Wot I Think: Destiny 2

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It’s 4AM and I’m whispering with strangers in the dark. I found them online through a private channel, arranged a meeting in secret, and set my alarm to wake under cover of night. We’ve already got a plan, but we need to talk it through, to get on board with each other. We need to make sure we won’t get caught this time.

I promised my wife I’d stop doing this, but these are the sacrifices I have to make in order to finish Destiny 2’s Leviathan raid.

Leviathan is the crown jewel of Bungie’s MMO-ish shooter: a turbo-complex multi-stage mission that requires six people to complete. Those six people can’t just show up, either. They need to be willing to commit consecutive hours of their lives to communicating, implementing, and then executing multiple multi-stage plans. They’re expected to know each of those plans ahead of time, and to be able to rattle them off in chat channels with military precision. They’re expected to bring their best gear — armour and guns — and then they’re expected to never miss a headshot.

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For this endeavour, Destiny 2 offers two rewards: one intangible and one tangible. The former is an intoxicating sense of satisfaction at beating such a sustained mechanical challenge with a fire-forged group of new friends. The latter is some new guns and armour of slightly higher quality with which they can do it all again.

They show Destiny 2 game at both its best — as a frequently beautiful and consistently enjoyable shooter — and its worst, as a grinding loot box that ends up paying out in frustratingly small increments.

The shooting comes first, and Destiny 2’s guns feel uniformly fantastic. There’s a huge number of them, and while they fall into specific archetypes, there’s variation within those templates. Scout rifles — scoped and single-shot weapons by definition — are my favourite for story missions and aimless patrols, but I prefer to break out my Vigilance Wing pulse rifle for Destiny 2’s PvP activities.

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Vigilance Wing is a grand and gold-plated thing, bedecked in Egyptian symbols and finished off with two sweeping wings on its sides. Where most pulse rifles fire three-bullet bursts, this kid shoots five, making kills in Destiny 2’s multiplayer Crucible a doddle — assuming I can aim my first two bursts above the neck.

I have the same affection for the MIDA Multi-Tool, an understated and functional-looking scout rifle that shoots with a pleasant clicking sound. Same goes for the Wardcliff Coil, which looks like the head of a jury-rigged microphone and shoots a hailstorm of weird blue bolts in the vicinity of its target. Or Merciless: a boss-melting fusion rifle that gets angrier if it doesn’t kill its target, charging faster with every repeat shot.

These guns are just some of Destiny 2’s Exotics: specialised and memorable weapons earned either through convoluted quest chains, or randomly awarded as drops. But even its standard guns feel like they’ve had similar amounts of care lavished on their kick, their bark, their reload animations, and their whole feel.

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They have lost something from their console transition — specifically, an over-eager auto-aim that made controller shooting surprisingly easy. On PC, with the precision of mouse and keyboard, auto-aim is disabled, meaning your reticule placement is entirely on you. This is a sensible shift, and one that needed to be made in order to keep Destiny 2’s competitive multiplayer modes feeling fair.

Auto-aim’s not gone entirely: Bungie says that it’s kept it in the game for controller users, a decision that’s already controversial. It would be tough to give up mouse control, though, which feels smooth and precise — there’s none of the unpredictable acceleration that some console transitions end up lumbered with. By tying shooting to mouse clicks rather than chunkier trigger pulls, Destiny 2’s PC shooting feels a touch flimsier than its console cousin, but not by much: bullets have a distinct visual heft, connecting with enemy torsos, arms, and legs with obvious thunks.

Those enemies come from various species, and include the scuttling Fallen, the chitinous Hive, and the weird, shimmering Taken. You’ll also face the Cabal — genocidal space turtles who want to capture the weird power that makes Destiny 2’s player characters immortal. These waddling monsters are fat, grumpy, and my favourite things to shoot, especially when you hit them in the head — at which point their helmets fly off with a ping, a cloud of previously pressurised gas, and an accompanying curse in an angry alien language.

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On console and controller, a lot of the heavy lifting in making the weapons feel good is done via rumble and force feedback. On PC and mouse, however, it’s clear that so much of Destiny 2’s great gunfeel actually comes from that sound design: a suite of booms, bangs, and bursts that keeps shooting fun. It’s hugely important that shooting remains fun, too: the MMO-ish structure of the game means you’ll be pootling around its public areas and be replaying its strikes, raids, and patrol missions and again and again.

There are a set of core story missions, too, that cast the player as a Guardian from Earth, stripped of their Light (the power that makes them able to resurrect on death) by king of the angry space turtles, Dominus Ghaul. In order to reclaim that Light, you’ll hop from Earth to the moons of Io and Titan, as well as the imaginary minor planet Nessus, brought back to our solar system by robotic hive mind species the Vex.

