A big week of reveals, and another one coming! E3 2019 times and more

Wow it’s been a week.  And next week is going to be bigger!

End of financial year is a hard time work wise on a lot of people, including myself.  Last thing I remember it was Tuesday and I was trying to get out early, then finish at a reasonable time, then working until way too late at home.

Now it’s Friday morning, I am semi-recharged after a night of finishing Good Omens and rest, and I am looking at all the announcements over the week I need to actually look up.

Wow.

So today is a very quick ‘Wow’ wrap up of what I have been looking at and what I want to look into over the next week or so!

Pokemon Sword and Shield

Looking at the first ‘real’ Pokemon game for the Switch, the Pokemon Direct a couple of days ago certainly revealed a lot of exciting looking info.  Not the least being the release date – November 15th!

Dynamax looks like a great mechanic, and when I first saw the affected Gyrados I immediately thought “Pokemon Kaiju!!”

Catch the entire 15 minute direct here (don’t forget to click the ‘YouTube’ link if you want to go to the main YouTube page!)

Google Stadia

So I still have a lot to take in with the Stadia stream, as I haven’t got a chance to look at a whole bunch of it in detail yet, but there is a lot of promise.

Nothing for Australia yet, but I am really happy to see Australia (and Brisbane!) on the server map – not something I was expecting!

The pricing also has me very happy. Yes, it’s more expensive than Game Pass, but you need almost no new hardware to play with it! Games wise, there isn’t anything exclusive yet that has me drooling, but there are 2 new reveals that have caught my interest…

Nothing for Australia yet, but that pricing is very attractive

Destiny 2

So Bungie is free of the Activision publisher agreement, and we are starting to see some big changes coming.

Firstly, as they are no longer involved with Activision Blizzards, Destiny 2 on PC is moving from Battle.net to Steam. I would put a joke about the Epic Store coming in and stealing it as an exclusive, but that’s another thing entirely.

It’s also coming to Google Stadia. Going for the Fortnite play anywhere approach Bungie?

Secondly, the next expansion ‘ShadowKeep’ is completely standalone – no previous purchases required to play! This certainly makes the price of entry a lot easier on new players. Shadowkeep is dropping September 17th.

And finally, the most interesting news to me overall – there is going to be a free version of Destiny 2.  Called New Light, at the moment it looks like it will be a free version of the base game and all Year 1 DLC and items associated with it.

As a try-before-you-buy tactic, this is definitely a much better idea in my opinion than the free base game that came out last year. Yes, it gave you a small idea of Destiny, but for a game that is designed to evolve over time it was the worst version of Destiny 2.  Not sure when this is coming out, but I think it’s a great idea overall.

Baldurs Gate 3

As a long-time computer RPG player, the Baldur’s Gate series has a special place in my heart.

The new Enhanced Editions are fine to play, but they do show how far the technology has really come over the years.

That said, they also prove the old adage “Good gameplay trumps good graphics 9 times out of 10!”

So during the Stadia presentation, one of the game revealed was indeed Baldur’s Gate 3.  It is being developed by Larian Studios, the same people behind the Divinty: Original Sin series.

Short version – yay it’s coming to PC and Stadia! And the reveal intro looks AMAZING.

I will just let it speak for itself.

E3 2019 Starts Monday (Australian Time, anyway)

That’s right – one of the biggest events for video games is starting – and already has in a lot of ways!

But the ‘formal’ show starts Monday 6am for East Coast Australians, so there will be another week of spotty ‘Oooh!’ and ‘Aaaah!’ reports coming 🙂

Times for the shows in Australian Eastern Standard Time are below:

Monday, June 10
Microsoft 6:00 AM
Bethesda 10:30 AM
Devolver Digital 12:00 PM
Tuesday, June 11
Ubisoft 6:00 AM
Square Enix 11:00 AM
Wednesday, June 12
Nintendo 2:00 AM

There are a lot of side events and simultaneous happenings as well, but these are the main reveals.  I wonder how much more is happening inside E3?

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Destiny 2 Forsaken Review

Destiny 2 Forsaken Caydes passing

Forsaken? Maybe.  A lot of changes have come.

The last couple of weeks have seen a lot of changes for Destiny 2.  Cayde-6’s passing being the one we all knew was coming, but many other changes as well.

A few Call of Duty players I knew didn’t like Destiny because the player vs player (PvP) combat was ‘too slow’.  This is no longer the case.  A lot of explore everything type players didn’t like Destiny because there wasn’t a lot to do.  This is still the same, but it isn’t.

Forsaken

There was a bunch of story items leading into Forsaken and not just the trailer.  Oh, that trailer.  For Cayde fans, it was hard to watch – but watch we had to.

But that was far from the only way Bungie decided to play with our heartstrings.  August 28th, Bungie posted a news item that ended with Cayde’s final letter to his friends and fireteam.

