10 things I love about Destiny 2
1. The way it feels to play
Possibly Destiny 2’s greatest strength is its sandbox. Shooting feels incredible. Abilities feel incredible. Movement feels incredible. Sprinting, sliding and gliding through the air is silky smooth, the feedback from shooting is perfectly tuned and super abilities serve up generous helpings of chaos. Vaulting into the air, launching a carefully aimed rocket and then activating your super is empowering, but more importantly it is fun. There are few first person shooters that can rival the way it feels to play Destiny 2.
You land in a set location with two players you may or may not know. There’s an evil entity hidden inside a heavily guarded lair. It’s your mission to take them down.
And that is all you need to know about strikes really. You progress through a level, fight a mini-boss or two and then face off against said evil entity. But this doesn’t really matter to me. The reason I love strikes is because they are relaxing.
Strikes are easy. Probably too easy. But you have to admit they are completely stress free. They are so stress free that all you have to do is join a strike playlist and let the game organise everything for you. No LFG. No Destiny app. No reloading into an instance trying to find an Escalation Protocol or a Blind Well team. The only time you have to pick up your controller is when the mission starts. When it ends you put it down, make yourself a drink or simply sit there admiring space fly by as your little jump ship soars through the stars.
They are the perfect antidote to a long day at work.
3. Real world locations
Let’s be honest. It’s unlikely that I’ll take a trip to Mars any time soon. Perhaps because it won’t be possible within the next 60 years, but mainly because any journey which takes longer than 3 hours results in my legs getting restless. It’s a shame because there is something quite mystical about space and most of us will never see it.
So the next best thing we can do is sign up for some virtual tourism. Sure, you could go on Google Earth, zoom out to space and hover over Mars’ surface, but soon you would get bored. I’m sure, like I have, you would end your exploratory session by firmly pressing down the mouse button and ferociously flinging the cursor off screen sending Mars into a violent spin, like it was trapped on a waltzer ride at a giant galactic funfair. And I mean, that’s only entertaining up to 12th time, at a push.
A better option would be to load up Destiny 2 and begin exploring these planets in first person. Landing on the ice caps of Mars or walking on its synonymous red sands to see Phobos gracefully rotating within the planets gravitational pull is everything I wanted.
Thank you Bungie!
4. Triumph tab (in-game lore)
The world of Destiny is so dense and complicated that you would likely need a full time job as a Destiny Researcher to comprehend it all. Luckily there are people in the world who have such a job. And while I occasionally watch ‘My name is Byf’ or ‘Myelin Games’ present their investigations into Destiny’s lore (which are excellent by the way), the lore entries on the Triumph tab makes it easier for me to do my own investigating.
Browsing the lore menu is perfect in between missions or even when loading into the tower (when it’s not drink time). Each entry is categorised into a storyline, or character making it easy to decide what to delve into. They are expertly written and best of all they only take a few minutes to read. Perfect timing!
5. Rewarding gameplay
In Year 1 of Destiny 2 we said there wasn’t enough to do. Specifically there was nothing to do. Once our weekly milestones had been ticked off we were left abandoned, shunned to orbit and forced to scour the galaxy looking for new activities. And sadly, there were none.
Now, however the activities are plentiful, with most luring you in with the promise of powerful gear. There are rewarding drops everywhere and it always feels like there could be an exotic waiting around the corner.
In fact, there is so much to do, I rarely have time to complete it all in the week. It must be at least a month ago since I earned all my powerful gear. I had a weekend to myself and decided to spend 8 hours playing Destiny 2. I didn’t get an exotic, but the incentive was there.
Yes, one of my favourite things about Destiny 2 is an exotic from Year 1, a time when Destiny was arguably in one of its worse states ever and most exotics were unarguably tepid. But I can’t help it, Riskrunner is one of my favourite exotics and I find myself returning to it time and time again.
Firstly, it is powerful. When arc conductor sparks up it is on the verge of unstoppable. It can mop up groups of enemies with ease and allows you to soak up some serious incoming arc damage. It is so powerful that it was one of the few weapons that didn’t get a significant buff in the Warmind sandbox update last year. Most exotic weapons were completely reworked, but this little SMG stood strong. Go on lad!
7. The wide variety of weapons, especially the exotics
The majority of weapons in Destiny 2 are deserving of your time, with the best weapons saving themselves from being turned into legendary shards or from being sent to one of your many vault spaces to gradually turn to rust. Most obviously the exotic weapons are unique. Each one has unique perks, a unique identity and a unique play style. One of the greatest feelings in Destiny 2 is simply trying out a new exotic, seeing what its perks do and deciding whether it is for you. And most times it well and truly is.
Gambit took the core of Destiny’s gameplay (shooting enemies in the head over and over again) and added well thought out elements and new mechanics. Each gambit match basically comprises a mad rush to defeat enemies, collect the motes they drop and bank them at a central location in order to summon the Primeval end boss. But each match feels fresh, exciting and forces you to constantly undertake a rapid cost-benefit analysis during every moment played.
Do you risk collecting 15 motes or play it safe and bank your 11? When is an invader coming? Do I have time to collect more motes? How is the other team doing? What is my team doing? Should I use my super to generate motes faster or save it for the Primeval? Did I leave the oven on? What is my purpose? Why can I smell burnt food? Shit, the oven!
These questions slowly build until a frantic crescendo erupts towards the end of the round. It is within these moments that the magic of Gambit rises to the surface and it is why I find myself returning to Gambit week after week.
Gambit was great for Destiny 2, but above all it was great for Bungie. It showed us that they are in fact, innovating once again.
We are often spoilt in gaming with the ridiculously high quality of certain soundtracks. I routinely play the Wolf Among Us and Fallout 4 opening themes when I’m working and occasionally put on the “House Building Song” from Red Dead Redemption 2 when I need some motivation. There are so many excellent soundtracks that I’m sure we all have our favourites. And Destiny 2 is safely one of mine.
One of my favourite tracks is still “Journey” from the opening level of the base game. The moment you lose your light, ascend the mountains of the EDZ and look out across the ravished landscape, you are presented with arguably the best song in the game. The gradual swell of high pitched strings promotes feelings of hopelessness, vulnerability and beauty at a time when all is seemingly lost. It is simply exceptional.
10. Art direction
The video game artists at Bungie are some of the best in the industry. The art direction, lighting effects and attention to detail are second to none. And while the skyboxes have received praise in the past, I actually think the design of Lost Sectors deserve a special mention.
The majority of Lost Sectors are hidden underground, away from regular use. When venturing down into these hostile environments it often feels like you have stumbled across an area of untouched natural beauty. Unique fungi grow on cave walls dimly illuminating the empty space, while in other areas giant fossils line the walls and floor hinting you are walking through an ancient hunting ground.
Unfortunately in their current state Lost Sectors are essentially pointless (other than what seemingly feels like every exotic quest). I hope that Bungie soon leave Lost Sector limbo and decide on a better purpose for these beautiful areas. It is such a shame to see them go to waste.