Destiny 2 isn’t just a game at this point. Like many, many other activities we used to think of as games, it’s more like a hobby. A live service, a forever game: whatever you want to call it. There is simply so much to do in-game at any given point that… Well, there honestly aren’t enough hours in the day. That’s doubly true if you try to play Warframe, Monster Hunter, Final Fantasy 14, The Division 2, or really any other game in 2019. And the trend doesn’t look like it will end any time soon! It’s only getting harder and harder to play these hobby-grade games without devoting your entire life to just one.
But Destiny 2 wasn’t always so chock full of goodness. Much like its predecessor, it once suffered from a dearth of interesting content. Lackluster expansions like Curse of Osiris and Warmind only perpetuated that reputation. Everything changed with Forsaken (much like it did in the original Destiny with The Taken King). And now developer Bungie takes a very different — much, much better — approach to delivering new content. So now the question becomes, for those of us who dropped the first-person shooter like a sack of hot scorpions, is it too late to get back into Destiny 2? More than that, though, is it too early to get into Destiny 2?
Is It Too Early to Get Into Destiny 2?
The latter question stems from the fact that another major expansion will arrive shortly. Shadowkeep looks like another Forsaken-level paid update. It takes players back to the moon (a zone from the first game) and focuses on Eris Morn (a beloved character from the first game). It also coincides with Bungie’s release from its contract with Activision, which many see as the leash being taken off a very good boy that just wants to play with its owners. Finally, Destiny 2 will be for the fans! Maybe…
It’s really hard to say if Shadowkeep will be any good. Certain announced features do sound promising, though. I’m really looking forward to wearing my cool loot box armor without sacrificing stats for one. You can get a taste of that very soon with the Solstice of Heroes: an event that looks like a preview of changes to come in Destiny. The moon is cool, too! I hear wizards come from there. In fact, I know they do, because I played the hell out of the original Destiny. It wasn’t until the first D2 expansion that I fell off almost completely.
I say “almost” because I got back into the game sometime last week. Hard. The last three seasons of Destiny 2 content — Black Armory, Joker’s Wild, and Opulence — all added deep and repeatable content to the game. Unlike the old expansions, which dumped less-than-ho-hum campaigns and then promptly boogied, these payloads are meant to be played basically forever. Each offers various degrees of weekly “powerful gear,” which is the game’s name for new loot that’s better than your old loot. There’s even a new and constantly evolving story. And it’s actually good for once!
A lot of the bland cutscenes have been replaced with in-your-face text. Non-player characters give you lengthy quest chains with dialogue written out for you to experience at your leisure. It feels low-budget compared to those beautiful cinematics, sure, but it also carries the prose and mystery of old school Grimoire Cards. One such sub-plot is all about a Guardian (the immortal-ish good guys of Destiny) who went rogue way back when and created a cult. You end up working for one such ex-cult member — who eats aliens and does close-up magic. Just try and tell me there’s another game scratching that particular narrative itch right now.
Those long quest chains become the real Destiny 2 endgame. Sure, there are new raids here and there, but what everybody wants are rare guns. And the rarest guns (i.e. Exotics) are tied to those massive storylines. There’s also a lot of grinding. Oh, is there ever grinding…
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This is where Destiny 2 goes from “a live service game” to “the only live service game you’re allowed to play ever again.” Unlocking Exotic weapons isn’t always about farming materials and experience (although it’s sometimes literally just that). It’s also about killing human players in specific ways, using a specific weapons for hours, and completing ultra hard secret missions — sometimes tied to alternate reality games that must first be unlocked by dedicated fans on social media. Then there are the quests that reduce your progress when you die… That’s right! You can do exactly what the game wants, then lose everything at the eleventh hour because you tripped and fell off a cliff on Mars.
A lot of this “challenge” feels manufactured. It’s a holdover, I think, from a time when Destiny just didn’t have enough stuff. But the raw shooting was just an illegal amount of fun. That hasn’t changed. Whereas the quest design really feels like it should. Every content sandwich includes just one layer of bullshit too many for my taste.
Take the incredible quest to get the Outbreak Perfected pulse rifle. It requires you to find a very specific item in a nondescript location. Then players had to follow clues all across the in-game world and solve a cipher through social media crowdsourcing. All of which culminates in an amazing battle through your headquarters from the last game, which was destroyed at the start of Destiny 2.
