It was a fun shooter, but it was shallow and painfully easy to put down. And in the past year, it’s seen blunder after blunder after blunder, from lackluster DLC to baffling design decisions. So it’s a relief to say that Forsaken is the second wind Destiny 2 needed. It’s a full-fat expansion for Bungie’s shared-world space opera of a shooter, and it comes with everything you’d expect: new story missions and quests, activities, enemies, game modes and environments.Destiny 2: Forsaken begins with a bang. You’re immediately dropped into a mission that has fan favourite robot Cayde-6 killed by this expansion’s main antagonist, Uldren Sov. It’s a bold move from Bungie, to get rid off one of the more entertaining characters of the game in service of its story that has you chasing after Sov in a quest for revenge.If you understand that the latter is a story-driven, single-player action game, and you trust what people are saying and sharing about it, then you likely have a reasonable expectation about whether you’ll enjoy Spider-Man. Meanwhile, you could have spent 300 hours of the last 365 days playing Bungie’s Destiny 2, and I would not be able to say with certainty that you will find the game’s new Forsaken expansion, which also came out last week.
For all but the most dedicated players, it was nearly impossible to be prepared for the Raid in the 10 days between launch and its release. That’s partially the fault of now-resolved issues that prevented players from leveling up properly, but it’s also indicative of just how far Destiny 2 has swung in the “hardcore” direction. However, a strong foundation of more accessible activities coupled with an engaging new campaign and a fantastic new mode in Gambit help make up for prohibitive level restrictions in the late game.You still play as a magical space-warrior called a Guardian, who fights to protect future-earth from a variety of extraterrestrial ghoulies and ghosties. You still see things from a first-person perspective. You still grind to level up, repeating activities over and over to get your character’s gear powerful enough to make it through an elaborately designed six-player raid, all in pursuit of more, better gear.Do you want to kill the sniper that took down Cayde’s ghost? Or the Hangman that slammed him through a wall? One may be more difficult than the other, depending on your current power level, but the choice is still yours.Each brings a welcome voice that adds a new mystery to the universe we thought we knew so well. Spider, specifically, acts as a catalyst to weave the Adventures right into the campaign by sending you on missions around the Tangled Shore. It’s nice to see this adjustment in delivery, in contrast to the previous approach where it was easy to miss these side quests’ stories about characters from the main storyline.Cayde bites it at the hands of Uldren Sov and the eight Barons who lead the Scorn, a scrappy new enemy faction loosely based on the four-armed Fallen. So begins a good old-fashioned quest for revenge: The Man Who Shot Cayde-6 is somewhere out there in the badlands and you’ve got to go through his oddball gang of henchmen to get to him. Be it vehicular combat onboard hoverbikes — or pikes as they’re known in the game — against the aptly-named Rider or the close quarters brawl against the Hangman, they’re far from the ‘go to a location, shoot everything’ approach to missions that Destiny 2’s past expansions were rife with. In that way, the Destiny game you played three or six months ago may be unrecognizable from the one you play today. But despite its constant evolution, the emerging consensus of the past year is that Destiny 2 is a game that overpromised and underdelivered, costing players $90 for the base game and its two expansions. So the question now is: is Forsaken the time to jump back in, especially considering it costs another $40?
That’s partially the fault of now-resolved issues that prevented players from leveling up properly, but it’s also indicative of just how far Destiny 2 has swung in the “hardcore” direction. However, a strong foundation of more accessible activities coupled with an engaging new campaign and a fantastic new mode in Gambit help make up for prohibitive level restrictions in the late game. After two disappointing expansions, this is the best shape Destiny 2 has been in–you just have to be patient with it.The way the game handles weapons, for instance, has been reworked to give players access to more powerful gear at once. That change, along with several mighty new “super” class abilities and an across-the-board increase in the amount of damage weapons do, has had a spillover effect on every activity in the game. It’s made player-versus-environment (PvE) challenges more charged and chaotic, and made player-versus-player (PvP) matches in the competitive Crucible spicier and faster-paced.If you don’t mind taking things slightly more slowly, you also don’t have to do any weeklies you find tedious, like replaying old story missions. It is a bit weird to go back to older content, like Strikes, where Cayde is still alive, but it’s easy to overlook in a game where you can kill the same bosses over and over.Forsaken massively improves on almost every element of Destiny 2, either by incorporating a working piece from its predecessor or reworking an existing and dysfunctional element until it’s reached a happy medium. There are still flaws and annoyances and kinks to work out, but those pale in comparison to the improvements Bungie has made.There’s an alien nightclub and a crashed space ship that you’ll end up investigating. These environments give the Tangled Shore a lived-in, haunting feel to it, making it one of the more memorable spaces in the Destiny series. As for the Dreaming City? It’s visually arresting — filled with mountains, towers, and a sinister pocket dimension brimming with secrets making it a bright contrast to the Tangled Shore and just as unforgettable.
When Destiny 2 first launched a year ago, I logged in every day and checked news to see what secrets players would discover — but the secrets never came. The Dreaming City embodies the heart of good Destiny: secrets to find, and a beautiful space to find them in.I absolutely think that this is exactly how a raid encounter should be and I hope Bungie continues with this trend. Even as players reach a higher Power Level in the coming weeks, the precision required to complete the challenge is going to be difficult to overcome – and that’s only speaking for the PC, which is where I played. (It may be easier to pull off on PC, because according to Destiny Raid Report, after three days only seven groups on console were able to complete The Last Wish Raid while 68 have done it on PC.) The level of execution required needs to be flawless and a few mechanics will make things a little tougher for people using a controller as opposed to mouse and keyboard.Thoroughly pissed, she rolls up in a souped-up Pike and challenges me to a death race through an acid-filled Thunderdome. As I dodge missiles, steal replacement Pikes, and evade the trail of fire that the Rider leaves in her wake, it occurs to me that this fight doesn’t feel like Destiny at all. I mean, I’ve hardly shot anything with a regular gun. But it feels great.The Triumph screen, also found in the character menu, gives players a near-endless stream of achievements to unlock, medals to earn, and other boxes to check to keep them busy and working at their own pace toward a goal of their choosing. You’re also given a Triumph score to compete with friends.