Destiny 2 wasn't as Forsaken as some of us thought.
A few short months ago, I had serious reservations about the future of my relationship with Destiny 2. They were serious enough for me to put together my first ever blog post on my new site - if you need a refresher, you can read it here, but to summarise my relationship with Destiny had become complicated. My eye had begun to wander, and I was wondering whether the fun I'd had by settling down was less than that I'd be having if I was still playing the field. I wasn't sure that I was as committed to the relationship as I had been in the early days.
But time has a habit of passing, and as it does it sometimes smooths the rough edges off things. I've just returned from two weeks in the US - which is main reason for the lack of updates here (sorry guys, sometimes you need to just switch off for a while) - during which time my gaming was limited to an old arcade machine with a PC running MAME inside it. My son and I thrashed through old classics in between swimming pool dips and theme park visits - like the '88 "Aliens" coin-op and the '87 "RoboCop" coin-op, via "Smash TV" and "R-Type" - gaming experiences that are so utterly different to those provided by a home console that I was able to go at least ten days without thinking much about my Xbox at all. And that time smoothed the edges off my concerns about some games that I've spent a lot of time with but had reservations about continuing to invest in moving forward.
Watching the hype rising around Destiny 2: Forsaken, I came to a realisation. Calling it an epiphany would just be pompous - and the world doesn't need any more exaggeration right now. No, a realisation is the perfect description for it. I've spent a lot of time worrying about the opportunity cost of playing Destiny 2 - thinking about all the games I won't play. But (and here's the realisation bit...) if I'm having fun and enjoying playing Destiny 2... and playing videogames are all about having fun... and I'm having fun... then where's the problem? A conversation with a clanmate during my holiday also reminded me that when I started Destiny, I played as a Hunter. I didn't have a Warlock or a Titan - I didn't repeat content 3 times, and was content with a single character. Could I, maybe, try that approach again? That way, I could play Destiny but still have time to play other things.
It sounded worth a shot. And look what happened next:
After making the decision to take the dive - mainly due to some phenomenal trailers but more importantly some Twitch streams that sold me that the changes were worthwhile and meaningful, and would impact on the game positively - I found myself pre-ordering the DLC. No season pass... yet. I'll be waiting to see the content of them before I dip my hand in my pocket. Pre-order complete, all that was left was to decide which character I'd concentrate on. I deliberated for all of 5 seconds before picking my Hunter. Why my Hunter? Well, of all my characters (I've had 4 in the past!), she's the only one that's role playing. I ran an Exo Hunter through most of Destiny. He became a legend - clearing the raids, dominating the Tower and ascending to status of Iron Lord over the years that Destiny lasted. My current Hunter was his protege. When he fell defending the Last City from Ghaul during the Red War, she took up his cloak and swore vengeance. She's reckless with her light; prepared to throw herself into the fray and always willing to take the most aggressive option when multiple are available.
She's the last one to remember the stories he told - those of his experiences before and after his resurrection. She marks each kill with a notch in her gauntlets, and carries the empty shell casings with her as a reminder of who she is and what she's capable of.
This is the basic story I dreamed up for her in the run-up to starting playing Destiny 2... so given where the game's actual narrative is taking us with the death of Cayde-6 it seems even more appropriate that hers is the story that should continue. She reacted badly to losing her mentor. How will she react to losing her Vanguard? Well, it turns out that she's absolutely furious. She was already driven by loss and anger - and now vengeance is at the forefront of her mind again.
It adds an interesting layer to the game, for me.
So, what has Forsaken changed about Destiny 2 that makes it so important? Well, the best one-word summary is probably everything. Before you get too excited, I'm not going to list each and every change here - Bungie have an extremely comprehensive set of blog posts, Twitch stream archives, Vidocs and trailers that you can watch if you want a detailed breakdown. Destiny 2 long had a reputation for being a game with a lack of content. I always felt that accusation was a little unfair; between the story, the patrols, the adventures, the strikes, the public events, the crucible modes, the nightfalls, the raid, and the raid lairs (not to mention the different character classes and subclasses), there was plenty to do. The problem of the game was in the pacing, and in the unrewarding repetition. There were lots of things to do, but content became obsolete very early in the player journey through to the endgame. As an example of the point, I can't remember the last time I ran an Adventure. I see the icons for them all the time and don't interact with them - because the rewards simply aren't worth the effort once you reach a certain level of the game.
And you can summarise a change in that mindset, so far, as being the single biggest change that Forsaken has introduced. By needing planetary material to level up weapons, you have an incentive to go back to areas that haven't been visited for a while. By linking powerful engrams (the items you need to get to level your character up in a meaningful way) to all of the different game modes, Bungie are encouraging players to engage in everything that the game has to offer. Will this stave off boredom? Not forever - and looking at their roadmap they're acutely aware of this - but it's a damn good place to start.
The re-introduction of random rolls for weapons means that every gun that drops is a potentially useful or interesting reward for an activity. There's an impressive new game mode called Gambit - which deserves a post of its own and will likely get one in due course. Oh... and they added Bows.
And they're a lot of fun, as I found out last night.
I guess if you're here and reading this, you're after one of a couple of possible things. Maybe you've already bought Forsaken and are having fun. Maybe you're looking for validation, fearing cognitive dissonance. Well, if you've read this far I'm sure you've already found it.
Perhaps you're a sceptic, wondering whether or not Forsaken is worth your time. Maybe you loved D1 and have felt disappointed by D2; especially the Curse of Osiris and Warmind expansions. Well, I felt the same way - and I think Forsaken is probably worth your time.
Or, you could be a Destiny hater who found yourself here in hopes of finding an article adding to the pile-on that's become the normal discourse around the game in the last few months. In which case, move along - nothing for you to see here.
Overall, Forsaken has done something that I really didn't think it would be able to do - it's made me excited to play Destiny again. No small challenge - but Bungie have a habit of being able to do this, and it looks like they've done it again. I'm having fun playing alone and with the guys in my clan (now DoD Storm - another long story that has no place here), and I'm looking forward to the future for the first time in a long time. The level of engagement almost makes the killing off of Cayde-5 justifiable.