Four Years Later, Destiny 2 is Still Worth Your Time
Destiny 2 has struggled to find its place in the four years since release; but its time has finally come
Now, this may sound a little redundant: I’m sure you’ve all heard of Destiny even if you haven’t played it yourself. So, why am I trying to raise awareness now of all times? Destiny 2 came out in 2017 after all. The answer is simple: it’s because I love it and after seven years it’s finally in a comfortable position.
Destiny as a franchise has had a great deal of ups and downs: from the soul-crushing launch of Destiny back in 2014, the insane excitement surrounding The Taken King expansion that delivered on a Destiny 2.0 idea, back to plateauing for extended periods until the launch of Destiny 2 in 2017. And that’s just from the launch of Destiny to Destiny 2! Destiny 2 has had a journey of its own, including the familiar soul-crushing feeling at launch as it seemed more a sequel to Destiny as it was in 2014 than how it had been after years of work. There were several microtransaction scandals, poor early DLC, broken PvP, and so much more.
I’ve always loved Destiny, no matter its highs and lows, but I couldn’t confidently and passionately recommend the game to people for all these years because it felt like a broken promise. Destiny had never reached its full potential, at least not for long enough to claim it was well-worth your time and investment (unless you’re a masochist who enjoys being let down by content updates). But now, in 2021, four years after its release, I can whole-heartedly recommend Destiny 2 to you and here’s why.
Lets get the basics out of the way first. Just like Halo before it, Bungie absolutely nailed the gunplay in Destiny. This is one thing that has never changed because, thankfully, it has always been a joy to explore and wipe out aliens in the beautifully haunting post-collapse world of Destiny. If there’s one thing that has always kept me playing, even when there was no content to actually play, it was the sheer enjoyment of playing Destiny.
Each weapon archetype feels distinct and tactile with endlessly satisfying precision damage effects. Movement is flawless across all three classes, putting control squarely in the player’s hands. Speaking of the three classes, they remain wholly unique and entertaining but not restrictive like picking a class in plenty of MMOs. The array of planets you can explore are beautiful and full of interesting details for those with a keen eye. Plus, Destiny is the perfect game to play alone or with friends, offering content to fit all player’s needs, such as solo content, three-person teams and all the way up to six-person raids.
All-in-all, Destiny is and always has been a joy to play and that alone has been enough to keep me going all these years. The layers that Bungie have been building on top of this solid foundation over the past year or so is where it gets interesting. Time for a history lesson!
A Richer World: The New Era of Destiny
Back in October 2019, alongside the release of the Shadowkeep expansion, Bungie revealed a shift in their content delivery. They moved towards a true ‘Seasonal’ model for content delivery, following the trend of many other games in recent memory such as Call of Duty: Warzone and Fortnite, which introduce a variety of new gameplay features and items each Season, typically with a ‘battlepass’ containing even more items to collect.
Prior to this announcement, Destiny (1 and 2) was centred around one large expansion in September of every year which would bring not only more story content and gameplay, but more importantly to the longevity of the game — overhauls to specific systems. To keep players engaged throughout the rest of the year there would be two small expansions, such as Curse of Osiris in December 2017 and Warmind in May 2018. Between the Forsaken expansion and Shadowkeep there were seasons (Forge, Drifter, and Opulence) but these did not fully execute upon the idea of Seasons, particularly as they lacked a Battlepass and seasonal challenges. Nevertheless, this system clearly wasn’t working. Players would devour all of the content these smaller DLCs had to offer within a matter of weeks and then would once again be left wandering aimlessly until the next content drop.
This was the problem that the new Seasonal model was supposed to solve. It would replace these mid-way DLCs with smaller repeatable activities that would stick around for the three month Season and then leave. In theory it would provide players with a steady stream of content throughout the year that would be unique between seasons. But there was a reason why I still didn’t avidly recruit people for the cult of Destiny — these activities were grindy and lacked any kind of narrative thread linking them all together. It was simply content for contents sake. This all changed in Year 4.
Jump to November 2020 and we see the rise of what Destiny could really mean. November saw Destiny 2 enter its fourth year with the release of the Beyond Light expansion and Season 12: Season of the Hunt. This marked a true turn in Destiny’s journey. Bungie had finally found their footing with the new model and had managed to turn out a solid Season and an excellent expansion with an intriguing narrative and ‘Stasis’ powers that would draw us closer to the ever-elusive Darkness. Beyond Light would follow up on many of the narrative threads brought up in Shadowkeep and Year 3, now showing a clear commitment to an overarching story that Destiny had been sorely missing for all these years. It would see the Darkness making their first true appearance as an armada of pyramid ships encroached on our solar system (which was also clever reasoning for removing lots of old, un-played content that was restricting future development, but the Destiny Content Vault is worthy of whole discussion of its own).
This was the start of a new era for Destiny and one that is only getting stronger. Season 13: Season of the Chosen would see Guardians fighting to work out a deal with Caiatl, Empress of the Cabal, after Zavala refused to kneel in subservience. Season 14: Season of the Splicer, perhaps the best season so far, focused on a Vex invasion of the Last City, the calculated manipulation by the Witch Queen, Savathun, and a very touching story of becoming allies with a band of Fallen, a species whose interaction with Guardians typically meant a bullet to the face.
