The year was 2014. Following a really exciting beta, Bungie’s first post-Halo effort hit PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. A “shared world shooter”, Destiny was envisaged as a ten year project, constantly being iterated on. A shooter clad in MMO trappings, first impressions suggested that its estimated five hundred million dollar budget had been well spent - it was beautiful, it was responsive, it just felt right.
Sadly, Destiny’s dearth of content and muddled progression systems ensured that once players finished the dull, convoluted campaign, there was little else to do. The raid (the main attraction of Destiny for many), was a shining example of game design -- something that was lacking everywhere else. For the studio that brought us some of the best first-person shooter campaigns of the last two console generations, it was disappointing.
While The Dark Below and House of Wolves expansions were the definition of “give and take” - adding a new raid and the Prison of Elders alongside yet more currencies and materials to a bloated economy -- The Taken King expansion tore Destiny apart and rebuilt it as a closer approximation of a finished game. It added a wealth of new content, a coherent story, and did a good job of hiding plenty of secrets for endgame players. It essentially fixed Destiny, and the following expansion, Rise of Iron, added a cherry on top towards the end of the game’s lifecycle.
Wait... The end? But wasn't this a ten year project? Not so much. This history lesson is important for context.
Destiny 2 launched in 2017, and players were forced to restart from scratch. Explained through the story as the player’s gear being destroyed in the game’s initial mission, Destiny 2 pulled no punches - all that equipment you spent hundreds of hours (and potentially around £120) grinding for was gone. Fans were promised Destiny 2 would earn the right to be called a sequel as opposed to an expansion, and initial reviews were positive. Quality of life improvements (like the map, somehow absent from Destiny even after four expansions) and a stronger focus on an antagonist meant the campaign was a blast to play.
Within weeks, however, it became clear that Bungie had no endgame outside of the raid. Player vs. player battles in the Crucible were neutered - the loot wasn’t exciting and the time to kill was extended, so the meta became ganging up on stragglers with team mates carrying the same weapons. Minor controversies popped up on a seemingly weekly basis - shaders became consumables, and Bungie throttled XP gains without warning, ostensibly to push players towards microtransactions.
The Curse of Osiris expansion was embarrassing, with a campaign that could be completed within two hours. Warmind didn’t fare much better, but it at least added some secrets and long term goals for the dedicated fanbase. That said, Destiny 2 was dying, and fast.
Does this sound familiar? A lack of endgame content, underwhelming (but expensive) expansions, and a player base falling off?
Destiny 2 repeated almost every misstep that its predecessor made. Bungie learned little to nothing, and pushed players away in droves. It needed something to restore the community’s faith.
In June, Bungie announced Forsaken - the biggest expansion for Destiny 2 yet. The pre-Forsaken patch turns Destiny 2 into the game it should have been at launch. Weapons setups are more varied, allowing for greater player choice. Crucible encounters are pulsating, with player abilities feeling powerful again. Daily Heroic Missions return, and Bounties (daily quests) are a constant itch that needs scratching. All of those “additions” were part of the original Destiny.
Forsaken itself is a shot in the arm for the Destiny franchise in the same way that The Taken King was. It adds a campaign which is easy to follow and fun to complete. It redesigns progression to be constantly worth the time invested - anyone can level at their own pace by completing weekly milestones or daily ones that stack for those unable to commit to playing every night. Weapons have random perks, making each loot drop exciting again, and there are two new open areas to explore.
Since release, I haven’t stopped playing Forsaken. I clung to the franchise through the dark days, and I’m so thankful Destiny 2 is in a better place than I think the franchise has ever been. I’m also mindful if you’ve paid £50 for Destiny 2 and £35 for two dismal expansions, your faith will be tested by Bungie asking for £35 for Forsaken (the Annual Pass, the content for which hasn’t been revealed yet, is also £30). £120 is a lot to pay for this beautiful, all-consuming wild ride of a game. New players can jump in with a cheaper bundle, but those that have been grinding to increase their level since 2014 may find that a bitter pill to swallow.
If we see a Destiny 3, Bungie will do well to remember the lessons learned from Destiny 2, and the original Destiny. As a diehard fan of the franchise, I’ll be watching with bated breath. I cannot recommend Forsaken enough - it's full of secrets, content, and fun. It really is everything Destiny 2 should have been. The fact it took £120 to get here, however, is embarrassing.
Do you agree with Lloyd? Are you a fan of Forsaken? Do you think Destiny 2 is in a good state right now? Voice your own thoughts in the comments section below.