The story surrounding Destiny 2 is a vast improvement from the lackluster story of its predecessor. This sequel improves in its story telling of the Destiny universe with more cut scenes and interesting dialogue. At the beginning of the campaign, we are introduced to Gary, no, Ghaul, a Dominus of the Cabal empire. The Cabal are one of the returning enemy factions in Destiny who saw little of the limelight. The story is meant to be an introduction to the Destiny Universe; it familiarizes the player with the characters, worlds, and enemy archetypes in this reality. However, the game really takes off when you’ve reached level 20 (max level). Players will have to get stronger by acquiring items of higher light. Light in Destiny determines how much damage you deal and how much damage you can take (your defense against enemies).
Leveling Up & World Activities
In the world of Destiny 2, leveling up is done in stages: do certain activities to increase power.
Stage one – Level 1-20: play through the story to advance.
Stage two – Acquire light. As mentioned before light determines your attack and defense which in turn means strength and “power”.
There are several ways to acquire light. At level 20 you should already be approximately 200 light. From this point, players should engage in other activities such as vanguard strikes, crucible, public events and even adventures. The game’s weekly milestones give you “powerful” gear anyway so you should be doing this. Now, what’s powerful gear? Basically, it’s an engram that you get after completing milestones (e.g. public events, crucible’s call to arms, flashpoints, etc.) and it drops weapons or armor with light that’s significantly higher than the ones you have equipped. So yes, getting powerful gear is a good way to level up your light. Even without powerful gear though you can still advance to 265 light just by completing world activities. If you’ve been playing the game long enough, now you’ll be a higher level that you’ll be able to engage in the end-game: The Leviathan Raid, Trials of the Nine (a high intensity PvP game mode), The Nightfall (normal & prestige). These activities drop weapons and armor that will match your light level or drop items just above your light so you can gradually level up to 305 (Max Level).
World Activities & The Endgame
Destiny’s endgame is the reason players spend hours grinding for loot and powerful gear so as to have a chance at completing more “difficult” activities. Endgame is the hardest content in the Destiny 2 universe. PvE game modes have two difficulty levels: normal and prestige. PvP game modes also have two difficulty levels: low intensity and high intensity. A normal nightfall and crucible’s quickplay are low intensity whereas competitive is high intensity. Trials of the Nine is high intensity, Iron Banner was low intensity. You get the gist.
Destiny 2’s Endgame activities are focused more on teamwork rather than power level. E.g. the normal version of the raid has a recommended light level of 270 however, this does not mean you cannot attempt it at 260. Teamwork is rooted in game chat, strategy, and a good understanding of classes, sub-classes, weapon types, and elemental damage. Use all the resources available to you and you will conquer the Leviathan Raid. The same can be said about the nightfall (normal or prestige), if your fireteam understands the game mechanics and you work together, you’ll get your greedy hands on that fancy aura.
The grind for powerful gear is another aspect of the game we need to get into. To acquire powerful gear and weapons, you’ll have to “grind” endgame activities. The grind, however, has been significantly reduced as compared to Destiny 1. In my opinion, this is a good step in the right direction as players do not have to grind for hundreds of hours to get a certain drop. Weapon rolls are also fixed and therefore this removes the search for that perfect, god-roll of a weapon.
This is good for the player base because once you have a weapon, all that’s left is enjoying it in combat. Now this is unfulfilling to some hardcore players as Destiny 2’s endgame can easily be completed, weapons & armor drops are plentiful, and there’s not much else to do in the game. However, for the casual players, this is good. So are you a casual player or are you a hardcore player?
Despite Destiny 2 being an upgrade from Destiny 1, there are one of two things that feel like a step back. One is shaders; shaders in Destiny 2 are one time use only and cannot be swapped into other gear/weapon pieces. In Destiny 1, shaders could be used an infinite amount of times and be reclaimed again if deleted. Destiny 2 has also put the shaders and cosmetics behind micro transactions, which is disappointing. However, they can be earned by just playing the game and acquiring Bright Engrams. Another concept, which I feel was a step back was having returning exotics that were in Destiny 1. I would have preferred an all-new selection of armor and weapons, which would also add to the game’s longevity. However, I can see where they’re coming from. The city was besieged by Ghaul and to even acquire some of the exotic weapons e.g. Mida Multitool, you have to complete a multi-step quest to get the parts and pieces in order for the gunsmith to “re-create” it (so to speak).
Bungie listened to the cries and woes of solo players and those who do not have enough clan members to do endgame content. Their solution, Guided Games. This is similar to match making however you’ll be matched to people who are missing a member or two for certain activities. If you are a solo player, you will be matched with a clan. The only downside is it can take up to 45 minutes to find a game.
Faction Rally & Iron Banner
The Faction Rally was a way to re-introduce factions to the Destiny universe. In Destiny 2, players pledge allegiance to one of the three factions: Dead Orbit, New Monarchy, or Future War Cult. Each faction has its own unique weapon and armor selection, which you can earn by participating in events that allow you to gather reputation bundles (tokens). Players exchange these tokens for armor, weapons, shaders, and emblems. The Rally lasted a week, as do all main events in Destiny 2 so far. This new faction system is an improvement over Destiny 1, despite the loot being somewhat uninspiring and the majority of the armor felt copy/pasted.
In the world of Destiny, from players’ standpoints or in terms of lore, the Iron Banner was a special event where players would compete in the crucible and level-advantage is enabled. Players would also acquire unique gear and weapons that would make them stand out. In Destiny 2, Iron Banner has returned but without some of its glory. The new Iron Banner has adopted the same token system: 20 tokens for an engram. Match rewards are not Iron Banner specific and players only get tokens after a match: 5 for a win and 2 for a loss. This has caused mixed-feelings among players. Players are not motivated as there are no clear goals, no Iron Banner ranking system and the loot have no unique perks, they’re simply for aesthetic purposes. The Iron Banner is supposed to be a test of skill but with no “reputation” and no ranking system, there really isn’t a way to distinguish the weaklings from the champions.
The gameplay itself has also caused a lot of heartache in the community of Destiny. The new crucible balancing has affected Iron banner’s solo players found it nearly impossible to win when matched against a coordinated team. Teamshot and overwhelmed, this has resulted in a disappointing Iron Banner experience for some.
500 Hours Later?
Overall, Destiny 2 is a leap forward and a great successor to Destiny 1. It retains its core gameplay while adding new mechanics and ways to play. The PVP arena if stripped of teamshots is one of the most balanced playlist in Destiny’s history. Am I still playing it now? Definitely, I still dable in the Leviathan Raid's Prestige mode since Challenges have been brough back as well. The Prestige raid also drops unique armor with a purple glow; it's a great look if you want to distinguish yourself from other casual players. I'm also preparing for the DLC: Curse of Osiris. This involves acquiring legendary shards which has been rumored to be a form of currency. Furthermore season 1 gear, weapons, and ornaments will not be available in season 2 (Curse of Osiris) so now's the time to grind for them too.
Would I recommend this game to others? If you're going in with your friends, sure. If you're a solo player, not really. Destiny is always better with people. If you want solid gunplay then it has a great PvP game mode for you. However if you're a solo player do not be discouraged. On Xbox we have a Destiny clan: AFR Legends. Anyone is welcome to join.