Well, I did it! Finally after several years of my friends saying “you must play Destiny 2!” I installed the game and gave it a try. It didn’t sound like my kind of game. Oh boy, was I wrong! This game definitely sucked me in immediately. Starting with a very comfortable tutorial with an excellent way of teaching the mechanics, with gorgeous graphics and a compelling narrative.
The game begins its opening cutscene on Mars, our species having largely abandoned Earth for new planetary systems. We come to life after having been dead for an unknown amount of time, and wake up on Earth, in search of weapons and people we have lost along the way. On the surface, it’s not much, but the execution of the narrative pulls you in, as the camera pans to gorgeous shots of the view from this futuristic world we inhabit. The action builds comfortably, not overwhelming you with too much, or giving you too little to be able to really enjoy. The difficulty is perfect for the new player, giving you just enough breadcrumbs to know what you’re supposed to do next, while maintaining enough openness in the experience to give you the freedom of choice in your approach to the initial mission(s).
In the first mission, you stumble upon several patches of enemy forces ready to take you out! However, if you’re paying close enough attention, you will see that the path to your mission waypoint doesn’t walk directly into the path of the enemy camp. This immediately teaches the player a concept that I believe is probably critical to the new player – one does not have to engage with every enemy they encounter. Rather, you can pick and choose your battles, and approach when you have acquired more information. For example, do I want to attack these enemies head on, or should I continue to my mission, and maybe consider a way to flank them later? The pacing of the game lends itself to this sort of forward thinking, as besides scripted sections, the rest of the game is putting the player in control of when and where they go next.
At first glance, the game seems very simple. Very much like the Halo series, we begin with point, and shoot. We pick up our first assault rifle, reminiscent of the first gun many of us old folks remember from our first time playing Halo.
As the game progresses us through the main storyline, we find more and more detail in our abilities, and the overall mechanics. Not only do I have this awesome gun, but it is a gun I can upgrade, alter, and find power-ups for. My character has special abilities that I can easily understand, and improve with new powerful outfit items. This is all given to us in little bites, and I never felt overwhelmed in my experience as I picked up on new concepts.
I loved the way the world felt interactive, as well. There is a moment about halfway through the first mission where you see some parked bikes in enemy territory. My initial reaction was these were just decoration, or maybe they would be useful to explode them and injure the enemies. But I let go of my instincts, and instead went to try to ride it. Not only was that my favorite moment, but it felt like a true moment of discovery as the game never told me to ride the bikes. And by the way, they have BIG GUNS!
What I Didn’t Like
So, this was actually tough for me. There’s not much to dislike, to be honest. While I did say the narrative is compelling, I didn’t necessarily feel as much emotion for the characters as the game was trying to get me to feel. However the motivations of my character or the characters in the game seems to be a little less relevant, rather it’s about the overarching narrative of our species in this new future universal experience. Perhaps this is something that I may find is changing as we continue to play. As an example with the dead ghost, I didn’t really know what that was about, who died, and why I should care, but it wasn’t something the game was driving home either.
Another concern for me was fast travel. While I generally love fast travel in games, and it certainly wasn’t unwelcome here, either, I do feel it was introduced too early. I have only just begun in the first 30 minutes or so to really explore this beautiful world, and it feels quite early when the game begins to tell me to skip through it. What am I missing out on when I do this? Is there nothing in this open world for me to enjoy in this intervening space?
This can easily be remedied by simply moving this fast-travel option to further into the story, or making it something that needs to be unlocked later through a mission. Afterall, the game is essentially telling me to do it, and not to explore its world.
This is a very nitpicky complaint, because quite frankly, I couldn’t really think of anything else I didn’t enjoy!
Will I play it again? Yes. Probably a lot. I would have to say that from first impressions alone, this game easily won me over and has turned me into a fan of the game. This should come as little surprise as I loved the Halo franchise, and Destiny 2 ticks all the boxes one would expect from an open world game, while having a nostalgia factor for anyone who grew up playing the early XBOX Halo games. The gameplay is overall very smooth and enjoyable. The graphics are phenomenal to look at (though when recording there are some framerate issues). And lastly, it gave me just enough to feel satisfied, and left me wanting more!