des­tiny 2

In a world of Dark­ness, fac­ing a new foe shines a bright light

XBox: The Official Magazine - - CONTENTS - Dom Pep­pi­att

PUB­LISHER AC­TIVI­SION DE­VEL­OPER BUNGIE FOR­MAT XBOX ONE ETA 6 SEPTEM­BER 2017

The world is fall­ing apart. Your one refuge from the en­croach­ing Dark­ness has been com­pro­mised. Your Tower has fallen. Your sanc­tu­ary is ripped apart, the rem­nants of hu­man­ity’s fi­nal shel­ter buck­led un­der the ar­tillery of a new en­emy: a Ca­bal splin­ter more vi­o­lent, more ag­gres­sive than any that have come be­fore.

You have a new en­emy. A new face that has come to weaken your grasp on the Trav­eller’s light – the Trav­eller that seemed to form the crux of all the mys­ti­cal me­chan­ics of the first game. “Do not look at me, crea­ture,” says Domi­nus Ghaul as he en­ters your home, the so­cial space where you’ve made friends, or­gan­ised Raids, de­crypted count­less en­grams. “You are weak, undis­ci­plined, cow­er­ing be­hind walls. You are not brave, you’ve merely for­got­ten the fear of death. Al­low me to reac­quaint you.”

This is Des­tiny 2’ s mis­sion state­ment. It wants to re­mind you that ward­ing off waves of the en­gulf­ing Dark shouldn’t be easy, that you’ve be­come com­pla­cent with all your Ex­otic gear and your su­per­nat­u­ral pow­ers. Des­tiny 2 has come to shake things up, re­work the for­mula that’s kept us com­ing back for years, forcibly make you re-ex­am­ine how you use weapons, how you use pow­ers, and how you work with a team.

The big­gest change to Des­tiny 2 is the weapons: they’re the cen­trifu­gal part of the game. But it seems in Des­tiny 2, Bungie has built the weapon setup around PvP rather than PvE – snipers and shot­guns have been rel­e­gated to the Power slot (for­merly known as Heavy) and this has fun­da­men­tally al­tered the way The Cru­cible works, and made PvE harder too.

World of pain

When you’re run­ning through the world tack­ling the Fallen, the Vex, the Ca­bal, the Hive and who­ever else is bay­ing for your blood, you’ll no­tice there’s a lot less Power ammo knock­ing around, forc­ing you to rely on your two new Pri­mary weapons a lot more. Hot-swap­ping from a ki­netic dam­age sub­ma­chine gun to an el­e­men­tal hand can­non to tackle the new en­emy vari­ants works sur­pris­ingly well, and negates Des­tiny’s old ‘shoot it enough and it’ll die’ prob­lem… you have to ap­ply a bit more thought this time around, play a dy­namic game of rock-pa­per-scis­sors to en­sure you can ac­tu­ally make it through the newly dif­fi­cult Strikes and story mis­sions.

Des­tiny 2 has upped its game with bosses, too – in the beta, you’re in­tro­duced to Protheon, who seems to be ex­act­ing re­venge for the first game’s first Raid boss, Atheon. There was a cheese to push Atheon off the arena in vanilla Des­tiny, and now Protheon is in­tent on push­ing you out of the arena in the In­verted Spire Strike. It’s a very Bungie way of nod­ding to Des­tiny’s legacy and we hope to see more of this in the fi­nal build. That, mixed with how damn tough the new three-stage fight is, sets a promis­ing prece­dent for how Des­tiny 2 will deal with Strikes.

Weapons in PvP, along­side the new re­bal­anced 4v4 setup, make the

“Des­tiny 2 re­works the for­mula that’s kept us com­ing back for years”

Cru­cible a much more tac­ti­cal place to lay down fire: run­ning and gun­ning will get you nowhere now. You need to think care­fully about how you use your char­ac­ters sub­class abil­i­ties – War­locks are now ef­fec­tively Bards; support class char­ac­ters that can grant of­fen­sive or heal­ing boons. Hunters are as ag­ile as ever, but feel weak­ened in com­par­i­son to their sup­port­ing and tank­ing sib­lings. Ti­tans with their cover wall can help set up en­trenched de­fen­sive po­si­tions, mean­ing that in a lit­tle quar­tet of fight­ers (with just one class of each!) there are myr­iad dif­fer­ent team set­ups that you’ll need to ex­per­i­ment with in or­der to come out on top.

