Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: September 18, 2017
Destiny 2 is a hybrid of an open-world first-person shooter and role playing game in an online connected world available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. Destiny was initially revealed on February 17th 2013 via the video documentary titled Pathways Out of Darkness: A Destiny ViDoc and at the reveal of the PlayStation 4 at PlayStation Meeting on February 20th 2013. Destiny naturally had fever pitch anticipation and a lot of high expectations with it being a partnership between Call of Duty publisher Activision and Halo developer Bungie which resulted in it becoming the most pre-ordered new franchise to date in the history of videogames; rapidly amassing millions of new players every month. Destiny also received critical acclaim that only became more positive as the game was gradually expanded; receiving BAFTA Best Game of 2014 at the British Academy Video Games Awards, while further awards highlighted quality within its nuances including the 2014 National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers (NAVGTR) that awarded Destiny with Control Precision, Original Dramatic Score in a New IP and Use of Sound in a New IP, alongside numerous nominations. Can Destiny 2 live up to the unparalleled success of its prequel?
The original Destiny was criticised in some quarters for not having enough of a story, although it can certainly be said that it laid the foundations for a fully fledged story to be told in future expansions and games. Destiny 2 certainly makes good on Bungie’s promise for a more story-driven and focused adventure from the very outset. Dominus Ghaul believes that his faction known as Red Legion is the rightful heirs to The Traveler’s power; therefore he starts a war with the Guardians to prove how much better Red Legion would be as a new era of Guardians. A Guardian has to reunite the scattered Guardians in a desperate attempt as the last line of defence in preventing Red Legion from harnessing the power of The Traveler.
Many modes and gameplay variations are essentially unlocked as rewards throughout the course of the story through completing particular objectives such as returning an ally to a safe location or completing the story. Flashpoint is a weekly milestone public event in which players will be rewarded with loot for participating in each specific destination, while Treasure Maps are provided on a weekly basis for a different destination which produces a random quality of loot. Public Events are hard missions such as destroying multiple large scale enemies within a time limit or are more objective focused for instance defending a giant quantity of Glimmer for a specific period of time. Raids are quite long and difficult even for a team of 6 players, while longer co-operative missions return in the form of Strikes, alongside Nightfall which is essentially a harder Strike due to the inclusion of further difficulty levels. Meanwhile, Challenges are Destiny 2’s form of Destiny’s bounties containing 3 challenges for each destination, Strike and Crucible playlist.
Crucible is a returning Player vs. Player mode, although it is now rather strangely smaller in scale at 4 vs. 4 in comparison to the 6 vs. 6 battles from the first Destiny. Crucible contains 5 unique Player vs. Player modes comprising of two new modes including Countdown in which a payload must be transported to an objective in addition to defending it for a timed duration, although the opposing team will be attacking to prevent the payload from being defended, alongside Survival were teams can only revive their allies a certain amount of times before their deaths count until the end of the round. Both new modes are complimented by 3 returning modes from the first Destiny including a team deathmatch called Clash; holding up to 3 capture points in territories across an environment to earn points towards victory in Control; and Supremacy is reminiscent of a dog tags mode in the sense that players only earn points after collecting crests dropped by defeated enemy Guardians, although points can also be earned by collecting ally crests before an enemy is able to reach it.
Adventures are a range of side missions provided by a gentleman sniper ally named Devrim Kay which leads to treasures from loot chests after investigating dangerous areas such as abandoned tunnels and those known to be patrolled by enemies. Devrim Kay himself is a rather fun character to encounter as he will be talking seriously about the mission one moment, but then a few seconds later he talks openly about his next cup of tea and his favourite meals. Lost Sectors appear on your map in the form of an arch symbol in which these locations contain small dungeons with a mini-boss that must defeated to earn a reward of a cache key to unlock a nearby loot chest. Patrols are short missions that are unrelated to the story missions that are discovered when exploring destinations. Story campaign missions can be replayed for a higher quality of loot, XP and faction reputation after completing the story campaign in a feature referred to as Meditations.
There are three classes including Titan, Hunter and Warlock which return from the first Destiny with each of the three classes having their own unique and impressive sets of characteristics. Titans are simultaneously capable of offence and defence, while Hunters are fast paced in movement and firing their weaponry, alongside Warlocks who are capable of utilising weapons and magic in equal measure to overcome their enemies. After you have chosen your class, you have the freedom to customise your character as much as you prefer including selecting a gender of male or female; a race between human, awoken and exo; a facial structure, skin colour, lip or mouth colour and eye colour; hair and hair colour for humans and awoken or head feature and head feature colour for exo; and markings and marking colours. This is an exceptional level of character customisation that allows you to personalise your character’s look from another race of beings or to make your character resemble yourself, although it would have been great to scan your own face into the game via PlayStation Camera.
