Having much fun in Destiny 2

What I knew about Destiny 1 when it launched is pretty much this: A Diablo-style ARPG that plays like a first person shooter, with MMO-like raid mechanics. Which sounded right up my alley. I don’t like to play shooters on console at all though, so I gave it a pass.

Hence when Destiny 2 was announced for PC I got pretty interested. I followed it’s development loosely, and when the console version was released I tried to use reviews and such to get a feel for the game without spoiling too much. The general consensus seemed to be that it’s more of the same, with some improvements but not much innovation. In short, if you liked part one you’ll like this one too if you don’t have too high expectations.

This, combined with the fact that some friends of ours would also be playing it on PC, was more than good enough for me.

So I bought it on release day. I loved it from the start. So much so that I decided to snag a Collector’s Edition on day two, which then was available again on Amazon. I offered it’s code for the base game to Lakisa with a heavy discount, which was enough to persuade her to give it a try and play the game with us.

Now, four weeks later, I’m still having a blast, playing at least for a bit every single day.

There’s no need for me to cover the basics of the game, those can be found everywhere. I’d rather elaborate what it is exactly that I, personally, like about the game so much.

  • It’s incredibly quick and easy to get in and out of the action.

While the menus are a bit consoley and could be more convenient, the act of going somewhere and doing a thing couldn’t be easier. It gets even better in relation to grouping. When I log in and a friend is already playing, I just join his group (called Fireteam here), and boom, one nicely animated load screen later I’m standing right next to him and join in whatever he’s doing. He doesn’t even have to invite me or anything.

  • There are no artificial barriers between my friends and me

95% of the game’s content can be played as a group, no matter at what character- and powerlevel everyone is. When a friend plays a new character I can just join like described above and play alongside him, even the low level main story missions.

  • Every little thing I do feels rewarding

For me there’s always something to do, and nothing feels like a waste of time. This is because the game always drops loot, and the loot scales with my powerlevel. Granted, at around 270 and above most loot doesn’t help to push the powerlevel much further, but I still feel rewarded when my efforts net me heaps of Glimmer, Shards etc. (think crafting materials), as well as XP for Bright Engrams (cosmetics, faster/different speeders and ships). Even when I help out said low level friend I get all of this, and there’s always a little chance to snag an Exotic that I don’t have yet too.

  • It’s collector’s heaven

When I first found out that only one exotic weapon and one exotic piece of armor can be equipped at a time I was a bit miffed. I considered these to be the ‘Unique Items’ of this game. At least for weapons that’s not quite true however. Exotics are more like ‘these unique items have extra special abilities, so you have to choose one’. Legendary weapons, which are one rarity step below, are also unique. And there’s lots and lots of them. And you can collect them all. Want the best hand cannon? Get Better Devils. Need a great Submachine gun for PvP? Try to snag Antiope-D. Looking for a solid allround scout rifle? Nameless Midnight might be for you. Getting a weapon I don’t have yet feels great every time, even if it’s one I probably won’t use much. Plus, you never know when a mechanic comes along that calls for just this weapon. Speaking of which…

  • The raid mechanics are even better and more fun than I had anticipated

I have played the raid only twice up till now, and finished it once. But boy, did I have fun. I didn’t think it possible in a shooter, but the mechanics are really interesting and engaging, and the much faster pace compared to the MMO raid-combat I’m used to makes it all the more fun. It’s also much more forgiving since dying doesn’t cost anything and a wipe doesn’t cost too much time either. If we don’t have to talk things through after a wipe we can be having a go again 10 seconds later. The mechanics also make you think about the build and weapons you use. Your normal go-to subclass or power weapon, for example, might not be the best pick for a specific encounter. Planning, preperation, execution. Fun and profit.

  • The open world feeling is really good

I didn’t have high expectations in this regard, but was in for a pleasant surprise. Not only are the zones pretty big, they are also chock full of stuff to find, of nooks and crannies to explore. I like the Lost Sectors in particular. An inconspicuous street door or a little hole in the ground can lead to a vast basement vault or underground cavern, filled with enemies and a boss guarding a treasure chest at the end. This is what I had hoped for back when Hellgate London came along in 2007. I actually think of Destiny 2 as the game Hellgate wanted to be in more than one regard.

Sometimes I just cruise the landscape looking for treasure chests and boss enemies, joining public events and exploring Lost Sectors when I stumble upon them. I just do whatever strikes my fancy. There are full fledged MMOs out there which make this kind of play less fun and much less rewarding than Destiny 2 does.

