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Destiny 2

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Bungie
Release Date: Sept. 6, 2017

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My name is Michael, and although you don't know me and I don't know you, I reviewed a game you're obviously interested in since you came here, so that sort of makes us friends now. I hope I'm able to help you decide which game to buy next or avoid wasting money on, new friend!

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PS4 Review - 'Destiny 2'

by Michael Keener on Sept. 12, 2017 @ 3:00 a.m. PDT

Destiny 2 is a first-person action game that takes the player on an epic journey to defend humanity from annihilation.

Buy Destiny 2

Three years ago, the world was introduced to the universe of Destiny. Some players dropped it early on when it didn't live up to their expectations, some stayed to the end of the DLC, and others may see Destiny 2 as their entrance into the relatively young franchise. Players who adventured through the first title can transfer their character avatars, but that's about it. Expect to lose items, gear, light level, weapons, etc. This is about as fresh of a start as one can get, and it may be just what the series needs to offer a good starting point for newcomers and those who didn't play through the DLC. This is the continuation of the universe, but deep down, it's the beginning of a new era.

In the original Destiny, which is set several hundred years in the future, players witnessed the end of the Golden Age for mankind. After advancements in technology led to an era of deep space exploration and colonization, the human race was attacked by a powerful alien force known as the Darkness, which wiped out all colonies located far from Earth. The last hope of survival was with strong combatants known as Guardians, of which there were three classes: Hunters were known for their fierce agility, Titans were known for their strength and protective abilities, and Warlocks were known for magical powers that aided them in combat.


There was a ton of lore within Destiny, but it wasn't on display. The title faced a lot of criticism about how the single-player portion was a hack-and-holdout style of combat as players progressed through the immersion-detached levels. The game had many flaws, but when it came to special events and raids, it was almost unmatched. On a weekly basis, players logged in to participate and hunt down the best gear and weapons.

In Destiny 2, the Red Legion invades the last safe city on Earth. Cut scenes make for a cinematic presentation, but the storytelling is also found in the in-game scenes. As players make their way through the chaos of the initial invasion, huge enemy ships glide across the blood-tinted sky as they rain down missiles. The cinematics don't lighten up as players make their way across solar system in search of the tools required to take down the Red Legion and their commander, Dominus Ghaul. Players will run into the same enemies as they did in the last game, which includes the Cabal, the Fallen, the Hive, the Red Legion and the Vex.

Anyone who has played the original title shouldn't be surprised that the campaign basically serves as a long tutorial. If it weren't already difficult enough to get through, each character needs a complete playthrough. Players can have a maximum of three Guardians, and while it makes sense to have one of each class (Hunter, Titan and Warlock), some may opt to have all three characters be of one class, so it's easier to collect and share the gear and weapons.


In order to reach the raids and nightfall missions — we'll talk about this in a bit — players need to progress characters to level 20 via the story and multiplayer. The original title allowed players to change the difficulty level for better end-mission rewards, but Destiny 2 only has one difficulty at launch, and it's pretty easy. The missions in the previous game created some tense situations, which don't exist in the sequel unless players deliberately run into enemies to create a sense of danger. Many times, I ran through the levels and bypassed all the enemies, or I handicapped myself by only using melee hits. The AI refuses to shoot until you're in its sight for several seconds, and when it does shoot, there's a good chance it'll miss if you're moving at all.

Another reason the difficulty is so low is that players can soak up damage like a boss. The story is better than average, and it's certainly light years ahead of the first title, but the gameplay and enemies lack a serious buff. This is the Red Legion, which is an undefeated and extremely feared elite faction inside the Cabal army. It makes it difficult to believe when players swat them away like flies. I'm hoping that we'll see a big change in how the difficulty is handled via a patch.

Once again, class types and subclasses play an important role. The previous system unlocked the subclasses through playtime and grinding, but in Destiny 2, players are given one at the beginning and can unlock the rest later. The three starting classes/subclasses are Hunter Arcstrider, Titan Sentinel and Warlock Sunblade. Unlocking further into subclass skill trees requires upgrade points, which are rewarded upon leveling up. Players can also receive upgrade points from Adventures, which are side-quests given by NPCs. They encourage exploration while offering a fun way to take on mini-bosses and stronger enemies. Save those upgrade points until you know what you want to invest in. It'll prove to be more useful when you farm for harder opportunities after level 20.


