After clocking in hundreds of hours in this game, reaching max power level, killing over 200,000 enemies, and getting more exotics than I can store in my vault (most of which were duplicates), I can honestly say…my hands fucking hurt.
And so does my back. Why? Because Bungie and Activision stabbed me through it. I don’t know why I’ve persisted with this game, but I couldn’t give a truthful review without exhausting every mission, adventure, and competitive game mode it offered. So let’s get started.
Just beware of SPOILERS before you continue (though I have no idea why you’d care because this game is trash).
Going into this game from the beginning was actually really exciting. After 3 years of Destiny 1, I felt like the franchise had a strong foundation for the sequel, where they could create a truly epic narrative that pieced together all the original content from the first game and make an actual story this time round. But like every kid on Christmas who asked Santa for superpowers, I got my hopes up too high.
After you choose your class (Titan, Warlock, Hunter), and customise your character’s appearance with the exact same options as the first game – which are dreadfully limited – you find yourself back in the same Tower you once protected, this time defending it from a siege by an alien race known as the Cabal. Sounds cool, right? It was at first. There was a good spread of cut scenes peppered through an expectedly easy first mission (especially because you had your abilities from the first game), which led you to the command ship of the Cabal where you came face-to-face with the main antagonist of the game: Dominus Ghaul.
Ghaul is probably easy to kill at this point, but before you can do anything about him the Cabal seal the Traveller off, stripping you and every Guardian of their Light (their powers, including their ability to come back to life after they die i.e. respawn). Your Ghost (a little sentient robot that helps and heals you in the game) also shuts down. Ghaul then kicks you off his ship, causing you to fall thousands of feet to the ground.
To get around this obvious plot hole where your Guardian should be dead, Bungie writers decided to let them survive the fall. Yeah. I get the whole ‘suspension of disbelief’, but this is a flagrant abuse of that, and what’s worse is that they didn’t even give us an explanation of how a now-mortal could survive that drop, even with armour on. Everyone saw them fall—they should have died and that should have been the end. You’d think Bungie would have just made the fall lower or something, but I guess that was too much effort.
Not only do you survive but you can walk too, and you spend a God-awful ten minutes lumbering through the city, looking on as the Cabal’s Red Legion swarms your home with nothing standing in their way. All seems lost in these ten minutes, until out of nowhere, you hear a familiar voice. It’s your Ghost, the same machine intelligence created by the Traveller to give Guardians their Light. But ten minutes before that, it was established that the Light was cut off, so how could this happen? Seriously, someone please tell me, because the game hasn’t. Did Bungie just expect me to keep on playing with a massive detail unexplained? Well, they were right. I gave them the benefit of the doubt and pressed on through an agonising second mission that involved the saddest music possible playing in the background whilst I made my way through a mountainous region in the European Dead Zone (EDZ), shooting Cabal hounds and trying my hardest not to die because, as Ghost explains, it can’t resurrect me if I do.
Unfortunately for me, I lost my footing on a cliff and fell to my death. And so, I waited for the loading screen to return me to the very beginning of the first story mission because I couldn’t be resurrected and therefore I’d have to start over completely, right? But instead, I spawned back exactly where I had died in the EDZ, hearing that annoying violin playing in the background again. It turns out there is zero punishment for dying without your Light in this game, despite Bungie making a point to put it in the dialogue. What’s the difference between dying with our Light versus dying without it? Nothing. But still, I pressed on.
After this exhausting mission, we meet the newest addition to the Destiny NPC team: a non-Guardian called Suraya Hawthorne. She’s a badass with a sniper and a pet hawk that clearly has a caffeine addiction:
After meeting Suraya you go to the new social space, called The Farm (real original, Bungie) where you can buy new weapons and armour, and start the third mission: Spark. As the name immediately indicates, you’re going looking for your lost powers. What you don’t realise is that you’re actually going to get your powers back by the end of it. Literally, twenty minutes after losing your Light and almost dying (or dying and respawning in my case), you get it back by shooting a few Fallen enemies around some broken shard of the Traveller. I’m pretty sure this would piss off even the most casual of players. They’re not dumb. They know a terrible story when they see one.