Even for the creators of the Halo series, Destiny lore is dense, but Destiny 2 is wildly more comprehensible than its predecessor. Destiny 1 never came to PC, but genuinely included the line “I don’t have time to explain why I don’t have time to explain.” (For extra points, that line was provided by a character whose mission, allegiance, and even name is still unknown.) For ease of understanding, Destiny 2 leans far harder on a few core characters, established already in the pre-existing fiction and given clear personalities by the very earliest cut-scenes. There’s the mystical Ikora Rey, the stoic Commander Zavala, and the cheeky Cayde-6, each voiced by mid-tier celebrities (Gina Torres, Lance Reddick, and Nathan Fillion respectively).

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They popped up in a six-hour campaign that reached an impressive crescendo after first laying my character low, and then letting me bring her back to power. Missions aren’t structured in particularly thrilling ways — it’s a shooting gallery all the way to infrequent bosses — but they’re set against some of gaming’s juiciest vistas. It’s a beautiful game, especially on a powerful PC, where its huge stages run smoothly. Titan, in particular, is incredible, with a greeny blue terraformed ocean that bats cargo ships around like toys and makes me feel like a tiny speck of insignificance in an uncaring solar system.

That’s the same even on underpowered PCs, where “low” quality settings still produce pretty views at high frames-per-second. Destiny 2’s also picked up a grab bag of graphical options — including Vsync and an FOV slider that goes all the way to 105 — that the console kids didn’t get. It all contributes to some spectacular moments, especially when, mid-mission, Destiny 2 decides to ramp up the spectacle.

Its missions are coherent, well-paced, and given the views, clearly expensive. But that makes it all the weirder that Destiny 2 is happy to jettison its story missions as soon as you’ve played them once. Repetition is the name of the game with three-player strike missions, patrol quests, and the Leviathan raid, which asks players to come back every week to get the best endgame gear. In order to do the story missions again, however, you’ll need to visit Ikora Rey to pick up one of a limited pool of “memories,” or start a new character entirely.

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I think it’s so willing to drop these story missions because although it dresses up in the clothes of a first-person shooter, Destiny 2 is something else. I’ve been calling it “MMO-ish” so far, but that’s inaccurate. It’s first-person, and there is shooting, sure, but it’s not “MMO-ish” — it’s just an MMO. It’s got daily challenges, it’s got social spaces shared between players, and it’s even got little numbers that pop out of enemies when you damage them. Most importantly, it has buckets of loot, and it has a levelling system designed to keep players grinding away for incremental increases to their strength.

Actually, it has two levelling systems. Destiny 2’s character level system is simple: a straight shot from level one to level 20 that most players will max out by playing through the story missions on offer. Its other system is far more involved, is tied to players’ gear, and is the reason I set my alarm for 4AM to finish the Leviathan raid with internet randos.

A player’s weapons, armour, and accoutrements are all assigned their own level, from 10 to 305 (at present). These numbers are then averaged out and assigned to the player as their own “light level.” That light level defines a player’s ability to take on late-game tasks like the Leviathan raid, which in turn pay out with even higher-tier loot to push that level further.

The system means that a player with a full suite of 305 armour and guns will hit the level cap, but — for the first few months at least — you’ll likely be sitting somewhere between 280 and 300. I’m stuck in this limbo right now, my level dragged up by a fancy pulse rifle I got when my clanmates finished a weekly event, but pulled back down by a terribly uncool helmet.

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It’s far less binary than a more standard character experience system, stratifying Destiny 2’s endgame as a very slow getting-ready-for-a-night-out montage: I need the perfect hat, the perfect trousers, the perfect cape. An infusion system also means you can continue to imbue your favourite pair of space leggings with your more powerful gear, or, as in my case, continue to wear the chest armour with the fluffiest collar all the way into the next year.

But the system can also be grindingly annoying when it doesn’t spit out the things you need. Especially when you dedicate five hours at 4AM to complete the punishing Leviathan raid and your reward is the same pair of gloves you got last time — albeit at a slightly lower level.

Other missions, including the three-player strikes and the daily challenges, don’t give out loot directly. Instead they use a token system, handing the player chits that can be traded in with fully voiced vendors in the game’s social spaces and on each of its planets. Hand over enough of these tokens and you’re guaranteed regular loot (generally at a lower level than your current), but despite working to democratise the obtaining of new weapons and armour, the system is weirdly dissatisfying.

It’s disappointing, because Destiny 2’s token system sounds like it should be an upgrade over Destiny 1’s more random loot drops. It ensures that players aren’t grinding for days only to get nothing, keeps a constant stream of new items coming in, and makes an easy way to measure progress from game start to endgame. Still though, I don’t like it. Few games have laid my basic meatbrain stupidity out as clearly as Destiny 2, but I can’t help it: I just don’t get the same dopamine spikes when I pull something new out of the big invisible loot pile as I do in other games.