That was enough for me, but if you read the entire news entry Bungie began dropping secrets again.  Simple cryptography this time, not like the elaborate Warmind promotional event.

Bungie was going all out with what was happening – and a lot of people were excited.

Destiny 2 Forsaken Caydes letter
There is more to this post - check it out on Bungie.net for some more secrets
Destiny 2 Forsaken Riding with Cayde
A dream come true - but not for long.

The idea behind Forsaken is that there is a jailbreak in the Prison of Elders, and you help Cayde-6 and Patra Venj.  Sounds like any other Destiny Mission right?

Except we know the ending.  Uldren Sov is going to kill Cayde-6.  So starting through the mission, excited thoughts of “I’m on Cayde’s fireteam!” quickly tarnished.

But it’s important to note that’s only because I like Cayde-6.  Nathan Fillion had injected his own cheekiness into the fairly 2-dimensional quest giver, and hearing his quips was a highlight of mirth during many repetitive missions.

And it’s here, about 2 minutes into the first Forsaken mission, that it started feeling wrong.

Cayde-6 is voiced for Forsaken by Nolan North, doing a Nathan Fillion impression.  And because you can hear Nathan’s Cayde during the game back to back with Nolan’s, it feels wrong.  Now, this is a nitpick, but it’s a point that kept pulling me in opposing directions during the game.

But the mission itself is standard fare, and is fairly enjoyable.  Playing with my primary hunter (that I put zero effort in trying to max out to the Solstice of Heroes 400 power level) it was a straightforward mission.

A few new enemy types seem to be in the mission, but it’s hard to know for certain.  It was a straightforward run, with moments of Cayde-6 popping in and out.

And then Petra Venj realises the truth, and the beginning of the end for Cayde begins.

Destiny 2 Forsaken Fireteam Complete
Your mission fireteam complete, into the Prison of Elders you go
Destiny 2 Forsaken Cayde Down
Making you the witness of the end tugs on the heartstrings. As long as you cared about Cayde - new players probably not so much.

You get there to late to help Cayde-6, but the story enemies are all on display.  The Scorn Barons, and Uldren Sov himself.  In terms of send-off, the cinematic cutscene of Cayde’s final stand is amazing.

It’s hard to describe, but seeing the realisation of overwhelming odds and acceptance that he is going to take as many with him as he can is amazing.  If you enjoy Destiny, this is the sort of scene that is right up there with Blizzard, and you should play it and watch it.

If you don’t play Destiny and want to see what I am talking about, IGN posted a YouTube video here.  Even not knowing the character, it’s still enjoyable but some subtleties may be lost.

Once all this is done, you take Cayde-6 back to the Traveller and witness his friends dealing with the news.

And here comes a spoiler, but I need to add it to demonstrate another small ‘off’ with Destiny 2 Forsaken.

You Speak.

It’s only a few words, but the silent guardian rule is broken.  The theory behind the silent protagonist is that it puts the player into the role more.  The words you are thinking/saying/screaming at the TV is what the Guardian is saying.

Breaking this rule lends weight to the scene, yes.  But at the end of Forsaken and the beginning of the end game, when this speaking would be more appropriate again, the silent protagonist rule is enforced again.

Looking back, here is where Destiny 2 as a solo story game starts to come unstuck for me.  Any game with rules and systems needs to stick to these rules and systems, but Forsaken has become something new and with exceptions.

For example, Cayde-6 is Dead.  New players (or characters) no longer have to speak to Cayde for story plots like unlocking patrols.  According to a Bungie post, they will unlock when you max out your character level +1.

So why is Cayde still speaking during missions?  Why not remove the audio files as well to keep the ‘Cayde’s gone’ consistent?

Destiny 2 Forsaken Main Missions Begin
The body of the story of Forsaken is you choosing your targets, giving an open world feel

And this is where for me, Destiny 2 is coming undone.  I really enjoyed playing through Forsaken story missions, but there was so much inconsistency between a world with Cayde, and a world without.

So I have a game that is fun to play, yet simultaneously feels off.  During it’s big ‘we fixed it’ reboot.

The endgame – The Dreaming City

Once you finish with the story, you start playing Destiny proper, same as always.  And Bungie have given players a huge area to explore, with many old school secrets to uncover and timings to work out.

And here’s the thing.  I don’t want to.  Not really.

Not because I don’t think it will be any good, the things I have heard and a couple of YouTube videos I have seen make it look amazing!

I don’t want to because of major changes to the upgrade, masterwork and light systems.

If you want to ‘masterwork’ your weapons and armour, you need to upgrade them in levels which use a bunch of resources, including masterwork cores.  To strengthen your equipment you need Glimmer, Legendary Shards, Masterwork Cores, and Planetary Resources.

Now on its own, this looks like a good way to reward running around the universe and not neglecting any areas.  What I am getting though is a resource farming exercise that will force me to play areas for a few hours a week to upgrade my weapons again, especially now I have hit the level 500 soft cap.

