Destiny 2 was one of the most hyped games of this past fall, and with the amount of online advertisements and cross promotion it was must have been hard to not get caught up in the waves of hype (I got so excited for D2 I ended up playing it on both PlayStation 4 and PC). Now that the dust has settled and the hype surrounding Bungie’s follow-up online FPS effort has disapated – it is time to have a discussion about why Destiny 2 didn’t make it among our “Best Games We Played” finalists.
The experience of levelling a brand new Guardian from 1 through 20 is an exhilarating ride, especially if you have the entire campaign ahead of you for the first time. Bungie took all of the feedback players gave them through the years of D1 and that game’s particular shotgun approach to narrative and used it wisely. While certainly not award winning material in the writing department, Destiny 2’s narrative introduces all of the core gameplay mechanics and worlds to the player in under 15 hours. Providing players with an enjoyable introduction to the world of Destiny, even if they happened to skip the first game.
It is after level 20 that the lack of “post-campaign” content becomes apparent. Instead of levelling up past 20, each successive level will award players with a “bright engram”, which can be traded in at the Ever Verse for an assortment of random items. Forcing players into your RNG based cash shop in the hopes of catching a few whales, who might drop a few hundred dollars in the hopes of securing an entire set of matching shaders, is pure averse at best and certainly praying on the psychological vulnerabiltiies of those who are prone to addictive behavior. “Ignoring the cash shop” is certainly possible if you wish to horde all of the bright engrams D2 throws at you but you’ll still be faced with another problem – tripping over legendaries left and right.
Remember how in Destiny 1 legendary weapons were a point of pride for players who spent the hours grinding out the RNG drop on heroic strikes and the like? I’m all for the game giving casual (and less skilled) players the same gear as the “hardcore” who are going to run the Leviathan raid 50 times. But with the abundance of vendor tokens to be found within the game’s many open worlds, there is no challenge or even pacing to the legendary gear. Instead of say tying them to weekly quests or daily activities, it is entirely possible to horde EDZ tokens until you have so many that legendary turn ins that can max out area NPC’s legendary rewards in a couple of hours. If Bungie’s intention was to make D2 a game that players were supposed to play for a number of weeks or even months, they’ve failed in that regard.
All of this discussion of Destiny 2’s end-game doesn’t even begin to discuss how they locked paying customers out of content that was readily available to them before the first expansion dropped in December. How they accidentally turned PVP into laser tag by releasing a broken Exotic Weapon and instead of pulling the weapon or nerfing it, they decided to just give it to everyone until a further patch in January.
Destiny 2 is a fun game with very pretty graphics and satisfying gun-play. Unfortunately Bungie has mismanaged the game spectacularly and after all of the shiny guns and flashy animations have worn off – at its core, it just isn’t very appealing. D2 has been haemorrhaging players for months now and with each misstep Bungie is reducing the chances that existing players will want to come back.
This is why Destiny 2 is only a runner-up for one of the best games we played in 2017.