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That’s also because it’s so much easier to just get all of the stuff I want in Destiny 2 than it was in Destiny 1. That problem isn’t helped by the game’s weapon perk system, which locks specific bonuses to specific types of gun. A “Does Not Compute” scout rifle, for example, will always come with the same three sights, the same boosts to movement speed while aiming, and the same choice between bonuses to aim stability or a magazine increase. This reduces the excitement of pulling new loot, as once you’ve got one Does Not Compute, getting a second becomes pointless.

Half the guns you most likely won’t even want. Despite Destiny 2’s huge arsenal, a handful of guns have risen to the top as the only acceptable weapons to use in both PvE and PvP environments. The previous game’s system — in which perks were randomly generated and players were praying for a gun’s “god roll” — could involve far more grind, but also allowed for far greater difference between play styles.

Similar edges were sanded off Destiny 1’s PvP Crucible mode, to its arguable detriment. Where the previous game had a six-on-six format, Destiny 2 casts teams of four against each other, and rotates game modes at random. The result is a slower game that — on console at least — has calcified already, all but demanding that players roam the map in tight groups, picking off opponents that have wandered from the herd with one of four or five communally sanctioned weapons.

On PC there’s a chance that metagame could wander into more interesting territory, but in these early days, I’m more inclined to believe it’ll continue in the same vein. Laser accurate scout rifles are currently the top of the pile of guns, and the increased aiming ability offered by the mouse is likely to keep them there. More of a shift could be caused by Bungie themselves, who have been willing in the past to step in and make tweaks to both individual guns and weapon categories wholesale, but they’ve not always been quick to do so.

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I know Bungie can be slow to make these changes because Destiny 1 took over my life for a time. I spent that year playing and replaying the same missions, hoping for the perfect weapon drop, and hanging on the company’s every tweet for months at a time. In its current state, I’ll be done with Destiny 2 much sooner, having already picked up the majority of its goodies and blasted through most of its endgame.

Until then, though, I’ve got an alarm set for 4AM next Wednesday morning. And the Wednesday morning after that, and probably the Wednesday morning after that. And if a slick, beautiful shooter is keeping you up at night for a month, isn’t that sometimes enough?

Note: This Destiny 2 review has been written after spending several hours on the PC version of the game, and more than 50 hours with its console counterpart. While graphical settings, menus, and control schemes are different from PC to console — and have been explored specifically in this writeup — the story, missions, and activities on offer remain the same.

Once we’ve had more time to try the game on varying machines of varying quality, we’ll also follow-up with another piece that speaks to the PC-specific tech experience. Destiny 2 will also change in the future as Bungie makes tweaks and releases new DLC. Expect RPS to update our collective opinions accordingly at that time.

Destiny 2 is out now for Windows and is available via battle.net and other retailers for £44.99.

71 Comments

  1. Nevard says:

    Was surprised to hear “light level” described in detail as a separate levelling system given that “average item level” is a very standard MMO feature at this point, but I guess if you don’t play a lot of MMOs it probably is an important thing to know before going in, and actually is not nearly as obvious and intuitive as it feels to me right now.
    Just one of those things where you forget that not everyone knows what you already know I guess.

    • stoopiduk says:

      I found this pretty jarring too. ilvl has been around for some time, as has running events and ending up not getting the gear you expected.
      Worthy things to point out, but I think these should be presented as the common and well-trodden features and annoyances of a genre.

      • vahnn says:

        Agreed, I remember when Gearscore started becoming The Thing in WoW. A group suddenly wouldn’t even let you try a raid or less important heroic if you didn’t have a minimum gear score. A healer friend and myself as a tank had been clearing all this stuff regularly for weeks, even months, and suddenly we weren’t allowed to join parties because our gear score was too low and we would wipe the party.

        Pff.

        • Imperialist says:

          Well…on one hand, item level/gearscore type systems make it easier to quantify the abilities and overall statistical worth of a player, making it easier to form a group knowing what you have.
          On the other hand…to this day in WoW, ilevel does not always translate to superior stats, and Blizzard doesnt seem interested in refining the system. So you could have an ilvl 900 person with all the WRONG stats…therefore, useless. It kinda sucks.

          • MadisonBrady says:

            I just got paid $6784 working off my laptop this month. And if you think that’s cool, my divorced friend has twin toddlers and made over $9k her first month. It feels so good making so much money when other people have to work for so much less. This is what I do… Click Here And Start Work

    • Ragnar says:

      As someone who’s been out of the MMO loop for the past 8 years, I appreciated the explanation.

    • poliovaccine says:

      It’s definitely new to me – I’ve been through my fair share of ultra-statty old school RPGs and FPS/RPG hybrids, but “average item level” would not be recognizable or intuitive to me (except maybe as a variable I only ever saw in modding), and that’s definitely because MMOs are a big gap in my experience. And since the Destiny games are basically taking up a role as an MMO for FPS players, I think that’s a reasonable thing to explain.

