Forsaken does more than expand Destiny 2. It rewrites it for the better.
Destiny 2 was not the game many players wanted at launch. It was a fun shooter, but shallow and further marred by poor post-launch design decisions. It is, therefore, a relief to say that Forsaken is the second wind Destiny 2 needed. It’s a full-fat expansion for Bungie’s space opera of a shooter, and comes with everything you’d expect: new missions, activities and environments. But Forsaken also delivers expanded RPG elements and quality-of-life changes which make Destiny 2 more compelling.
As you may have heard, the expansion opens with a big story beat: the death of Cayde-6, the chattiest and most lighthearted of Destiny’s Vanguard trio, a sort of council of leaders. Cayde bites it at the hands of Uldren Sov and the eight Barons who lead the Scorn, a scrappy new enemy faction loosely based on the Fallen. So begins a quest for revenge. The Man Who Shot Cayde-6 is somewhere out there in the badlands and you’ve got to go through his oddball gang of henchmen to get to him.
The bulk of the campaign consists of Baron hunts, which are more than your typical Destiny boss fights. These hunts are unique missions which reflect the personalities and powers of the Barons you’re pursuing. I start with The Rider, the leader of a hoverbike gang. To lure her out, I hijack one of her precious ‘Pike’ vehicles and use it to slaughter
some of her riders in her own territory. Thoroughly pissed off, she rolls up in her own souped-up Pike and challenges me to a death race through an acid-filled thunderdome.
As I dodge missiles, steal replacement Pikes, and evade the trail of fire that the Rider leaves in her wake, it occurs to me that this fight doesn’t feel like Destiny. I mean, I’ve hardly shot anything with a regular gun. But it feels great. Memorable, flavourful, and above all, unlike anything I’ve done before, which also describes much of Forsaken.
The next Baron to really stand out is The Rifleman. Blind, save for a single cybernetic eyeball, this bastard played an especially big role in Cayde’s death by shooting his Ghost – a floating resurrection-granting companion. As you may have deduced, he’s a sniper, so what better way to get his attention than to take potshots at him from his own nest? Eventually he gets tired of playing tag and lures me to an arena where he and his army of hologram clones have the upper hand. While the actual fight is a fun challenge, it’s The Rifleman’s dialogue that elevates the encounter. He’s a marksman who delights in mocking my aim, which brings home one of my favourite parts of the Baron hunts: they’re not just about killing the Barons, but beating them at their own game.
I beat The Rider in a death race and I outshoot The Rifleman. Likewise, I take out The Mad Bomber by defusing his explosives and hunt The Machinist using a tank stolen from her personal arsenal. I’m genuinely surprised I can rattle these Barons off from memory, because going in I didn’t expect to remember them at all, let alone so vividly. Incidentally, The Machinist is my favourite Baron, again because of what she has to say rather than the fight itself. She talks about the other Barons like they’re part of her family, and she reveres Uldren Sov as a benevolent leader. The Barons stick together, she says. I can kill them, but never break them. Which is the first line in all of Destiny to ever give me pause. That’s what the victims tell the bad guys, right?
I’m genuinely surprised I can rattle these Barons off from memory
Shades of grey
Arguably for the first time ever in the series, Destiny’s story has become a bit ambiguous, and it’s a massive improvement. Destiny 2 has spent the past couple of years telling players to fight the Darkness and save the solar system, but maybe these Guardians that we play as aren’t the golden heroes they’re made out to be? After all, they are all corpses, having been reanimated countless times. Enemies revile them as the zombie warriors that they technically are, and it feels like Bungie is finally ready to tap into that. This kernel of doubt is further explored in Uldren’s storyline, which delivers a more conflicted, interesting