Now Play­ing: destiny 2

A jour­ney to meet a Van­guard leg­end in an ex­pan­sion that some­how makes Destiny 2 feel smaller

XBox: The Official Magazine (US) - - START - DAVID HOUGHTON Pub­lisher Ac­tivi­sion / Developer Bungie / for­mat Xbox One / re­lease date Septem­ber 2017

I’m grind­ing away on Mer­cury, the new des­ti­na­tion planet in Destiny 2’ s re­cent Curse Of Osiris ex­pan­sion. I’m ham­mer­ing pub­lic events, and seek­ing out chests dur­ing the down­time be­tween them, in or­der to farm Ra­di­o­lar­ian Cul­ture. You see, I’m work­ing to­ward earn­ing the next of the ex­pan­sion’s sig­na­ture Forge weapons. They’re dis­tinct, Vex-themed weapons, and de­mand a whole bunch of re­source ma­te­ri­als to craft. There are ten of them, they’re only avail­able from Brother Vance on Mer­cury, and at­tain­ing them makes up the bulk of the endgame in Curse Of Osiris.

This process is not new to me. I’ve been ex­plor­ing pa­trol spa­ces and grind­ing mats since the early, bad old days of the orig­i­nal Destiny, when the economies were all out of whack, and reload­ing a gun re­quired 30 Spin­metal and an As­cen­dant Shard (okay, this isn’t com­pletely true, but at times it felt like it). By farm­ing events and col­lect­ing ran­dom crap I’ve com­pleted many an Ex­otic quest­line, up­graded an arse­nal of bizarre, won­der­ful guns to nigh planet-crack­ing power, and fash­ioned more than a cou­ple of cool Christ­mas presents along the way. But now, for the first time in nearly three and a half years, I’m won­der­ing just why I’m do­ing any of this.

Small re­ward

It’s the re­al­iza­tion of the Forge weapons’ dis­ap­point­ing na­ture that fi­nally pushes me over the edge. Be­cause, one or two stand-out ex­cep­tions aside, none of them are par­tic­u­larly spe­cial at all, ex­cept in terms of their (ad­mit­tedly fan­tas­tic) aes­thetic de­sign. That cool-look­ing sub ma­chine gun? Not as good as the An­tiope-D I’ve been us­ing for months. That awe­some-look­ing scout ri­fle? Not as good as the Name­less Mid­night I’ve had since week two. And so it con­tin­ues. It’s a bad sit­u­a­tion in iso­la­tion, made worse by the se­condary re­al­iza­tion that it doesn’t ex­ist in iso­la­tion at all. Be­cause

Curse Of Osiris, rather than be­ing the re­fresh­ing reig­ni­tion that Destiny 2 some­what trou­blingly needed just three month into its life, ac­tu­ally rather crys­tal­izes and com­pounds all of the prob­lems the game still has.

That in­creas­ingly worn con­tent se­lec­tion? There’s a neat metaphor for that in the ex­pan­sion’s weak, three-hour story, padded as it is with re­turn vis­its to pre-ex­ist­ing lo­ca­tions, and never-end­ing, un­event­ful re-runs through the End­less For­est, Osiris’ new, ran­domly-gen­er­ated com­bat area, which book-ends nearly every mis­sion and Strike in the add-on. The For­est is a neat idea, a Ma­trix-style Vex sim­u­la­tion of ab­stract, plat­form­ing- driven ar­chi­tec­ture, and ran­dom­ized en­e­mies, but af­ter a few runs it be­comes des­per­ately samey. It ini­tially gives all of Osiris’ story-driven ma­te­rial a fresh, oth­er­worldly feel, but within an evening I’m sigh­ing with the monotony of it, and every player I’m matched with in Strike playlists is sim­ply sprint­ing through to get it over with.

