Republished on Wednesday 29th August 2018: We're bringing this review back from the archives following the announcement of September's PlayStation Plus lineup. The original text follows.
Three years after the release of Destiny, here we are with a whole new title that's framed as a direct sequel. Hopping to a fresh release was Bungie's best bet when it came to enticing new players into the fray while also catering to the wants of veterans, and so we're left with a very familiar but much improved follow-up.
It's safe to say that the developer has learned a lot since September 2014. Destiny 2 is a sequel that oozes confidence – something that the original game lacked at times as it stumbled through its storytelling and awkwardly tried to convince players that its convoluted progression systems weren't a complete waste of time. Fortunately, both of those issues have been pretty much eradicated here.
Let's start with the main campaign, which sports a coherent story and actual characters. Okay, so we're being a bit cynical here, but it's no exaggeration to say that everything to do with Destiny 2's narrative is in a different league when compared to its predecessor. The actual plot isn't anything to really write home about, but it's nicely told, and a small cast of secondary characters carry it well.
There are some great looking cutscenes included throughout, and the story missions themselves are generally of a very high quality. There are a few in particular that absolutely nail what a sci-fi shooter's campaign should be, and overall, the level design is top notch. Huge gunfights in sprawling, immaculately lit locations are the order of the day, although some downtime is also welcome as you gawk at Bungie's unmatched sky boxes.
We say this a lot, but Destiny 2 really is the bigger and better sequel. It expands upon and refines much of what the original did right, and as a result, it feels like a complete package from the off – there are no gaping expansion-shaped holes or core systems that will soon need to be pulled apart and put back together again.
Speaking of which, one of the sequel's biggest improvements is its streamlined loot and levelling system. It takes the tweaks that were made in the later years of Destiny and sharpens them further, giving way to a rewarding sense of progression, particularly during the first 20 or so hours of your adventure.
In fact, Destiny 2 as a whole is more respectful of your time than the first game ever was. The follow-up is much better at dishing out loot and rewarding your efforts, constantly dangling that all-important carrot. It's absolutely the kind of release that you'll start thinking about when you're not playing it, wondering what cool weapons and armour await you at the end of your next session.
Outside of its undeniable improvements to story and progression, the game's most notable step forward comes in the form of its sandbox environments. The title has four of these open world-esque locations, each of them allowing you to find your own fun as you explore a diverse selection of planets.
These locations are now stuffed with things to do, whether you help your fellow Guardians fight off hordes of enemies in big Public Events, or you purchase some treasure maps from the superbly voiced Cayde-6 and go hunting for precious loot. Newly introduced Adventures also help spice things up, essentially providing a large selection of story-driven side quests, and there's some enjoyable dungeon-delving action to be had thanks to Lost Sectors which can be found scattered across each map.
For the first time, it feels as though Destiny's sandboxes are an integral part of the experience. Whether you're looking for loot or you just want to relax with a little intergalactic exploration, they're lovingly constructed and provide plenty of entertainment.
On top of all this, you've got your endgame co-op content, and your player-versus-player Crucible shenanigans. On the co-op side of things, Strikes make a return. Each Strike lasts around 20 minutes or thereabouts, and task three players with battling their way through hordes of foes in order to eventually face off against a boss.
Much like the game's story missions, the six Strikes on offer at launch are very well designed, both environmentally and in terms of enemy encounters. Boss fights in particular have been reworked for the better, taking a step back from bullet sponge design and opting for more dynamic clashes that see swarms of lesser foes take to the battlefield at set intervals. We'd go as far to say that these Strikes are some of the best that Bungie has ever crafted – it's just a shame that there aren't a few more of them.
Moving on, the competitive suite of Crucible modes doesn't offer any surprises. The big change here is that the player count in all modes has been reduced, with the developer opting for slightly more personal four-on-four battles. The smaller scale skirmishes do have a nice dynamic to them – especially when you're working as a team – but only having a total of eight players sprinting around reasonably sized maps does result in some perhaps unwanted downtime.
The tension of a good Crucible match is still present, and ripping the opposition apart with a well-timed super or a perfectly placed grenade is still incredibly satisfying, but we find ourselves missing just that little sprinkling of chaos that so often defined the player-versus-player experience of the first Destiny.
After all of this, it would be remiss of us not to at least touch upon the gunplay, which, while seemingly yanked whole from the original Destiny, is still phenomenal. The way guns bounce and the way heads pop, Bungie remains a master of moment-to-moment action.