  2. Dominic Tarason says:

    I enjoyed the original Destiny, but I never engaged with it as an MMO.

    Then again, I’ve never engaged with any MMO as an MMO. Even Final Fantasy XIV, which I’ve easily sunk 120+ hours into, I’ve only ever done the main story, some sidequests and each dungeon/raid usually once, maybe twice.

    The appeal of grinding for gear that’s only a fraction of a percent more powerful, or a slightly shinier cosmetic hat has never held any appeal to me, and that’s okay for me.

    From a quick peek at the wiki, after my 7 or so hours of play yesterday, I’m about halfway through the main story and have done about 10% of the sidequests. Even just treating this as a straightforward shooter, I reckon I’ll get a decent amount of bang for my buck.

    • Imperialist says:

      I felt this way about Destiny 1. I personally think the hallmarks of an MMO are both a persistent world, and a persistent, flexible character avatar. Destiny has neither of those things, the world being instanced and phased, the other being horrifically rigid with limited options for growth and identity. Then again, this is the way alot of MMORPGs seem to be heading, to the point where we will need to slash the RPG off entirely.

      • frobishlumpkin says:

        It’s the bummer of all bummers. The big, well-produced MMOs are heading towards zero differentiation between players. The ones that let players do what they want don’t have enough of a core vision or clarity to get you there without keeping multiple encyclopedias open on a second screen. (I’m looking at you, Black Desert.) I know the nostalgia has fully taken over at this point, but I so miss early WoW.

  3. Eraysor says:

    I think I’ll get this when it’s on sale. £45 for a PC game is just too much.

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      Shop around a little. I got mine for £37 or so, about average price for a newer PC game. Given the current pound-to-dollar exchange rates, that isn’t half bad.

    • UncleLou says:

      You don’t know how good you have it in the UK if 45 quid is too much for a new “AAA” PC game. Must be 10 years or more that I paid less.

    • Meat Circus says:

      This game costs £95. That’s how much the digital deluxe edition + season pass (i.e. the full game) costs. You can pay less for some subset of the game however, because publishers hate you.

    • malkav11 says:

      Don’t expect meaningful sales. This is a top tier uber-popular AAA game from Activision. You know, the folks who are still selling the Call of Duty from five years ago (Black Ops II) for $60, except for sometimes when it might drop as low as $30 (but anything even two or three years old in that franchise will never see 50% off unless it really tanks). You might think “well maybe in five years Destiny 2 will be half off, then”. And who knows, perhaps. It’ll probably have been replaced by Destiny 3 by then, and the playerbase will have dropped substantially, but you might see a modest sale by then. Only, by then it will have several expensive pieces of DLC and they’ll all be 100% required for the complete story and cooperative experience, unlike the map packs that serve as CoD addons. And those will still be at least $60 to pick up.

  4. Laurentius says:

    I played a bit of this beta period in August. It was nothing special, polished yes, but story and delivery was suprsingly schlocky. Also shooting was nothing special, in comparison to ne-DOOM, it was felt like very lightweight pew,pew,pew. At least Borderlands has a distinct graphics stye and brutality, this is polished but meh. Probably those high level raids ar high point, but it is tough justfying going through medicore stuff.

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      Godwhacker says:

      I had much the same reaction- very pretty, quite fun, but nothing special. The writing reminds me of Titanfall 2, a bland mix cobbled together from the last twenty years of TV science fiction with the occasional nod to a Big Idea.

      (Just to be clear, Titanfall 2 was and still is great fun, I just can’t remember a single thing about the plot)

      • Kollega says:

        I’ve got to say: it’s amazing how great I, personally, found the plot of Titanfall 2. Because I do think it’s legitimately bland, just a normal-ish military sci-fi story with a deliberately boring protagonist. But the dynamic between Cooper and BT, and level design that constantly throws new stuff at you, seem to be its saving grace.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    I know it sounds counter-intuitive, and no offense to Rich, but I kinda wish RPS would have gotten someone completely unfamiliar with the series to review this.
    I can’t help but think that any reviewer who’s invested so much time in a franchise previously (especially an MMO franchise) is going to be somewhat biased.

    But then, I’ve already decided I won’t be buying this. I’ve got The Division which seems to do exactly the same thing, but has had time to mature.

    Plus, when I can pluck up the nerve to enter it, the Dark Zone gameplay is incredible in how it promotes shenanigans.

    • ThTa says:

      I agree with your request. I know it’s a bit unfair to ask, and realistically you’d want someone who really knows what they’re talking about doing the review – but it also means it’s basically useless to someone like me who wasn’t already really interested in the game. It just ends up reading as “I like Destiny, I will now tell you whether this is more of the Destiny I like and if it doesn’t have the parts I don’t like.”