  • There’s no global or general chat, and no whispers to strangers

This might sound odd, but for me it’s a blessing. I’ve written about my negative experiences when playing with strangers lately. And I know for sure, without a doubt, that I would have had some more by now if Destiny 2 had global chat and /whisper to non-friendlist people. I really don’t need self proclaimed “pro gamers” telling me I’m doing “their” public event wrong or that I suck at PvP, thank you very much. Great stuff Bungie! I mean it, thank you!

  • The story’s pretty good, the voice acting is great

I have seen some scathing reviews about the story in Destiny 2, and while I can comprehend some of the criticism, I think it’s not that bad at all. Ok, the antagonist looks goofy as hell and is cliché to match. During my second and third playthrough I skipped every cutscene with him. The cutscenes starring the good guys I quite like though. The characters might not be very relatable, but at least they’re likable. They’re also perfectly animated and the lip-sync is the best I’ve seen yet. I’m generally not a sucker for high end graphics, but in a game that aims for photorealism I can appreciate when it’s done right for once. And boy, is this a gorgeous game.

I love the voice acting. Nathan Fillion’s Nathan Fillion, not much more to say there. I also was genuinely delighted to hear Lance Reddick’s voice right at the beginning of the story. He’s just great too. Nolan North as the character’s ghost shows his incredible versatility once again, I wouldn’t have known that it’s Nathan Drake talking to me without looking it up. Even some characters with very small roles have good voice actors, like James Remar (Dexter’s foster-father Harry) and the one and only Peter Stormare as leaders of two of Destiny 2’s factions.

There are of course many who are already complaining that they have nothing more to do. That they are finished, that the game is dead, whatever. For them, this might be the case. In my opinion they’re doing themselves a disservice by rushing through the content and ignoring everything that doesn’t reliably push their powerlevel.

If you play the game like me, you’ll have fun for quite some time and won’t grow tired of it. I’m still not quite at max powerlevel, I haven’t got every weapon and every piece of armor I’d like to have, I’ve not yet seen every Lost Sector and not found every lore object.

What I have loads of, though, is fun.

Now all Bungie has to do is give me an ingame means to take screenshots, and I’ll be happy all around. Seriously guys, PC games have to have this feature, especially when you decide to block the usage of FRAPS, Bandicam and the like. I’m giving you free advertising here…wouldn’t it be great if I had nice screenies to go along with the text? 😉

Malcolm Reyn…err…Cayde-6 seems to agree.

This is why we can’t have great things…or can we?

Right now everybody is talking about the Star Wars Battlefront II situation concerning it’s progression and monetisation system. Saying that people are not happy would be a huge understatement.

Some savvy players have mathed up that it’d take more than 4500 hours of play or, alternatively, roughly 2100$ to unlock everything there is to unlock. We’re talking about unlocks that give players an advantage over others in a multiplayer shooter. If that’s not P2W (pay to win), I don’t know what is.

This time though we (gamers) aren’t on our own with our concerns. We have seen time and time again that we can rage all we want, as long as we’re still buying their crap the big publishers couldn’t care less. No, this time mainstream media has noticed, and rumours are Disney has noticed too. They sure as hell didn’t wish for a shitstorm like this related to their sacred and expensive Star Wars IP, mere weeks before the release of their next blockbuster movie no less.

Also, a couple countries, such as Belgium and the Netherlands, have begun investigating the issue of lockboxes in games. The question is if they are to be considered online gambling and therefore to be regulated or even banned.

So here’s hoping that we have reached a turning point, and monetisation of our beloved pastime is going to change direction. I’m still not convinced that EA really intends to completely eschew lockboxes in SWBF2 though.

Now, I do fully realize that a box price of 60$ can’t possibly cover production and marketing costs of an AAA game in 2017 anymore. I also realise that there are many who won’t even consider trying out a game if it has any box price to begin with.

Money has to be made, no argument there. But business practices like EA’s aren’t trying to cover costs and earn a little bit of profit. Don’t even try to tell me that. Monetisation schemes like these have the goal of milking as much money from as many people as possible. More more more. This has to stop. Now.

It’s all the more tragic because the games themselves are often pretty cool. I probably would have bought SWBF2 at some point, and chances are that I would have enjoyed it. But we have reached a point where we can’t be okay with this anymore. We just can’t. If we fall for it again and again, we will soon be playing (crappy) arcades again instead of great games. “Insert coin” as the major gameplay mechanic. No thanks.