Destiny 2: Forsaken

Forsaken does more than ex­pand Destiny 2. It rewrites it for the bet­ter.

PC GAMER (US) - - CONTENTS - By Austin Wood

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, fla­vor­ful, and above all, un­like any­thing I’ve done be­fore, which also de­scribes much of Forsaken.

Dead eye

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 fa­vorite 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 fa­vorite 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

vil­lain than any­thing the se­ries has seen so far.

Forsaken’s cam­paign ends with a boss fight out of left field, but then it wouldn’t be Destiny with­out at least one bizarro mo­ment. It’s still head and shoul­ders above ev­ery Destiny story be­fore it, and, as Cayde’s friend Ikora is fond of say­ing, the end is just the be­gin­ning. Forsaken only ramps up once you fin­ish the story. I quickly reached the soft level cap of 500 and be­gan the slow climb to the hard cap of 600. Right now I’m not even half­way there, but I can al­ready tell you that the lev­el­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is way more en­joy­able in Forsaken. For starters, there are just more things to do. With weekly and daily chal­lenges, new dun­geon-like Lost Sec­tors and Strikes, and a vir­tu­ally end­less stock­pile of sub­quest-es­que Boun­ties, I can hardly keep up.

Loot-’em-up

There are over two dozen chal­lenges to com­plete each week on each of my three char­ac­ters. Many of these are re­turn­ing chal­lenges, like com­plet­ing Strikes, PvP matches, and var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties on spec­i­fied plan­ets, but Forsaken in­tro­duces many new chal­lenges. I can re­play story mis­sions for loot now, which is a fun way to re­visit Destiny 2’ s gen­uinely great mis­sions. Or I can hunt down high­pri­or­ity tar­gets scat­tered around the so­lar sys­tem, many of which are high-level. And ev­ery day I log in, I’m guar­an­teed at least one pow­er­ful drop from what­ever I choose to do that day. More dif­fi­cult chal­lenges re­ward big­ger power jumps, but the smaller, eas­ier ones are just as im­por­tant and ex­cit­ing be­cause they give me short-term goals to tide me over un­til the next big chal­lenge. Most im­por­tantly, they mean I can’t burn through a week’s loot in one day like I used to.

I started hoard­ing guns and ar­mor the mo­ment I fin­ished the story be­cause gear is ac­tu­ally ex­cit­ing now that it drops with ran­domly rolled perks. Even if new items don’t raise my level, at least ev­ery drop is an­other shot at a bet­ter roll. Get­ting a ‘god roll’ combo of perks like Out­law (which gives near in­stant reloads af­ter head­shots) and Ram­page (which stacks dam­age on kills) for a sweet hand can­non feels al­most as ex­cit­ing as find­ing one of the game’s be­spoke Ex­otic weapons.

I’m par­tic­u­larly ob­sessed with ar­mor. Some ar­mor perks make ammo eas­ier to come by, some im­prove your abil­i­ties, some buff the per­for­mance of spe­cific weapons, and I haven’t even got­ten to the mods you can socket. Cou­pled with the weapon changes that pre­ceded Forsaken, that made weapons such as shot­guns and sniper ri­fles avail­able in ev­ery weapon slot, a stag­ger­ing range of po­ten­tial load­outs is sud­denly at my dis­posal. I now can’t bear to part with any­thing that might end up be­ing use­ful down the line.

I’m also lov­ing the new bows, which are ev­ery bit as snappy as I’d hoped. I like pair­ing them with shot­guns and rock­ets launch­ers, so I’ve been rock­ing a hel­met that makes bows more ac­cu­rate, gloves that give me more shot­gun ammo, a chest piece that lets me hold more rock­ets, and a class item that gives me more heavy weapon ammo. I plan to build a per­fect load­out for all of my set­ups, and I know I can if I put the time in. The hard part is build­ing a per­fect and fash­ion­able load­out, which is dif­fi­cult given how small Forsaken’s loot pool is. I’m happy to move on from Destiny 2’ s year one equip­ment, but I des­per­ately wish year two launched with a bit more va­ri­ety.

Even so, it’s nice to want to grind again, and to be do­ing so us­ing new sub­class trees. Forsaken didn’t add new sub­classes per se, but the su­pers and abil­ity nodes—clus­ters of skills that de­fine your playstyle—that each sub­class gained in the ex­pan­sion feel like new classes in their own right. They’re more cre­ative than the orig­i­nal sub­classes, and many of them feel more pow­er­ful.

Knife’s edge

My fa­vorite so far is the new Hunter sub­class tree, Way of a Thou­sand Cuts. Hunter’s orig­i­nal Gun­slinger branches are mashed-to­gether messes of su­per and grenade abil­i­ties with no real syn­ergy to them. In con­trast, the Way of a Thou­sand Cuts branch has a proper combo built into it: My flam­ing throw­ing knives recharge my dodge abil­ity and my dodge recharges my throw­ing knives. If I get mul­ti­ple kills with my knives, they can also re­duce their own cooldown to a frankly ab­surd de­gree. And if I equip an old, pre­vi­ously use­less piece of Ex­otic ar­mor called Young Ahamkara’s Spine, I can add fast-charg­ing sticky grenades into the mix for even stronger syn­ergy, en­abling an end­less chain of knives and grenades. Get good with this load­out, and you can run whole mis­sions with­out fir­ing a shot.

Forsaken is still fresh out of the gate, and has a lot to prove in the com­ing months. At the same time, it has al­ready proven a lot. It had a lot of mis­takes to cor­rect, and be­tween an en­gag­ing cam­paign and an en­gross­ing endgame, it’s man­aged to right al­most all of them. I’m com­ing up on 100 hours logged in the ex­pan­sion, and I don’t even feel close to done, nor have I slowed down a bit. Af­ter a pre­car­i­ous first year, I’m fi­nally en­joy­ing Destiny 2 again. It feels good to have it back.

Af­ter a pre­car­i­ous first year, I’m fi­nally en­joy­ing Destiny 2 again

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