Des­tiny 2: Curse Of Osiris

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This was never go­ing to be the mo­ment that Des­tiny 2 clicked into place. Work on Curse Of Osiris was well un­der­way when we vis­ited Bungie for E310’ s cover story, and so it had no chance of fix­ing the prob­lems that have only come to light since the base game’s re­lease. It is still too fo­cused on cos­met­ics you can only ac­quire through RNG. It still lacks a mean­ing­ful endgame. And too many of its ad­di­tions are things that have ei­ther been re­stored from Des­tiny 1, or should have been part of Des­tiny 2 from the start.

Bungie sold us on the need for a se­quel to Des­tiny, rather than an­other ex­pan­sion to it, by ex­tolling the virtues of hit­ting the re­set but­ton on a se­ries that had grown bloated and overly com­plex. That, no doubt, was truly felt. Yet it has also given the stu­dio the ex­cuse to sell back to play­ers fea­tures that came as stan­dard in the orig­i­nal Des­tiny. While it’s nice to have Heroic Strikes – amped-up ver­sions of the game’s sig­na­ture mis­sions, that the­o­ret­i­cally yield stronger re­wards – back on the menu, where were they three months ear­lier when we needed them, when Des­tiny 2’ s endgame fiz­zled out?

This up­date also adds Heroic ver­sions of the Adventure sid­e­quests, but only on the new DLC des­ti­na­tion, Mer­cury. They’re tightly de­signed, pose a stern chal­lenge, and of­fer great sat­is­fac­tion when you fi­nally clear them. Bungie, ap­par­ently, is work­ing on equiv­a­lents for the other stops on Des­tiny 2’ s in­ter­ga­lac­tic jour­ney. We sim­ply can­not un­der­stand why they were not fac­tored in from the start.

Mer­cury it­self, mean­while, is tiny, a sun-parched, cir­cu­lar map host­ing a sin­gle Pub­lic Event and very lit­tle be­sides. While it branches off to other ar­eas dur­ing cer­tain mis­sions, none is ac­ces­si­ble in open play; like the gor­geous New Pa­cific Ar­col­ogy in the base game’s Ti­tan moon, these new ar­eas are dis­ap­point­ingly un­der­used. Nowhere is that more true than the In­fi­nite For­est, an area about which Bungie made great hay in the run-up to Curse Of Osiris’ re­lease. Pitched as an ever-chang­ing, end­less bat­tle­ground, it is in prac­tice a sort of pro­ce­du­rally gen­er­ated load­ing screen, link­ing the Mer­cury hub to its var­i­ous spokes with a se­ries of ran­domised fire­fights. Again, there’s an op­por­tu­nity here: for a steadily more dif­fi­cult ran­domised horde mode, per­haps, that spits out bet­ter loot the fur­ther into it you get. In­stead, it pops up for a few min­utes dur­ing story mis­sions and Ad­ven­tures, and you quickly re­alise that you can sim­ply sprint past most en­coun­ters with­out fir­ing a bul­let. Soon, it might as well not be there at all.

The cam­paign it­self is nice enough, a three-hour romp around the so­lar sys­tem as you seek to free legendary war­lock Osiris. At its best – dur­ing the thrilling fi­nal-boss bat­tle, for in­stance – it is bet­ter than the main Des­tiny 2 cam­paign. At its worst, it brazenly re­cy­cles el­e­ments of the base game, the nadir com­ing when it has you run through a Strike mis­sion room by room and drops a dif­fer­ent boss at the end. The ex­pan­sion re­turns the favour later on, when one of the new cam­paign mis­sions is re­tooled as a new Strike, but that doesn’t ex­actly make it okay. The last thing Des­tiny 2 needed was a per­cep­tion of cor­ners be­ing cut.

Af­ter the cam­paign come the Ad­ven­tures, which you’re nec­es­sar­ily in­structed to run through one af­ter the other, be­cause that’s re­ally about it for Curse Of Osiris. Com­plete those, and a Heroic vari­ant, and you’re in­tro­duced to weapon forg­ing. Each of the 11 weapons on of­fer re­quires a lengthy quest to col­lect tens of new ma­te­ri­als which have a chance of drop­ping when you com­plete var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties. All of which means Bungie’s first or­der of busi­ness is to send you out into the so­lar sys­tem to grind Pub­lic Events. Short, fun and lu­cra­tive, these ad-hoc plan­e­tary fire­fights were the quick­est, most ef­fi­cient source of XP and loot in the base game; to put it an­other way, we’re thor­oughly sick of them, and be­ing sent back to them so quickly feels like a stu­dio hold­ing its hands up and ad­mit­ting it has noth­ing left to of­fer us. In fact, it does: other forg­ing quests re­quire you to com­plete Heroic Strikes or Cru­cible matches, but Bungie, for some rea­son, de­cides to first send ev­ery­one back to a place they al­ready know too well. If all this feels like a stu­dio that still, some­how, doesn’t quite un­der­stand what Des­tiny means to its play­ers, there are a cou­ple of glim­mers of hope. In­stead of an all-new raid, Curse Of Osiris in­tro­duces the con­cept of the ‘raid lair’; set on the same colos­sal space­ship as the base game’s Le­viathan raid, Eater Of Worlds is a shorter, but no less chal­leng­ing, ac­tiv­ity. It feels like a re­al­is­tic half­way house be­tween the work a full raid re­quires, and sim­ply do­ing noth­ing at all. It’s beau­ti­ful, too, and there’s a welcome em­pha­sis on plat­form­ing, even dur­ing com­bat. Of course the re­wards are ter­ri­ble, but you can’t have it all.

The new Mas­ter­work weapon tier, how­ever, patched in a week af­ter launch, fi­nally gives endgame play­ers some­thing truly worth chas­ing. As a more pow­er­ful vari­ant of legendary weapons, they make ev­ery drop ex­cit­ing again, and while RNG rates are low, when one comes, it’s well worth it, with a mi­nor stat boost and a game-chang­ing orb-creation el­e­ment that lets you re­fill not only your al­lies’ Super me­ters, but your own, too.

It is here that we find hope. Mas­ter­works could, and cer­tainly should, be ex­panded to other gear types, lead­ing us back to the sort of min/max endgame that made Des­tiny so in­tox­i­cat­ing. Bungie has said it is go­ing to change, and will com­mu­ni­cate more. Yet we learned long ago to judge this stu­dio on its ac­tions, rather than its words. It still has much to do. But for the first time in a while, Des­tiny 2 play­ers have fi­nally been given some­thing to be pos­i­tive about.

It is still too fo­cused on cos­met­ics you can only ac­quire through RNG, and still lacks a mean­ing­ful endgame

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