Destiny 2: Forsaken is an unusual experience, since so many things went through my head while playing it. The first is the inescapable sense that almost every change was made because of fan requests. After that it was a genuine sense that this is the game I always wanted Destiny to be. And then, after an ample amount of time, it’s business as usual. While this isn’t unexpected for Destiny, is it enough to justify a return or will that moment be some time in the future?
Destiny 2: Forsaken starts by having Prince Uldren breaking into the prison of elders to free some associates to save the possibly dead Queen of the Reef, Mara Sov. You and Cayde are called in and assist Petra in keeping the order. Since the trailer already revealed this adventure would bring about Cayde-6’s demise, it was refreshing to see him return to his previously established character. Despite making jokes and being foolhardy, he managed to mount an impressive offense. Even his last moments were a blaze of glory, over bad luck and incompetence.
Uldren putting an end to the beloved character motivates the Guardian to start a war with the Reef. After a strong start, which goes to about the introduction of the dubious Spider, the story is told through a bunch of random tasks and adventures. Instead of going places or really doing things to stop the Scorn, a new type of modified Fallen, there are a series of adventures centered around stopping each ranking member.
Not only does every member get their own name, in some cases voice, gimmick and potentially mechanics, the fights stand out way more than previous bad, but not as bad, bosses in Destiny. One has exploding engrams and drops heavy ammo traps, another snipes with holograms, there is a brief Pike battle and more. Your personal enjoyment will come from what level you end up being during the fight. When I fought them severely under leveled and solo, they were pretty frustrating. All it took was one mistake or a single error and I was back to doing a five or more-minute-long fight, where as aid/power would minimize this cheap feeling.
After defeating them all there is a showdown with Uldren, which returns to the previous level of quality and closes out the adventure. This will also unlock a quest to get to the Dreaming City, which acts as the Destiny 2: Forsaken’s post game area. It also marks the start of the usual grind, one that is actually a bit worse this time around.
Despite there being some praise for the changes to the leveling system, it’s arguably one of the worst to date. After taking a page from Disgaea, Destiny 2 went from a 380 cap to 600, which is much higher than Destiny 1’s light ever was. Story should take players to 470 or so and actually be a thrilling experience. You might not get a lot of loot but the loot you get might be seven or eight levels higher, so you’ll progress relatively quickly. This will continue until you hit the soft cap of 500.
After hitting 500 you need to use powerful engrams to continue your journey. These can be obtained through daily challenges, weekly bounties, weekly tasks, high level tasks like the raid, flashpoint, nightfall and things of the like. Here the grind really starts to hurt, since so many things become pointless. Vender engrams, normal drops, any non-legendary reward and so forth will offer no progression. The nice thing is a player can devote an hour a day and achieve close to the max amount of progression without having to worry.
Where this starts to fall apart is 520. Reports indicate after that point most powerful engram drops offer an increase of one, with only high level tasks offering progression, with a later point being theorized as the breaking point for anything besides the raid and so forth. The issue here is RNG will play a fairly big role and there doesn’t seem to be any mechanic that ensures you get what you need.
For instance, every piece of gear I had was 504+ power besides my class item, which was a mere 500. I still got three pairs of boots before finally getting my class item and got a substantial boost. So if you swing the same items at a lower level, you’ll never progress despite putting in the time. The other downside is the new system makes infusion way too costly.
In addition to the usual things, masterwork cores are required to infuse an item up. The only way to easily get them is to buy them from Spider with shards, though his price doubles each time you do that (10, 20, 40, 80, 160, etc), with this mechanic having a daily reset. It, sadly, takes three cores to infuse a single item, meaning it will be too costly for new, returning or casual players to really make use of this. This results in people having largely random gear until they beat the raid or maybe even the hard version, forcing a fairly large time investment.
Even if some of these mechanics are underwhelming, some of the new content is pretty awesome. Warden of Nothing is probably the best strike in recent memory, both in design and execution. As the name suggests, players return to the Prison of Elders and get to see familiar sections destroyed. It involves doing a lot of the same tasks, just less overall and more diverse, giving newcomers a taste of what it was like. Best of all, the Warden uses a distorted recording of Variks’ voice, which gives it charm, without breaking immersion. Even if it’s clearly trying to offer a return, it does so in a way that allows it to stand out and it’s fantastic.
Another major addition is the PVPVE mode Gambit. The idea behind this mode is simple. Kill enemies, pick up items and then develop a tactic around banking said items. In a lot of ways, it’s basically Supremacy with a banking element, which ironically has similar problems to that mode. Most of the depth comes from when to bank and invade, two things random players don’t seem to get. Banking 15 motes might be ideal, since it will summon a larger primeval, but there is no point after getting 15 and it’s all pointless if someone invades and kills you. A lot of games will just have people senselessly killing and losing because they don’t understand the mechanics or are uninterested in them. This means a team is largely required after a certain point and can be a lot of fun if you get other interested parties.
The final new thing to play around with, besides bows, is the Blind Well. It’s basically a better take on the widely divisive Escalation Protocol and similar to Archon Forge. Here players need to go to a single spot and exchange items for attempts at the well. It’s pretty difficult, even with the current glitch, to do solo, so there is a need to find multiple people and build parties to rush through them. The idea is to stand in a specific bubble and kill enough enemies for it to change locations, ultimately leading to a boss. Doing this will unlock offerings, legendary gear and the potential for another seed to unlock the new subclass types. It’s fun, though gets old relatively fast.
Destiny 2: Forsaken is an interesting experience that leads to the same problems. While the story starts and ends in style, the middle just fills time. Not in an outright bad way, you just go from multiple cutscenes and story elements to classic Destiny headset battles followed by supposedly defeating something important. Gambit is a lot of fun, though it almost requires a team if you want to have a good time. The same goes for the Blind Well, with it quickly getting old. This leaves the experience as a lot of doing the same tasks for marginally better rewards and eventually getting to do the raid. That will likely be a worthwhile journey, though it’s hard to say how long this will keep players interested. Still, it’s a much stronger offering than Destiny 2 was at launch, so if you want to see if Destiny 2: Forsaken is the next Taken King, pick it up and see if you can complete the Last Wish, otherwise wait until we have a more definite picture.
[Editor’s Note: Destiny 2: Forsaken was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]