Due to Destiny 2's online nature and natural lack of early access, we are publishing our review in sections as we play through the story, battle in the competitive Crucible and, eventually, take part in the raids and strikes that form some of Destiny's most important post-campaign content. Here we explore the game's much improved campaign, following our first impressions from release day and pre-launch beginner's guide.
Destiny 2’s campaign is ace, then. After 15 or so more hours playing the game, completing the story, indulging in dozens of public events and getting lost in more than the odd Adventure, Destiny 2 is now, as its most hardcore fans say, just starting.
Having now finished the campaign, it’s safe to say that Bungie has massively improved upon the incoherent mess of the first game’s plot. Destiny 2’s main adventure is well paced, explosive and relentlessly fun, and finishes off with a string of superb missions that evoke the studio’s halcyon days with Halo. Massive set pieces of star-busting proportions, great boss fights and some surprise revelations make for a campaign that feels worthwhile as well as just fun.
The highlight is the finale – a sun-side assault upon an enemy construct that has you sticking to the shadows to avoid the scorch of a million-degrees battering down upon the outside of a spaceship. At no point does it deviate from what it does best – offering up countless firefights to rain down fiery void-like death upon your opponents – but Bungie’s quest designers and script writers have done a good job of pacing the campaign well enough that the shooting is always purposeful, and that you have a strong idea of where you’re going and why you’re going there.
There’s undoubtedly a couple of missteps. Titan, one of the game’s four locations, feels like a missed opportunity compared to the other destinations. The small planetoid Nessus is a colourful and vibrantly alien world, while the Jovian moon, Io, feels suitably prehistoric. Compared to these two, and the European Dead Zone on Earth, Titan just feels like an oil rig that happens to somehow be on one of Saturn’s moons. Considering we’re only seeing this many places at launch, to have one feel so uninspired is a shame.
Then there’s the decision to take away your Sparrow – a hover-bike craft that, previously, you could use to zip from point to point much quicker. In Destiny 2 this option is locked off to you until you complete the campaign, and while this slows the pace up and lets you soak in the scenery, it does lead to some plodding sections as you wander toward your next objective.
So much lies outside the story, though. A couple of the side Adventures I completed felt so fleshed out and exciting that I forgot I wasn’t playing the story. They’re unique, and so far there seems to be several dozen of them dotted across the game’s different planets. Some require me to be a much higher level than I currently am, which reinforces the idea that Bungie has put far more thought into the scaling of its different levels.
Public events, while less narratively driven, feel regular and action packed enough that they too feel like a worthwhile aside, pulling you in as you wander across a planet’s surface. They’re simple tasks in the grand scheme, but trigger such a massive firefight that they’re hard not to love. The fact that Bungie has added in new Heroic Public Events – which essentially reward you with better loot providing you complete prerequisite objectives within the event itself – adds another layer of thought as you run and gun about the place.
Even the extra subclasses for your character now have quests and challenges attached to them. From what I gather, these aren’t as diverse as you may initially think, but one particular quest to unlock your first subclass has you delving into a dark forest to investigate a broken shard from the Traveller. It begins as a slow crawl through one of the game’s most beautiful locations, but then ramps up the action to a ridiculous degree, letting you fire off your Super in quick succession in what can only be described as an immense power trip.
So, I’m now level 20. The campaign is done, but I’m no way near complete with everything dotting my map. I’ve just unlocked more Adventures and my mission list is full of all sorts of incidental challenges that’ll no doubt reward me with better gear. There are Strikes to do – the harder, longer missions that you can complete with 2 friends. I haven’t even touched the Crucible yet, either – Destiny’s player-v-player arena. Not to mention the fact that my character’s level is woefully unprepared for what is recommended for the game’s Raid; the 6-player gauntlet that launches next week. To say I’m having fun is an understatement, but I’m mostly just impressed – impressed that, compared to the launch of the original game, the biggest thing players seem to be complaining about with Destiny 2 is its customisable shaders.
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