A key ingredient is also Masterwork cores, where the only way to get them at the moment is buying them from the Tangled Shore from The Spider.  Again sounds good, but each one you buy doubles the price, but the price resets each day.  So timed rewards are a big part of the integral play.

This is great for people with the time to log in each day, but players like myself that play maybe twice a week are about to be left far behind.

Even Xur has changed.  Each week, you could get a new Exotic (at a price) and a shot at a random as yet to be collected Exotic.  Not anymore apparently.

Destiny 2 Forsaken Xur
So much for casuals and non raiders having a chance for exotics

At the end of the day, it feels like Bungie has listened to the more hardcore player base that was not satisfied with the more casual friendly Destiny 2.

Strike and Iron Banner bounties must be in their respective armours, which you earn consistently by beating those game modes.  So you have to grind a play mode in order to get the rewards you need to get the rewards for the play mode.  Not everyone has the time to put into this, and the players that have played this from day one have a huge advantage in these modes.

This isn’t meant as a ‘poor me’, rather just how it feels. Take Gambit and the ‘Ace of Spades’ quest for example.  The first step is to shoot five invaders with a hand cannon – OK, straightforward.  When the other team comes over, be the player to kill them with a hand cannon.  Five times.  Grinding, but doable.

Except that the player level advantages in Gambit are on, meaning the higher level players have all their character and weapon advantages and bonuses.  On top of map familiarity and all the rest of the advantages that come from playing a game a number of times.  It’s true it doesn’t stop new players from putting in the effort, but how many times do you want to play a game that hits you in the head repeatedly for trying?

Too much of a grind for me

I have played one character solo for about 11-12 hours, doing some of the new bounties and the old flashpoint challenges, but mainly just Forsaken missions.  Two hours of that was also spent just trying to do one bounty mission that recommends level 540, and I just kept dying with no progress made.  I am now level 502, with my highest piece of equipment 505.  Out of 600.

Harls, on the other hand, has about 20 hours with his main character.  His best level equipment at the moment is 520, with strikes, raids, bounties and the dreaming city with some other clan members.  It also includes Gambit and other PvP play, which I am not interested in even trying with the weapon loadout changes.

Basically – if you are all in on PvP games with resource grinding conditions for new loot, Destiny 2 has bought you your game back.  And it has done it well – it’s just not for me.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Destiny 2 is free for PS Plus users ahead of Forsaken

Destiny 2 Forsaken Feature

People are going all out to make sure Destiny is not Forsaken

If you are a PlayStation Plus member, you can get Destiny 2 for free, right now.

I have spoken a few times about my Destiny experiences, and right now Wednesday’s release is Destiny’s last chance for me.

Harls is back and some new people are playing, and Destiny is still fun with more people.  Playing with Harls and helping some new people through the story is still fun, but the changes in Forsaken are very ‘meh’ for me.

I had dropped of playing with the Clan with Harls away, and for that and some other shenanigans, I am no longer a member of the Cosmic Voids Clan.

Disappointing, but the people I played with when I could are on my friend list, it’s just they don’t get bonuses if I help them do strikes and the like.  This makes timing issues even more problematic because it’s not in their interest to go out of their way to play with me.

This isn’t a complaint of the game, but it has a lot to do with my state of mind when it comes to Destiny prior to this week’s Forsaken expansion.

20180421 Destiny 2 Harls The Blade Selfie Emote
Meet Harls. It's usually his fault.

Last week I played a bit with the new weapon options and they were OK.  Not great, not bad, a bit of getting used to.  I have seen arguments of ‘Finally’ and ‘What the?’ on the internet during the week.  Basically, it’s relearning the weapons system.  It’s a huge change, and one that was asked for – even demanded – by a large part of the community.  New players – no problems, it’s how it works, but this week the weapons seem to be in a limbo space with most changes implemented and bugs to be fixed.

PvP has descended instantly back into a shotgun/sniper meta that has a brutal entry level curve.  As a player that was starting to come around to trying some Crucible, this has killed off my enthusiasm again.

What has me interested though is the story change.  Cayde-6 is dead (or soon will be), but rumours of other vanguard regulars dying as well have been circulating for months.

Bungie is gambling big with the Cayde-6 reveal.  Knowing they could keep it secret from data miners (Cayde’s passing was already found in files a year ago), they have gone big on the Year 2 opener, and I want to see where it goes.

Destiny 2 Forsaken Caydes passing
Advertising the death of a fan favourite as a 'benefit' is risky at the best of times

Playing with others is still fun, and I will continue to do so.  I am not down on Destiny, even with some weird clan stuff happening.

I want to play with a Bow and Arrow, and that is coming.  I like that I can now have an assault rifle, a scout/sniper rifle and a big bad weapon loadout.  Destiny looks like it is providing positive changes.