Ally character design is absolutely on point as they are all likeable characters with such great camaraderie before and after the hostile invasion from Red Legion. Enemy design is just as varied as the first Destiny as there is also Red Legion’s army in addition to the return of the Fallen. Enemies come in all manner of shapes and sizes with varying weaponry and armour such as some enemies have a cloaking device, while others have physical shields that are held in front of them, but do not cover their feet providing a weakness that can be taken advantage of, although some enemies have self-contained shields that will withstand a certain quantity of hits before exposing the enemy to taking damage.
Upon finding survivors after the invasion; the leader of the group named Hawthorne provides a jumpship called Wanderwing which can be utilised to leave the farm in search of other worlds. The Director can be used to select new missions, track locations, view personal milestones or interact with friends.
A major gameplay element in the Destiny series is your character’s power level which is gradually increased as you find new loot that is usually an improvement on your previous loadout or collect in-game currency in the form of Glimmer to purchase items from any ally character that are willing to sell their weaponry, armour and more besides. Your character has a helmet, arm gauntlets, chest armour, leg armour and class armour that initially withstand damage from only smaller enemies before you can find better armour which makes it a fairer battle against stronger enemies. There is also a variety of weaponry such as hand cannons, submachine guns, automatic rifles, pulse rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles, grenade launchers and much more besides which reflects the progression of armour in the sense of gaining more powerful weaponry to inflict more damage on enemies to compete against more aggressive and powerful enemies that would otherwise be inflicting more damage than what you could keep up with. Every weapon has their unique respective attributes including impact, range, stability, handling, reload speed, rounds per minute fire rate and magazine capacity with varying elemental ammunition. However, outside of the power level; a certain level involving XP is required in order to be able to equip a new weapon or piece of armour. Every weapon and armour plate has a respective rarity value highlighted by a specific colour that represents each rarity group including white items are common, green items are uncommon, blue items are rare, purple items are legendary and yellow items are exotic.
Destiny’s trademark open-world landscapes return bigger and better than ever with wonderfully diverse environments from ally and enemy ships to the picturesque mountains and snowy landscapes of The Last City and much further beyond, while environments are partial to the elements such as rain, snow and sunshine in addition to a gradual day-night cycle. Environments are explored differently in Destiny 2 in comparison to its prequel as Sparrow vehicles are unlocked much later into the story; therefore resulting in players having to explore environments on foot instead of accelerating through them at high speeds. It is a change that will no doubt divide opinion, but it will certainly prompt the majority of players to seek out any secrets or intricacies within their surroundings and that is no bad thing.
XP and levelling up revolves around the amount of enemies you defeat as the number of experience points earned will be displayed to the right of a green meter at the bottom centre of the HUD, while XP is also rewarded for completing missions in any mode. XP is a very important gameplay mechanic as earning enough XP to level-up to the next level will unlock a skill point in order to afford a new upgrade within your subclass such as upgrading from a magnetic grenade to a voidwall grenade which creates a horizontal wall of burning void light, while Towering Barricade provides a large barrier which is capable of reinforcing a position with cover from enemy fire; Defensive Strike produces an overshield around your character and allied characters following killing an enemy using this melee ability; and much more besides, albeit some upgrades require your character to be levelled up to a specific level before being able to unlock the ability with a skill point. Therefore earning XP is crucial to increasing your chances of being able to survive a swarm of enemies when there are no allies to assist in combat.
Grimoire cards were utilised in the first Destiny to tell back stories albeit through Bungie’s website instead of actually within the game; which was the downside of an otherwise interesting gameplay mechanic. Grimoire cards are replaced in Destiny 2 by pure storytelling through missions, cutscenes and adventures that are guided by their respective characters which somewhat does away with the need of Grimoire cards.
Destiny 2 is mostly played from a first-person perspective, although there are areas such as when your guardian falls to The Last City were there is initially a change of pace to a stealthy progression beyond enemy patrols and when exploring the farm in which the camera will switch to a third-person perspective, alternatively when your character performs a celebration or greeting or even when riding a Sparrow amongst any environment. However, it would be even better if players were able to switch between first-person and third-person perspectives at will when engaged in combat or riding a Sparrow.
An expansion pass is available to purchase separately to essentially pre-order all downloadable content set for release in Destiny 2, although the expansion pass is also included in the Deluxe Edition and Collector’s Edition. Timed exclusive content for PlayStation gamers includes a co-op strike titled Lake of Shadows for 3 players set in Earth’s European Dead Zone; a PvP map titled Retribution for 4 vs. 4 competitive multiplayer in the Crucible set in the upper atmosphere of Mars; a set of armour for each class; a City Apex ship; and a Borealis exotic weapon that has three damage modes.