This mission marks the point at which my hopes for Destiny 2 started to dwindle. Not only is it dreadfully easy to get your Light back, but there is no explanation whatsoever given for why you have access to it but no one else does. Why, for example, don’t you tell the rest of the Guardians where the Traveller’s shard is so that they can get their Light back too? Are you the ‘chosen one’ because the Traveller decided, or because you refuse to tell anyone else where the shard is? If it’s the latter then you’re a dick, not a hero. After this, you go searching for the Vanguard — the 3 leaders of the Guardians in the Last City — who have become dejected and lost due to the stripping of their Light (seriously, tell them about the shard). At first, when you meet Zavala or Ikora or Cayde-6, they show a bit of resistance to returning to the fray and fighting the Cabal. Which makes sense, because they’re no longer immortal, and going for so long without dying has made them afraid of putting themselves in danger without their powers. I completely understand that. But what infuriated me was that it literally takes you one mission, ONE MISSION, to convince them otherwise. It’s not like you do anything special. You just defeat some aliens on the respective worlds, and the Vanguard changes their mind. Could they at least have put some dialogue in there to challenge their decisions? Maybe confront Zavala and tell him that we either go out fighting, or restore the Light and save what’s left of the city? No, nothing like that. We just shoot stuff, and inspire them to risk their lives again. Great fucking story, Bungie.
The rest of the game involves a series of really bland missions that involve the exact same process as the first game: defend your Ghost from waves of enemies whilst it hacks some machinery that helps you reach the boss, who turns out to be a bigger version of a regular enemy you encounter. Everything is run, jump, point, shoot. There’s nothing actually different in this game, except for ONE mission that lets you drive a tank. And while it was fun, it was still very monotonous. You drive it, shoot enemies, and blow up a spaceship. That’s it. Another mission that had an interesting concept was the one where you go to destroy the sun-eating machine, the Almighty, and you have to avoid balls of fire hailing down on you while traversing a section of the ship. Though it was fun, it lasted about 30 seconds, and was taken straight out of Mass Effect. Not to mention that the majority of the mission was business as usual: run, jump, point, shoot. There are some mediocre cutscenes thrown in between each mission showing Ghaul pondering his next moves, as well as an above-average siege on one of the Cabal’s military bases by the Vanguard and Suraya, but the dialogue is…well, I’ll get to that.
The very last mission in the story takes you to the Traveller, where Ghaul has done a complete 180 from initially deciding he would ‘earn’ the Traveller’s Light. He now tries to take it by force, something his friend and second-in-command The Consul advised him to do in a previous cutscene. Weirdly, after advising him this, Ghaul strangles him to death. There was no foreshadowing for this. It wasn’t shown that Ghaul had a bad temper towards his subordinates, or that the Cabal as a whole don’t care about their friends and comrades.
So you beat Ghaul, and he turns into this giant version of himself made of…cream? I really don’t know. It’s weird as shit. But anyway, somehow the Traveller wakes up (after being asleep for the entirety of Destiny 1) and vaporises Ghaul, shattering the Cabal’s prison at the same time. One wonders why you didn’t just lead with that, Trav.
But that’s it. There are some cool Marvel-esque post-credit scenes hinting at the next enemies you’ll face in future expansions and sequels, but there’s literally nothing else. The story isn’t filled with much worldbuilding when it comes to explaining Ghaul’s background, why he’s so obsessed with the Traveller, what the Light actually is (seriously, we still have no idea), nor anything else in the pretty massive world of Destiny. We don’t even have Grimoire Cards anymore to give us further explanation. Instead we have to rely on actively scouring the different planets for specific items or sites that we can interact with, upon which Ghost will give a very brief explanation of something about the world. We STILL don’t know what the Darkness is (and neither do Bungie, apparently). Mostly you’re just left with more questions than answers. I feel like that’s a good summary of the entire lore of Destiny.
The dialogue is a step-up from the infamous “I don’t even have time to explain why I don’t have time to explain,” line from the first game. Though not drastically. During your Cayde-6 rescue mission on Nessus, you find fan-favourite Exo Hunter stuck in a time-loop, yelling “I don’t have time to explain what I don’t have time to understand.” Honestly, I’m not sure whether Bungie are trying to be funny through self-deprecation or they’re genuinely oblivious to the fact that their dialogue is mediocre at best. Self-deprecation is for comedy acts, and if that’s the direction Bungie want to take their franchise then fine. We’ll probably still pay ’em.
The entire game is interspersed with unconvincing and superficial dialogue that rips you right out of the world you so desperately wanted to escape into, and forces you to ask yourself “why am I playing this?” I’m still questioning the fact that they made our Guardian completely mute this time round, and even made not-so-humorous references to it in the game, with Ghost interrupting the Guardian right before they’re about to speak.
Now, I’m not saying that the dialogue is so unbearable that I can’t play it, but it’s hard to enjoy the game when you hear ridiculous exchanges between NPCs, such as Cayde-6 trying to pronounce a Cabal ship’s name, and Suraya interrupting with “Cabal and their weird ship names.” First of all, why would an ALIEN race have anything other than a ‘weird ship name’? They’re from a completely different part of space goddamn it. What were you expecting? English? Even still, the name of the ship is “Orobas Vectura”, and if anything that’s absurdly Anglo-Latin in appearance and pronunciation.
