On the eve of Destiny 2’s first DLC, I think it’s fair to pass some judgement on this mess of a game.
Destiny 2, at its core, is still Destiny, and that is both a blessing and a curse. It still has the awesome gameplay loop and gun feel that made Destiny great, but it also hasn’t move forward. In fact, in most places Destiny 2 feel like a worse game than the expansive experience that was Destiny at the end of its life. Destiny 2 feels like a sequel to vanilla Destiny, not to Destiny three years later in its Moments of Triumph incarnation.
For reasons I can’t really comprehend, Bungie chose to throw away large chunks of the Destiny experience with Destiny 2. Destiny 2 is a smaller games with less of almost everything. We have less patrol zones, less strikes, less PvP maps, less raids, no strike scoring, or grimoire score, or sparrow racing, or bounties, or daily missions, or heroic strikes, or streaks, or strike specific loot, etc. There is a massive list of great features that were just taken away and they’ve been replaced with nothing. Destiny 2 brings a new campaign, a couple of new enemies and some reworked subclasses to the game, and nothing much else. I honestly wonder what the fuck Bungie’s team of 700 odd people spend the last two years doing. There isn’t a lot here to show for their work.
Destiny 2 breaks the core progression mechanic of Destiny, while making guns, and especially armour, vastly less fun and interesting. Great looters give you multiple layers of equipment to grind for, raw power, then stats boosts, then perk or skill optimisation. Destiny vanilla had all this, now we only have tier one, and it has made the game too shallow.
Weapons and armour in Destiny 2 no longer have random perk and stat rolls. Every single copy of a gun you get is exactly the same, meaning once you have a Better Devils or Nameless Midnight, you’re done, there is no chasing a perfect roll, meaning there is no reason to keep playing. Perk variety is also reduced, there are no raid or enemy specific perks. Fixed rolls, and a lack of perk variety leads to a small number of must have guns and a whole heap of trash. Once you have your Mida, Nameless Midnight, Uriels and Antiope, you’re done with the weapon grind.
Armour is even worse, it now only has a single selectable stat, and no perks. All the armour falls into three essentially identical archetypes, of which one is clearly better, railroading you into a limited set of options.
To make up for all this bland sameness, Bungie have added mods to the game. On weapons, these give plus five power, which is meaningless, and on armour they replace the Destiny 1 perks, just with less variety and impact. It’s a shame, because this system could be great, Bungie are on the right track here. Just look at Warframe for an example of varied, complex modding done right.
With all these changes to the gear grind, we are left with only ‘Power Level’ to grid for, which would be shallow but bearable, if Power wasn’t completely irrelevant. Power is now solely used as a gating function for activities. More power does not mean you are more powerful, it does nothing. Power matters PvP modes are also gone. Once you have reached the arbitrary level required to unlock whatever activity you want to do, that’s it, more power means nothing.
The only high point in this mess is PvP, but even that is a guarded praise. The new 4v4 format is more balanced and competitive than vanilla Destiny PvP, but again, we have lost a lot. Gone are the less serious, just-for-fun, 6v6 PvP game types like Mayhem and Combined Arms. We have also lost the ability to pick the game mode we want to play, now be funnelled into two generic playlists, one of which is completely broken. PvP is now a sweaty competitive grind, or nothing.
There are a long list of other issues. Things like all loot being handed out by shopping rather than drops from enemies and bosses, the loss of activity based cosmetics in favour of micro-transaction based loot boxes, and the dumbing down of character progression.
So far Destiny 2 is a disappointment. When Bungie announced that Destiny 2 would be a full reset of the series, I said that it was a mistake, and that they should keep building on the great base they had. That has proved correct. Destiny 2 feels like we have gone all the way back to vanilla, and then Bungie released a sequel for that. It’s a unequivocal step back from the last days of Destiny.
I hope Bungie fixes things fast, because Destiny 2 is still a game that I love, I just want more things to do and a reason to keep playing.