Wednesday night, I will start playing the new Forsaken storyline.  History says Harls will probably already have done it, but will need to again with another character 🙂

If I get through the story in a couple of hours like Warmind, and all the other activities are heavy on raid and prestige multiplayer grind required for entry, that could spell the end for me playing though.  Escalation Protocol is fun for a bit of Hive shooting, but I have never completed it – and probably won’t to be honest. Not without serious preplanning for times, which means a new clan, and Australian based most likely.

Or starting a new one.  It’s not without merit – a beginner clan that isn’t so competitive based.  The idea has merit.

Ask me Friday, after a couple of days with Forsaken.

Until then, enjoy Destiny for free with PlayStation Plus and let me know what you think of the game.

JohnHQLD

Destiny 2’s new expansion is Forsaken, hopefully it’s anything but

Destiny 2 Forsaken Feature

Todays reveal leaves me with hope for Forsaken

There have been a lot of negative articles about Destiny 2.  Like my own pieces, these have been largely opinion based, as anyone’s take on anything creative truly is.  I do think it would be fair to say though that Destiny 2 has been struggling with content and updates for a while now, and many waited for changes and fixes just haven’t been coming fast enough.

The Warmind expansion that recently came out gave me new things to aim for, and a lot of what I hoped on release has been done.  The Escalation Protocols are brutally difficult without preplanning or lucking into a max powered fireteam, but that just gives me something to strive towards.

The changes to the Heroic Strikes have made these more difficult for me than the Raids.  It feels strange to have a relaxing run in a Nightfall rather than the Heroic Strikes, but there it is.  It definitely changed up the system which is what was needed – just because I need to readjust doesn’t make it bad.

But this morning, the trailer for the new (and I am guessing final) year of Destiny 2 was revealed.  And wow.  Where Warmind had me interested and looking forward to narrative changes and something new, Forsaken has me genuinely excited – new game excited.

Check out what I am talking about below:

So I have some red flags.  “This is the game the community has been asking for.”  Heard this before, but usually as a half measure or leading to something consolation step.

In the video, the definitive comments that Bungie has specifically NOT been making are front and centre.  “All of the feedback we’ve heard for the last year is… This is it.  It’s in Forsaken.”

This is not something Bungie can spin after the fact if Forsaken fails – this is the culmination of the past years “Trust Us” messages, and they will be held to it.

And it really looks like they will pull it off.

The video does a great job of outlining everything, but some of the things I am looking forward to or just have thoughts on are included below.

Of course, Cayde-6 has been up to something

So the basic story premise goes back to the original Destiny House of Wolves content.  There was an arena called the Prison of Elders, a cooperative run where players ran a gauntlet of enemies.  I didn’t play House of Wolves, so I am very sketchy on the story impact, but I know it was a thing.  I am assuming storywise it was left neglected, because of the reveal this morning.

For Forsaken, Cayde-6 has been filling the Prison of Elders with enemies.  I’m not sure why he didn’t just kill them, but also it’s Cayde-6.  All seems to have been going well, but of course, things hit critical mass and now there is a jailbreak to contend with.  Once the bad guys are free, they inhabit The Reef in a new area called the Tangled Cove.

This leads you to track down seven Fallen ‘Barons’ or faction leaders around The Reef.  I am hoping this will reveal information on the Awoken Queen, but we will see.

Information that has been revealed is each Baron is a unique type of boss fight, similar to the Metal Gear bosses in a lot of ways.  Revealed bosses include Melee battles and Sniper fights, where you fight the enemy ‘their way’ to prove who is the bigger badass.

This does force you to maybe play a way you don’t really enjoy, but being story related I would assume this is just exposing you to different styles of play and not over the top difficult.

Destiny 2 Forsaken Melee Baron
Me, if I was fighting a 10+ foot, multi-armed, super buff alien gladiator, I would shoot him in the face with a fusion gun and sleep well that night.

Can’t decide if Destiny 1 or Destiny 2 weapon systems were better?  Now you can choose!

When you had an item drop in Destiny, especially weapons, you were never completely sure of what the stats would be.  This would always be within set ranges, but for example, you may get a Positive Outlook with better range or one that reloads just that little bit faster.

The mods also worked differently.  You would unlock mods for your weapons in Destiny, usually by killing lots of enemies.  This was taken away in Destiny 2, with the exception of higher tier weapons where you can switch between a couple of choices.

Being able to grind for a weapon with the stats that suit me, then being rewarded for sticking with that weapon?  I can’t wait.  But if you want to play ‘Destiny 2’ style where you just stick with the default loadout, you can do that too.

Destiny 2 Forsaken New Weapons Systems
It could just be a developer debug set of stats, but that power level! So much grinding to come, and a reason to do it

Also coming with Forsaken is the ability to equip a lot of weapons where you choose to equip them.  Are you like me, where you largely play kinetic weapons but wish you could equip a rocket launcher and a shotgun?  Well, now we can!

