Article by: Brian Toglia
Part 1 of my review focused on the campaign and gameplay part of Destiny 2. From here on out it’s all about the “real” game. The endgame. Experienced Destiny players know that way more time will be put into the game after the credits roll than during the games’ campaign. Let’s talk about whether or not the endgame content is savory enough to keep your interest. I’ll be going over Strikes, The Raid (one as of now), The Crucible, Iron Banner, Trials of the Nine, and post campaign missions as well as other miscellaneous time eaters.
Strikes are one of the best parts of Destiny 2, in my humble opinion. Unlike base Destiny 2, Strikes are very linear. But, with said linear nature comes the opportunity for set pieces and fine tuning.These are 15-20 minute assassination missions with a Big Bad waiting to soak up bullets and down you multiple times per encounter.
While the boss battles sound kinda weak on paper, they function a little more as active puzzles rather than just hammering the trigger until the bullet sponge dies. You need to figure out the best time to use your power ammo, when to trigger your power/healing rift to best serve the fire team, and when to risk being downed in order to chip that little bit of extra damage off of the boss. Strikes are almost always the best way to experience and use all of the skills involved in making Destiny 2 the game it wants to be remembered as.
Okay, so take everything I said about strikes and put a stupid timer and sometimes infuriating modifications on them and what you end up with is (most of the time) the least fun, and often a downright controller-throwing bad part of Destiny 2. I understand the point and theory of Nightfall Strikes. Take a fun, shortish mission, add some interesting (??) mods, beef up the regular enemies and you get a more challenging version of the best part of D2.
In actuality, it’s forcing me to consume content in a way I would never want to. Running past enemies to save time. Cowering behind cover because 1 hit from an Ogre or Wizard will kill me. Being forced to sprint because the mod makes it that that’s the only way to recover health. To be fair, some mods make it that your grenades and abilities recharge faster, which is fun, but it’s a crap shoot. If the mod ends up bad for the week, you either have to game the system by finding loopholes (aka cheating) or just give up on it and hope for the best next week. Obviously, I’m not a big fan of this mode. Moving on…
I’ll start the PvP discussion with the Crucible. Its D2’s base competitive multiplayer mode and will be familiar to any FPS veteran seeking a PvP experience. The two options for queues here are Quick Play and Competitive, but really, there is only one. I don’t see a reason to play Competitive at all due to the fact that there are only two types of game modes in play here (Countdown and Control), and the payout (loot) for playing this mode is on par with Quick Play. So I’ll just touch on Quick Play here for the sake of not being repetitive.
There are five modes to play (Clash/Deathmatch, Supremacy/Kill Confirmed, Survival/Deathmatch with limited lives and revivals, Countdown/Bomb plant and defuse, and Control/King of the Hill) during your time in the Crucible Quick Play queue. These game types are all available from the start (to be fair, this isn’t endgame content and can be accessed from the start of your journey), and to me, certain modes shine more than others (Yay! for Supremacy)
So what’s the problem, you say. I should just play the modes I like and skip the others, right? Well, I would love to do that, but, as of now, Bungie isn’t giving me the option. Listen, I have limited time to play games in my advancing age (ha!) and don’t want to waste it playing game modes I’m not interested in. I know this is a personal issue but I also know that I’m not alone in this feeling. Bungie, please give us, the consumer, the option to consume your game the way we want to. That being said, there is still lots of fun to be had in the Crucible and the rewards for completing the goals are pretty decent too.
Iron Banner and Trials of the Nine
Sticking with the PvP modes, there are also Iron Banner and Trials of the Nine. These are both alternate ways to enjoy (I use the term loosely) the Crucible. In Iron Banner, which is a timed event, you are tasked with playing a week long act of attrition in one game type in order to earn tokens to turn into the Banner leader (who is a giant slot machine masquerading as a humanoid, which seems to be a running theme.) to earn packages aka Legendary Engrams.
The goal, I suppose, is to unlock the Iron Banner exclusive weapons and armor. While the Season 1 armor has a cool Samurai design edge, the weapons seem useless next to some of the games better weapons. I guess they could be useful to someone who just turned level 20 (the current level max) with a power level around 240, but, if you have devoted any time to the endgame, these weapons seem hardly worth the chase. On to Trials of the Nine…
Oh boy. Trials of the Nine is all kinds of broken. The chosen game type at time of this writing is Countdown. It’s Destiny 2’s version of a bomb planting/defusing mode. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, the mode forces players to one of two zones to plant or defuse a bomb. Which, in turn, makes player movement predictable, which, also in turn, makes camping and team shooting the obvious way to win at this game type, which, also, also in turn, makes this freaking mode absolutely no fun to anyone other than to the people who have time to burn and extract enjoyment from winning the game doing the exact same thing over and over and over….. again. Phew! Just writing that made me recall all of my frustrating experiences in this mode.
