Destiny 2: Curse Of Osiris
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