There is also a whole new group of weapons that I can’t wait to get a hold of – the Bow and Arrow.  Yep, old school is still the best school, and I can’t wait.  Games like Horizon Zero Dawn make me miss archery, and being able to whip out a ‘future bow’ and start dropping enemies will just feel amazing 🙂

And of course, new Supers.  Who can object to new skills?

Destiny 2 Forsaken New Bow Weapons
I enjoy archery. This won't be the same as getting on the field, but I can see a whole new class of stealth crucible players emerging.
Destiny 2 Forsaken Fire Knives Super
Ever wish the Gunslingers throwing knives had more oomph? How about a Fire Knives Super!

The Season Pass is no more.  Welcome the Annual Pass?

So pricing is set at AUD$59.95 for the Forsaken Expansion, or you buy Forsaken with the ANNUAL pass for AUD$99.95.

Huh.  Well, that’s a thing.

I am not 100{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c} sure on this pricing.  Compared to the Season Pass and past expansions, the price points is definitely there.  To get effectively four premium expansions for $100 is great, but I don’t know if I want to keep playing Destiny 2 after this.

It sounds like everything is coming together, and Destiny 2 will effectively become a different game.  Bungie is doing there best to make sure I put aside a couple of hours a night to playing, rather than the night and a bit I currently put aside.  And with the new grinds, it might be worth it, it really might.

But given all the bad press and backlash, to be asking players to return because it will be alright now if you give us $100 is a lot to ask.  But you do get a lot for the money.  It’s a tricky one.

Destiny 2 Forsaken Annual Pass Expansions
Not sure on this move. Will the changes be as advertised and enough?
Destiny 2 Forsaken Annual Pass
There are enough incentives, but are the incentives worth it? That's the question

I have heard a bit of talk that Forsaken should be free to get customers back, then charge as normal.  I don’t think this is right either.  Once Bungie sets a precedent for free premium expansions, the cry when the next charged one comes along will be ‘but you didn’t charge for the last one’.

I can all but guarantee I will be buying Forsaken.  I can’t guarantee I will be playing Destiny 2 all the way to September though, but even if that happens, I will be back for Forsaken.

But for the new content, I think I will bite the bullet and just pay the higher costs later and see what the changes are like first.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Review: Destiny 2 and Curse of Osiris

Destiny 2 Poster Art

The shooter I play, even though I don’t play shooters.

So, my first video game review! And as such, I thought I might start it off with possibly a controversial one. Destiny 2 has been dragged through all sorts of mud since release. Some of this has been deserved, and some maybe not so much. Like any experience, different aspects will impact you differently to other people.

As I have talked about in Blatherings episode 4, Destiny is a game that needs to be played with friends, and I can say that this is why I am still playing Destiny 2 today. It is in fact the only reason I picked up Destiny 2 in the first place. With Christmas sales, I managed to pick up Destiny 2 and the Curse of Osiris expansion for about $50, and I think I can safely say I have happily gotten my moneys worth.

So what is Destiny?

Destiny can be best described as an expensive experiment. I know this will probably sound like a negative, but I don’t mean it to be.  Destiny was envisioned to be what happened when you take a first-person shooter game and make the entire gameworld persistent and accessible always.  Think Halo meets World of Warcraft.  It hadn’t been done, but the potential for a legendary game was already in that sentence.

I saw envisioned, because overall in a lot of ways the mark wasn’t quite hit.  Right now, three and a half years after Destiny’s release, it’s easy to say all the things that have been done better since.  But Destiny was first, and that is always a scary position to be in.

So who can be first?

Bungie, the people behind Marathon (yes, I’m that old) and Halo, broke off with Microsoft and decided to do something new. And everyone wanted it, whatever IT was, because it was being done by Bungie.

Bungie as a company has a well-deserved history for being incredibly innovative. When there was Wolf 3D and Doom on PC, Bungie had the Marathon trilogy on the Mac with deep storylines and even dual wielding weapons. And not just an image of both hands pointing in the same direction like most shooters even today. That in itself would have been a first for the time, but Bungie had independently firing left and right hands as well! I don’t remember this in PC games for another few years.

Marathon Dual Wield
Duel wielding shotguns in Marathon 2

While the Marathon trilogy was my introduction to Bungie, the world as a whole know them as the Halo guys. But even Halo wasn’t originally what people know it as today. Who remembers Halo being revealed by Steve Jobs?

With such a history, and with MMORPG’s taking the world by storm, it’s almost a logical step that Bungie would want to do something like this.  It also makes sense that Activision had faith that Bungie were the developers to pull this off.

Destiny in the news, before it even came out

Years before Destiny came out, it was already front and centre in a number of high profile issues.  Some of these were marketing hype and intended, one in particular was not.  This would be a lawsuit between Activision and Infinity Ward, were details of Destiny and arrangements with Bungie were first revealed to the public.

