Destiny 2 is a strange animal. It has one of the more active online communities outside of the game, which typically bodes well for the quality of the game and its replayability. If people really want to talk about it, they’re probably going back over and over and over.
However, more often than not, it seems that the community hates the game.
I initially wasn’t going to try the game, even after repeated claims from a friend whose judgment on games I trust, merely due to the negative reaction to the game that I had never directly encountered but had kind of absorbed through osmosis due to its sheer strength. It literally took receiving a free copy of the game and its expansions in order to try it out. And now that I’ve played the game, including completing the story, the raid and one of the raid lairs, I feel like I’ve experienced enough to render a qualified take on the game.
But first, since I differ with the community in so many different ways, I wanted to first dig into a bunch of criticism of the game and try and at least understand where it was coming from.
One of the first things I realized is that most of the people who are both the most passionate about and the most critical of the game played the original, Destiny.
Part of the reason that Destiny 2 gets as much flak as it does is that it isn’t just Destiny 1 but done better. It certainly appears to have mixed things up significantly, which leads to a lot of interesting criticisms: it’s not as grindy, the loot system is far too random, there’s not as much high-level content, the player’s character moves too slowly, and there aren’t as many side-quests or collectibles.
I think that all of these have some validity, especially since Bungie, the company that makes the game has specifically targeted these problems in patches.
However, I don’t think that these criticisms have direct bearing on the game itself. To some extent, it seems as though players don’t like these things because they are different, not necessarily because they’re bad. For the most part, these problems are a matter of personal taste rather than substance.
It’s not that these perspectives and complaints are invalid, just that they’re not necessarily universal.
But there are two problems that I think deserve further exploration.
The first relates to the former category, things that changed from Destiny to Destiny 2, and it has to do with weapon slots. Both games allow the player to equip three different kinds of weapons at once, which you can cycle through during combat depending on the specific circumstances.
I didn’t play the first game, but the weapon slots seemed to match the following description:
- Weapons used to clear weak enemies
- Weapons that make you feel powerful when used
- Weapons that are great for doing lots of damage to powerful bosses
And, here’s how the slots are assigned in Destiny 2:
- Weapons used to clear weak enemies
- Weapons used to clear weak/medium enemies with energy shields
- Weapons that are great for doing lots of damage to powerful bosses and also the weapons that make you feel powerful when used.
Bungie accomplished this by duplicating the weapon classes used for the first category in the first game and using them for both categories in the second, but adding a modifier that makes the weapon better against shielded enemies for the second category.
This forced the weapons that make you feel powerful down into the third slot, meaning that you have to make a choice between using what helps you beat bosses and what makes you feel powerful. And, that’s kind of a cruddy trade-off.
I’ve seen a pretty compelling argument that this makes rocket launchers extremely strong to the point that other weapon classes, such as shotguns, sniper rifles, linear fusion rifles, etc., get crowded out completely. The upside is that these classes of weapons are less dominant or even as broken as they were in the last game.
However, I disagree with commentary that suggests that this new weapon “balance can be very, very boring.” What’s happened is that Bungie changed from trying to create fun by making you feel powerful, to forcing you to act strategically, which is fun in a different way.
Is either better, or does the second actually improve on the first? I can’t really tell you.
What I can tell you is that it means that some people are going to have suboptimal damage against bosses, instead choosing to use weapons like shotguns or grenade launches in that third slot, which are good against the hordes of weak enemies that each group must deal with.
In fact, a lot of the repulsion to this change seems to be related to the common fact that most gamers want to be the hero on the team. People queue up a lot for mid and top, the carry roles, in League of Legends, and less for jungle and support, which are, well, more supportive.
Likewise, more people play the Hunter and Warlock classes in Destiny, which do more damage, than the Titan class, which tanks and supports. Each is fun in its own way, but two fit the hero fantasy far more than the other.
So, here’s my final verdict:
Destiny 2 is fun to play by yourself, but even more, fun to play with friends. If you don’t own a copy, it’s worth it to buy the base game at full price, but more worth it to buy it on sale at the same time as a bunch of your friends. There are fair complaints that the two DLCs don’t have all that much content in them, but that doesn’t make the game less fun. It just means that the DLCs are overpriced. Only buy them on sale or bundled if you can.
Don’t let a relatively small but very vocal group of gamers kill the joy of playing a game that is very fun in its own right and has quite of bit of longevity left in it.