Destiny 2: Forsaken celebrated the second year of the second iteration of Destiny, a game which–at the time–seemed like a concept that players had been waiting for forever: a first-person shared-world shooter with MMORPG elements. Heck, it could even be played on consoles. But looking back, each iteration of Destiny, though they improved on the original’s design, was always just a few steps short of where players wanted the game to be. Bungie has been fighting an uphill battle for more than four years now but after playing more than 100 hours of Destiny 2: Forsaken, I can safely say that they are ahead of the curve.
The story is meaningful, narrative-driven, and a complete experience. It gives way to a larger conflict which players face in the raid rather than disposing of a meaningful antagonist. Bungie tried something new this time around in the form of a boss-rush story. Uldrin’s eight Barons each present a unique and memorable fight. I appreciate the fact that seven of the Barons are available to fight as soon as Spider tells you to kill them. However, the steady increase in light-level requirement means you’ll likely have to do them in a pretty preset order. Still, the option is there to take them on in any order you want–if you don’t mind a challenge–and that freedom to decide something within a Destiny 2 story is refreshing.
Another thing to mention is that the story makes total sense. There IS enough time to explain this go around. What begins as a light-hearted mission to round up some escaped convicts in the prison of elders quickly becomes one of the series’ darkest moments. There was a shock that went with hearing Cayde-6 cracking jokes one minute and fighting for his life the next.
The revenge narrative that ensues is straightforward and to the point. Zavala and Ikora want to take action, but they’re still concerned that doing so would put the citizens of the Last City at risk. That’s why our Guardian (the player) is perfect for the job: Find Prince Uldrin–and kill him.
In the past, Destiny campaigns have been pretty open-and-shut. The enemy you’re introduced to at the beginning of the campaign is the one you have taken out by the end. Destiny 2: Forsaken finally goes beyond the boundaries of the story missions and follows up with Destiny‘s largest and most breathtaking area yet: The Dreaming City. That’s where you’ll find the Raid (which we’ll get to in a moment), and a ton of other tasks for Guardians trying to increase their light level and completionists alike.
Petra Venj is back as the Envoy of The Queen, and she’s got some bounties for us to complete, but unlike your traditional Crucible or Vanguard bounties, these ones take a while to figure out. That’s one of the greatest things about the Dreaming City–I’m still discovering new challenges and encounters weeks after Destiny 2: Forsaken‘s launch. It even got a slight overhaul when the first team beat the Last Wish Raid and players were greeted with a narrated cutscene explaining how The Dreaming City was becoming even more corrupted.
The Last Wish Raid is the reason this review has taken so long. It’s undoubtedly the hardest raid Destiny has ever produced. A good portion of this comes from the fact that it has a recommended light level of 560 for the first boss. While the campaign should be enough to get any guardian to about 500, getting to 560 will take you weeks. Thankfully those are weeks spent on various activities (which all award “powerful” engram rewards in some capacity), especially the new Gambit mode. Even more rewarding is the fact that the weapons and armor you get have random rolls again. You can now return to grinding for that god roll of perks.
I had attempted to clear the raid on the first day it came out to have my review done as soon as possible, but I was nowhere near ready for that encounter. I had played a lot of Forsaken before the raid came out and I was only 527 light level. While I was able to figure out the interesting boss mechanics, I wasn’t doing anywhere near enough damage to be able to kill one. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one seeing as only 12 players in the world were able to clear the raid on the first day.
But the raid encounter ties directly to the expansion’s campaign and that feels good as a player. Knowing that my effort in the campaign transcends that six-eight hour experience makes me feel like my Guardian did something. The raid will have you exploring new branches of the Taken threat, and will leave you wondering what’s next. It’s the most well-executed story Destiny has ever seen.
I still have some gripes though.
The amazing experience that is the Last Wish Raid is locked behind a really high time requirement. That’s a good thing if you want longevity out of this game, but it’s such a stark shift from the way things used to be that a lot of players are having trouble keeping pace. Myself included.
Random perk rolls on weapons are amazing. They’re one of the reasons I loved the original Destiny so much. They add a layer of entropy to the game that keeps you interested. Sure you could get a great hand cannon, for example, but that same hand cannon with just the right set of perks could be twice as deadly. That carrot-and-stick combo was reason enough for me to keep playing the game back in the day.
However, the amazing implementation of Destiny 2‘s “collections” tab is frustrating because, while it is incredible to be able to access all of your old armor and weapons, it’s impossible to recover weapons and armor with random perk rolls from those tabs. It just seems like Bungie could have created a system by which players select which weapon they want to put in their collection so that they can get it later. Thankfully there’s a ton more vault space now because I’ve been hoarding every piece of gear I’ve gotten since starting the expansion. Hopefully, the developers hear players’ cries because it’s sad to see such an amazing system ignored when random-perk rolls can’t be stored there.
But those are my only issues with the game. It’s easy to look past them with everything Bungie got right. And I haven’t even mentioned Gambit. I outlined what Gambit is in my review-in-progress but what I’ve noticed about it is that it is such a perfect blend of PvP and PvE for Destiny specifically that I–along with a lot of the Destiny 2 community–can play if for hours on end and not get bored. Destiny has always had a great sensory response when it came to shooting the heads off of various species of aliens. That, in combination with Destiny‘s Halo-reminiscent PvP, makes the notion of a PvPvE mode in Destiny a home run plain and simple.
The hardest part will be convincing your friends that Destiny 2: Forsaken is worth coming back for. Two of my closest friends and Trials of Osiris partners were turned off by the game when Destiny 2 first launched. I’m hoping this upward trend continues so that I can get them back.
Destiny 2: Forsaken is Destiny at its best. Many of the systems that players loved from the original have returned, and many features from Destiny 2 have been refined. If Bungie continues to produce expansions like this then Destiny will certainly last for ten years as promised.