      But really, that “new to the franchise/genre” experience is probably better as a separate opinion piece, rather than a review.

      Incidentally, it’s the same with 4X (and MOBA) games. I tend to bounce off of most of them, so every review (almost exclusively by people who want 4X straight into their veins) praising one as being really good just doesn’t help me. (As a result, I’ll buy some with high critical acclaim when they’re on sale, only to find that yeah, this is still the same gameplay I have a hard time enjoying.) Endless Legend ended up being one of the few I sunk an appreciable amount of time in, but that one was still mired by reviews along the lines on “Yes, more 4X, but even better!”

      It’s also why I loved it when Easy Allies had someone who had only very recently played the very first Pokemon game (which also lead to some interesting observations), do the review for the latest one (supervised by someone who did follow the franchise for a long time).

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      Godwhacker says:

      This being RPS, and as it says at the bottom of the article, I think we can expect some opinion from a Destiny newbie coming in soon.

      • Corb says:

        Honestly for newbies, so far I’d say the game assumes you know the story and stuff so there’s definitely some wiki reading you need to do to get caught up into the story/npc’s (it isn’t a whole lot. The original destiny wasn’t all that deep story wise).

        Other than that it’s standard satisfying shooting fare. Only tricks are the ability to customize your grenade, jump, class abilities, and the borderlands-a-like-light guns.

        To enjoy the game you probably need to be a person who enjoys spending a few hours shooting the s*** over the mic with your friends while you grind and shoot stuff in the face without anything deeper. It’s basically a great way to spend a hungover Sunday with friends when you hate sports. Nothing more nothing less.

    • Nolenthar says:

      I disagree, it’s not counter intuitive, it’s an absolutely genuine complain and I think the same. How in hell am I going to trust a review posted by a guy so hooked up to a game he got it on consoles as he couldn’t wait to play it (which to me, is a capital sin for PC Gaming, and send you straight to a peasant Hell)
      Though, nothing on Destiny reviews is surprising. They all seem the same. It’s a MMO grind box with a short story and a good fun feel. I played the demo, found it fun for a couple of hours , then got bored so not my dope either.

  6. Ghostwise says:

    Field Commander Sloane seems to REALLY REALLY LIKE shoulder pads.

    Can she make her left eye glow, can she suddenly have 50+ visible teeth, and do we ever see her feet ?

  7. biggergun says:

    I think about buying Destiny 2 from time to time, but after watching some gameplay on youtube the urge disappears completely. PvE is yawn-inducing, PvP is monotonous, and then there’s the story (the voice acting! God, the voice acting!) It’s incredibly pretty, though. Kinda wish there was a game there.

  8. Tiax says:

    A noob question, at what level can I hope to start doing the Leviathan raid?

    • jimmybones says:

      You’ll be at max level before you hit the end of the story missions, and if you’re lucky you’ll be at the minimum raid participation light level (260) too.

      • welverin says:

        The minimum power level may be 260, but you’ll want to be higher and probably be required to be higher by the other players.

        While the Destiny community on PC is new, it likely won’t take long for them to start making some of the same demands the console one does.

    • Moraven says:

      260 is required. Calus, the final encounter, has you fighting against 280 stuff. Ideally you want to be 270+.

  9. porpoise says:

    imaginary minor planet Nessus

    If Nessus had feelings, they would be hurt!

    (It’s not imaginary, although it’s only a “planetoid” and hopefully it hasn’t really been taken over by alien robot monsters)

  10. mukuste says:

    Five hour raids? Sorry, but what adult person has time for something like that?

    • Janichsan says:

      You don’t have to finish the raids in one sitting: they are split into several parts with checkpoints in between. You only have to finish the whole raid within one week, since the progress gets reset every Tuesday.

      • mukuste says:

        Ok, that sounds much more reasonable. The review was explicitly set up to make it sound like you need a contiguous 5h window (what with the dramatic 4AM alarms and all that).

        • Corb says:

          Why does every game feature have to be built to the “working adult”? MMO raids have never been targeted at people who prioritize their real life over the game and that’s ok. hardcore Teenagers and new age retirees need content features too! :P

          You grow up and there are things you used to do that you can’t anymore like all night binge drinking at the bar/house party or all weekend LAN parties. Why should games have to compromise on hardcore features when providing content to people who have the time to put in? You grow up and life forces you to become a casual player, that’s just life dude.

          That said, the checkpoint system for the raids is a really nice feature and I’m glad they kept that and I hope other games implement it.

          • Nevard says:

            Only the very earliest and least player-friendly of MMOs ever required you to finish a raid in one sitting. Even WoW at its worst only had the trash respawn, bosses didn’t come back for a week (or three days, in some cases). Nothing that had that system has survived.

