If you know me, you know how I feel about the first installment in the Destiny franchise. It’s not an opinion that many of my friends share, and it’s an opinion that has gotten me into more arguments with people than any other video game I’ve ever argued about. I don’t always take the popular perspective when it comes to games – mainly because I’m overly opinionated and stubborn – so when I don’t like something, you’re gonna hear about it. I’m a big “let people enjoy things” guy, so I didn’t (and don’t) go out of my way to bother people for enjoying games that I don’t like, but as someone who paid for, played through, and did my own share of private pissing and moaning about the original Destiny – I feel like my stance and reactions to the game were 100% warranted.
It took a seven nation army for me to pick up Destiny 2. I had a small stack of Xbox One titles I was never gonna play again, so I swung by my local Best Buy (shoutout to the Everett Best Buy, y’all real) to see what the trade-ins were hitting for. To my absolute shock, I was gonna get about $60 back for the trades, so it seemed like a no-brainer for me to bite the bullet, kick in the four bucks for tax, and see if Destiny 2 could deliver on (and elevate) the promises of the first. After all, Bungie has given me over 15 years of fun and gaming bliss, so if anyone could realize what was wrong with a title and make up for it tenfold – it had to be them. I swapped the games, ripped open the plastic, shot home, and waited anxiously in my living room as Destiny 2 installed on my Xbox One. I stared at my reflection in my TV while it installed, and told myself everything was gonna be okay. It was kinda like that moment in Mulan where she sees herself in the pond, except I was playing “Picture” by Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock in the background instead of Christina Aguilera.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t secretly hoping that Destiny 2 was absolutely gonna blow my dick off. I wanted the wide open, imaginative, enthralling space opera that I was promised in the first game. I wanted to get invested in an epic interplanetary struggle and fall in love with (and empathize with) characters on both side of the conflict. I wanted to smash alien skulls together with my friends and feel like I was accomplishing something while I did it. I wanted to develop grudges and personal vendettas against imaginary factions like I did the first time I played Halo… And it is here today that I am here to tell you my friends – that Destiny 2 has delivered on all of those desires and more. Destiny 2 features all the slick visuals, clever one-liners, and tight-as-all-hell gunplay you’ve come to expect from a Bungie title. Destiny 2 takes all of that goodness, and generously drizzles it on top of pulse-pounding, controller squeezing encounters that are all laced together with a story that is actually cohesive and compelling. In short – Destiny 2 is a very, very good video game.
Are you still there? Did I lose some of you? Smelling salts anyone? I know. I’ll wait.
Co-op games of all shapes and sizes need to be cherished, I don’t need to tell you that. Destiny 2 is a phenomenal co-op experience, and is just as entertaining if you’re a solo player. I’m not anywhere close to done with the game yet, but I’m sure the Strikes and Raids will be just as entertaining once I get there. Destiny 2 has charismatic NPCs anchoring the story, as well as a “big bad evil guy” who you actually get a chance to empathize with and understand. This isn’t just another space romp where you kill ugly reptilian aliens hell-bent on destruction (you kill robots and space zombies too), but it’s a true, sprawling interplanetary epic that does a phenomenal job of keeping it’s own experience fresh. Destiny 2 is the bakery near you that switches out the less-than-day-old bread for fresh new bread right as you walk in the door. Destiny 2 is the six pack of beer that’s been in the fridge just a little longer so it’s nice and frosty around the edges that you gotta reach juuuust a little bit further for. Destiny 2, I’m sure, features a lot of things that Destiny 1 got around to adding through paid DLC, but with tons of quality of life changes and that make the experience that much more buttery smooth.
One of my biggest problems with Destiny 1 were the patrol missions. If you’re not familiar, it was the same small handful of tasks in the same small handful of environments that you could grind for rep, loot, and experience. In Destiny 2, there are “Adventures” which are side missions that get scattered about each planet… But each mission is totally unique and actually fleshes out the core storylines that each planet has to offer. I’m probably a solid 10-12 hours into the game so far, and I don’t think I’ve heard the same line of dialogue repeated once (except for when I die and have to repeat the same section). Destiny 1 lost me with a boring grind, inexcusably nonexistent story, and a repetitive loot system that I simply could not bring myself to enjoy. Destiny 2 has brought me back with interesting side missions (gasp), a compelling main story, and tons of opportunities to keep yourself geared to the teeth everywhere you turn.
In short, I’m loving Destiny 2. If you’re like me, and you had some major gripes with the first game, I’m here to tell you to give Bungie another shot. Personally, I’m glad I did.