It was obvious the money being thrown at Bungie to do this, but when news of the ’10 year plan’ came out, consumer hype went into overdrive.

I’m not going to talk about the theories and fan declarations that were going around at the time.  But I will add an excerpt from the document that lays out the entire plan:

Destiny Release Plan
Excerpt from the Activision-Bungie Agreement

Now, people are a tricky thing.  Legal documents are a tricky thing.  Put the two together, and lots of conclusions are drawn.  Now, this agreement has been redrafted before Destiny 2, that much is known.  Road plans and development cycles have shifted with time.

But before Destiny launched no one knew what they were buying, not only from a ‘what’s in the game’ perspective but how they were buying it as well.  The number of people that told me with certainty that Destiny was going to be a one-off purchase of the game and an expansion pass was astounding.  No company can sell 10 years of development for $200 up front and no more.  Even showing them this document they wouldn’t believe Destiny would be multiple games, with multiple purchases.

And then Destiny came out

Like so many others, I picked up Destiny pretty quickly.  I didn’t buy the season pass, because I am not a big shooter fan and I mainly wanted to see what the game was like.

I got it on my PS3, because I still hadn’t bought a PS4 at that time.  I didn’t buy the season pass, because as a general rule I don’t play shooters and didn’t want to spend more than I had too.  I knew that if I enjoyed the game, it would cost me later, but that was future Johns problem.

Turns out I made the right choice.

Thanks to PSNProfiles, I can review my Destiny playing at the time.  In a little over two weeks, between the 11th and 26th of September 2014, I earned 20 of the possible 42 trophies.

Destiny Trophies
Far from an impressive trophy tally

So all was fun for a little while.  About two weeks.  Then the people I was trying to play with decided to stop playing.  We had done what felt like all of the single player stuff, and timing to get together was tricky.  I tried to go back a month later and grind for all of the story elements of the Destiny cards, but that was half-hearted and I quickly gave up.

From all accounts, Destiny’s two expansions The Taken King and Rise of Iron added a lot to the game, but I can’t say one way or another as I never played them.  I lost interest in the game and didn’t even pay attention when Destiny hit the news for whatever reason.

Destiny Classes
Destiny The Collection

Story-wise, it was a strange affair.  You wake up after being dead.  Yep.  Dead.  If that doesn’t set the tone, nothing will 😀

You have a Ghost assigned to you (when I was playing, Peter Dinklage.  I don’t know what the fuss was about).  Ghosts focus the ‘Light’ that brings you back from the dead, act as a guide, and generally makes the sarcastic plot comments you can’t as a silent protagonist.

You then played the game, living the main parts of the story.  The backstory was obtained through earning Grimoire cards and read through the Bungie website or the Destiny app.

I am intentionally not going to describe the story for two reasons.  One – the way Bungie designed the game, people that just wanted to run around and shoot things could do just that.  Two, this is the Destiny 2 review, so yeah 😀

Followed by Destiny 2

Destiny 2 came out late last year.  I could look up the date, but I won’t.  Mainly because at the time, I really didn’t care.  I thought it was all the same game, and didn’t give it a second thought.  There was a lot of talk around the place of ‘Bungie’s latest apologies for’, but as I wasn’t playing I didn’t worry too much.

And then this guy told me he was playing it.

20180421 Destiny 2 Harls The Blade Selfie Emote
Meet Harls. It's usually his fault.

With the grind of the first Destiny, I already knew it was a game best played with a partner in crime.  And with sales happening, I was thinking it would be a cheap way to take up some of the holidays with a mate.

And so I jumped into Destiny again, this time at a place further along than my previous experience.  The first expansion, the Curse of Osiris, was already out, so I was jumping into what I assumed would be the advanced game.

Playing Destiny 2

So the first part of Destiny 2 is the tutorial.  I say tutorial, really you are dropped straight into it with button prompts when required.

Everything was going well back in the last city.  The Guardians had saved everyone from the previous games, nothing can possibly go wrong.  Then, on cue, everything goes wrong.

The Red Legion, led by Ghaul, attacks the last city and hands everyone their collective butts.  The last city falls, Guardians lose their light, and everything looks really bad for everyone.

Luckily though, you have the last Ghost with a touch of light left.  Not enough to go on a rampage, but enough to get you back on your feet.  You then track down a broken piece of the traveller, that luckily has just enough light to give you back some of your Guardian powers, and you begin the fight to take back the last city.

While cliche, I think this was a great introduction to Destiny 2.  It was just enough information to bring new players up to speed on the key points, and a good way to bring all players back to a collective start point.

Some people have vocally had different thoughts on this, but there you go.  It was an introduction that got you into the game quickly, and that was what was needed.

Destiny 2 Story Mode
You may have been a little late for this one

Then, you started travelling from planet to planet helping our now vulnerable guardian comrades and fighting whatever we need to.  This is where we start levelling up our characters and starting that long, long climb to the good loot.