Speaking of farms, the central hub has been changed. It makes sense when the tower is demolished in the introduction level, which is pretty depressing. The new hub is simply known as the Farm, and although it doesn't look as prestigious, it serves its purpose. Players can find numerous vendors selling gear and weapons in the hangar, Cryptarch Tyra Karn in the courtyard when you need to identify items, a handful of vault kiosks to store gear, and even a soccer field. Kicking the soccer ball into a goal resets the ball in the middle. After three goals, there's a special celebration.

Making a return is the structure of raids and nightfall missions. Weekly resets are done every Tuesday, and the friendly neighborhood Xur visits on Friday. Xur is a traveling salesman who brings around some of the finest exotic gear. He shows up with a new batch of items every time, so it's important to check in with him weekly. Nightfall missions are regular vanguard missions that are bumped up in difficulty and have specific modifiers attached (e.g., energy, kinetic and power weapons either do more or less damage). Raids have yet to be seen, and only the future will tell if they live up to the ones in the past. If they do — and I'm sure Bungie has some pretty insane ideas planned — then the end game will be wildly addicting. Fire team size hasn't changed and still structures around a three-man or -woman party. To party up, one can send invites to friends via the roster, or join an existing fire team, so long as it's not full.

Those who are interested in playing the Crucible, the PvP side, will be disappointed to learn that the 6v6 structure is gone. Bungie opted for smaller teams to focus on a tactical approach to firefights, so the highest player count is 4v4. It makes sense to strive for an e-sports atmosphere, but I think doing so takes away much of the fun. I don't usually have more than two friends online playing the same game, and since Rainbow Six Siege is the premiere tactical shooter experience, I feel the Crucible will collect metaphorical dust. It's harder to pull off flanks, and if you don't stick with your teammates, you'll be outnumbered in many situations. Super abilities have a longer countdown, and ammo for rocket launchers and snipers are also on timers instead of being pick-ups around the map.


There are noticeable changes to the overall presentation in Destiny 2. The cut scenes look top-notch. The game runs at 1080p with 30 fps; it's too bad we couldn't have 60 fps, but Bungie indicated the choice was made to optimize AI count, environment sizes, number of players and smooth gameplay. The enemies look the same as before but slightly better textures. The Red Legion is a welcome introduction, and you can sense their strength just based on their appearance. There's much variety to the world, including underground caverns, ruined cities, Vanguard hangars, enemy ships, and foggy woods. I didn't experience very many technical flaws or bugs, which was nice since it provided a smooth experience. It's noticeable how much polishing went into the details and optimization, which is both expected and appreciated from AAA studios.

Nothing will ever beat the sound of the Halo franchise,but the Destiny franchise has a great musical score. It differs slightly from the last, and it feels a little more mature. It still sounds triumphant but manages to convey that we're facing greater odds this time around. I also enjoyed the sound of the weapons, and you can hear the power they pack behind each and every pull of the trigger. The only complaint is that some assault rifles sound like they have a silencer on them.


The game is loaded with voice acting and facial animations, and everything looks and sounds the part. The cast of actors is about as top-notch as you'll see in gaming. Nathan Fillion, known for his role in the TV show "Castle,"plays Hunter Cayde-6. Gina Torres, known for her role as Jessica Pearson on TV show "Suits," plays Warlock Ikora Rey. Lance Reddick voices Commander Zavala after a successful performance as Sylens in Horizon Zero Dawn. Other noteworthy actors lend their voices to this adventure, including Neil Kaplan, who voices antagonist Ghaul; Nolan North (Uncharted's Nathan Drake); and Courtenay Taylor (Fallout 4 and Mass Effect 2).

With its DLC, the original Destiny had a three-year shelf life, so we can safely expect something similar from Destiny 2. The story and gameplay mechanics have greatly improved, and it sports many graphical upgrades. It's unfortunate that the enemy AI isn't more challenging, but for this franchise, the fun will always come from the end-game content. As long as players understand and accept that, they should snap up this sequel and prepare for another long adventure.

Score: 8.0/10



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