I get competition. I used to be a very competitive FPS player in my youth, but I was always more interested in seeing if my twitch shooting and traversal skills were on par with other players. Ripping around corners and landing that precise headshot to down an opponent before they down you is still very satisfying to this day, but, with the health system in Destiny 2, this is mostly impossible. While headshots do cause more damage, It’s more effective to have two or more players shooting at a single player, which really isn’t much fun when it seems to be required for winning. There is almost no lone wolfing in Trials. This game type does not promote or reward skilled gunplay or traversal and turns into a massive, boring race to the best sight line. In other words, I don’t like it.
So, THE Raid. The big, bad, six hour long Raid. How I love and hate thee. Since there are countless streams and YouTube videos documenting The Raid, I will keep this part of my review solely about my general impressions of it. Oddly, some of my positives are also negatives.
The Raid gets so many things right. First of all, the look and theme of the Raid is special. So much detail went into the visual and sound design of the Raid, it’s easy to see why so many people look forward to it.Another great thing about the Raid is it forces you, in a co-op setting, to play as a team. Environmental and Action based puzzles are prevalent and absolutely require precise timing and communication. When you advance through a difficult section of the Raid you can be sure it was not a fluke. The sense of accomplishment that gives you is nearly unrivaled in Destiny 2. Oh, and the rewards for completion are pretty solid too!
So far, so good! What’s with the hate part of your opening statement, you ask? For one, it’s incredibly clinical. What I mean is that it doesn’t leave much room for improvisation. I suppose that it’s inherent in a puzzle solving situation for the game-play not to allow much in the creativity department, but it feels a lot like connect the dots or paint by numbers from time to time.
Also, on the +/- theme I have going, the Raid is so dependent on co-op timing that is can be really annoying. In theory, it’s awesome running this badass Leviathan (the Raids name) as a team, hitting every shot, and nailing the timing parts just right. It CAN be glorious. In reality, it’s hard to get three or four people all doing what needs to be done in any co-op/multiplayer game. There always seems to be one person straying from the pack. Well, D2 requires you have six(!) people working in unison to advance. You need one hell of a field general to keep five other people in line for six hours (mercifully broken into checkpoints that can be restarted from at a later date) of raiding. I have found it damn near impossible to keep a team together and in line for that length of time. Either I need to get better or find more submissive teammates.
On top of all of that, each guardian must have a minimum power level of 260 before they can even participate in the Raid. For the hardcore devoted, this isn’t close to an issue, but to lock out casuals from what most people consider the best part of Destiny and Destiny 2, well, this just seems like a misstep on Bungie’s part. I would think the more people who get to play your best content, the more people you would get hooked into your game for the long haul.
And Now, the Rest of the Story..
I have gone over the critical mass of D2’s endgame content, but if you can’t be bothered with the amazing Strike missions, the indomitable Raid, or the solid Crucible, then boy, do I have some really boring and almost criminally genius time wasters for you. Don’t feel like using your hard earned guns and armor? Try Patrols! 75% of the time, all that is required of you is to stand in one spot, for about 20 seconds, and that’s it! The game even makes fun of itself during these patrols through your Ghosts dialog. Bored of trying to get high powered gear? Sink your teeth into Adventures, which give you an amazing blue weapon/armor (Yellow/Exotic, Purple/ Legendary, Blue/Rare, Green/Uncommon, White/Common) that you, most likely, have absolutely no use for in your purple and yellow endgame universe. I can go on and on, but I’ll spare you the monotony.
All jokes aside, I see the lack of content on this end as a problem. You can only run Strikes and Crucible so many times until you start wondering what else is out there. The answer, sadly, is not much that’s really worth your time. I’m sure Bungie will remedy this with its expansions but they will be trapped behind a paywall. Yay for modern video game business trends!
Let’s Wrap this up, Shall we..
I probably shouldn’t be complaining because I have really enjoyed my 100 or so hours in Destiny 2. Once again, Bungie brings its stellar gunplay, amazing level design, and jaw-dropping, gorgeous art direction to this game in spades. But, this game is designed with a long tail in mind, and if recent concurrent player count drop offs count for anything, I’m not the only one thinking that there is something missing on the fringes of D2. While the Destiny 2 universe seems expansive, it may, in fact, be dwelling a bit more on the kiddie side of the pool than I would prefer.
Final Score: 7.9/10