Su its you, sir

Out­fit­ting our Guardians with the most lethal (and stylish) gear

Games Master - - Review -

respawn­ing in the over­world doesn’t re­set progress, so we whit­tle down his health un­til he drops a shiny new helmet. You can save time by scout­ing loot chests in the wild, in­di­cated on the map, which pro­vides in­cen­tive to ex­plore. Dur­ing one ex­pe­di­tion we dis­cover a Ca­bal data cache de­tail­ing plans to make for­ti­fied wine from blood. Yikes.

You could do a bite-sized Pa­trol, usu­ally in­volv­ing de­stroy­ing a nest, scan­ning a sig­nal, or shut­ting down a ra­dio jam­mer, or join a public event in which many play­ers work to­wards a com­mon goal. Sim­ply be­ing near the ac­tion is enough to gain XP and loot, so we do our bit by pep­per­ing a spi­der tank with sniper shots from afar like the cow­ards we are. Public events oc­cur ran­domly, which makes them great spontaneous so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties. The abil­ity to warp to them would be nice, how­ever.

Out of ev­ery­thing, Ad­ven­tures feel most struc­tured; they’re meaty 15-minute quests given by the lo­ca­tion’s sin­gu­lar, per­ma­nently fixed lo­cal. In the EDZ, for ex­am­ple, gen­tle­men sniper Havrim has us clearing mines and plant­ing bea­cons. An early high­light in­volves trans­port­ing a bomb up a moun­tain: Havrim tele­ports red bar­rels and trip­wires to our lo­ca­tion and causes a ca­coph­ony of fire and sparks as dozens of un­wit­ting Ca­bal grunts stroll right through. He con­stantly tempts us with prom­ises of tea, but there’s no ket­tle in his bell-tower-turned-crow’s-nest. What a tease. The game could have used a few more quest-givers, and it’s a shame they’re rooted to the spot, but the com­par­a­tive com­plex­ity of their er­rands make up for the sim­plic­ity with which they is­sue them.

Cam­paign mis­sions fea­ture the best writ­ing, giv­ing the se­ries a much-needed hu­mour boost. “If I had feel­ings, they would be hurt,” mal­func­tion­ing AI Fail­safe tells us. Later, the Nathan Fil­lion-voiced Cayde-6 calls back to an in­fa­mous Destiny line with “I don’t have time to ex­plain what I don’t un­der­stand.” That makes your mute Guardian all the more con­spic­u­ous. Destiny 2’s newly char­ac­ter­ful story would have been a golden chance to give them a voice.

Let there be loot

Like the first, this is a game pri­mar­ily about the raw joy of shoot­ing aliens un­til chunky num­bers spill out like they’re math­e­mat­i­cal piñatas, a con­stant vis­ual re­minder you’re ever closer to the next loot drop or Light in­crease. In one mar­ble cav­ern we tar­get the glow­ing white bel­lies of hos­tile Vex ro­bots with slow and steady blasts of a hand can­non. Ka-chunk. In another we switch to a sub-ma­chine gun and mow down charg­ing swarms of crusty Hive. Ratatata. Even if you’re not in it for the dig­its, any­one can get be­hind the meaty thunk of a bul­let es­cap­ing a cham­ber, head­shots pierc­ing en­emy hel­mets like pins ap­plied to shaken-up Cola cans, and So­lar grenades with the force of stars vapouris­ing en­tire crowds. It’s a good job shoot­ing, melee­ing, and pow­ers feel great, be­cause you’ll use them loads.

Light sits at the cen­tre of Destiny 2. Ev­ery firearm and gear piece comes with

“Head­shots pierce en­emy hel­mets like pins ap­plied to shaken-up Co la cans”

an as­so­ci­ated Light level count­ing to­wards an over­all to­tal. While it makes op­ti­mis­ing your Guardian easy (just wield what­ever has the big­gest num­ber), it also re­duces your sense of own­er­ship. We love our War­lock’s golden an­gel wings, but the dif­fer­ence in Light pushes us to sub­sti­tute them for drab cot­ton over­alls. This also means you rarely bond with a spe­cific weapon since you’ll only swap it out soon. It might be you can mod­ify them into use­ful­ness late-game, but we cer­tainly haven’t found any op­tion to do so. Light is a sin­gle, power-ori­en­tated stat ren­der­ing others al­most re­dun­dant, and dis­in­cen­tivises you pick­ing based on el­e­ments like form and func­tion­al­ity.

