Destiny 2 provides more opportunities, interactions in new environments

d2_story_env_01.jpg

Destiny 2 packs itself with more content, more choices, and more time that you are going to sink into a game that hooks you from the start and never wants to let go. Don’t worry. That’s a good thing.

The action theoretically picks up from the end of Destiny, where guardians continue to patrol the solar system, and the Traveler, that mysterious being providing their power, called Light, hovers nearby like a cat on a shelf. You know they are there, but you just never know what to expect.

However, Destiny 2 wanted everyone to start on even footing, hopefully spurring new players to give the franchise a try. Guardian powers are stripped, the guardians are cast down, and all hope appears to be lost as a Cabal leader, Ghaul, seeks the Traveler’s Light for himself.

The campaign is a great mix of despair and redemption. The player is able to regain some powers from a dubious source, but the sense of loss from the other characters in the story is palpable. Having not had to fear death for centuries, Zavala, Ikora, and Cayde deal with the possibility of losing their last life in very different ways.

d2_ghaul_03.png

Their fear, determination, and anger inject real emotion into the game that was missing from the first release. Ghaul makes a great villain, even though he, himself, is also conflicted about his actions and, ultimately, casts his lot with what brought him to this point – brute force.

There are new people to meet along the way after the fall of the Last City. They add a level of humanity that puts the guardians’ point of views in stark perspective. When all you’ve seen is the shining castle on high, those who choose a more real reality can seem different, but it puts into perspective how the Traveler’s power created those who have and those who don’t.

The campaign’s dialog does hit some bumpy spots along the way. Clichés and familiar lines don’t play well in the new environments and attitudes. But conversations are telling, and each character has a distinct way of expressing themselves to the player and about those around them.

Instead of exploring other planets in the solar system, much of the action beyond Earth takes place on moons and planetoids. It would seem Mars and Venus are out of reach now, but there are characters at each location for the player to interact and gain more loot.

d2_titan_05.jpg

The locations are much deeper, offering more to do and specific challenges that reward players with loot. There are also treasure maps, which can be purchased, that get players exploring all the nooks and crannies of these new worlds.

The foes are very familiar. The Fallen, Vex, and Taken are still around and, for the most part, they are the same targets we were shooting in the first game. There are some tougher versions of bad guys, but they all go down in a rain of weapons and powers.

Instead of Light, players will be trying to increase their power levels through the equipment they acquire. There are many different ways of gaining new strength, including new public missions, where players collectively work to defeat a very large and complicated foe. Those crop up at various locations around each world and offer great loot potential for those who are successful.

The three classes, Warlock, Titan, and Hunter, are back. An additional subclass is available for each, making a total of three, and the abilities within those subclasses have been refined and strengthened. There are choices to be made though, and switching in the middle of a firefight does have its advantages.

d2_strike_action_03.jpg

Once the campaign is done, the worlds open up for exploration. In addition, the Crucible also opens for player-vs.-player action, providing different arenas for quick play or a more competitive match. Collecting crests, holding locations, or just killing as many opponents as possible will provide your fireteam of four points toward victory.

Strikes are back with two variations. Normal strikes are lower level challenges for fireteams to complete. They shouldn’t be too much trouble, but they do offer glimpses at what the high level Nightfall strikes would be like. The strikes do have a time limit, so the pressure of eliminating targets as rapidly as possible is real, and powerful fireteams are pretty much required to get the job done.

Guided strikes let solo players, like myself, have an opportunity to compete in those big events by joining up with groups who may be short a player or two. While joining a clan offers additional rewards as well as comradery with fellow players, there are those who prefer the call of the lone wolf, but the guided strikes help those wolves feel included in the big challenges.

There are new missions released weekly, and the planetary challenges change often. The mission beacons are still around, offering bite-sized adventures if you are waiting for the next public mission to arrive.

d2_strike_heroic_03.jpg

Lost sectors also offering big challenges for big rewards when you can find them. Loot boxes and mineral supplies dot the landscape, awaiting discovery.

This is why I had such a hard time putting down the game and still do. In the first Destiny, I felt like there was always a lull in the activities. Downtime became an opportunity for me to do other things than play Destiny. Eventually, it was not much fun.

In Destiny 2, there always seems to be something new to explore or a mission to undertake. Yes, there are big events that I won’t be able to solo. However, I am hopeful the guided strikes will be an opportunity to include my Warlock in those unique events.

And the fresh content continues. A new raid, the Leviathan, is out and is going to require really strong players to complete. Cooperation and communication are likely to be key in this large event.

d2_gear_03.jpg

A new expansion is expected in a few months, allegedly taking players to Mercury. There is a second expansion planned, but there have been no details on that one.

Destiny 2 continues to find ways to keep players challenged, interested, and engaged. The variety of missions and the opportunities to collaborate are plentiful. The Crucible matches are fun for all levels, and the Strikes and Raids will present the most powerful players with the chance to show off their abilities.

By putting everyone on the same starting platform, the game has, so far, found a way to keep experienced players involved while giving new players the room and desire to grow. It was a bold move by Bungie to wipe away Destiny’s impact for those players. But in doing so, they created new experiences and adventures to keep everyone engaged for many hours of play.

That may be the greatest Traveler’s gift of all.

d2_edz_04.jpg

Destiny 2 is available now for the PlayStation4 and Xbox One. It will be released on Oct. 24 for Windows PCs. It is rated T for Teens due to blood, language, and violence. This post was done with a provided digital download code for the PS4.