back. It creates a scenario where the all-powerful Guardians are underdogs, which is pretty cool. All the while, the Red Legion (who still look like giant hamsters from a distance to me, I don’t care what anyone says) wants to supplant humanity as the Traveler’s chosen people, and they’ll do whatever it takes to make it happen. The plot won’t win any Hugo Awards, but it’s more than enough to drive the action.

Characters you meet will send you on quests that advance the story, and completing an area’s initial quest opens up a lot of opportunities. For example, there are several Adventures set around the map, which are Destiny 2’s version of side quests. You’ll gain experience and cool loot, so it’s definitely worth your time to check them all out. One complaint about the original was that, outside the main story missions, there wasn’t much to do aside from grinding experience on random enemies. The Adventures provide a remedy to that, and they’re great so far.

Running around the open areas also presents you with an opportunity to team up with other Guardians playing along with you, in the form of Public Events that you can simply spot in the world and jump into. These usually involve defeating certain groups of enemies or giant machines, but there’s a decent amount of variety. It’s rewarding to know you’re playing alongside other humans, working toward the same goal. It takes the tedious planning out of multiplayer and instead creates randomized opportunities for fun.

So far, Destiny 2 is keeping me solidly entertained. I did run into a couple of network crashes — one when I was hanging out at the Farm, the first common area where you’ll see tons of fellow Destiny players purchasing weapons and taking a load off, and another when I was about 90% done with an Adventure. The latter crash was incredibly frustrating. It was a crash on Destiny’s end, not mine, so it could be the heavy network traffic from the game’s first week. Regardless, it was disappointing. I wasn’t able to get back on and see how much, if any, of my progress was saved. But even with a couple of technical mishaps, I’m still looking forward to getting back into the fray. Here’s hoping the game lets me.

My intention is to drop a new piece of my Destiny 2 review each week, to give myself an opportunity to fully experience what the game has to offer. It’s a big game, after all. Rushing through it to throw a review online would be a disservice to it and to you. Stay tuned for more.