Destiny 2 is in a slightly better place than it was when the awkwardly average Curse of Osiris launched late last year, but that doesn't mean Warmind can be let off the hook. This second expansion is another lacking effort from a team that seems worryingly bereft of interesting ideas. Much like Osiris, Warmind marks another disappointing low for Bungie's shooter.
These "smaller" Destiny expansions just don't seem to work -- at least, not when they're priced at $20 a pop. They didn't work for the original Destiny and they're not working for Destiny 2 -- and they always seem to struggle with the same issues.
The fresh story content in Warmind may as well be non-existent. It barely pushes the overall narrative forward, offering a plot that seems to end on a purposefully vague note, as if the writers didn't want to commit to anything too important. The threadbare story strings together a series of decidedly bland missions, but at least there are a couple of cool boss fights along the way.
As per usual, there are little glimmers of greatness throughout Warmind, but the rest of it just feels so uninspired. This new rendition of Mars, complete with ice-capped sand dunes, makes for an inviting backdrop, but then it's just filled with the same old enemies that we've shot in the head countless times before.
There's a point near the beginning of the campaign where your Ghost comments on the expansion's "new" enemy type -- the Frozen Hive. "I've never seen Hive like this before," Nolan-bot remarks, despite the fact that aside from a few fresh gimmicks -- bigger Knights with shields! -- the Frozen Hive behave exactly like regular Hive. It's almost parody.
But we're being a bit cynical here. Like we say, Warmind does have bright spots -- we just wish that there were more of them. The new Strikes are all solid additions to the co-op playlist, even if the story campaign rather shamefully reuses them. Likewise, the new weapons and various exotics that we've managed to nab have all entertained, and as always, it's easy to appreciate the game's art team thanks to some lovely environmental views.
Unsurprisingly, Warmind plays it safe across the board, but there is one new addition that seems like a decent step forward. Escalation is a kind of horde mode that can be triggered as you're casually exploring the surface of Mars. Any players who happen to be close by can join in as you fend off waves of Hive while completing basic objectives. On paper it's pretty simple, and it practice it's well executed. Later waves can provide a real challenge, and because more than six players can take part in the carnage, it always feels quite hectic and exciting. Of course, it remains to be seen whether Escalation will eventually wear thin.
Overall, we're not entirely sure if Warmind is a better expansion than Curse of Osiris. Again, Destiny 2 as a whole is in a better place than it was in December, but this may lead to Warmind receiving more praise than it arguably deserves. From where we're sitting, it repeats many of the same mistakes as Curse of Osiris -- it's just that in the current climate, they're that much easier to forgive.
Like its predecessors, Destiny 2: Warmind struggles to justify its price tag thanks to a throwaway campaign and some incredibly tired mission design. The quality of Destiny's core gameplay is still clear to see and the expansion as a whole is dotted with a handful of high points, but it ultimately just feels like the game is purposefully treading water until September's big arrival -- and that's simply not good enough.