Destiny 2’s remote play performance is astounding as the graphics, audio and general performance is identical to that of its PS4 counterpart which is absolutely amazing, especially considering the size and complexities of the game! There has even been a conscious effort to optimise the control scheme as though it was a Vita native game due to the lack of R2, R3, L2 and L3 buttons which has resulted in shooting being moved from R2 to R, aiming is re-mapped from L2 to L and sprinting being mapped to holding down on the d-pad while moving with the left analogue stick. It has made for some rather creative uses of the touch screen as the centre of the touch screen is used to access the ghost in regards to viewing objectives, while the top and bottom left of the touch screen throws your currently equipped grenade and the top and bottom right of the touch screen is used for melee attacks, alongside tapping both sides of the touch screen to use your special ability when it has become supercharged. It shows some real effort, thought and commitment to creating the best possible remote play experience for Destiny 2 rather than mapping the R2, R3, L2 and L3 buttons to the rear touch pad by default; therefore Destiny 2 is the go-to PS4 game to showcase remote play on your Vita as it replicates the PS4 version perfectly.
The controls are easy to master as they are as responsive and intuitive as the first Destiny with the default control scheme consisting of pressing R2 to shoot; pressing R1 to perform a melee attack; pressing L2 to aim down the weapon’s sights; pressing L1 to throw a grenade; pressing L1 and R1 to perform a super ability; pressing X to jump; double pressing X to engage thrusters in order to reach greater heights; pressing O to crouch; pressing square to reload; holding square to interact with an object; pressing triangle to change weapon; pressing up on the d-pad to wave; pressing right on the d-pad to dance; pressing down on the d-pad to sit; pressing left on the d-pad to perform a customised movement; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to move your character; pressing L3 to sprint; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to look around your surrounding environments; pressing R3 to highlight a player; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu.
There are five alternative control schemes including mirror, green thumb, jumper, cold shoulder and puppeteer with a number of changes made in each which is an extremely positive design choice as it will certainly allow for players from different first-person shooter franchises to find the control scheme that is appropriate for their play style such as the mirror control scheme that switches the actions of L1, L2 and L3 for R1, R2 and R3 in comparison to the default control scheme.
Vehicles always handle with the accuracy of a dedicated driving game which is a huge positive as nowhere near enough first-person shooters have drivable vehicles, let alone vehicles with the appropriate cornering or handling capabilities that you would expect, therefore Destiny 2 has certainly retained the re-written rule book from its prequel for the quality of vehicular handling in first-person shooters.
Tapping the touch pad shows your current objectives with further possibilities such as deciding to leave the planet or moon to go into orbit, while the light bar usually displays a darker shade of white, but increases in brightness when your ghost activates its in-built torch to emphasise the change from darkness to light, although the light bar also changes to yellow to inform you when your character has become supercharged allowing you to use an ability and flashes red when your character is near death. A large amount of vibration occurs when you have been hit by an enemy to stress the impact or during an explosion to highlight the force of the blast and a smaller vibration when shooting enemies to underline the recoil of your weapon.
Graphically, Destiny 2 is stunning throughout its diverse environments which are fully realised by excellent particle effects on everything from dust and weather to explosions, complimented by amazing lighting, shadows, enemy character models and weaponry as well as a day-night cycle running at a rock solid 30 frames-per-second on PS4 with no drop in frame rate regardless of how many enemies are nearby at once. PS4 Pro support offers dynamically shifting resolutions between 3072×2160 and 4K via checkerboard rendering which brings distant details into better focus, while retaining the same consistency of 30FPS. However, HDR support was not present at launch, but has been confirmed to be integrated in a post-launch update.
The presentation of the game is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, character customisation menus, inventory menus, clan menus, settings menus and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, while being able to rotate your character with the right analogue stick, although it does not include support for navigation via the touch pad. The Director map is beautifully realised as what is essentially a map of the galaxy, while you get to see your ship in orbit above Earth before descending to your chosen location.
Destiny 2 has many actors and actresses returning from the previous game to produce more exceptional performances while bringing a certain charm to their respective characters including Nathan Fillion voicing Cayde-6 Hunter Vanguard having starred as Captain Malcolm Reynolds in Firefly and Serenity, Richard Castle in Castle and surely to be the on screen Nathan Drake in the Uncharted film; Gina Torres voicing Ikora Rey and Warlock Vanguard having starred as Zoe in Firefly and Serenity and Jessica Pearson in Suits; and Claudia Black voices Tess Everis having starred as Aeryn Sun in Farscape, Sharon Montgomery in Pitch Black and videogame roles such as Chloe Frazer in Uncharted 2, 3, 4 and The Lost Legacy as well as Crysis, Mass Effect 2 and 3 and Diablo III. Nolan North took over as the voice-over for Ghost since The Taken King expansion having voiced Nathan Drake in Uncharted 1 through 4 and Golden Abyss, Oswald Cobblepot and The Penguin in Batman: Arkham City, Arkham Origins and Arkham Knight and Nolan North President of the USA in Saints Row IV and Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell, amongst many cartoons and videogames.