Last but not least, the soundtrack deserves a special mention. The first game's orchestral score was for the most part fantastic, but it was a tad underused. Here, the music ebbs and flows depending on your current activity. The slower tracks that play as you wander around alien worlds are a joy, and the booming boss themes are exhilarating. For our money, it's one of the best soundtracks of the year.
Destiny 2 takes the core gameplay of the first game and surrounds it with a much more confident, cohesive experience. This isn't Destiny reimagined but it is Destiny refined, and while that may not be enough to win over those who were left disappointed by Bungie's efforts three years ago, it doesn't change the fact that this is without a doubt one of the best shooters on PS4.
Any questions, feel free to ask me. Just copy in @ShogunRok.
Great review. I was one of those who thought this was going to be meh like the first one but after a couple of friends persuaded me to get it I was pleasantly surprised. It's not a GOTY title by any means but it's a lot better than the first game.
Awesome review. Didn't touch on the fact the weapons system has been overhauled. No more heavy weapons. Instead it's power , kinetic and energy. Also taking some gameplay from mass effect. Have to use energy weapons to take enemies energy shields. Or rather there more effective at removing energy shields
Dont mean to sound rude but its worrying that in the final review you make not a single mention of microtransactions/shaders. Surely thats a massive, massive thing to omit?
Infact the whole review is just a summary of what you like about the title rather than what can be improved/whats downright wrong.
I dont meant to sound harsh with that but a review is meant to be balanced and im not seeing that here.
@solocapers Not sure how the review seems unbalanced - I don't think the game has that many negatives, so I'm not going to make them up for the sake of "balancing" a review. Thanks for the feedback but I don't quite understand where you're coming from.
As for microtransactions, they're crap. But they've been mentioned enough that I felt they didn't need to be included in the review. I wrote a whole story on them ( https://www.pushsquare.com/news/2017/09/destiny_2_butchers_shaders_for_the_sake_of_microtransactions ) calling them absolute rubbish - especially the shaders - and made a big point to single them out in my preview ( https://www.pushsquare.com/news/2017/09/hands_on_destiny_2_is_destinys_superb_gunplay_encased_in_a_much_better_game ).
Ultimately I don't think they're bad enough to a point where they detract from the game as a whole. But yes, they shouldn't be there in the first place as far as I'm concerned.
@solocapers people overreacted with the shaders and microtransactions. I haven't paid for any shaders and atm I have more than 50 on my vault. Also all the microtransaction items are cosmetics that you can buy in game too
@ShogunRok thats fair enough that you've commented on articles before and have already pointed it out but for people who google "destiny 2 review" or go on metacritic and havent been on this site before they would completely miss any issues with microtransactions or other things you may or may not have commented on in the past. Just sounds like a lazy style of reviewing if you expect people to read every article on the site to build a full picture.
Surely your job as a reviewer is to cover the whole game to provide a full picture on the state of said game and if required link to any previous articles within the review with a brief touch on the subject to save a potential wall of text if you have a max word count for the review.
Otherwise they dont get the full story.. You see where im coming from?
@solocapers I do, but again, I don't think they're enough to scare anyone interested in buying the game away from it, and for me, they didn't impact my enjoyment to a degree where they would alter the score or my conclusion.
The story is crap. Like, bad.
The gameplay is awesome.
Failsafe is awesomer.
The microtransactions are NOT worth mentioning, as they are totally optional, useless and not invasive at all.
Solid 8 indeed.
'8' feels like the new '7'.
I'm sure I'll enjoy Destiny 2. More of the same is fine by me. The gunplay is superb and I like loot!
@ShogunRok Is the PushSquare clan still accepting members? Is there a limit as to how many can join? I'm ehh asking for a friend ;D .
..having owned / played it for over a week now (and by no means a Destiny fanboy - didn't buy any DLC for D1, etc. etc. but did complete the campaign) - microtransactions haven't affected me once.. I've got a truckload of shaders I've never used, alongside a bagload of armour/weapon mods... I think it's a great review, but I have to say it's way too short for this type of AAA game - as a few have said, the weapons overhaul (new different types) needs a mention, and microtransactions do need to be referred to in this review, regardless of what articles have gone before it... (and there's a truckload of stuff that probably deserves a mention, like subclasses, etc. etc.)
@Fight_Teza_Fight There's still room!
@ShogunRok Thats cool then. Like I said.. I was just giving my honest feeling from reading the review. Isnt meant as a troll or that. Just sounds rather short and sweet.. given the 8-10 score then surely theres more not good about it otherwise.