But… you only have 20 minutes to beat it. God forbid you actually explore this lovingly rendered version of your old home, complete with tons of new areas that you never got to see before. You have platforming to do. The mission is already hard enough, with the jumping and the puzzles and the huge boss at the end, but the time limit elevates it to full-on hassle status.
Thanks to all the weekly gear you can get from a mountain of activities, though, leveling up to see this content isn’t all that hard. But that hike to the current maximum is meaningless thanks to Power Surge bounties. These special missions give you statistically poopy, but decently high-level gear, allowing you to skip close to whatever the previous level max was.
On the one hand, that means anyone can reach the current content (and your over-leveled friends) in minutes. On the other, it means the one and only easy-to-accomplish goal in Destiny 2 is meaningless. Eventually. Hence another reason that it might be too early to get into the game.
Is It Too Late to Get Into Destiny 2?
Sure. We don’t know exactly how Shadowkeep will shake things up. But we’re not totally in the dark. Destiny 2: New Light will see the game’s “year one” content go free-to-play. So, if nothing else, there’s a monetary incentive to not hop aboard right now. Something similar happened when various Game of the Year editions of O.G. Destiny collected all of that game’s content together for a fraction of the “be part of the conversation” price.
Along with a promised Power Surge-like boost, that means free players can treat all the old, largely bland content like any other part of the game as it exists today: just another optional chunk of a meaty whole.
That said, there are a few things you can still do to prep for Destiny 2 right now. Bad Juju just joined a plethora of classic Exotics in Destiny 2. And its requirements, while tedious, aren’t too taxing on your soul. You basically just need to farm materials from all the different planets. That will happen as you play anyway! While you’re at it, you can complete daily bounties that discount the overall cost of Bad Juju. It’s a neat little nod to the dedicated players who aren’t brutal in competitive multiplayer. Not to mention it’s a great gun.
And it’s all connected to the Season of Opulence: the last, big dollop of new content before Shadowkeep. And within this new season, the Menagerie in particular is a cool weekly treadmill. Unlike older Destiny missions, it involves more than running down hallways and hacking a terminal. You’ll do everything from race monsters for solar energy, to cart around crystal laser cannons.
There are also Pinnacle Weapons. These are basically just Exotics — without the limits. Whereas you can only have Exotic weapon and one Exotic piece of armor equipped at once, Pinnacle Weapons are Legendary rarity. Did you follow all that? Well, just know that every Pinnacle Weapon is also a grind. The upside is that the ones made for PVE only require you to play PVE, and the ones meant for PVP only require that.
But what makes Pinnacle Weapons really worth getting is their fleetingness. You can only pick up the quests required to earn them at specific times. That means some of them are already gone — presumably for good! But don’t worry, I guess, because some of those were nerfed out of relevancy not too long ago.
Notice something there? Pinnacle Weapons are kind of an incentive to play the game now and to not play the game now. It’s more excruciating labor that can be made meaningless by a single patch. Yet it’s also something fun to blow suckers away with for a little while. And you can only get them if you get in early. Well, you might be able to get them. Destiny doesn’t give away anything for free! Not even its celebratory T-shirts… Which is why so many of those damn Exotic quests just throw you in the Crucible and have done with it.
Everything you ever heard about the Crucible — Bungie’s name for its competitive multiplayer suite — is true. Which is to say it’s a mess. “Roaming supers” are infuriating; the tick rate on damage feels off; you will die 25 times to a shotgun with a haiku for a name. If someone says they like the Crucible right now, it’s because they’re a full-time Twitch streamer that got some target-seeking assault rifle from The Fifth Element six months ago. Good luck getting your own weapon of mass destruction when that guy kills you and sets back your quest progress seven percent.
That’s okay, though. That’s the secret to enjoying Destiny! You will never, ever get absolutely everything in the game. It’s just not tuned that way. It’s tuned for the hardest of the hardcore, and those that enjoy watching their livestreams. Once you accept that, and just give in to floating around shooting space toads, you can finally enjoy those simple pleasures.
On the off-chance you are the kind of person that can make Destiny 2 their hobby, though. Phew! Have you got some game waiting for you. And getting a leg up on the inevitable influx of new players this September isn’t a bad idea — if you’re dedicated. It might as well be you that crushes their hopes and dreams in the Crucible. While you’re at it, you can experience the best story Destiny has delivered in-game thus far. But if you’re only here for the shooting, or if money is a concern, maybe give it a while! It seems like the game will only get bigger between now and any expansions on the horizon.