That’s just one of genuinely hundreds more terrible exchanges and monologues in Destiny 2, including the cliché “we are not so different, you and I,” line, and practically everything Asher Mir (a pointlessly verbose Guardian) says. It really forces you to question what the writers were thinking, as well as what you were thinking playing this game. Speaking of writers, one of the lead writers of Destiny 2 is Christopher Schlerf, who has written for two of the most successful Sci-Fi gaming franchises in history (Halo and Mass Effect), so either he didn’t get much creative licence or he lost his mojo. Because this shit is bad. Really, really bad.
Destiny’s combat is actually one of the things that gripped me about the first game. The gunplay was exciting, the super, melee and grenade abilities introduced a fresh and competitive dynamic to the First Person Shooter that so few games had. Destiny 1’s pvp mode, aka the Crucible, had a range of different game types like 3v3 Skirmish, 6v6 Clash or Control, Free-for-all, Trials, and even Private matches in the third year of the game. In addition, the actual events in each game (particularly Elimination and Trials, where no respawns are allowed) became so gripping that you can actually go on Youtube and look at some incredible comebacks and montages of sniper kills, especially the kind where someone uses the Warlock ability self-resurrection, and then one second later gets a sniper shot to the head.
Destiny 2, however, has become a watered-down shadow of all that. There are now only 2 pvp modes: Quickplay and Competitive. There’s no more Private matches, and no more Free-for-all, and there are no 6v6 or 3v3 game modes either. Bungie instead opted for everything to be 4v4. Resurrecting your team-mates is impossible in most game-modes except for Countdown, where the timer for being able to resurrect someone has more than doubled. Not only that, but heavy (now power) ammo is only available to one person on each side. NOT ONLY THAT, but snipers and shotguns and fusion rifles, originally in the secondary (now energy) slot of your weapons have become power weapons, making sniper kills so rare that when you get headshot across the map in a game, you’re left confused as fuck. And because snipers are so rare now, no one can practice with them, and there are no strategies built around different kind of weapons.
Destiny 2 have made gunplay a team-based effort now, heavily restricting any kind of individuality you might have had in Destiny 1. If you want to win, you need to shoot with your teammates. Unless you’re a streamer, going on your own to flank the enemy is suicide. If two or more enemies shoot you, you have no chance. Your potentially greater skill means nothing against two enemies who can land one or two shots on you together.
Supers also take a silly amount of time to charge, as do grenade and melee abilities. You only get them near to the end of a game, unless you’ve been performing exceptionally. In addition to this, the ‘shared’ abilities that each class has — for example the Titan’s barrier, or the Hunter’s dodge, or the Warlock’s healing rift — not only take long to recharge, but they are ridiculously unbalanced between the classes.
Why, for instance, does the Hunter’s shared ability only benefit them, while the Titan’s and Warlock’s can benefit the entire team? Surely they should have given Hunters a shared invisibility power that can pass onto team-mates, and give the dodge as a standard manoeuvre the same way Titans can dash on every class, and Warlocks can either dash in the air or blink. In my opinion, Hunters have been given the short straw in this game, while Titans have been made pretty OP, considering their Striker’s double pulse grenade perk, or the Sentinel’s super which can literally melee, range-attack, and block even a golden gun shot. Did I mention the Striker’s super ability? The fist of havoc is now roaming. Bungie went and turned the one of the most powerful supers in Destiny 1 and made it so you can run around almost twice as fast, and do it 5 times in succession. Titans are Bungie’s favourite. It’s basically a fact. They’re mine too, but mainly because they’re better for every game mode than the other classes, especially Hunters. Whether it’s the Titan supremacy, slower movement, team-focused gunplay, or the lack of game modes, Destiny 2 needs a complete overhaul.
In conclusion, I think Bungie and Activision are taking the piss out of their fans, while also taking every bit of cash from them too. Most people I discuss this with say that Bungie is simply trying to appeal to the casual player. That’s definitely true for the most part, but my question is this: can’t you appeal to the casual player while also making a good story, having believable dialogue, and more exciting combat? Of course you can. Other games like Horizon: Zero Dawn or Call Of Duty manage it. Bungie’s business model is clear: profit over people. They’ll claim to be listening and making all these changes to a game that is basically a cut and paste from Destiny 1, with things actually removed rather than built upon, but in reality what they want is the path of least financial resistance for their game. That’s why they spend almost half their budget on advertising to get those first week of sales rather than making the game more enjoyable. Honestly, the only reason I still play it is because of friends. And you know what we do when we play Destiny 2? Talk about how much we miss Destiny 1, to the point we’ve actually gone back to it.