Personally im gonna hold out till atleast the first major DLC has dropped and judge the opinion of the community then as it feels all to similar to Destiny 1 and I get the feeling in a couple of weeks the dissent will start again.
The game sounds rather hollow to me.
@1ManAndHisDroid This review is about 1000 words (give or take). We'd love to write longer reviews for every game, but to be frank, it's not the best use of our time. The vast majority of people simply don't read through huge reviews as unfortunate as that is.
As for mentioning other stuff like weapon types and sub classes, I don't think reviews should act as manuals for how a game works, going over every little detail. If there's something to praise or criticise, fair enough, but mentioning things for the sake of mentioning them isn't something we try to do.
But still, thanks for reading and the kind words.
@solocapers Hey, fair enough. Criticism and discussion is welcome as long as we all keep it respectful.
@ShogunRok That's good to know. Hopefully there's still room when I get around to picking it up.
The strike that was in the beta convinced me that Destiny 2 had improved, from the variety of locations to a boss that wasn't ridiculously bullet spongy, also you get a sense of camaraderie with complete strangers that other games just lack.
@ShogunRok - thanks for the quick response! 1000ish words I do think is a bit small for such a massive game like this, and I guess with things like the weapons changes and subclasses - these are signficant enough(?) changes from D1 to mention. I don't believe these are just about how the game works, these are how it differs and adds an extra wrinkle of complexity (depth, new mechanics, etc. etc.) - but - still a good review!
People are making way too big of a deal out of the microtransactions. I get it that microtransactions suck but you can get everything by just playing.
I would have given the game a 9 myself but it helps that I never played the first. It's all fresh to me. The shooting is hands down the most satisfying I have played in a FPS this gen.
@1ManAndHisDroid Yeah, fair enough - I do like the new weapon system because it allows me to run about with two hand cannons!
@ShogunRok Sunshot Hand Cannon or you are doing it wrong.
The Sunshot is probably the most satisfying weapon in a game since Chakrams in Kingdoms of Amalur for me.
I never really clicked with the original Destiny- so I'm not sure why I bought this day one- but I have to say I've enjoyed every moment with it so far. Completed the story last night and am looking forward to getting powerful enough to join a fire team and make use of my membership to the Push Square clan!
Special mention should go to Kronos Quartet on soundtrack duties. Those guys are amazing.
@Mergatro1d oh wow. I won't play the game, but Im def not saying no to a Kronos score. Theyre amazing!
@Splat "Sunshot Hand Cannon or you are doing it wrong." QFT!!
Nice review think I'm going to get it for around a month and then probably get most of my money back as I start my army training in just over a month! If I like it I'll have to buy it back with DLC when I have time I guess... @ShogunRok I've not played Destiny since the vanilla version but I did enjoy it, anyways can you use like swords/bows as primary weapons now or are they like supers?
@PostmanPatinator swords are power/heavy. Bows are supers on one class.
Fiance threatening to leave me again after a week on release. 10/10.
Certain members of the clan fuming at the nightfall: 11/10
@PostmanPatinator Yeah what @THRILLHOU said. Swords are reasonably rare but anyone can equip them as their heavy weapon.
Those that think this is year 1 revised nope. It's more like year 3 revised. It improves every year.
You've written nearly as many words defending the review, maybe reconsider that use of time
i can't believe how simple reviews are these days, alas the good old days...
@therealskywalker Writing comments to defend the review takes me seconds. Writing and proofing a review takes me and potentially other editorial staff hours.
22 more words right there buddy.
Ha ha, I'm with ya my wife hates destiny. There's a good crew on the clan section of the bungie app but I haven't gone anywhere near nightfall. I'm terrified of it!!
What's the issue with shaders??! I'm throwing them on blue gear just to get rid of them.
@CFDennett People like to moan. Most of them never had any intention of buying the game anyway, but hey.
I'm a bit late to this party, I'm only just starting the first game.
@PostmanPatinator You have to change your name to pongo patinator. Good luck bro.
Decent review, Destiny was a great laugh and I will be buying D2 at the end of the month. Cant wait to camp in my shield and punch aliens in the face.
@solocapers "you make not a single mention of microtransactions/shaders. Surely thats a massive, massive thing to omit?"
Tbf to @ShogunRok microtransactions and such are now so commonplace as long as its only aesthetical then theres no point reporting or reviewing on them unless they veer into pay to win territory. I hate microtansactions, but its a bigger topic to handle than a review or one off article. And lets be honest if the big gamer websites arent tackling these topics what hope has Rob got?
