Halo developer Bungie’s latest effort, Destiny 2, is significantly more enjoyable than its predecessor. Simultaneously, the game is sometimes too comfortable following in the original’s footsteps. It’s working out for them, though–critical review aggregate Metacritic shows Destiny averaged a 76% rating, while Destiny 2 is thus far averaging an 85% rating.
A plethora of improvements have been made upon the original’s rewarding and addicting formula, addressing its most obvious flaws. Each area–Earth’s “European Dead Zone,” Jupiter’s moon Io, Saturn’s moon Titan, and so on–now features a detailed and thorough map. Your adventures around the game’s massive environments feel less meandering, and the rewards for exploring are impactful.
Destiny’s progression system was convoluted and misleading, with its confusing “light levels” acting as a barrier-to-entry for new and/or casual gamers. Worse, most activities became a waste of time upon completing the campaign, plaguing the game’s replay value.
As a first-person shooter with role-playing game influences, Destiny 2 still rewards gamers for ‘grinding’ by repeating activities, but its progression system no longer punishes players for choosing one activity over another. Everything you do goes directly toward finding Legendary-tier gear and weaponry.
For a game that boasted a massive size and ‘open-world’ influences, the original Destiny felt hollow past the first 12 or so hours of gameplay. Destiny 2 escapes that critical error of its forerunner. While the game still encourages you to repeat activities, its new Adventure quests, Lost Sectors and Regional Chests allow you to explore and feel rewarded for searching every last nook and cranny. Completionism in Destiny 2 feels rewarding and purposeful.
As with all of Bungie’s games, taking on hordes of enemies feels as gratifying as ever. The gameplay and gunplay is tight and efficient, with every shot feeling impactful and calculated. It may sound like common sense, but many shooters in the gaming industry have feedback issues–animations don’t match up with what’s actually happening, sound effects don’t complement the graphics, and so on. You’ll find none of that in Destiny 2.
The graphics are incredible across the board. The game’s immense environments are elaborate and awe-inspiring. The vast, electrified oceans on Titan and the rolling sand dunes of Io look real and instill the player with a genuine heart of adventure–what if humans really could inhabit other celestial bodies some day? In short, the science-fiction setting is capitalized upon flawlessly.
Destiny 2’s one weak point is its storyline. With many gamers still captivated by the plot of Bungie’s Halo franchise, this can come as a surprise. It’s a huge step up from Destiny’s hollow and uninteresting plotline, but the story of Destiny 2 isn’t very inspiring either; it’s too comfortable rehashing old storylines. When the plot of Destiny failed to wow the developer’s fans, it seems they basically copied-and-pasted Halo’s story into Destiny 2.
Bungie could benefit from taking risks–the plotline of Halo is worn out, as is the ‘silent protagonist’ trope that basically died after the releases of The Last of Us and BioShock Infinite in 2013. Despite the few risks Destiny 2 makes, it is nevertheless a massive, gorgeous game, full of replay value that will captivate and reward its players for years to come.