The Forsaken King
Just recently, for the second time in four years, I was at an impasse with Destiny.
The first came in May 2015 after the raid-less House of Wolves expansion arrived. After maxing out all three classes day one and completing the Prison of Elders horde mode, I didn’t feel the need to continue. The hope that the game would be drastically improved died for me, and that spark wasn’t reignited until The Taken King.
For Destiny 2, it was several months ago, during the same exact cadence — second expansion, first year. Is Forsaken going to do the trick?
Destiny 2: Forsaken (PC, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox One)
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Here’s the gist: more items (duh), new hub (with concessions for endgame), new supers, a campaign, and Gambit — the highly touted PVP/PVE combo mode. There’s also a raid coming in 10 days. That’s a sizable amount of stuff, the kind of thing a big Destiny DLC usually brings and keeps people locked in longer than the generally money-wasting micro add-ons.
We begin our journey at the Tangled Shore and in a poor situation (we know this because of the wonderful exposition “it’s not a prison riot, it’s a prison break!”). The Destiny equivalent of Scooby-Doo’s 13 Ghosts are unleashed upon the world; which, joking aside, is kind of a cool comic-bookey concept to add more character to the somewhat dry as of late universe. And in case you haven’t been watching any trailers or marketing for months on end, Cayde dies. It’s an explosive start to an expansion with some actual stakes involved — this is a character that’s been in the mix since the start.
The particle effects and atmosphere in the intro mission are also a showcase of the Destiny team’s talent for raw aesthetics. No matter what missteps they made throughout Destiny‘s lifetime, very few people have doubted their ability to create an impressive looking universe. The Michael Scarns Scorns are the new faction, and as usual, they’re sorta re-skinned not-Fallen, like the various bits and pieces of the Taken weren’t other remixed enemy types. Some look great, some feel like re-skins. Par for the course.
It all ties into the “darker” theme of the expansion, which paints a pretty somber picture right away with the aforementioned death. Bungie has gone on record saying that they don’t plan on always going for this angle, but honestly? I kind of hope they do. The previous reliance on constant Marvel-esque quips, attempts at fanservice, and low stakes have gone on long enough, and hearing a grieving Ikora call us to arms actually matters.
Occasional minibosses that genuinely look different are a clever solution to the reskin problem, too. There’s actual meat in these bones, with more emotive characters accompanying you on your journey — including one unconventional Fallen ally. I for one welcome our purple overlords and the overdone purple tints on everything in this Awoken/Reef themed expansion (Taken King was pretty purple-fied too; it looks good on Destiny).
The main hub (Tangled Shore) is a decent size. While I don’t think the Taken King‘s brilliant Dreadnaught has been topped yet, this is far better than anything they’ve injected into Destiny 2 thus far. It’s distinct, not just on a macro level but in terms of each individual pocket; I can see myself messing around with it for a bit.
The new weapon type — bows — (not the bow tether super) are fun enough to generally just use, and unlike previous meta-shattering weapons this one isn’t heavy: so you won’t be so limited as to when you’re able to wield them. Once again the sound, design, and gameplay facets of Destiny all come together to make it satisfying to use. Getting one by default through the story is a nice touch.
There’s a lot of grinding and gating involved, so be warned. It’ll take three weeks to get all of the new class supers, as they’re gated to one per week (you get a Seed of Light to unlock a super tree of your choice). Nearly every NPC has bounties now, and several existing bounty providers now have extra gates like rank. I need more time to test it all but I’m wary. So far Destiny 2: Forsaken is a step in the right direction, though I’m still skeptical of its long-term appeal. Expect our full review sometime later this week, and a look at the raid after it launches in a week in a half.
[This review in progress is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher, and deals with PVE content.]