I thought the review was awesome and told me everything i needed to know, especially the crucible info.
@themcnoisy you saying this ain't a big gamer website?
@themcnoisy That's fine except they do. Take the absorbtion mod (which I've had to read about elsewhere) which boosts your armour. Which means that people can buy boosts to give an advantage.
Regardless, I prefer my reviews in depth and fully cover all relevant points to make an informed decision. I feel personally this review hasn't done that job.
I reckon 8 is a fair enough score and the review does mention the crucible as being an issue, which I agree with; it's not as good as in Destiny 1 in any way imo. 4 x 4 is limiting the variety of playstyles, forcing players to run around in mobs of 4 and teamshooting, and also, why did they take away the ability to choose which mode you play? A backward step, surely?
One personal bugbear is no dedicated servers, which is very poor in 2017.
Other than that, bang on really.
@solocapers The reviews fine tbh. They are here to answer any specific questions you have, too. What more do you want?
This game was an 8 the moment it was announced earlier in the year anyway.
And some context for you regarding those mods since you seem not to have played the game(quote):
So why isn’t this pay-to-win? The Gunsmith sells random rare-quality weapon and armor mods for 2,500 Glimmer each. Mods seem to be Destiny 2’s Glimmer dump, so think of these as being similar in value to ammo synthesis from the first game.
You can get rare mods from bright engrams, but they’re so readily available from the Gunsmith that spending money to get mods is completely unnecessary, and any advantage it confers is so slight as to be immaterial. You get tons of Glimmer as you play — and these mods are not the primary goal of your grind — so you’ll get all you need in the course of pursuing your other goals.
@kyleforrester87 Yea yea thats fine. I was just wondering about possible points missing in the review and question it. Heck, just looking for the best possible review.
@solocapers Eurogamer do lonnnng reviews. Personally I do prefer short and sweet reviews, mostly because I'm following games I want long before they are released anyway and I rarely base my decisions on reviews. I don't bother reading the long ones at all. If I have a specific question I like being able to ask the guys here. And if I'm in doubt I do a quick Metacritic.
I can understand why the guys here don't do very long reviews.
So far the game has surprised me as I was expecting a lot taken out but there is a lot to do. Wish strikes were 4 players because I find it annoying having to wait for some members Finish before I get a run as there's only 4 members in our clan. So having 4 in strikes would have been better since you can 4v4 in crucible
@ShogunRok I'm not looking for spoilers, just a simple yes or no to this question: Do I have to progress through the campaign through a certain point before Strikes become available? It seems like in D1 there were strikes as you level up, and I've already hit 20 and haven't seen a single mention of them.
@RedMageLanakyn - short answer, Yes. slightly longer answer, the strikes are only available in a vanguard playlist, which unlocks after a certain event in the story.
@leucocyte Gotcha, thank you. I planned on going through the campaign before hitting 20, but the lost sectors, adventures, and public events really just absorbed my time!
think the review over-eggs the story imo, it's Z-tier stuff with more ham than porky mcpig's crackling pork out. it's only an improvement over the first one by virtue of the fact that it's a story at all. yes, there's some very well-animated cutscenes and cayde has some funny lines including a paraphrase of the infamous "i don't have to time to explain" line from the first game, but it's mostly disposable nonsense with no sense of pacing at all. most of the locations are under-utilised storywise, the majority of it takes place on earth. the mission structure deviates little from shooting your way to a location then waiting and shooting wave after wave after wave after... of enemies whilst the ghost hacks or transmats something. it's a little one note after a while.. the mission with the tank was a welcome diversion, and it needed more of that imo.
didn't like the changes to the weapons system either, in order to maximise power level often the kinetic and energy weapons were the same type (both hand-cannons, or both auto-rifles, etc) which made the firefights very samey and didn't feel like they had the same variation as destiny one. probably less of a problem as you reach the higher power levels where dropping a power level or two makes little difference, but during story progression i found swapping from primary to secondary quite dull.
as for microtransactions, the whole shaders section is crap whether it's paid for or earned in game. not sure why they replaced the system they had before with this. but i thought bright engrams could give weapons/armour mods as well?? in which case theoretically you could improve your stats by using silver (bought with real cash) to buy a bunch of bright engrams. i played someone else's copy of the game, so i didn't really check a lot of the superfluous stuff like the eververse, and i assume the power level in the crucible is disabled anyway (never liked it in destiny 1, so didn't bother trying it).
overall destiny 2 is the game i expected it to be, and not the game i wanted it to be. the gunplay is as slick as ever, but it seems to be a game designed for those that were addicted to the repetitive loop for 3 years and have the constant clan/fireteam support to make the endgame activities more fun. not sure it would win over those sceptical the first time round, and it's not as easy to recommend as a solo experience imo.