And now, in Season 15: Season of the Lost, humanity is trying to gather its allies and deal with the fallout of previous events while also preparing for the arrival of the Witch Queen in Destiny 2’s next big expansion coming February 2022.
The past year has seen a major stride in Destiny’s storytelling. Unearthing the incredible lore that was previously relegated to lore cards and item descriptions (and YouTube videos by fans like ‘My name is Byf’). It’s now a complex narrative with interesting characters, some of which were once our enemies, now making amends under the shadow of the coming Darkness.
The New Destiny Experience
The storytelling is not the only aspect which has seen major improvements since release, many core pillars of the Destiny experience have also been overhauled. One of the most notable changes was ‘Armour 2.0’, introduced with Shadowkeep. Armour 2.0 would see total overhauls of the armour system, replacing the random-rolled perks on armour in exchange for swappable mods and random armour stats. With these changes there is now so much more diversity and depth in armour customisation, with fully-fledged builds now being a possibility.
Want to be a grenade-happy crazy person? Chuck on armour with high Discipline and mods that recharge grenade energy. Equip a weapon with the Demolitionist perk. My personal favourite? ‘Code Of The Siegebreaker’ on a Sunbreaker Titan to stand in the flames of defeated enemies for ability energy. With this I can use back-to-back abilities to wipe out hordes of opponents in a fiery blaze. I’ve also recently tried out a Stasis build on my Titan which has insanely high ability recharge rate, letting me freeze entire rooms of combatants.
Weapons also received some love, now coming with a greater variety of interesting traits to move away from the Outlaw, Rampage, and Killclip perks that had dominated Destiny for years. Take Adagio for instance, ‘After defeating a target, this weapon fires, charges, or draws more slowly and deals increased damage for a brief time’, or Encore, ‘Precision final blows grant a stacking range bonus to this weapon. Non-precision final blows remove range stacks but grant bonus accuracy and stability when all range stacks have been removed’.
Overall, there’s a lot more depth in Destiny 2’s gameplay now than there has ever been in the past. I’m constantly hunting for exciting new weapon perk combinations to compliment my build, or finding that perfect piece of armour, which is a large part of why my Vault is always full.
The Future is Bright
There’s never been a better time to start your journey with Destiny 2, or even return to it if you left the game some time ago. I can confidently say it’s the best Destiny has ever been, complete with a rich and engaging story filled with intriguing characters that have grown significantly, mountains of content (particularly for players who have yet to play Forsaken, Shadowkeep, or Beyond Light), and a much more varied and fun sandbox to play in.
To put an even bigger smile on my face, it looks as though Destiny is only going to get better as it grows into the vision I had of the game all those years ago watching the E3 2013 reveal for Destiny.
“The Witch Queen represents an important evolution in the ongoing story of Destiny 2,” Bungie said. “Beyond Light built the foundation and allowed us to weave the world-building of Destiny and Destiny 2 together, but The Witch Queen will light the fire on a strongly interconnected narrative across Lightfall and beyond, unlike anything we’ve ever attempted before, with characters, arcs, heroes and villains that persist over multiple future releases. Even more importantly, the conclusion of these releases will also conclude the ‘Light and Darkness Saga’, the conflict we first introduced with the launch of Destiny many years ago.”
Joe Blackburn, Assistant Game Director on Destiny 2, Bungie
The Witch Queen, slated for a February 2022 release, promises to build upon the narrative of Beyond Light and the following seasons as Savathun makes her first in-person appearance.
Lightfall, planned for 2022, will continue this trend until The Final Shape (2024), the expansion that will conclude the decade-long ‘Light’ and ‘Darkness’ story that began in 2014 with the original Destiny. If the narrative remains at such a strong quality and pace then it’s sure to be a journey to be around for.
But that won’t be the end of Destiny. The franchise may have been originally planned as a ten year venture but Bungie have confirmed a future for the franchise, whether that means a new nemesis or something entirely different remains to be seen. Either way, after seven long years I can finally confidently recommend Destiny 2. It’s by no means perfect: the community are constantly debating the matter of the Destiny Content Vault, for instance. Nevertheless, no matter how many friends you have, or how you like to play, Destiny 2 offers something for everyone. Try it, even if you played it a year ago, jump in and give Destiny a chance and it might just surprise you.
If you’re jumping into Destiny 2 for the first time then it will certainly take some getting used to (the UI can be very messy and the tutorial is weak), so I recommend checking out some guides and tutorials to find your footing. Returning players, you may very well feel the same way as the game is radically different now than when it launched.
Here’s some helpful resources:
- A beginners guide to the story of Destiny by ‘My name is Byf’
- A very long beginners guide by ‘Fallout Plays’
- A more concise guide by ‘KackisHD’
- ‘Datto’ makes great guides and opinion pieces on Destiny
- A guide to earning Bright Dust, useful for customisation by ‘1-UP’ (yes, that’s me!)
For more of my gaming content, including Destiny, then follow me on Twitter and on Medium.
You can also find me on YouTube where I make video essays about games I love, including Control, Psychonauts, and Titanfall.
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