            That’s why you design your games so that a working adult can play them.

        • Ragnar says:

          It’ll take much more time than that to learn the raid, however. From what I’ve heard, spending hours a day, several days a week, is typical.

          Unless you have someone who knows the raid walk you through it or follow a guide, but where’s the fun in that?

    • welverin says:

      Once a group gets good at it, they’ll get faster.

      And there are absolutely working adults willing to spend that much time in one sitting on a game.

    • Moraven says:

      Learning the raid, you are more likely to sit down for 3-5 hours to do all/most of it the first time. Most people can clear it their first time in that time, assuming they have some direction.

      A group of casual veterans who have done it a couple times will do the entire raid in 90 minutes or less.

      Part of saving time is learning the Underbelly that has shortcuts between encounters and skips the door opening part.

    • fray_bentos says:

      Indeed!

  11. Kollega says:

    Being someone who hasn’t played the original Destiny due to not having a console, but did play Borderlands 1 and 2, I’ve got three questions that I would want answers to before even considering Destiny 2. And maybe I can get them answered here.

    First: how robust the gun generation system in this game actually is? I tried looking some of it up, but it was rather opaque and/or mostly focused on “best of the best” than the ordinary guns you could expect to be grabbing most of the time.

    Second: how allowing Destiny 2 is for tackling it at your own pace? What I really like in Borderlands is the nonlinear level structure, and the way I can advance through the game at whatever pace I want and spend however much time I want on it. And there’s also the fact that you can play 90% of a Borderlands game without any other players. I get the impression that Destiny is an MP-focused game, and that you can only tackle some of the content if you power through it.

    Third: what about the reputation of Destiny as rather po-faced? I read in RPS articles (including recent ones) that it’s way better than the first Destiny, but still not the crazy pop-cultural menagerie of Borderlands.

    I imagine having those answered could be useful to me – and I imagine to others, too.

    • Corb says:

      1) It’s not nearly as complex/diverse as borderlands, but at the same time I think that’s a good thing. It means every gun you pickup is usable. You don’t get weird stuff that while funny, is completely impractical or unusable because rng thought a grenade lobbing sniper rifle was funny (not a real example).

      2) The pace is whatever you want it to be. The story mode is all you, pvp is arena based, you can run strikes whenever you feel like etc. and the the thing you keep coming back for are the dailies. Only place you might have trouble is if you’re trying to complete an old raid for the first time after newer raids have come out but hey, that’s what friend and clan mates are for, to help you on those parts.

      3) This game is nothing deep. It’s an mmo with guns. Go here, shoot this stuff a million times, get shinier gear, rinse repeat. It’s oddly addicting and you’ll look back at it fondly but it won’t always be the most engaging game you’ll play. It’s a grind box so embrace the grind, enjoy the gun play, and just shoot the s*** with your friends over discord.

      • Kollega says:

        Okay, I see. I think what I want elaboration on is the game structure. In Borderlands, I can not only play as much or as little as I want, but also wander around the levels for however long I like, freely go from map to map, and get into fights wherever and whenever I want. Does Destiny 2 have a more linear level structure, or is it the same sort of deal? The game has some semi-open PvE locations, AFAIR, but how prominent are those?

        And as for the grind-first nature of the game and guns being less complex than in Borderlands… see, that’s what stops me. What bribes me, as we Russians say, in the Borderlands games is that its structure is like Diablo. So I can roam the locations freely, have some downtime between the fights, do quests in whichever order I want, and there’s always a chance of the new gun drop being just a very good randomly generated one, not a handcrafted unique/legendary weapon. In fact, what I dislike about Borderlands 2 is that you need legendaries to be competitive against the enemies at high levels, while in BL1 a good purple-rarity gun (one tier below legendaries) could take you halfway through the game. Is there anything like that in Desitny?

        • welverin says:

          Each world is an open area you can wander around freely fighting things as you please, picking up patrol (kill this many things, go to this spot and click on something, i.e. small busy work), doing adventures (short quests), join in public events (set piece encounters that show according to an in game timer that anyone in the area can participate in).

          You will see other people running around these areas, but can easily ignore them if you choose and they can’t actively impede anything you’re doing.

          As for the loot, they got rid of randomly generate equipment in the second game, so any name piece has identical stats. You also no long have to level up your equipment so all of the perks are unlocked from the start, which is something not touched on in the review. While each version of a gun or piece of armor might be the same, you could have different perks active than another player or change yours up depending on the situation.

          There are different rarities of weapons, when you get to max level you’ll be using Legendaries (purple) and Exotics (yellow). You’ll start getting them before that and you can infuse higher level gear into them, so if you find something you like of one of these types hold onto it, because you can always improve it as you go. There are also mods which you can install into things to change up their abilities and give them a level bonus as well. You can only have one Exotic equipped at a time per category (one weapon and one piece of armor), so you’ll primarily be using legendary equipment (rare and lower will eventually be abandoned and uncommon and below stop dropping entirely). So, the random generation is gone, but there’s still some variety to be had.