Squan­dered po­ten­tial? That one is summed up nicely by the Mer­cury over­world—which is roughly the size of a big PvP map and con­tains very little to do—and the End­less For­est it­self, which has vast scope as an endgame chal­lenge area, à la The Ar­chon’s Forge or Prison of El­ders, but is used as no such thing. Mer­cury has long been a spe­cial place in Destiny lore. Its Light­house was the near-

myth­i­cal re­ward for the best of the best Tri­als of Osiris play­ers. It was the base of Osiris’ clan­des­tine op­er­a­tions af­ter ex­ile from the Tower, the place from which it was hinted (for years) that the ge­nius heretic would one day re­turn, to shake things right up when the time was right. Now, with the Trav­eler awake, the Van­guard look­ing for new di­rec­tion, and the Speaker’s lies re­vealed, the stage was set for a seis­mic shud­der. But for some rea­son, Osiris has been re-writ­ten as just some weird old crank, Vance is now an awk­ward fan­boy, played for cyn­i­cal laughs, and none of it seems to mean much at all.

As for Destiny 2’ s de­cid­edly wa­tered down, static, and com­par­a­tively un­ex­cit­ing sand­box of gear, pro­gres­sion sys­tems, and min­i­mized role-play­ing el­e­ments in com­par­i­son to those of its pre­de­ces­sor, you can feel that ev­ery­where in Curse Of Osiris. From the mean­ing­less re­ward of the pedes­trian Forge Weapons, to the in­flux of re­cy­cled—but de­press­ingly down­graded—Ex­otics from the first game, to the near to­tal lack of mean­ing­ful new ac­tiv­i­ties, Destiny

2’ s at­tain­able gear (and the means it presents to at­tain it) de­liv­ers little in the way of long-term com­pul­sion.

New be­gin­nings

“The ever-pas­sion­ate Destiny com­mu­nity is some­how both bored and fu­ri­ous”

Clearly, Destiny 2 is in trou­ble right now. It took a while for the changes to re­ally kick in, amid the highs of the launch game’s barn­storm­ing, al­most Halo- stan­dard nar­ra­tive cam­paign, the re­freshed, more tac­ti­cal Cru­cible, and the never-bet­ter, cease­less joy of Destiny’s core, mo­ment-to­mo­ment game­play. But now, as we trek ahead into the long-term game, where role-play­ing in­trigue, cool, game-chang­ing gear perks, cre­ative char­ac­ter builds, and long searches for (lit­er­ally) leg­endary, well-hid­den guns should pick up the ba­ton, it’s be­com­ing clear that the se­quel’s sim­pli­fi­ca­tion has stripped away too much, leav­ing little ex­cit­ing endgame as­pi­ra­tion of any sort of depth. The ever-pas­sion­ate Destiny com­mu­nity is some­how both bored and fu­ri­ous. But it isn’t with­out hope. Af­ter a tad too long with­out com­ment, Bungie has re­sponded. No doubt prompted by the boil­ing-point dis­sent over Christ­mas, the stu­dio has dropped a vast list of pledged, in­com­ing im­prove­ments, from vault space, to weapon de­sign, to PvP match-mak­ing, to endgame ac­tiv­ity of­fer­ings. The pro­posed changes sound good. The pro­posed changes sound like the game Destiny 2 should have been in the first place, ac­tu­ally.

They’re not go­ing to drop overnight, mind. Bungie’s roll-out sched­ule runs from late Jan­uary to the fall. But it feels like we might be turn­ing a cor­ner. The ex­tremely picky Destiny sub­red­dit is ten­ta­tively show­ing signs of ex­cite­ment, af­ter months re­sem­bling a maudlin sup­port group. Bungie’s Christo­pher Barrett, now tak­ing charge of things as the live team steps up, has been as talk­a­tive and re­as­sur­ing over the last few days as the stu­dio over­all has in weeks. He’s say­ing all the right things, and he’s do­ing so with pas­sion. Things have been rough in Destiny 2, but it’s al­ways dark­est be­fore the dawn (or per­haps dur­ing the Dawn­ing). Be brave, Guardians. The best might very well still be ahead.

above You can find out more about Bungie’s fu­ture plans for Destiny 2 on page 12. be­low Holy crap, a gi­ant metal bird is eat­ing that guy! Oh no, sorry, it’s just a hat. False alarm, guys.

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