Cheating on WoW: Destiny 2, Again

I’ve been curious about the Destiny games for ages, my interest fueled by the general hype around the series, as well as my inability to let go of my love for the Bungie games I grew up with.

My Awakened warlock in Destiny 2Unfortunately, the open beta for Destiny 2 pretty much told me nothing about the game. So when a proper free trial popped up, I was happy to have another chance to give the game a try.

The good news is this is a far more fleshed out experience than the beta was. The amount of content is significant — several hours’ worth, at least — and all of the basic systems are in place. There’s now a character creator, for instance (though given this is a first person game where everyone wears helmets 95% of the time, I’m not sure there’s much point).

There’s also now a cutscene at the beginning that explains some of the story, so I kind of get what’s going on now. Sort of. I think? Still not really sure what the deal with Darth Zug-Zug is.

This game could really use a codex or something.

The gameplay is… fine, I guess. Not much to complain about, but to be honest I don’t see much to separate Destiny 2 from the other MMO or quasi-MMO shooters I’ve played. What differences I do see are quite subtle.

The gameplay is slightly less mindless than Defiance, but the setting and lore also seem to have had a lot less effort put into them. It doesn’t have The Division’s weird difficulty spikes, but the world is a lot less detailed, and exploration a lot less rewarding. The graphics are a lot better than Defiance’s, but oddly still not as good as The Division’s.

My warlock using her super ability in Destiny 2Heck, I even found a public event where the boss has the exact same mechanics as Dark Matter Monoliths and Remnant Architects. Is it really that hard to come up with different fight mechanics in a shooter? I guess there’s not much to work with, but still.

I did like how pistols seem to be a strong choice in Destiny 2. I like the aesthetics of pistols, but in most shooters they’re relegated to an option of last resort. In Destiny 2, they seem to be pretty good.

Maybe too good. Pretty much every gun in Destiny 2 seems quite overpowered. That might not seem like a problem, but it tends to trivialize weapon choice if none of them have any drawbacks. At first I was lamenting my inability to find a good sniper rifle, but eventually I realized it didn’t matter. Who needs sniper rifles when even a six-shooter can blow someone’s head off from five hundred feet?

I guess if I have one big complaint about Destiny 2, it’s that it’s just too easy. I’m sure there’s tougher content later in the game, but when it comes to leveling and solo content, this is another MMO aimed squarely at the lowest common denominator.

Such complaints aside, this seems a solid game overall. It’s polished. It plays well.

But I don’t feel a strong urge to upgrade to the full version right now, and overall I do feel a bit disappointed. Given the game’s pedigree and all the hype around it, I was expecting something special. Instead I got Defiance with deeper gameplay but a shallower backstory.

My warlock tours the Farm in Destiny 2I know it’s unfair to compare Destiny with Myth. It’s been twenty years, after all. But nonetheless I can’t help but think about the enormous gulf in originality between them. Myth was a game so unique that even today there’s nothing like it. Destiny is fine for what it is, but there’s plenty of other games just like it.

There was a spark of true creativity in Bungie games in those days. That’s what I was hoping to see in Destiny 2, and that’s exactly what I failed to find.


The Destiny 2 Beta Tells Me Nothing

I have been curious about Destiny since its inception. This is not, if I’m being honest, because anything about it seems particularly appealing, but mainly due to its pedigree. I still have tremendous love for the Myth franchise, and even after so much time, it makes my ears perk up whenever Bungie is mentioned.

A promotional image for Destiny 2I also freely grant this is not a particularly rational way to be. Destiny is about as far away from Myth as any game could possibly be, and even if it wasn’t, it’s been twenty years. Odds are most if not all of the people who made Myth aren’t even with the company anymore.

But still, I chase the nostalgia, and that has kept Destiny on my radar. I couldn’t play the first game because it was console exclusive, but I was very eager to jump into the open beta on PC.

It proved to be a deeply disappointing experience. Not because of anything wrong with the game, but because the beta offered such a small sliver of it as to be entirely pointless.

Most of the beta experience consists of what I want to call a tutorial but can’t because it doesn’t actually teach the player anything.

At all.

There is no explanation of anything. Not even some pop-ups to teach you the keybindings. Now, Destiny 2 is not by any stretch of the imagination a complex game, and I was able to get through fine just by reading the keybindings in the options menu and engaging in some basic experimentation. But it seems sloppy to just throw people in and expect them to swim.

Something about the power of the Zug Side.Nor are there are any clues given as to the world or the story. There’s no lore, no codex, and no effort whatsoever to catch-up people like me, who didn’t play the first game. My understanding of the Destiny universe right now is that there are Sith space Orcs and they shot at me so I shot them back.

None of this is hyperbole.

After that, the only things you can do in the beta are PvP matches (I didn’t bother with those) and a short three-person dungeon. I wasn’t able to fully explore or gain a good impression of this because even in beta the “go-go-go” MMO culture is in full effect, and my teammates treated the whole thing as a sprint to the finish.

Even character creation is remarkably stripped down. I was able to choose a class (warlock) and nothing else, not even gender. I’d like to believe this is a beta limitation, but I thought the same thing about The Division’s character customization, and we all know how that turned out.

Mind you, I suppose it wouldn’t matter anyway. It’s a first person game, and our characters never seem to take off their helmets, so I don’t suppose visual character customization would actually serve any purpose.

I want to be clear that I am not hating on the game here. I haven’t seen enough of it to form any meaningful impression, critical or otherwise.

A shot from Destiny 2's cinematic trailerThere are only a few clear opinions I was able to form from this brief experience:

-The class abilities are fun, but their cooldowns feel excessively long. I was hoping for an RPG/shooter hybrid like Mass Effect, but it hews much closer to a traditional FPS.

-The game often seemed to be trying to be funny. Never once did I so much as a crack a smile.

-I adore the pistol they gave me in my starting gear. Accurate, large clip, and hits like a truck. If that gun were a woman, I would make it my wife.

And that’s pretty much it. I honestly think I could have learned more by reading the game’s Wikipedia page.

This was a great opportunity for Bungie to convert me from a fence-sitter to a customer, but they blew it.