After a lengthy, dense campaign mission, I gently laid the controller down with my heart still beating rapidly. I had just experienced challenging platforming across broken walkways, fights through dark, suffocating passages, traversing rigs anchored above unnaturally large waves, and a suspension bridge battle complete with wave after wave of enemies. All to turn on the power.
This was just one of several missions that you will encounter over the course of the Destiny 2 campaign, and it didn't hold back at all; a summary for this hotly anticipated sequel as a whole. An absolute surprise considering I had put more than 30 hours into the original, only to realize it just wasn't for me.
A long-time Halo fan, I wanted to see Bungie be successful on its own two feet, but the first game just didn't cut it. Coupled with playing the first two of three tutorial missions at E3, I was very skeptical of Destiny 2. Everything looked and felt like more of the same, just with the addition of a number.
Destiny 2 - A Brand New Start
However, it was through those opening missions that Destiny 2 took the time to prove that it means business. The story - and yes, there is an actual story - begins with the Tower social hub from Destiny being attacked by a new faction of Cabal called the Red Legion.
We'll keep this relatively spoiler-free, but these first three missions play out as a symbolic passing of the torch as you witness the subsequent destruction of what you once knew and the emotional, even painful beginning of something else entirely.
Having done the first two missions once already, I was eager to rush through, but the third and final tutorial mission accomplished its feat of forcing me to slow down and pay attention. It was the first sign that Destiny 2 is something entirely different from its predecessor.
This carried on through the entirety of the campaign, gripping me in a way that only Bungie's former series Halo was able to. There were so many moments that shocked and awed me, including numerous cutscenes that brought meaning to the narrative and an actually fleshed out villain.
Destiny 2 - Uninteresting Side Content
That isn't to say that it doesn't have its flaws, though. Once the game opens up to its first major area where you can explore and go on side missions, there is a sort of disconnect between the main campaign and everything else there. I found out very quickly that it's best to ignore the new Adventure missions and the like that are there purely as filler content.
These side quests are monotonous and a bore to accomplish, lacking the heart that fills the campaign. At the beginning, it's best to not try to complete everything on the map, as it does nothing except grant XP and kill the vibe. However, what does work are the public events that occur.
These only happen every once in a while and last just a few moments, but there's joy to be found in being drawn to the same centralized spot as strangers and completing a difficult task together. It also helps that the environments you'll be visiting are stunning, from the grassy woodlands of the European Dead Zone to chained-together platforms stationed on endless water to a hidden desolate wasteland-turned-paradise.
Destiny 2 is just as visual pleasing as it is to play. Bungie are masters of gun-play and it's no different here. The much needed quality-of-life improvements like removing the trio of primary, special, and heavy weapons in favor of the less restrictive categories of kinetic, energy, and power weapons are much appreciated. This is in addition to more plentiful ammo, smarter enemy AI, and more accessible multiplayer.
Destiny 2 - Guardian-on-Guardian Action
You gain access to the Crucible as early as level two, allowing you to jump into both quickplay and competitive matches of four versus four. Crucible is virtually unchanged, minus the addition of some new maps and a couple of new modes. It isn't a total blunder, but it's disappointing that it didn't get the same love that the singleplayer had been given.
Countdown is an interesting addition, giving a condensed version of Battlefield's Rush, where two teams take turns planting bombs and defending points. It breaks up the usual cycle of modes like Control or Clash, but it also brings attention to the Crucible's most glaring issues.
The new maps are all rather small and confined. This in and of itself isn't so bad, but it causes multiplayer to be non-stop action. This means there is no downtime for you to strategize or catch your breath. It alleviates the dreaded campers, but it also eliminates any sort of natural ebb and flow that is crucial to online multiplayer.
On the opposite end of the multiplayer spectrum, cooperative modes like Strikes have improved greatly. Strikes are set to a playlist much like the Crucible where it queues you up with other players and immediately sends you on the mission. The several available Strikes at launch are vastly different in design.
Though all Destiny 2 Strikes end one way or another in a huge boss battle, the journey to that point is unique. The levels vary from narrow passages to open battlefields, with more than a few surprises I won't spoil. The boss battles themselves are multi-layered affairs, including sub-objectives that must be completed in order to win.
Destiny 2's Tremendous Hurdles
To complete a Strike in Destiny 2, though, the playlist is locked behind a wall that requires you to be a certain level and more than halfway through the story. It isn't the only feature that is locked behind a significant amount of playtime, as there are several like this, including rather simple ones like challenges (think bounties). This can be frustrating, as the game forces you to grind on several occasions to access new areas, features, and even the story.
Thankfully, the overall character progression in Destiny 2 is generous, granting you endless amounts of loot from enemies and mission rewards. Even the ever elusive Exotic weapons and armor are granted occasionally, allowing you to adequately prepare ahead of time for the endgame content.
Speaking of endgame content, we waited to post our final review in eager anticipation for the Leviathan raid. We've posted our full impressions for that here, but the short of it is that Destiny 2 is notable for having enough content at the end to last you for months to come.
The Raid coupled with all of the level 20 quests, Adventures (which are much more fun to complete after the story instead of during), the endless Crucible, Milestones, and many, many hours of grinding towards the power cap supplies everything you need to get hundreds of hours of play out of just what the base game offers.
Destiny 2 Review - Conclusion
The content doesn't end there, as Bungie has already detailed even more content to come like Trials, the return of the Iron Banner, and the leaked first expansion called Curse of Osiris. Destiny 2 has renewed my faith in Bungie, the series as a whole, and is easily what the first Destiny should've been as it fulfills on everything that it originally seemed it would be and more.
Cody Perez is an Editor at Game Revolution. You can follow him on Twitter @SoulcapCody.
A PS4 copy of Destiny 2 was provided by its publisher. PC and Xbox One versions are also available.