The time to kill has also been no­tice­ably elon­gated; trad­ing kills in Des­tiny 2 is far less likely than in the first game, and we feel that’s to the se­quel’s ben­e­fit. It’s a big change to the Cru­cible – and a big change for Bungie – but we’re keen to see how the meta ma­tures in Des­tiny 2, and if it’ll be a smoother evo­lu­tion than Des­tiny’s orig­i­nal gim­mick-rid­den meta.

Sin­gle again

Back in the sin­gle player, the way Des­tiny 2 throws you into the Home­com­ing story mis­sion in the beta makes an in­ten­tional point of force feed­ing you nar­ra­tive. The mis­sion sees you in­ter­act with the Van­guard leader of each fac­tion – the War­lock’s Ikora Ray, the Hunter’s Cayde-6 and the Ti­tan’s Zavala all have their part to play in the mis­sion, and there’s some beau­ti­ful po­etic irony in how you see all three in ac­tion here, but will have to re­cover their scat­tered fac­tions later in the game.

While Des­tiny 2 is try­ing much harder to make the nar­ra­tive as­pect of the game more ap­peal­ing, we still find parts of the story grat­ing: Nolan North’s vo­cal work as your Ghost con­tin­ues to be im­pres­sive, but some of the script for his lines tries too hard to be funny, which con­trasts harshly against the apoc­a­lyp­tic na­ture of Des­tiny 2’ s doom-y setup.

At least hav­ing the Van­guard scat­tered across the so­lar sys­tem means that we get to see more of what Bungie ex­cels at: world-build­ing. The beta showed off a few maps, and they con­tinue to make the Xbox One hum with bold colours, in­tel­li­gent semi-open zones and a per­fect mix of cor­ri­dors and com­bat are­nas.

The en­emy AI re­mains as im­pres­sive as it ever has been in a Bungie game, and some new spe­cial­ist-type en­e­mies mixed in with ag­gres­sive, feral robo-dogs make for some won­der­ful en­coun­ters. The gun­play, nat­u­rally, com­ple­ments the AI de­sign per­fectly – ev­ery en­emy has a weak point, ev­ery gun­shot feels im­pact­ful and ev­ery en­emy that falls to your trig­ger fin­ger makes you feel like the world’s smoothest, coolest gun­slinger. It’s the Des­tiny power fan­tasy we’ve all come to love over the last three years, but more so, and you can’t argue with the sat­is­fac­tion ev­ery sin­gle gun­shot elic­its in you.

Re­turn­ing Des­tiny play­ers are go­ing to find lit­tle to com­plain about in the sec­ond game. Bungie even seems to be ad­dress­ing the com­plaints about how of­ten the game was patched from the beta – in the time it was live, we al­ready saw the de­vel­oper fix a myr­iad of bugs and bal­ance is­sues… and that’s just for the beta. It sets a pos­i­tive prece­dent for the fi­nal build of the game, a prom­ise that Bungie will be keep­ing its ear to the ground, lis­ten­ing to the clam­our of un­happy play­ers should bugs and bal­ance sit­u­a­tions arise.

Des­tiny 2 is a re­mark­ably fa­mil­iar ex­pe­ri­ence, some­thing that works to the game’s detri­ment and ben­e­fit: if you were crav­ing some­thing os­ten­si­bly new from the se­quel, you’ll be dis­ap­pointed. If you were look­ing for more of the same, with a cou­ple of fun­da­men­tal changes to how the core of the shoot­ing ex­pe­ri­ence works, you’re in luck. Des­tiny has al­ways been a di­vi­sive game, and it looks like with Des­tiny 2, that rep­u­ta­tion is set to be­come even more in­tense. Eyes up, Guardian.

“The en­emy AI re­mains as im­pres­sive as it ever has been in a Bungie game”

The new Strike bosses seem to be much tricker and more com­plex than the first game’s bul­let sponges.

The awe­some nat­u­ral struc­tures might re­mind you of old Halo games.

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