History repeats with Destiny 2 as its first expansion arrives on PlayStation 4. At this same point in its life, the original Destiny was also struggling to keep many of its players happy. Its endgame content was under constant scrutiny, developer Bungie couldn't seem to get anything right, and its first expansion, The Dark Below, underwhelmed and did very little to ease the unrest. Unfortunately, that's almost exactly what's happening right now with the launch of Destiny 2: Curse of Osiris.
Right off the bat, though, let's get one thing clear: Curse of Osiris is a better overall expansion than The Dark Below. We still firmly believe that Destiny's darkest days are over, but that doesn't change the fact that Bungie has once again failed to deliver an experience that lives up to its relatively expensive $20 price tag.
Curse of Osiris follows on almost directly from the main campaign of Destiny 2. Not-so-long-story short, trouble's brewing on Mercury, and it falls to you to find out what's happening and put a stop to it. Along the way, you encounter the legendary Osiris -- one of the most powerful Guardians to have ever lived. Although Osiris can't seem to pin down his own accent, his presence ends up being a highlight of the expansion.
Sadly, it's just about the only highlight. To be frank, the fresh story campaign is a bit of a joke. Even though it only lasts around two hours, it's guilty of reusing content from the base game, and the majority of its missions are incredibly dull. It's like Bungie has thrown out everything that Destiny 2's core campaign did right, opting for a return to the original Destiny's most tedious tasks.
It's just shooting gallery after shooting gallery after shooting gallery, with very little exposition in between. The dialogue is as generic as it gets, and almost nothing is done to expand upon what could potentially be a very interesting component of Destiny's universe. It's difficult to shake the feeling that Curse of Osiris could be much more than it actually is.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the expansion is the Infinite Forest. Bigged up ahead of release, the Infinite Forest is an endless simulation of reality. The mechanical Vex use it to map the countless outcomes of the past, present, and future, which in itself is a hugely intriguing concept. By stepping into the Infinite Forest, you get to explore multiple different timelines that overlap and weave into one another. Again, it all sounds fascinating on paper.
In practice, Bungie would have struggled to make it any less appealing. You're sent into the Infinite Forest at least three times during the campaign, and each expedition is just as repetitive as the last. Essentially, the game cobbles together pre-made environments in sequence as you shoot your way through them. One minute you're up against Fallen, the next you're taking down hordes of Hive. Each section is designed like an intricate little battlefield, but at the end of the day you're just shooting angry aliens over and over again, from one room to the next.
A recurring theme with this expansion, the Infinite Forest could have been so much more. Bungie has crafted the basis of something cool, but instead of running with it, the studio's dropped the ball almost immediately. To add insult to injury, the rewards that you get for completing an Infinite Forest run are laughable until you start to grind your way to a selection of new legendary guns. It's simply not good enough -- we've been here before and it doesn't end well.
So what does Curse of Osiris actually get right? We've been pretty negative throughout this review so far, but a lot of that negativity comes from a place of frustration. We expect better from an expansion priced at $20, and we happen to like playing Destiny 2, so we want better from an expansion priced at $20. The bottom line is that Curse of Osiris is a decent enough addition -- it's basically just more Destiny 2 for those who want it -- but in a time when the base game has so many underlying issues, it becomes harder and harder overlook its shotcomings.
Which brings us neatly onto Mercury itself. A fresh location introduced in the expansion, Mercury, much like the expansion's other environments, at least looks lovely. Credit where credit's due: Bungie's art team continues to impress. There are some standout visuals to be found here, from trippy lighting effects to some downright gorgeous vistas.
The drawback is that Mercury's exploration zone is comparatively tiny. When sized up to the locations found in the main game, it's very, very small. It's essentially a circular chunk of dusty land that houses a new breed of public event. The event's fun while it lasts -- you're tasked with blasting through waves of Vex in order to close gates within a time limit -- but as always, the rewards are comical. Risked life and limb holding off hordes of killer robots with just one other player who happened to be nearby? Here are two whole tokens for your trouble.
You've got to laugh.
Fortunately, the two new Strikes are well made. They're nicely paced and offer up some entertaining shootouts, but it's a shame that you'll have already seen a lot of what they bring to the table due to the fact that they're repurposed as story missions during the campaign. Reusing assets is one thing, but watering down co-op based Strikes and using them to flesh out a story that only lasts a couple of hours to begin with? Come on, Bungie.
Before we hop on over to the conclusion, we have to point out that Curse of Osiris actually locks off some previously playable content. Because the expansion increases the level and power cap, those who don't buy it won't be able to tackle some of the game's high level activities, namely the Prestige Nightfall and the Raid. What's more, the new Heroic Strike playlist is exclusive to Curse of Osiris players. Now, we know that people who enjoy Destiny will likely be picking the expansions up anyway, but the situation feels underhanded. If you still want to experience everything Destiny 2 has to offer, you've currently got no choice but to splash some cash on this offensively average expansion.
Destiny 2: Curse of Osiris is ultimately more Destiny 2 for those who want it, and that would be fine if it wasn't stuffed with so much squandered potential. For its asking price, there's no reason not to expect more from this first expansion. The story missions range from okay to insultingly dull, and the one truly interesting concept that Bungie introduces -- the Infinite Forest -- ends up being little more than a tedious shooting gallery. The most frustrating part of all this is that the developer has been here before, and it still insists on repeating the same mistakes all over again.