The past couple of weeks have been huge for Destiny 2, a game which has certainly seen its fair share of ups and downs since launching last year. What’s interesting is that Destiny 2 has followed in the footsteps of its predecessor to the letter, experiencing a few content droughts, releasing two smaller expansions, and slowly but surely improving itself month after month.
Hoping to build on that great gunplay foundation, Forsaken and the Sandbox update have introduced many changes, balance updates, and essentially overhauled a large portion of the experience. Did it work? Is Destiny 2 now a game that has fully realized its potential?
Before we jump into Forsaken, I wanted to take a moment to offer a few thoughts on the massive Sandbox update that arrived a week before the expansion dropped.
Laying the groundwork before Forsaken was Update 2.0 aka the Sandbox update. While it didn’t introduce any new content per say, its the biggest claim to fame was the complete and utter overhaul of many game mechanics. Weapons were reclassified, character classes were rebalanced, gear perks changed, game modes updated or outright removed, and so much more.
Frankly, the changes made were all much needed and really helped breath new life into the experience. The director itself was overhauled and now displays challenges/weekly quests inside the appropriate location, rather than in a side list. Gear finally dropped with random rolls, bringing a level of excitement back to turning in engrams and getting 6th Nameless Midnight. God rolls are back everyone!
In addition to the quality of life updates that the game desperately needed, the biggest element of this update was that the meta effectively changed for the better. Over the past few months, especially in Crucible, it seems that players generally settled on specific gear. As most of you know, the Graviton Lance was basically the end all, be all of the Crucible. It was everywhere and everyone was using it. As a Hunter main, don’t get me started with how powerful the Orpheus Rig boots were for Nightstalkers.
Thanks to all of the rebalancing, class changes, buffs, and gear changes, there’s an excitement to trying out new weapons and gear. In the Crucible, I’ve definitely seen a variety of weapons, which is absolutely thrilling. Sure, Shotguns have seen a major resurgence, but I’m glad that most matches are no longer Graviton Lance-fests anymore.
Okay, so let’s talk about Forsaken, an expansion that has a ton riding on it for Bungie and the fanbase. As Lord Shaxx would say: This. Is. Amazing!
By the way, I’m going to try and avoid Forsaken spoilers, but everyone has their own definition as to what a spoiler is, so reader beware. That said, I’m going to leave as much of the story details out as possible.
While I haven’t completed the campaign, I can say that it’s easily Bungie’s finest work to date. It’s well-paced, interesting, and the use of cutscenes to flesh out smaller details are so well done. I had concerns about the story leading up to Forsaken’s release and I’m hoping more revelations are revealed as I got, but so far, so good. There’s a number of twists and turns along the way, which are fun as well. It’s also good to hear the Guardian finally be able to speak, though the opportunities seem few and far between.
The first mission alone is really exciting as players take part in restoring order to the Prison of Elders with Cayde-6 and Petra Venj. Petra is a much more interesting character than she was previously shown in House of Wolves and frankly, I’m glad Bungie has put more of an emphasis on her. The Spider is also a new character you interact with quite a bit and without saying too much, he offers you bounties on wanted escapees from the first mission. These boss characters add a new element to the base parts of the game as players need to track them down in Lost Sectors or high-value targets roaming around locations like Nessus, EDZ, and the others.
When I heard that Bungie was adding a compound bow to the game, I kinda just brushed it off as being a gimmick weapon. After getting one during the Forsaken campaign, I can fully admit that I was completely wrong about it. The bow feels so, so nice to use and can absolutely hold its own with the other powerful weapons in the game. In fact, I don’t want to use anything else at the moment.
Surprisingly, the new supers are not all unlocked at a certain point. Players get to pick one of the three (based on the class you are at that time) and then the other two need to be unlocked. It’s not 100% known how to exactly do that yet, with many believing that a new one can be unlocked at each weekly reset, but some players have discovered a consumable that will unlock a new subclass that drops very rarely from one of the new end game activities. I’ve unlocked the new Arcstrider super so far, which…is fine, but definitely not the most exciting of the three options. I assumed at that point in the game, I’d get access to all three and just picked the one from the class I currently had equipped. I was wrong and kind of regret my initial choice.
