It’s hard to deny the change that Bungie brought to the gaming world, famous for developing one of the most beloved franchises in the form of Halo: Combat Evolved. I still remember being so excited to hear about the development of Destiny some years ago, and a good friend of mine was very excited for what this represented. In a world of annual Call of Duty releases, it was refreshing to see a shooter that offered an RPG experience set in a juxtaposition of science fiction and fantasy, where great technology marvels and future innovation were underscored by arcane magic.
Destiny was far from a perfect game, but the fun was undeniable at times and I still have very fond memories of progressing through the Vault of Glass with my fireteam and IRL friends. Somewhere along the way, though, Bungie’s initial vision for Destiny began to fade as questionable decisions were made and changes happened that nobody really seemed interested in or excited for.
What Have We Learned?
Destiny 2 released to trepidation on the parts of loyal fans, partly because they had seen the steady decline of Destiny marked with some serious improvements that called into question the decision making ability of the development team at Bungie. It seemed as though the development team would take a colossal leap forward only to take several steps backward. The result is Destiny 2, which feels as a pale comparison to it’s predecessor and has really broken the hearts of those that had immersed themselves in Destiny’s world.
The first DLC released not too long ago and focused on the lore-famous character of Osiris. The DLC gave players a new environment to explore as well as a new challenge in the form of the Vex simulation gauntlet, where randomly generated areas were populated with enemies and mission objectives. This DLC wasn’t received very well, and the popularity of the game began to sink significantly. This is due in no small part to the emergence and popularity of the battle royale genre, namely Fortnite and PUBG. Despite this heavy competition, it doesn’t seem to me that Bungie really put in the necessary effort to pull departed Guardians back into their world.
Rehashing and Innovation
My first experience with the DLC was relatively positive, as it was nice to have access to some manner of new story and new places to explore. I was initially put off by the idea that Mars was suddenly “new” again, despite it having been a prominent location in the first game, and it seems that my instincts were pretty much spot on.
The story opens as Anastasia Bray, of the Clovis Bray lineage, is attempting to locate and contact Rasputin for help dealing with an imminent threat to the solar system. Hive have taken root on Mars and are producing an ice variant of the usual enemies and its down to us to stop it. The story missions are entirely too limited and linear, with the new storyline taking maybe 2-3 hours to complete. The story missions themselves weren’t bad but felt very rushed and repetitive, where previous threats against the Vanguard such as Crota and Oryx had entire raids and storylines devoted to them. This time, we manage to defeat the big-bad in a matter of hours. Further, the “raid lair” this time around sees us returning to the Leviathan once again which honestly upset me the most. Adding insult to injury, the new tier of raid reward gear is simply a reskinned version of the previous tier’s armor and weapons.
I understand that this is simply a DLC, but Bungie can and have done better than this. One need only look backward to Expansions like Dark Below and Taken King to see what they are capable of and how lazy this and the prior Curse of Osiris DLC are by comparison. What we’re left with after finishing the meager story are public events (WarSat is once again the most common), a new shared event called Escalation Protocol, and that’s really about it apart from the usual Strike and Crucible activities.
The Escalation Protocol is a wave based event where enemies spawn in that need to be defeated. As each wave is cleared, the next becomes tougher until finally you clear the event. There are some pretty awesome looking weapons and armor rewarded from this, but it’s all too reminiscent of the Hive summoning ritual from the Dreadnought – which I enjoyed, but not enough to see it presented again as new content under a different appearance.
Bungie have fallen rather far from the bar they established so long ago, though its clear to me that their publisher has much to do with this. Critical design and development time have been focused on the Eververse cash shop, as some of the coolest stuff in the game is exclusive to this monetized service. Sure, you can earn some of these things by playing, but it would take a very long time.
Apart from criticisms of Destiny 2 in general, this DLC feels like it’s much, much better than the previous entry or vanilla Destiny 2, but that isn’t saying very much at all in comparison. While Bungie isn’t responsible for reinventing the wheel with every subsequent game entry in the series, I also do not expect them to reuse content in such a blatant and effortless way. Many were excited for a new tier of raiding and are instead headed back to the Leviathan for a second time. While the first outing in this raid wasn’t bad by any means, it doesn’t fit with the theme of this DLC – if there is any theme at all.
Bungie and publisher Activision can do so much better than this, but I’m not very interested in waiting around to find out if they eventually do it. I would love nothing more than to have Bungie recapture that spark of inspiration from years past, but it seems that a love for profit and the eSports scene is worth more than the satisfaction of customers and the enjoyment of the product.