Dancing with Destiny 2
Sequels to games where you spent your entire time connecting with, improving, and accumulating all sorts of wealth for a character are a difficult thing to handle. You want to be fair to newcomers, but you don’t want returning players to feel like the time they invested in the original game was for naught. With Destiny 2 , it is about incorporating that loss into the game. Everything element of Destiny 2 deals with the sense of losing our bastion, the Light, our abilities, and yes, all that loot. From what I played of the game’s Homecoming campaign mission, Countdown multiplayer mission, and Strike, each one works to make you feel that pain that comes from losing, while also savoring each recovery.
Destiny 2 begins in the most tragic possible place. We are in The Last City and it is all falling apart. Dominus Gaul and his Red Legion have come to take the Traveler. He feels it’s power is his right. He deserves it, not us. As the first campaign mission, Homecoming, begins, Dominus Gaul is in the midst of taking what he believes is his. We still have our strength and power and are working alongside the Vanguards to take it back.
I felt powerful. I was a Guardian. I was respected enough that Zavala and the other Vanguards were working directly alongside me. The Cabal enemies faced in this early segment are impressive. They are these strong hulks hurtling to The Last City in these armored boulders. It is terrifying, but we have this strength. I felt like even though the world was clearly ending around me, I was perhaps strong enough to stop that from happening. Especially when I had a firsthand view of Ikora taking down a Red Legion ship. The worst was happening, but I felt happy to be considered an equal. Especially since the controls remain as tight and responsive as they were in Destiny 2 . I knew what I was doing and could unleash.
Perhaps that makes the moment when you lose even more poignant. Destiny 2 is a game where the beginning is also an end. Dominus Gaul wins. Even though we find ourselves on a Cabal ship, trying to shut down shields, we have been outdone. Dominus Gaul was ready for us. It is humbling. I also feel like it could be a good way to foster connections for new players. No matter how experienced a Destiny 2 player may be, we begin in a no win situation and must all rebuild together.
The Destiny 2 Strike mission I sampled has to do with recovering and putting broken things back together. As evidenced by a new Clan system and Guided Gameplay that lets people who play solo work temporarily with a Clan on a mission, the goal is to give everyone access to everything this game has to offer and to allow them to play together.In The Inverted Spire, we get to feel as though we are reclaiming and setting things right. We find ourselves on Nessus, attempting to undo a Cabal mess.
This means The Inverted Spire has you completing a number of different tasks, all of which make you feel as though you are growing in power and making a difference. The Red Legion are on this Vex-dominated planet, which means you have plenty of enemies to defeat. While there is a bit of “go here, defeat hostiles” and “go there, defeat hostiles,” these enemies are no match for you and are barely a hinderance. These objectives are joined by others, like “reorient the transit system” and “approach the drill site.” It is topped off with a boss fight in which you and your team of three fight The Modular Mind. It was a challenging feat, to be sure, but wasn’t too difficult seeing as how the preview event had a prepared Hunter, Titan, and Warlock waiting for us.
Countdown’s whole purpose is to constantly have you losing and gaining ground. This is an attack and defend mode. In alternating turns, your team could be attempting to set charges or defend locations to keep charges from being set. If a charge is set, you need to quickly defuse it to win. Of course, wiping out the opposing team also guarantees you a win.
There is a push and pull in this 4v4 Destiny 2 mode. At each moment, you are attempting to rush to plant charges, defeat enemies, or defuse hostile situations. If something goes wrong, you instantly feel in. The narrator is constantly keeping you apprised of your team’s status. While encouraging, suggesting it isn’t over until while you’re still alive even if you’re at match point, you know exactly how well you are or aren’t doing.
Conversely, the rush when you manage to plant a charge or defuse a bomb, even if you are killed in the process, is exhilarating. At the end of each round, Destiny 2 keeps track of kills, arms, and defusions. Even if you aren’t the strongest player on the field, you can feel like you are important and contributing when you keep on task and get to the point.
Destiny 2 is a game where you are placed in situations where it is easy to be disheartened. Dominus Gaul and the Red Legion destroyed our home and took our powers. The Vanguard is scattered. We see our bastion destroyed and the speaker taken. Yet, the message is a hopeful one. In the very first mission, we immediately strike back even as the Cabal is on our doorstep. In Countdown, we’re constantly fighting to regain our footing. Destiny 2 is a game that feels like it is about making a comeback. We’ll see on September 8 if the Guardians can prevail.