Reviewed on: Xbox One.
If you’re a Destiny veteran, you might remember The Taken King expansion for the original game turned an average grind-fest into a decent way to lose countless hours of your life; though there were still issues that would eventually follow into Destiny 2. But now, Bungie has finally done it. Four years after the initial release of Destiny, we’re onto Destiny 2: Forsaken, and it’s not just good but actually bloody great.
The Forsaken campaign is easily the most enthralling storyline in Destiny. If you didn’t watch any of the trailers then spoiler alert: Cayde-6 dies. The wise-crackin’ robot that everyone loves (and is actually voiced by Nolan North in this expansion, not Nathan Fillion), bites the dust in the first mission. An event that completely changes the feeling of the game. There are far fewer jokes and a much darker tone as your Guardian and the Awoken seek revenge.
Your character actually verbally states that they want revenge. It’s not your Ghost butting in. Not the Vanguard giving you the order. It’s your Guardian who makes the decision. That one line finally gave my character agency within the story again, and that alone is worth buying Forsaken (I really hate silent protagonists).
The villains, the Scorn Barons, are also great. They each have their own personality, though they all enjoy taunting you, and are unique to fight, with the missions to kill them each feeling like a mini strike. And Uldren, the man behind all of this, becomes a sympathetic villain. Well, almost sympathetic; he did murder Cayde after all.
The new Scorn faction aren’t just a rehash of the Fallen either. They’re more dynamic than most of the other enemies, and visually distinct so you can easily spot which scorn will shield its comrades and which will rush you. I still panic whenever a pack of Ravagers charge at me with their burning lanterns spinning around.
The story continues into the ‘Last Wish’ raid, and it’s incredible. The raid is full of new bosses and secrets, with the final boss even having deep connections to the old lore, plus the current and future story. It’s great to see the Destiny plotline evolve like this. The aesthetic and mechanical design for each boss encounter is completely new to everything in the past and each meticulously designed for teamwork. ‘Last Wish’ is the best raid in the history of Destiny, bar none.
When the first team completed the raid, every Destiny player received a notification of the achievement and that the in-game world would change. Soon, the Dreaming City patrol zone looked different, new quests opened up, hidden challenges appeared, and one of the greatest strikes ever, ‘The Corrupted,’ became unlocked. Destiny now feels like a living world that reacts to player influence and time.
Loot is a key element of the game, and it has received a massive overhaul. Random rolls are back, which was something I was dreading as I hate the hunt for god rolls. But I found that most weapons were able to roll with good perks, and legendary gear dropped often enough that I was regularly earning guns that I wanted to use. There are still certain activities, such as the ‘Last Wish’ raid, that have a chance to drop “curated” loot, instead of the randomly rolled raid weapons. These are raid weapons with perks specifically chosen by the Bungie designers, intended to be the best roll for each weapon in their opinion.
I find having static and random rolls fits the best of both worlds, and is a great motivator to play endgame content each week. You can get a curated gun, but maybe there’s a version you’ll like more. Plus, there’s so much to do that I haven’t even touched my secondary characters yet; I’m still grinding for higher levels and new gear, and I’m loving it.
The new weapon system is brilliant, and solves basically every balance issue that Destiny has had in both PVE and PVP. Primary and special weapons are now interchangeable between the kinetic and elemental weapon slots, meaning you can wield two shotguns (and a third exotic shotgun as a heavy), assuming you can juggle the ammo. It’s hard to explain properly, but is quick to learn in-game and allows players a great amount of versatility.
The in-game economy has also received improvements. Glimmer actually feels useful now, as it can be used to buy a variety of materials. Mods now come with a greater variety of useful options, from PVE damage to stability. The only downsides are that now materials, particularly mod components and masterwork cores, feel much scarcer because they’re so important now. New exotics are also rare, but I’ve found it more exciting to earn them because of this. Though duplication protection would be nice (Bungie says it’s coming!).
The Crucible is now much closer to the original Destiny, with lower kill times, all weapon types feeling equal (largely thanks to buffs and the aforementioned weapon changes), and a return to six player teams. Some of the maps feel a little too cramped for the player count, and there are a few ‘meta’ weapons (I’m looking at you, Ace of Spades and every shotgun), but the meta is wider than ever, feeling fresh and more enjoyable overall.
Forsaken also adds two new multiplayer options. One is an objective-based gametype called ‘Breakthrough’ that isn’t really anything special. The other is the all new multiplayer mode ‘Gambit,’ a combination of PVP and co-op horde. You fight NPC enemies to earn motes that send new enemies to block the opposing team from scoring, and then there’s the race to gun down the boss at the end. All the while you’re fending off invaders from the enemy team while you invade them yourself. It can be an intense experience and it’s the perfect way for Bungie to mesh PVE and PVP together.
While Forsaken is great, it introduced a couple minor slips. First is the new bounty system. You have to go to different NPCs to collect them for each activity (strikes, crucible, etc), wasting time running around the tower and planets, and with limited inventory space for all of them. The old system was great; you’d land on a planet or strike with your bounties already acquired and no inventory required. Why change that? Loading times are also becoming a big issue on console, becoming far longer since this expansion (especially when you have to go and get bounties).
But those aren’t game-breaking issues. Unlike previous iterations of Destiny, there’s nothing at a core level that makes me consistently frustrated. Instead, I’m constantly in awe of the story, world and all the content that’s available. Forsaken feels like the game I had been hoping for since its first reveal in 2013. I’ve made the upcoming pun countless times, but it feels like Bungie has finally achieved their destiny. My expectations are high now, and I hope the franchise continues to live up to them.