written by clubfrills
In an effort to capture more players, the base game for Destiny 2 recently went free to play for anyone who has owned a battle.net account for longer than a year. Given that Activision has publicly stated that they are not happy with Destiny’s sales, this is likely a good move. If you’ve considered picking up the game, perhaps I can illuminate whether you’ll enjoy it or not.
But first and foremost, what the hell is a Destiny?
Destiny is a shared world, “MMO-lite”, first person looter-shooter. Take a game with tons of randomized weapons and armor, like Diablo or Borderlands, but set it in a sci-fi universe with aliens and space magic. Give the game really solid mechanics, so that it plays similar to Halo, and you’ve got Destiny. There’s PvE and PvP modes. I won’t bother to explain or spoil any of the story elements.
Did I mention space magic enough yet?
From a credential side, I have a combined time of 878 hours of both Destiny 1 and 2, and was a day 1 alpha tester. I was the guy who ran the pinnacle PvP mode Trials of Osiris every single weekend. I’ve completed every raid, except the “raid lairs” for D2, because the player base was dead until Forsaken launched, which we will touch on in a moment. Anyways, while many hardcore players have in-game time approaching thousands of hours more than mine, I feel this is more than an adequate amount of time spent with the game to give an expert opinion on the matter.
537 hours of Destiny 1, and I didn’t get Gjallarhorn until Rise of Iron (almost year 3). Thanks Bungie.
So why have people really been picking up Destiny 2 again after a very turbulent first year that was plagued with comically short and boring DLC? The player base had shriveled to a husk of its former self shortly after its first DLC drop last year, “Curse of Osiris”. The Forsaken DLC has brought the game back to its former Destiny 1 glory in many ways, while still retaining some of the changes and improvements made in D2. In fact, the player base is higher than it has ever been. Most of these changes have revolved around appealing to hardcore players that embrace the grindiest aspects of the time. For new or returning players, this may be daunting or even frustrating if you were originally used to the game handing out exotic weapons like candy.
However, I feel these changes are actually good for most of the player base even if you only have a few hours a week to spend on the game. The main issue with playing Destiny 2 before Forsaken was running out of things to do. The problem now is that with limited time, you’ll have to accept that you probably can’t do all the activities within a week and definitely not on a second or third character. This is okay — but you will have to prioritize what you care about.
I would describe casual players as users who pick up the game to play the campaign and then move on immediately. They never see any of the end game activities. Maybe they get to use one or two exotics. They might have hopped into a match of crucible once. These players don’t really impact Bungie’s revenue much in general, so it makes sense from a design decision not to cater to them. The initial Destiny 2 player count dropped off exponentially in year one once all dedicated players realized there was no loot or achievements to chase.
If you are considering this approach to the game, I would actually suggest not downloading Destiny 2. While the lore of the game is actually pretty ridiculous, the campaign itself is not even close to the campaign of Halo 2 or many other FPS campaigns. It’s not bad, but you’ll be done with it in six hours or less. What is frustrating to dedicated fans is that casual players leave when the “real game” of Destiny opens up, which is the end-game grind after you’ve completed the story missions.
Most players are actually just dedicated. They hop on every week for a bit to do the activities they’re most interested in, and then wait for new content to come out. They’ve probably attempted a raid, they usually stick more to PvE or just PvP, and they might even have some neat pinnacle weapons from their favorite activity. Most dedicated players will stick more to one activity, such as doing the Dreaming City end-game area and raids, or strictly playing competitive PvP in crucible. I tend to spend more of my time in PvP lately, but I enjoy a good grind for loot, and have been doing the new black armory forges for a chance at a “god roll” pulse rifle.
The Breakneck Auto Rifle, a pinnacle reward for Gambit. Gambit is “PvEvP”, which combines a horde mode with a PvP invasion mechanic. I still haven’t unlocked this, because it requires a lot of time investment.
If you could see yourself being a dedicated player, maybe it’s time to start installing the game. The next question is, what do you enjoy doing? Destiny, at its core, is a “looter shooter”. While some may find this design ideology to be awful, Destiny exceeds generally at making its content replayable. Why do I play so much Destiny? Because it feels really, really friggin’ good to shoot things. There is just some magic in Bungie’s mechanical design. You’ll feel it when you pull the trigger on the thunderlord machine gun for the first time, or throw a barrage of flaming blades from the sky at an unlucky crucible opponent. It makes me giddy every time.
Fundamentally, if you are not okay with replaying content for loot, you’re probably not going to stick with this game. If you’ve scoffed at titles like Diablo, any JRPG, or Borderlands, you’re going to have a bad time. If you like clicking the heads of aliens, watching them die, and then picking up little glowing orbs filled with delicious murder machines, smash that install button now.
Do you have an unhealthy amount of time to play video games? Because the hardcore players do. To actually experience the very best of Destiny, they pour ~20 hours a week into the game. They have every pinnacle weapon, have a fancy title attached to their name, they have collected “god rolls” of every weapon in the game, etc.
If you want to “main” a game, there is more than enough content post-Forsaken for you to do so. I’m not quite there yet, but I have poured at least a dozen hours a week into the game since Forsaken released. I’ve skipped playing Red Dead Redemption 2 entirely because there were too many weekly activities I wanted to complete in Forsaken. I haven’t touched a solo queue of competitive Overwatch in months, and have zero desire to do so. Depending on your relationship with video games in general, this is an option for you.
I could write another ten pages about Destiny, and maybe I’ll write something else in the future that goes into greater detail. Overall, if you like a grind, and you like more social aspects of gaming with a small group, you will enjoy Destiny. If you’re a player looking for a “game as a service” not quite as intense as World of Warcraft or many of the full blown MMOs out there, I would also give this game a shot. However, those looking for a comprehensive single player story experience should stay away. Those with addictive personalities (like me) that will chase a carrot on a stick, figuratively, for six hours a day, might want to avoid installing the game as well. Destiny has a ton of activities to offer, but choosing why/how/what you play is an individual question each player will have to contend with.