Destiny 2 has finally been revealed, and a hardcore group of ravenous guardians are eager to continue their journey in one of the most eagerly anticipated games of the year. It’s with a unanimous sigh of relief for Earth’s greatest advocates of the light that the wait is finally over. At this point in the original Destiny life cycle, guardians had already acquired enough light and experience to decimate the “God-Knight” Crota many times over. They had avenged Queen Mara of the Reef on countless occasions by bringing the treacherous Skolas to justice. Even the great and terrible Taken King didn’t stand a chance against a loot-heavy guardian hell-bent on absolute annihilation of this grand foe. Destiny 2 signifies a time for change in the world that Bungie has crafted for us – a time for something new and fresh. It also shines a light over a developer that listens to its passionate fans, as it attempts to rectify the glaring issues that have plagued the original Destiny since its awkward launch back in September 2014.
Securing and maintaining a loyal fan base is notoriously difficult for any video game company, especially in an age where titles are constantly being adapted and supported post-release. It’s a balancing act not dissimilar from watching a clown spin plates while pedaling a unicycle and reading memoirs of a clown; which is to say, it’s bloody hard. With so many different loyal fans to please, Bungie has certainly taken great strides in producing eloquent solutions to their many glaring oversights (the Dark Below era comes to mind). Whilst it is important to listen to every fan, Bungie is also aware of the whingey whiners, and they know to filter out the chaff that comes their way on a daily basis over at the forums. Judging from the gameplay reveal at today’s event, Bungie has identified the key complaints, and while it might not solve every whiner’s problem, it goes a long way towards improving the key Destiny experience.
The original story was crap, an over-simplified husk resembling a story that revolved around a binary (and not to mention vague) battle between the light and the darkness – there’s nothing else to be said for it. Post-DLC content proved that Bungie could polish a turd, and with the contribution of voiceover work from fan-favourite actor Nathan Fillion, Destiny fans were treated to a surprisingly rich and nuanced universe. Destiny 2 carries on from the great work of The Taken King as it tells the story of how a group of battle-weary guardians regroup to defeat the leader of the Red Legion, Dominus Ghaul, after they are defeated on their own home turf. There’s potential here for a vastly more mature narrative, as Ghaul’s motives aren’t as maniacal and world-ending as portrayed by previous antagonists. Instead, Ghaul simply seeks to correct an injustice on himself, as he believes that The Traveler should have chosen him to harbour the light – not the inhabitants of Earth. The guardians are simply in his way.
The downfall of the Tower’s guardians suggests a more story-driven tale for our favourite loot-hungry explorers, as they no longer possess the power of the light, and with the news that players’ stats and equipment won’t carry over to Destiny 2, this now makes logical and narrative sense. The reveal of the opening mission from Destiny 2‘s campaign actually looks like a meaningful and epic story beat instead of the humdrum “go here, kill that, now go here…” mundaneness of its predecessor. This mission has more impressive set-pieces within its short time frame than the entirety of the game you already own. The story resembles a similar approach towards the Mass Effect 2 premise in which Shepard would seek out dangerous companions to assist him in defeating the collectors, and if it’s anything like that then we’re in for a treat.
Not only is there a sharper focus on the story, but there are also key system tweaks that will make Destiny fans weak at the knees. The vexatious action in which Guardians had to go to the orbit screen before they chose what planet to travel to next has been removed in the sequel; instead players can now travel to a planet from wherever they happen to be. No longer will fans have to sign into Bungie.net to create and manage their clans – now fellow guardians can create their clan in the actual game. The actual game! A common complaint in the original game was aimed towards traversing the lifeless and dull open world when a story mission wasn’t activated. Boring patrol missions have since been replaced by meaningful side-missions given to you by a wide range of characters that encourage you to explore the lost sectors, as well as hidden areas in which the player will have to defeat a boss if they want the rare loot it protects.
Destiny always felt like a title that catered more towards the community-inclined gamer than their solo counterparts. Bungie has attempted to remedy this by introducing their new system, called “Guided Games,” as a harmonious solution that encourages solo players and clans to join forces to tackle the multiple raids, strike missions and anything else the game provides. It will be interesting to see if this successfully overcomes the hurdle of integrating the solo player into the multiplayer game that Bungie obviously wants the title to be. Even the Crucible game modes have been changed so that it’s always 4v4 players. More accessibility and flexibility is something fans have been craving for since the original’s release, and it’s imperative to nail the foundations of the multiplayer experience, especially when Bungie knows that Destiny 2 goes up against Call of Duty:WWII and Star Wars Battlefront II during the Christmas period.
Destiny 2 looks to be bigger and better than its predecessor in ever conceivable way, and the reason is simple: Bungie listened. Looking at all these alterations reminded me of my own frustrations whilst playing Destiny. I knew I loved it, but at the same time I could tell it was missing something necessary to qualify it as an amazing game. Bungie has taken on board the feedback of their dedicated community, and they have actively demonstrated what they’ve learned from the first game, hopefully giving the fans what they want. I might not care that PC gamers are finally getting Destiny 2 on their system, but it’s also great news nonetheless. I might be completely jealous of everybody at the event being allowed to play the game straight after the conference, but… actually I’m just jealous.