The ab­so­lute Ghaul

Com­mend­ably, Destiny 2 is hon­est about all of this. You’re not un­der the il­lu­sion you’re sav­ing the world skir­mish by skir­mish, or in­cre­men­tally rais­ing a per­sis­tent me­ter – just run­ning on a ham­ster wheel of ever-in­creas­ing per­sonal gain. And Bungie greases that wheel, play­ing the role of party plan­ner as you grab from a groan­ing ta­ble of snack bowls. Take daily chal­lenges, like de­feat­ing 75 Fallen and earn­ing cur­rency to spend with ven­dors, which gives you im­pe­tus to log in reg­u­larly. Mile­stones, mean­while, ac­cessed by hold­ing L2/LT in the menu, help or­gan­ise what could eas­ily have seemed an over­whelm­ing num­ber of ac­tiv­i­ties into a list of per­son­alised rec­om­men­da­tions. ‘Not played The Cru­cible yet?’, it’ll ask. ‘Com­plete two matches. There’s a rare weapon in it for you.’

Once you’ve rinsed the cam­paign, Lost Sec­tors, and ad­ven­tures, you’re left with the en­joy­ably end­less pur­suit of Light and cur­rency, and it’s here the well-shaped shooter gives way to an MMO grind. It’s an in­cred­i­bly ad­dic­tive but far more ac­quired taste. Repeating Strikes, chas­ing chal­lenges, raid­ing, and par­tak­ing in public events form the makeup of the endgame. Gen­er­ally, it’s all about earn­ing chips to ‘cash-in’. Cayde-6, Ikora, and Zavala are your three ven­dors in the Farm, the mul­ti­player hub re­plac­ing Destiny’s Tower, and whom you’ll visit most. Give them enough to­kens and they’ll hand you an En­gram, which is ba­si­cally a loot box con­tain­ing rare weapons, gear, emotes, ships, and dyes. Re­peat the process and even­tu­ally you’ll get the one you want. For us, Destiny 2 loses some of its drive and di­rec­tion by this point, but reach it and you’ll al­ready have 20 hours of en­ter­tain­ment un­der your belt eas­ily.

And that’s even with­out The Cru­cible, where loot earned con­tin­ues to the main game and Light level ad­van­tages are dis­abled to make for an even play­ing field. Re­duc­ing the player count to 4v4 adds co­her­ence, as do HUD im­prove­ments alert­ing you when power ammo respawns or su­per abilities re­set, but it also doesn’t feel es­sen­tial. Modes are stan­dard FPS fare, and there are just six sim­i­larly sized stages. That’s not to say it’s an af­ter­thought. The Cru­cible is cer­tainly worth the oc­ca­sional dip, and even losses don’t feel like wasted time since you’re al­ways earn­ing re­wards.

Destiny 2 is meant to last years. This is month one, and ques­tions abound. Will it pull you back long af­ter you’ve hit the level cap? What weapon im­bal­ances will re­veal them­selves in The Cru­cible? Just how big are the new Raids? No-one can say yet. What we can say, how­ever, is how much fun we’re cur­rently hav­ing. The cam­paign en­ter­tains, classes are a blast, and set­tings are spec­tac­u­lar. Whether you’re ex­pe­ri­enced in min-max­ing Light lev­els, or you go in fresh look­ing to shield-smash an 8ft Cen­tu­rion in the face, you’ve got a date with Destiny 2.

You won’t see this grenade launcher com­ing. Mainly be­cause its ex­plo­sives have a brief blind­ing ef­fect. As be­fore, you can cus­tomise your Ghost with paint jobs. This fetch­ing camo comes with an in­creased radar to iden­tify far-off loot. Re­gard­less of the species you choose, whether brightly coloured Awo­ken, robotic Exo, or hu­man flesh­bag, all at­tire choices fit per­fectly. For fans of sci­en­tific mis­use, try the black hole ri­fle. Ev­ery third shot rips a hole in the space-time con­tin­uum to deal ex­tra dam­age.

There’s no friendly fire, and so lit­tle op­por­tu­nity for grief­ing. The worst some­one can do is dance in your face.

Vex bel­lies need tar­get­ing, while nu­mer­ous charg­ing Hive call for shot­gun blasts or sub­ma­chine gun sprays.

Ve­hi­cles help you cross lo­ca­tions. Un­lock a Spar­row in an En­gram and you can spawn it on de­mand.

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