Destiny 2 Review in Progress – Part 3: Endgame

The main campaign doesn’t do much to prepare you for the Leviathan raid.

I mean, sure, all the basic skills you learn throughout the single player and the strikes and the patrols, that’s all important, and if you haven’t mastered them, you won’t last ten minutes on the Leviathan. But the manner in which the game opens up, changes its mentality from straight first-person shooter to high-octane puzzler, isn’t remotely hinted at in the main campaign.

This is to Destiny 2’s benefit. The changes in setup don’t feel like a rug being pulled out from under you. Instead, they feel like an entirely new rug placed alongside you, more ornately detailed and suited for the room you’re in. The Leviathan raid, much unlike that simile, is great.

The ideal situation would be to go into the raid knowing nothing, solving each area’s riddles for yourself alongside your five companions. So, I won’t say too much. I will simply say that, even beyond the Strikes, in which you depend on your two other teammates, or the Crucible, in which you depend on your other three, Leviathan literally ties the actions of your teammates to your fate. You might die through no fault of your own. Or, through fault, you might cause others to die. It’s an intense experience, and definitely worth pushing on to the 260+ power level requirement.

That this game is even able to open up so much, after I’ve already put in so much time, is noteworthy. The original Destiny was probably similar, but having never played it, this is my first experience with a first-person shooter that only really gets going in the endgame. I’ve traditionally been a plot person, myself. I never really played the Halo series, Bungie’s previous effort, but I was interested enough in the story to watch full playthroughs. Destiny 2 might not have a story quite so compelling, but the game of it is a huge step forward. The single-player campaign becomes a task to accomplish in order to get to the real content. It’s a foreign concept to me, but I like it.

The fact that Destiny 2 has given me so much to write about is a testament to how densely packed and just plain good it is. Admittedly, there is still a lot for me to do. Power players have no doubt already conquered every last challenge and are eagerly awaiting the first DLC drop, but more casual players, and newbies like me, are no doubt still trucking along, diving into endgame content bit by bit.

Others have said it, and I’ll echo them: Destiny 2 is the sort of game you can jump into for thirty minutes, accomplish something cool and meaningful, and hop out. The “grind,” as it were, doesn’t feel grind-y. While you never quite feel like you’re having a meaningful impact on the game world — those Cabal and Fallen and Taken just keep on coming — you feel a genuine sense of personal progression. And even if you don’t have 80 hours a week to dedicate to mastering the game, you’ll get there. A bit slower than some of your compatriots, perhaps, but you’ll get there.

Destiny 2 surprised me. I expected it would be good. Bungie’s pedigree alone, along with the lessons learned from the original Destiny, suggested that much. But to have voluntarily invested dozens of hours into a genre that is typically not my bag is pretty remarkable. It’s the hallmark of good game design. It’s not perfect — for example, acquiring new loot to advance your power level feels a bit too random for my tastes, leading to quests that don’t always feel rewarding. Also, your innate ability to respawn is so frequently disabled in quests that I question its reason for existing — either let me respawn all the time, or don’t. Or, maybe, restrict respawning during boss encounters only, to up the difficulty and raise the stakes.

But even then, amidst the minor frustrations, I’m having fun. And for a game like Destiny 2, that’s by far the most important thing. If my thousands of words of enthusiasm haven’t given it away, Destiny 2 comes highly recommended.