The Level/Loot Grind

Normally in RPG type games, there is a level progression system in place.  Go up a level, earn new skills, increase some stats and so on.

Destiny 2 also has a progression system, but it works very differently.  Technically there is a traditional character level system, but it’s very basic.  When you level up, you get an upgrade point for your skills and a bright engram, which I will talk about later.

The real levelling you need is your Light, which is directly related to your weapons and armour.  In terms of your character level, the only way this really comes into play is some equipment has a level requirement.  That’s it.  It almost makes character creation pointless.

So you get three character races to choose from – Human, Exo, and Awoken.  What do they do for you?  They change your appearance in the game, and you can only tell what race someone is if they take their helmet off.  You can’t even pick what you look like, only your gender which sets the sounds of your grunts and screams as you play.

The three classes though, now they have an impact on the game.  Each class has three subclasses, each tied to an element in the game.  Each subclass also has slightly different player powers and abilities which does have an impact on your gameplay.

Destiny 2 Gunslinger Solar Hunter Subclass
The Hunter Solar Subclass - the Gunslinger

My issue here is it’s almost – almost – pointless in itself.  Just like you can change between the three subclasses of your character on the fly, you could just as easily have changed between the three classes as well as the subclasses.

Now I don’t say this as something I think the game should change.  Having three different characters as three different classes makes sense, as different characters have the different abilities on offer.  But Bungie seems to have a mixed metaphor in terms of design choices.  Each character is unique and contained as an individual experience, except you share all of the glimmer (money), bright and inventory items of your master account between them.

It’s a small niggle though, but a niggle nonetheless.

The real levelling you need is your Light, which is directly related to your weapons and armour.  In terms of your character level, the only way this really comes into play is some equipment has a level requirement.

The higher your light, the more powerful your weapons and armour, and by extension the more powerful you are.  That makes the loot drops the bigger part of the game’s customisation, in a lot of ways.

Destiny 2 Master Rahool
Master Rahool will 'decrypt' your loot drops and let you know what you got

Because the equipment is really the only customisation to the game, that does make Destiny a race to the best gear rather than how to build your character like other games.

Again this is a double-edged sword.  Want the cool looking Iron Banner gear?  Get good at blowing away other players in player vs player combat.  Want the special raid gear that makes future raids easier?  Master the prestige raids and get the bonus.

What you don’t have to do is spend a heap of time throwing points in a skill tree only to find forty hours later you should have done something else.  This makes Destiny accessible to people that just want to jump in and play, but frustratingly close to so much more for others that want more depth to the character creation system.

So what do you do in Destiny 2?

So at its heart, Destiny 2 is a shooter.  So you travel around the solar system shooting various enemies.  There are a few things to keep you interested though.

Public Events

Public events happen all the time and are just what they sound like.  As you explore the planet your on, activities will happen that everyone on the map can join in with, not just the people you may be playing with.

These are great fun, and the best way to grab experience and engrams, especially early on.

And like so many things in Destiny, there are secrets to the public events.  If you do a certain objective depending on the activity, you unlock a Heroic event with tougher enemies, but greater rewards.

Destiny 2 Heroic Event
A Public Event just got Upgraded. Cabal Drilling event? Shoot down the Thresher!

Patrols

Patrols are little mini-missions littered around the planet.  Sometimes you just have to go to a spot and look around, sometimes you just have to shoot everyone you see.

My preferred missions are the salvage missions – a combination of shoot everything and find stuff.

These are unlocked during the story missions maybe halfway through?  But give you something else to do while playing.  For some quick planet tokens and XP, start up a salvage or combat mission on a public event and kill two birds with one stone.  Literally.

Destiny 2 Patrols
Patrol beacons are scattered around the planet, so they are optional

Ikora’s Challenges

These are what Harls and I spent a lot of time doing.  Every day, there are three different challenges on each planet, and most have you collecting resources or killing a certain number of enemies.

These are really straightforward, and reward you with tokens from the planet that you can spend to buy things.

As a lasting way of keeping your interest, especially by yourself, these really aren’t great.  But to waste some time and run around exploring they are a lot of fun, and good time killers while waiting for some other people to jump on.

Destiny 2 Ikoras Challenges
Ikora's Challenges on the right hand side

Ikora’s Meditations / Cayde’s Treasure Chests

I definitely do one of these more than the other, but I need to do some more meditations going forward.

Ikora’s Meditations are replaying some of the missions from the initial single player story.  I think there are more to them than just stories though.  One mission in particular, ‘1AU’, I seem to have triggered two different endings.  So these seem to be twofold in nature.  One, earn currency to buy things from Ikora.  Two, have a chance to replay missions with possibly secret/hidden story elements.  It’s this discovery that makes me want to play more of them.

Destiny 2 Ikora
This weeks Meditation missions

Cayde’s treasure chests are a very different activity.  Each week, Cayde manages to lose a bunch of supply caches on a different planet, and you can buy maps to go and find them.

