The first Destiny was, well…it was a trip, and it might have been the last game I went into while expecting greatness. The first time I watched a group of players shooting into a cave did a lot to crush what little faith I had left in video games; the first time I opened a high-quality unidentified treasure only for it to produce a lower-quality item took care of the rest. What I learned from the first Destiny is that it’s important to moderate one’s expectations; it’s better to be pleasantly surprised than painfully disappointed. That’s helpful advice for much of life, really, including Destiny 2 – though if you’ve played this one on console, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how it’s improved on PC.
In the far-flung world of the future, there is only war. War involving a big ol’ floating sphere and its army of undead spacemen versus bugmen, rhinomen and robots. Why are they fighting? What is the sphere? Who knows? This is Destiny, and what we do know is that those bugmen, rhinomen and robots are going to drop a whole lot of shiny guns and armor if you shoot them when you’re told to shoot them. Lock and load, it’s time to grind. Oh, and the actual plot involves Ghaul, a particularly rhinocerous-like rhinoman, stealing the power of the Traveler, the big ol’ floating sphere, for himself, so you have to stop him. That bit only lasts for the first few hours, then it’s mostly about the loot.
Destiny 2 on PC is largely unchanged from the console versions, so you can probably look at my original review of Destiny 2 and get the idea. The most significant differences between versions are technical; the PC version looks and runs vastly better, and the improved framerate in particular is a pretty huge deal coming from the sometimes-stuttery console release. Meanwhile, you’ve got keyboard and mouse controls, which will do wonders for your aiming and, if you play FPS games at all on PC, will turn you into a murderous god of destruction. So much of Destiny 2’s gunplay on console seemed to revolve around dealing with the inadequacies of a controller for FPS gameplay that when you’re freed from that limitation the game becomes much easier. It’s kind of amazing, though it might also have something to do with what appears to be drastically reduced recoil on firearms when playing on PC.
Otherwise, well, it’s Destiny 2. Run around, shoot baddies, pick up loot, repeat until you can do the raid (if you want), repeat whenever DLC comes out, keep going until satisfied. Replaying the game on PC was pleasant enough, though as always, don’t come into this one expecting Shakespeare. Really, you shouldn’t come into a video game of any sort expecting more than a young adult level of storytelling, but Destiny’s fetishization of Proper Nouns is even less inspiring than usual. At the very least, Destiny 2 presents an intelligible plot, so that’s a step up from the first game. After that, well, this is a loot-focused game and the mechanics have been pretty transparently tweaked to give you what you need in particular timed intervals, so you’ll get what you want out of this one and then there won’t be much else to do. It can be a little fussy at times – in particular, it seems like the DRM is a little overzealous so there will be moments when you’re booted out of the game and have to log in again through no fault of your own – but this is generally a solid take on Destiny 2.
Frankly, a younger, less cynical Cory would have been disappointed with Destiny 2. It’s a very clear example of game-development-as-a-science, and an idealistic young me hadn’t yet been spoiled toward the idea of games and their development being anything but. Modern me, with a job, a life, and ample resources? Yeah, that guy doesn’t have infinite time, so he likes having a game tweaked to dispense rewards at regular occasions. He’s got a decent PC, so he likes games that look nice and take advantage of that horsepower. He’s got tons of games, so he doesn’t need to have all his leisure time consumed by a single title. He’s got reasonable expectations for the hobby, knowing that high hopes can only be dashed harder.
And he doesn’t really mind Destiny 2, though he recognizes that it could have been a lot more. Play it on PC if you haven’t yet, it’s worth a look.