For the first time in Destiny history, Bungie has developed a brand new enemy faction for players to fight. Now, I know some of you may be saying “Taken” but let’s be honest, they’re basically reskined enemies taken from existing factions. The Scorn are completely new in appearance and behavior.
As a race, they were once Fallen but have been twisted and changed into something else completely. After facing them for the first time, they immediately remind me of the Locust Horde from the Gears of War series as they have that hairless, milky color to them. They wear heavy metal plates and are typically very tall compared to most enemies.
Like the other factions, they have unique enemy types to deal with including the Screeb which quickly charges at the player and uses the blue either erupting out of it’s back to explode. Ravagers hold fire cauldrons that can be shot to explode while Raiders fire void saw blades that can ricochet off walls and surfaces. The huge abominations use arc energy to essentially shoot lightning out of their hands as well.
I’ve only just scratched the surface on the Baron fights, but basically, your job is to hunt down Uldren Sov’s Barons that have escaped the Prison of Elders. Now, this could have just been another basic element to the game, but Bungie turned these battles into truly terrific boss battles that would feel at home in a classic Mega Man game. Each Baron has their own personality and specialty, so each fight feels unique and different. You’ll be challenged in each one to figure out the best method to dispatch these high ranking bosses.
For all of the effort and work that Bungie put into scrapping and redesigning the mod system, I have yet to find any out in the wild. This is surprising due to how plentiful they were in the old system. In addition, the loot system seems to have been toned down a bit as I’ve been finding mainly blue, “rare” level items more than anything else. Legendary drops and engrams are no longer a common occurrence and even finishing a Crucible match typically gives me 1 blue item rather than the 3-4 I used to get. This could be due to the fact that I’m no longer max level or near the soft power level cap of 500, so it could very well change the deeper I go.
The ability to infuse items also received, in my opinion, a big nerf. While you can still do it, it now costs way more than glimmer and shards to upgrade items. In addition, players will need to use planetary items like Phaseglass needles or Dusklight shards and sometimes even masterwork cores. Infusing the same item into itself only costs glimmer, so it seems like Bungie would rather players not infuse items as often. Either way, this new system is a high price to play especially with those important masterwork cores, so I’m hoping that this gets toned down a bit in a future update.
The other major addition to the Forsaken experience is Gambit, a hybrid PvE/PvP mode where teams work together to defeat AI enemies and collect the motes they drop. What’s interesting about this mode is that it is essentially a race to see who can collect 75 first and summon a boss character. Death results in motes being lost forever and even healing the boss “Primeevil” enemy once it has been summoned. An interesting wrinkle is added when a portal is opened that let’s one player invade the other team’s side. While only active for 30 seconds, that player can basically cause havoc by killing players and making them drop the motes or helping the AI characters.
Frankly, Gambit is incredibly fun and very different from anything else currently out there. If you need a break from all of the PvE grinding or the sometimes intense PvP Crucible, Gambit is a wonderful palate cleanser. Bungie correctly assumed that Gambit would be big and even added a ranking system to the mode, letting players level up, turn in bounties, and collect exclusive gear.
Overall, Destiny 2: Forsaken appears to be The Taken King style rejuvenation that many players were hoping for. Yes, there’s plenty more left for me to do, especially within the end game location of The Dreaming City, but I can honestly say that I haven’t been this excited to play Destiny in quite some time. Forsaken has re-awoken my love for the franchise and I’m actually excited to log back into the game to discover new things on a daily basis.
It’s my hope that Bungie uses this foundation to continue building this game and future iterations going forward. Ladies and gentlemen, it looks like the Destiny franchise we all expected has finally arrived.