Lennie James voices Lord Shaxx having starred as Morgan Jones in The Walking Dead, Harry Shaw in Lockout and Number 147 in The Prisoner remake, while Peter Stormare voices Arach Jalaal having starred in Mercury Rising and Armageddon opposite Bruce Willis, Minority Report opposite Tom Cruise, The Last Stand opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger and various videogames such as Mattias Nilsson in Mercenaries 1 and 2, Pvt. Johann Strauss in Quake 4, Jorunn the Skald King in Elder Scrolls Online, Dead Drop Orbit in Destiny and Dr. Hill in Until Dawn. Gideon Emery voices Devrim Kay having voiced Master Ives in Destiny, Fergus Reid in Wolfenstein: The New Order, The Old Blood and The New Colossus and Gideon in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Billy Nighy voices The Speaker having starred as Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean films, Viktor in Underworld films and High King Emeric in Elder Scrolls Online, alongside Frank Langella voicing The Consul having starred as Rodney Cole in Unknown, Frank in Robot and Frank and Noah Banes in Junior.
Sound effects include walking and running on different surfaces such as metal or water, jumping and double jumping, while you can hear the Fallen and Red Legion enemies communicating as the rather ominous sound of incoming drop ships full of enemies to replenish the numbers of the Fallen and Red Legion that you have just defeated, weapons being fired at enemies and enemies firing back, explosions and ambience; accompanied by cinematically emotional music that drives the mood of the scene. There is no DualShock 4 speaker audio which is surprising as it could have produced anything from an incidental sound effect such as informing the player that their supercharge had recharged or something greater such as ambience or sounds spoken by enemies.
The trophy list is rather surprisingly only a third of the size of the previous Destiny’s trophy list which includes 14 trophies with 2 silver trophies, 11 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. The easiest trophy is The People’s Hero for completing a Heroic public event, while the hardest trophy has to be The Prestige gold trophy for completing a Leviathan raid or Nightfall strike on prestige difficulty level. It is estimated that depending upon skill, a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips and some friends to co-operatively assist in completing missions that it would take most likely around 40 hours to platinum the trophy list.
For the majority of Destiny 2’s gameplay there are no difficulty levels with exception to difficulty settings within Nightfall and Raid modes. However, A.I. difficulty increases as you progress further into the story and side missions as enemies become more aggressive and powerful, although they show signs of intelligence and weariness in combat as enemies will dive for cover when they have received a couple of well placed health zapping shots, while the same can be stated for larger enemies with more health and a self-contained shield in order to buy some time for the shield to be reenergised. Aggressiveness from enemies is clear to see from very early on when groups of enemies will attack simultaneously; even going as far as to rise up from a hole in the ground to unexpectedly pounce on your character with all manner of attacks.
The insistence upon having an internet connection to even play in single player could be portrayed as a negative particularly for people who live in rural areas with an inferior and intermittent internet signal; however if you are looking for an online multiplayer community, then Destiny 2’s follows in the footsteps of its predecessor by delivering an online universe which certainly offers a wealth of content to extend the game beyond its initial story.
Destiny 2 performs supremely well in solo exploration, Player vs. Player modes and team focused co-operative gameplay. However, the only major negative to Destiny 2’s experience is the lack of split-screen multiplayer which is surprising given Bungie’s reputation for quality split-screen multiplayer experiences in the Halo franchise and its omission is the only criticism that can be levelled at Destiny 2. Split-screen multiplayer would have strengthened the multiplayer community and could have offered the ability to play every mission in offline split-screen multiplayer with up to 4 players or online split-screen multiplayer with between 2 to 4 players locally and another 8 to 10 players online to fill the maximum quota of 12 players.
Destiny 2’s replayability stems from a wide range of areas such as the vast amount of single player, co-operative and Player vs. Player competitive modes in addition to perfect implementation of core gameplay elements that work in harmony including collecting loot and Glimmer, XP and levelling up, power levels and total character customisation which will collectively have players returning to Destiny 2 for just as long as its prequel.
• Title: Destiny 2
• Developer: Bungie
• Publisher: Activision
• System: PS4
• Format: Retail/PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: No
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1/2-12 (Online Co-operative Multiplayer)/4 vs. 4 (Online Player vs. Player Competitive Multiplayer)
• Hard Drive Space Required: 37.18GB (Version 1.03)