          • Kollega says:

            Huh. Well, if D2 doesn’t even have randomly-generated equipment, just a big pool of pre-made guns, I think I’m definitely better off waiting for Borderlands 3. I don’t think I like the visual design of Destiny that much, and what I also like about Borderlands is that it’s way more of a co-op game than an MMO (though I’ve no idea how things will turn iwth BL3). And the absence of truly randomized guns is just a deal-breaker for me – because hey, I can just pick up Shadow Warrior 2 instead, then.

    • icarussc says:

      Thanks, guys! I came here intending to ask for a comparison with BL/BL2. Appreciate the help!

      • ninjapirate says:

        Same here! And much like Kollega, it’s actually BL3 that I want to play – Destiny 2 doesn’t seem to be the filler that I had hoped for.

    • Ragnar says:

      The other poster handled the details rather well, but I would add that the main distinction I see is that Borderlands is a single-player and co-op game, while Destiny is an MMO.

      By that I mean that Borderlands you fire up when you feel like it, run a few quests, make some progress. You go through the lengthy campaign, do all the side quests, do all the DLC. And if you like it, you do it again on the next difficulty, running through the campaign again and the quests you enjoyed, regularly leveling up. You keep doing the parts you like as you slowly level up towards the level cap. And you start running the raid bosses for their gear drops, repeating as you gain level to upgrade your gear.

      In Destiny, you run through the shorter campaign at the beginning, and then it’s done. You’re at max level, you’re not supposed to repeat the campaign, you’re supposed to move on to the “real” game. And that game wants you to log on every day, do your dailies, get better gear. That gear let’s you run the raid every week, to get better gear, to run the raid again. Log in every day, do your dailies, run the raid every week, repeat – hoping that you get the drop you need to upgrade your lowest level gear. Repeat every week, waiting for the new raid to be released.

  12. welverin says:

    “In order to do the story missions again, however, you’ll need to visit Ikora Rey to pick up one of a limited pool of “memories,” or start a new character entirely.”

    This is a baffling and disappointing change from the first game, which allowed you to replay anything when ever you chose and even had harder versions of all the missions. Hopefully they’ll change this at some point.

    “The system means that a player with a full suite of 305 armour and guns will hit the level cap, but — for the first few months at least — you’ll likely be sitting somewhere between 280 and 300. I’m stuck in this limbo right now, my level dragged up by a fancy pulse rifle I got when my clanmates finished a weekly event, but pulled back down by a terribly uncool helmet.”

    First off, they call switched the name to Power Level in this game, but I think it’s also important to note that your gear drops at your potential power level and not your current level. i.e. gear will drop according to highest potential power level according to what gear you’re carrying. So, if you’re using a 280 kinetic weapon, but carrying a 290, the game will calculated it based on the higher level piece rather than the one you have equipped, a big and appreciated change from the first game.

    • Premium User Badge

      geoffreyk says:

      Yes and no. Yes, they made it such that the game calculates your highest theoretical level (based on stuff not currently equipped or stashed on other ‘toons) in order to determine the level at which stuff drops, and this is a welcome change. But, up until you hit 305, most items drop at your current average level minus 10. The only things that drop AT your current average level (and which therefore have the greatest chance to help you increase your average, assuming it is one of the items holding down your average) are the time-and-challenge-gated “luminous” engrams. Meaning: beat the Nightfall (extra difficult co-op mission) -> get a useful drop. Complete the PvP task for the week -> get a useful drop. Complete the PvE task for the week -> get a useful drop. Pray to RNGesus for an exotic to come from random encounters -> get a useful drop. All but the last of those can only happen once per week per ‘toon, so if you don’t get just the right things to come out of those “luminous” engrams, it is very easy to get stuck in the 280s/290s.

  13. Moraven says:

    “It’s disappointing, because Destiny 2’s token system sounds like it should be an upgrade over Destiny 1’s more random loot drops.”

    Destiny 1 had the reputation token system. It was much slower to hit a rep level and get that item. Then you had the class items specific to each faction that you pledged to.

    You had other options. Each vendor had a set of items to buy with legendary shards (or the name of equivalent. Had a long break form D1). Copy paste from WoW and MMOs. You had options to buy if RNG of drops were not your friend. Then you had the Weekly Gunsmith quests, which let you pick from from a set of 3 perks for certain weapons.

    Not only did they get rid of random perks but they also give our items like candy while the first game it was a slower drip, but not to bad (at least in Taken King).

    A month in casually playing, I have 95% of weapons from the 4 planets, enough armor to make various mobile/armor/recovery sets.

