Before we begin this journey down this rabbit hole called Destiny 2, I’d like to state for full disclosure that I’ve not played a second of the first Destiny game. It’s a game I completely avoided due to lack of interest. As many of you may have noticed based on the reviews I’ve worked on for this site, I’m predominantly more inclined to play a role playing game than anything else. In fact I think this may be the first FPS review I’ve worked on.
Now though I don’t particularly have any interest in Destiny, or most other FPS titles, I approached this review with the same amount of respect, and care as I do with any other. What this meant was me watching an hour and a half long video on YouTube by ‘My name is Byf’ covering the lore and plot of the first game before beginning to play the second, and I will admit after a few minutes of watching the video my fascination towards the game increased exponentially. I’m not quite sure how much of the lore covered in the video was in the first game itself, as this was a second hand account of it, but damn do I dig the idea of the traveler, and the entire sci-fi premise of the game. As a fan of Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, and the Mass Effect series (Including Andromeda) it was easy to like. Also I want to take a moment to recommend watching the the video I just mentioned, even if you have no intention of ever playing the games.
So backstory out of the way, how about we talk about the game in question. Destiny 2 opens in a very interesting way. I want to point out that the first thing I noticed after creating my crap character that I spent less than 5 minutes to create, was how exceptional the voice acting is. The story focuses on a new race in the series that attack the tower, cripple the traveler, take away the the light of every guardian, and pretty much kill every last one of them, except you and other 1.3 million other players of course. This all being part of a grand plan by this new race to take the light from the traveler to become immortal.
When I started getting into the thick of it I found myself deeply invested in what was going on, especially with regards to the leader of these new villains. That being said, everything exceptional about the story has nothing to do with the aforementioned shit main character. He or she is nowhere to be seen in most of the amazing cinematic cutscenes in the game, or the decisions around them. This discrepancy between the player character and the overall plot of Destiny 2 ultimately breaks the immersion of the game. In a sense what we get with this game are two different games running in parallel. One, a compelling tale about a band of de-powered Guardians fighting for survival, while the other happens to be the experience of the little silent shit that does the bidding of those other amazing characters in the “REAL” story. Think of it like being in a group, doing all the work that the entire group should be doing by yourself, and then when all the work is completed, everyone else gets the credit except you… even that random talking roach on the wall gets a bit of recognition. Wouldn’t that be the most shit experience ever? Well, that’s the way Destiny 2’s campaign feels from the perspective of the player character.
Yes, it’s an engrossing epic story that captivated me, but every time I saw my team meeting to discuss our next move, and I noticed my character wasn’t there, I thought, “wait a minute, where the frak is my girl, what the frak game”. This, along with the sad truth that my character suffers from a strong case of silent protagonist-itis was enough to affect my overall enjoyment of the game. I liked the story, but I’d have liked it even more if my character had more impact on it, and also if progression wasn’t hindered by MMO grind quest that are not optional due to the campaign missions being locked behind a leveling system.
As for the game play, well that’s where this game shines… Or at least that’s what I’d like to say, but I can’t. I don’t like MMOs, and though Destiny 2 disguised itself as a partially single player game for the sake of players like me. It still showed quite clearly what the focus was. As I just mentioned, during my time with the game I noticed that I couldn’t progress the story unless I was at a certain level. This meant that I was forced to do some random side quest or public event till I was at the appropriate level, then continue. I didn’t enjoy having to do this, as I was mainly interested in the plot, not fighting the same enemies I’d defeated the first time I made it to a particular area for the 100th time. Now granted this isn’t a jab at the enemy design or FPS gameplay, in fact I like the variety of enemies and weapons in the game. What I hate is prolonged exposure to them that eventually cheapened their appeal for me. This as well as the millions of random weapon drops that get you to like a particular weapon that only matter for a few minutes till you find that next new thing that has a higher number than the one you already have equipped, diminished my overall experience with the game. Again as I said before, it felt cheap. Which sucks because the combat is pretty satisfying. If not for it being prolonged for the MMO crowd, I think I’d have appreciated it more.
And no I didn’t play much multiplayer other than the public events. Our intention is to cover the multiplayer aspects like raids an such in a separate video when the PC version releases in October.
Graphically the game looks fantastic, and I think this is one of the aspects about the game that I have no critics about. The character models are detailed, and the environments are sort of awe-inspiring. With some locations looking so good that one could take a screenshot, and claim it’s art from a 90s science fiction novel, and I’d believe it. The word I’d use to describe the visuals is ‘stunning’.
Destiny 2 is a game that in a way feels too clever for its own good. It tries to ride the fine line of being an MMO while at the same time serving up a single player campaign similar to the kind we would find in games like Call of Duty. It’s a game that doesn’t know what it truly wants to be with regards to its plot. It has the elements for something that could appeal to everyone, but in the end, the lack of voice acting for the main character, and the way the cut-scenes were handle left me feeling disconnected from what is otherwise a great plot with very interesting characters. Now this doesn’t mean that you won’t like it. If you like MMOs, and have a couple other friends that have picked up this game, then this may be an enjoyable experience for you. I just happen to prefer to do most of my gaming alone, except on the few occasions when my mates drag me out of my comfort zone.
The copy of Destiny 2 used for this review was supplied to us by it’s Publisher Activision.
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