Destiny 2: By Gosh, the Price Is Right

I’ve tried Destiny 2 twice in the past, and both times it failed to impress me much. Nonetheless, not one to turn down a free lunch, I picked it up when they gave it away for free on Battle.Net, but even then I didn’t feel much motivation to actually play.

The warlock Ikora Rey in Destiny 2However, I’ve had a terrible flu the last two weeks, and binging on a simple game seemed like the best way to distract me from my physical misery. At last, Destiny 2’s moment had come.

I started over with a new character to refresh my memory of the game, but I’m still an Awakened warlock, so not much has changed.

I’m not sure exactly how far I am into the game, but the story feels like it’s ramping up toward a conclusion, and I’ve already been at the (pre-DLC) level cap for a while now. Honestly, leveling was so quick I have to wonder why they even bothered including it at all.

When I think of Destiny 2, the first word that comes to mind is “thin.” There’s no depth to anything in this game.

The skill trees are shockingly shallow. There’s not even the illusion of character customization. I’m generally of the opinion these sorts of things should lean towards the stream-lined end of things, but even for me this is too far.

Combat in Destiny 2Plus your active abilities are relatively weak and have very long cooldowns, so there’s not much to the gameplay beyond just shooting things. Ironically I find bosses are usually the easiest thing because you can quickly burst them down with your super weapon or ultimate ability, while hordes of weaker enemies are more dangerous because they’re too spread out to AoE.

Unlike Warframe or Anthem, which are hybrids of RPG and shooter design, Destiny 2 feels more like a pure shooter that had a few minor nods to RPG elements tacked on as an afterthought.

Similarly, the lore and story are equally shallow. None of the characters are at all memorable, save for Failsafe, who is good for the occasional chuckle.

I did have some hope that the villain was developing some nuance, but they just kind of threw that out now that I’m nearer the end.

I also find it weird how the whole story puts such a fine point on you being the only Guardian left with Light, but the game is constantly throwing you into groups with other players who clearly also have their powers. This kind of dissonance is not uncommon in online games, but rarely is it so obvious or extreme.

My character in Destiny 2That said, just because something is mindless doesn’t mean it’s not fun. Considering how underwhelming my first impressions of the game were, I’ve managed to have a pretty good time playing it heavily for the past week.

One thing I will say for Destiny 2: There’s nothing major wrong with it. Everything works, and there’s no significant blunders in its design. Even games I love usually have one or two major flaws, but Destiny 2 manages to maintain an impressively consistent level of quality, even it never really rises above “good enough.”

And there are a handful of things I’d consider worthy of special praise.

For one thing, it’s damn pretty. The graphics are of a very high quality, and there’s a really nice variety to the environments. Some are quite ordinary — forests, space stations — but some of the worlds you visit are quite exotic. Nessus and Io are very alien and absolutely gorgeous.

Also, I will say I really like the crafting system. Destiny 2 is one of those games that just never explains anything, so there’s nothing to let you know it’s even there, but you can craft an at-level version of almost any item you acquire over the life of your character, which is a great way to stick with the guns you like best and fill in any slots where you haven’t gotten an upgrade recently.

This is definitely one of those systems I’d like to see other games steal.

Jupiter's moon of Io in Destiny 2Speaking of items, while the drops are of course painfully rare, the special effects you can get on the top end items can be pretty fun. I found a submachine that starts spraying chain lightning and refunding its ammo whenever I take electricity damage. While somewhat situational, it’s nonetheless very strong and incredibly fun.

Finally, I will admit that the mission with the Almighty was pretty badass, if only for the impressive set pieces.

On the whole my time with Destiny 2 has been a decent ride, though I’m certainly glad I didn’t pay full price, and I’m not sure I’d spring for DLC.

For now, I might as well finish the story at least.


Song of the Month: Efflo, Mexico

It’s my birthday today, and as with last year, I’m going to post a song for no other reason than that it’s one of my absolute favourites.

When I first debuted my “Song of the Month” segment I started with a song by the Winnipeg band Sc Mira. Since then, they’ve changed their name to Efflo, short for “effloresce,” but it’s still the same band.

They haven’t put out any new music since the name change, so it’s too early to say if this also signals a change in sound, but I’ve loved everything they’ve done so far, so I’m pretty confident it will all work out one way or another.

One of my favourites of theirs is Mexico. It’s a very soothing song, and I often listen to it before bed, but it’s also fun to crank up until the bass rattles your bones.

Gods, this band is so good.