@CFDennett it's really not that difficult if you know the layout etc. The rings were a bit cheap, and the prism buff is a pain, but it's certainly doable. If anything, D2's approach to loot and levelling quicker makes it an easier game than the original. Previously I'd struggle to get decent loot but now it's a lot more simple, and it actively encourages challenging yourself. Its not perfect by any means, but as a multiplayer shooter with friends I'm hard pushed to find anything better.
I'll probably skip this.
I liked the controls and mechanics of the first game quite a lot when I played it around release. But, I didn't like the fact that I couldn't play story mode without other people running around killing everything around me. If I want to play a game like that, I'll play WoW.
But hey, everyone else that enjoyed the first game and are enjoying this game, have fun. I'm not gonna damper your enjoyment.
It's crazy isn't it? All these people moaning would have paid me a tenner for revenent in d1 vanilla no questions asked!!
Thanks for the tips bud. The loot grind is awesome this time around. Just got a spiky thorn hat thing for my warlock. Sweet. Nightfall has always scared me, I paid my son a fiver a week in d1 to do it for me!!
@leucocyte Agree on some parts of the story being better than others, but do you think it's really that bad? I honestly thought it was fine, but like the review says, nothing amazing or anything. I get that pacing is an issue but that's usually the case with any games that let you potter off and do your own thing.
I think overall the good outweighs the bad in the story department, even if that good stuff is nothing to really write home about.
@solocapers @themcnoisy Trust me, I could write 1000 words on why microtransactions are a plague to begin with, but again, we've adopted a slightly shorter review style and we're sticking to it - for now, at least.
By the way, if anyone has any questions regarding our approach to reviewing games feel free to ask.
@ShogunRok I just finished the story, it was entertaining but not great. In fact it was pretty dumb really. I kinda preferred some of the Black Garden type nonsense from the first game. It was stupid, but at least it was obtuse and made me scratch my head a bit lol. The Taken King and this have felt a bit too much like Saturday morning cartoons. Still, their is so much other stuff to do it hardly matters. Hope they change it up a bit for the next story content though.
@XurAgentofthe9 Hey Xur if you could let us know where you landing on Friday and keep a nice Exotic Auto rifle for me that'd be great, thx!
Are sniper rifles only in the special (or is it power?) weapon slot now? No energy or kinetic sniper rifles? That's a bummer for sure.
And is Hardlight in D2? I love that auto rifle.
@kyleforrester87 It is. Saw someone acquire it at the social space. I imagine it's pretty solid in Destiny 2 since auto rifles appear to be way better than they were near the end of Destiny.
@ShogunRok Is the single player campaign good? How many hours does it last?
To be honest, I would've expected you mentioned, that much stuff has been copied 1:1 from D1. There are almost no new enemies, everything literally looks and feels exactly the same in D2 as in D1. They tweaked every aspect a little bit here and a little bit more there, but except the story and the planets, nothing new really.
@ShogunRok said in the first post if anyone had any questions, they could fire away. If anyone wanted to know about things that were not touched on just ask politely.. Exactly as @wiiware has done above.. No need to go criticising the review itself, calling it lazy etc. The reviews here are fair & to the point IMO which is all they need to be. Nobody wants to trawl through a soapbox-esque rant about microtransactions when they want to know if a game is worth their money.
@wiiware I quite like it, but it's not a straightforward, linear shot through multiple levels since you're free to do your own thing in between story missions. By the time I finished the campaign, I think I had clocked about 30 hours, but I'd estimate only around 10 of those hours were actual story missions and cutscenes.
@ShogunRok Good enough! I guess I'll delete some games for installing destiny 2. Thanks
@kyleforrester87 the best but not the biggest. Yet.
I was influenced by some reviews and a friend to buy this game and I enjoyed it. But after reaching level 20, doing the strikes and so forth...with the adventures and patrols being kind of boring, there's not much to do besides playing multiplayer.
The game has a lot of filler content (people like to criticise AC games but love to praise Destiny? wut) and I was hoping for a little more.
But like I said I enjoyed the game and I think it deserves a 7. Reviews from Angry Joe and I Hate Everything are really on point about the game and I would've think twice before buying the game at full price if I had seen them.
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