    You don’t need to level up your weapons and grind for materials for them. You can casually get most of what you want in Destiny 2 in 5 weeks while in D1 it would take you x3 that time to get to the same place gear wise.

    Destiny 2 has been a step forward in some aspects but did not include a lot of improvements they they implemented into D1.

  14. Moraven says:

    Bungie announced 3 months Seasons, where they will do balance passes then and special events will get new loot tables.

  15. AutonomyLost says:

    I completely forgot this was releasing yesterday, and only began to download it before I hit the sack. It’s waiting for me at home and I’m quite chuffed.

    Have fun, everyone.

  16. Spuzzell says:

    Played the beta, found it deeply mediocre.

    I’ve said before, you can entirely accurately replicate Destiny 2 gameplay by shouting ‘pew pew pew’ at your cat for an hour and then picking up a packet of sweets you don’t want from the floor.

  17. Shaun239 says:

    I put 40 or so hours into the console version and then sold it, I hated the game by the end and only held on due to friends, and would advise anyone to wait a year for a couple of DLC’s at least.

    My honeymoon period with the game ended quickly, whilst I enjoyed the first despite the flaws I honestly struggle to see what’s changed from the first that isn’t a step back and locations aside, Destiny 2 may be the most blatant copy-paste sequel I’ve played.

    The progression is also screwed up, and you can expect to be nearing level cap long before the half way point in the story (the story being the worst part of the game), with progression most likely sped up as real money engrams are only available to purchase for level 20’s. Also, very personal gripe but the legion are a dull, space marine rip off and by far the most dull (and covenant like) of the aliens are everywhere ,whilst the Hive who are the most interesting are only on the small planet.

  18. AutonomyLost says:

    Thanks for the review; I’m looking forward to the technical analysis addendum. I know it runs perfectly in my particular case, but I welcome the transition toward each review (maybe, probably just for AAA games?) offering analysis of some of the tech and the game’s scalability across at least a few different rigs.

    I’ve mentioned it before, as have others, that with this site being, ostensibly, strictly dedicated to PC gaming, it’s been entirely dumbfounding that there is no coherence across reviews/WITs regarding this. I adore the site, and can only see it being more helpful by including such information.

    Now I’m gonna play.

  19. fray_bentos says:

    I stopped reading after “It’s 4AM…”, not game for those with kids.

    • malkav11 says:

      I can only assume the reviewer was trying to raid with people in a substantially different time zone. There’s no inherent requirement to play at certain times or stay up late, etc.

    • Ragnar says:

      Getting up at 4 is not a requirement, though it does speak to the possible addictive nature of the game.

      But it is an MMO. Its aim is to take up all of your free time – which is easily accomplished as you have kids and thus don’t have any.

      And scheduling hours every week to meet up with five other people for the raids? Hope your partner plays too, or is understanding and doesn’t like spending time with you.

  20. Caiman says:

    Earlier this was described as a game that was quite suitable for single player, but this review strongly implies that it’s not, other than the brief campaign. Then it settles into a great grind for the final raid that actually isn’t? I don’t see the appeal. I’ve never played the original but this sounds pretty awful.

    • Ragnar says:

      The campaign can be done solo, and while the grind up to the raid requires playing with other people, you don’t really have to talk to them, and can treat them as NPCs helping you out – if that’s your thing. It’s up there with SWTOR as the most solo friendly MMO.

      The raid definitely requires 6, and communication between those 6.

    • ChrisT1981 says:

      Got the game for free with my new Mainboard (just as a disclaimer).

      Thus far I am playing solo (-ish). The game tingles my completionist senses. So on every new world I come to I first finish the main Story parts, then the so called adventures (small side quests) and then hunt for completionist stuff like the “Environment crates” (super hidden loot pick ups) and Lost Sector Caves, before moving on along the main story. All this is done solo. And made for fun 10 hours thus far. Have reached Level 20 but not finished the main Story yet.

      Here and there I take part in a world event when I come across one. Those are designed to be done alongside other players and generally are fun. But the lack of any method to communicate with strangers in this game can make it a bit annoying if there are only a few Players and those with you do not know how to solve the world event.

  21. aircool says:

    “Raids” and Boss Battles are some of my least favourite aspects of video gaming.

  22. Premium User Badge

    Earl-Grey says:

    I feel my aversion to online multiplayer (god how I hate, online multiplayer, most people are okay but it just takes one dick to ruin everything (I remember playing Battlefield 2 online and there was this fucking asshole…another story)) is preventing me from a potentially really great time.

    And it sucks, because I loved, loved, Halo 1-3 (haven’t played the others, I head ODST is good) and would really like to see what Bungie did after that.
    But, man, fuck off with the multiplayer shit.

    -I even hate the ghosts and messages in the Souls games, just looking at the other morons twitching about or reading their asinine messages…gah, fuck off!

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