This leads to exploring the map and looking in all sorts of different areas for paths you would not normally think of looking for.

Apart from being a bit of fun, it also teaches you how to start looking for other secrets scattered throughout Destiny.

Destiny 2 Cayde's Treasure Hunt
An example of Cayde's Treasure Hunt. The caches are marked by the spade symbols.

Strikes / Heroic Strikes / Nightfall / Prestige Nightfall

Until recently, this has probably been my main activity in the game.

Strikes are missions, generally from the single-player game, that have their own version of Ikora’s challenges as well.  The main difference is that these are done for Zavala’s Vanguard faction, so completion can give you engrams and such, but mainly currency to purchase things from Zavala.

Heroic strikes are the same thing but at a higher difficulty rating.  These give you a higher chance of better loot drops.

Destiny 2 Fireteam Travelling
You do not want to do the Nightfall by yourself

The nightfall mission changes each week, and is always the same mission for that week.

Finishing the nightfall gives you the chance to win specific items, such as this week the Arms Dealer strike gives you the chance to win an exotic sparrow or speeder bike.

The prestige nightfall is a little different though.  While it is harder than the normal nightfall, you are actually trying to beat your high score in each one.

You can also make the Prestige Nightfall harder or easier by changing the score multiplier in the game – higher multiplier, harder enemies.  The catch is if your fireteam all dies at the same time, you are booted from the mission.

Destiny 2 Nightfall
Because you will be facing guys like this

For every 20,000 points, you acquire you get a better chance of getting rare and exotic items.  Score over 60,000 and you can get a special emblem that gives you a halo effect to show all players what you have done, as well as more tokens and such in subsequent runs.

The Crucible / Trials of the Nine / Iron Banner

So this is the player vs player events, and what a lot of people concentrate on in Destiny 2.

As this is probably my least favourite activity in gaming, I don’t have much experience with these.  I have tried Competitive and Quickplay Crucible because there is a challenge (milestone) to get you to which rewards you with an engram, but I haven’t done too much since.

You will randomly be dropped into one of three game modes.  Clash is your basic team deathmatch, just shoot the other team as much as possible.  Control has you capturing set locations and trying to control them longer than the other team.  Finally, Supremacy has you collecting gems from the players you kill, highest score wins.

Destiny 2 The Crucible
The Crucible match selection screen

The Leviathan Raid / Eater of Worlds

The big raid.  The one that everything has you working up to.  There are prestige versions, but I am not up to those yet.

What makes it such a big event?  Well, it has some of the hardest enemies in the game coming for you.  It is also a giant puzzle waiting to be explored.  Not just secrets and hidden things, of which there are plenty, but challenges you must work out how to beat.  Just pure gunplay will not help you here.

Apart from wanting to be maxed out to give yourself the best chance, the other big obstacle for the leviathan raid is the numbers.  You really want to be doing these with a minimum of six players, as a lot of the challenges require this many players to work together to get through efficiently.

Destiny 2 Raid Entrance
Just go inside and shoot Emperor Calus. No big deal. You will be fine.
Destiny 2 Calus Throne Room
Oh that's what can happen. That goblet is bigger than one of us.

But when everything works, it works so well.  Making your way through the Emperor’s finest the first time is a harrowing experience, but with your team standing with you a great time.

I can honestly say that making it through the Leviathan raid that first time was an amazing experience.  Now I have finished it a couple more times, and I am more interested in learning the secrets of the Leviathan more than anything else.

Well, except to start doing them as prestige runs 🙂

Destiny 2 Leviathan Complete
I have never been so happy to see a mission complete screen

The Clans

Clans to my understanding have been upgraded a lot from the original Destiny.  All I can tell you is Harls found a clan to play with, and I followed suit.  There was the benefit of getting extra high-level engrams each week as members of the clan completed things like the nightfalls, crucible and leviathans, but it became more.

As I have already said, I don’t multiplayer.  My friends’ list was blocked off for a long time.

Then I joined the Cosmic Voids.  I met a couple of people at first, people that wanted to be a third in a strike or the like to finish off some challenges.  Occasionally I would drop into Harls fireteam and he would already be playing with another clan member.

Then when I finally had time, I got to do my first leviathan raid.  The team knew that I hadn’t done a raid before, and that was fine.  They just talked me through all the different sections and were very patient.

But more than that.  They were fun to listen to and talk with.  Just a diverse group of people talking garbage and enjoying themselves.  It had been years since I had heard this kind of conversation online.

So I started participating a bit more in the clans’ Discord channel and even added a couple of people to my friends’ list.  Now, this might sound like normal behaviour for most but remember I describe my online social habits as hermit-like.

Destiny 2 Clan Finish
Clan Cosmic Void celebrating the raid finish

And that is really what Destiny 2 is all about.  Joining up with people and everyone just having a great time doing what they want to do.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD