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Destiny 2
Score: 91%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Bungie Software
Media: Download/1
Players: 1- 9 (Online Only)
Genre: Action/ First Person Shooter/ RPG

Graphics & Sound:
When you imagine the galaxy, you imagine a huge place full of all different kinds of marvelous places, wonderful sights, and unique things to interact with. Of course, thereís a large amount of good to benefit you out there, but with all things, thereís a decent amount of bad waiting to claim you as well. Cue a group of invincible weird looking creatures that steal everything you hold dear. Thatís about par for the course for a Guardian in Destiny 2.

The next chapter in the Destiny universe is finally here, and skeptics from the first game should rest easy. Destiny 2 is a pretty phenomenal game right out of the box and thatís exactly what weíll be covering in this review, the game as is. DLC will have to wait. Anyway, letís get rolling. The best way to describe the graphics would be stunning. I was completely blown away when I first started the game. The cutscenes were great, the characters looked fantastic, and the worlds were absolutely beautiful. I couldnít help but spend a few moments running around taking in all the sights whenever I unlocked a new world. Your footprints even appear on certain planets after you walk somewhere as well. I thought that was a very nice little touch. Character models, as well as armors and weapons, are very detailed and look great. I only have mixed feelings about character creation. While I would like more options for character customization, I also realize I would never be satisfied with the characters I create. Keeping it simple is definitely welcome, but perhaps a few more options in the existing categories would be nice. Thatís just a small nitpick that can be ignored, especially given how beautiful this game is.

With beautiful graphics comes beautiful music. The sound of Destiny 2 fits so well with the environments itís scary. I never thought Iíd experience what space sounds like, but I wish I could go explore it myself. The game isnít overpowering with the sound, and I think thatís what really gives the soundtrack its charm. There are many low, haunting melodies that give an atmospheric presence youíd struggle to find in other games, but when the tracks do pick up, youíre graced with an orchestral piece that leaves respawning because you had to stop everything and concentrate only on it. The soundtrack is amazing, but I also have to give the voice acting a round of applause. The voice actors did a superb job bringing each character to life and I really enjoyed the dialogue between each of the different characters. I greatly enjoyed the newer characters as well and the freshness they brought to the game with their unique quirks and attributes. Big kudos to the voice work in this game.


Gameplay:
Destiny 2 picks up after the Rise of Iron expansion of Destiny. A Cabal specialist group known as the Red Legion invades and goes 0-100 real quick. Itís pretty crazy. Naturally, itís up to the player to set things straight and secure a happy ending for everyone, but you might find the mission a little bit more difficult this time around.

Those who played Destiny will feel right at home when jumping into Destiny 2. Destiny 2 is a first person shooter with RPG elements built into it. There are multiple controller layouts for players to choose from, so hopefully everyone can find something theyíre comfortable with. Like Destiny, players will choose a world and dive into it, exploring the environment and killing the bad guys. The Campaign consists of a series of quests players follow that takes them all over the different worlds featured in Destiny 2, but youíre not locked into completing them right away. By going through the Campaign, players will be able to unlock four additional areas to explore. In addition, thereís also a hub world called The Farm that players can go to if they would like to find additional gear or store things they donít wish to get rid of. Even a Guardian needs some down time.

Exploration is largely the same in Destiny 2: players go into orbit, pick a planet, and then fly to that planet to run around and do whatever theyíd like. Itís a simple concept, but I really love it this time around. Missions will be at the forefront of what youíre spending your time doing on each planet. Every planet you visit will have some NPC that you can go interact with and help out in some capacity. Thatís where the missions come in. Youíre probably imagining them as boring, mind-numbing tasks that you feel compelled to complete in order to get some dull reward. Fortunately, thatís not the case. Each mission is sort of like a side quest, and theyíre actually done pretty well. They have their own contained story which starts and end with that one mission, while providing insight into the world youíre on and the character youíre helping. I absolutely loved getting to explore each world a little more thanks to the missions and the NPCs made it incredibly worthwhile. Each character has their own personality that really breathes life into the communications with them and their assistance in each mission. Of course, youíre rewarded for your efforts with gear or upgrade points, but I found the real reward to be experiencing more of what Destiny 2 has to offer.

Rejoice all you who enjoy combat for sport! The Crucible makes a glorious return in Destiny 2 as your go-to place for all things PvP oriented. After progressing to a certain point in the story, players will be able to interact with Lord Shaxx, who gives access to the Crucible. From here, you can go into orbit and select the Crucible option. Participating in the Crucible gives players access to Rare and Legendary gear to buff their character up even more. Unlike Destiny, all Crucible events are now 4v4 only. Players are also treated with a decent selection of maps (eight to be exact) to begin with that are each tailored around worlds that players have explored in the game. The only downside to Crucible is that it requires a PlayStation Plus membership to be accessed. Itís definitely worth the gear you get, though.

So maybe PvP isnít your thing. It definitely isnít mine. Thankfully, Destiny 2 brings back the PvE content we all know and love with a few new additions this time around. Strikes and Raids make a return in Destiny 2 for players that need their end game PvE content fix. Like the Crucible, both pieces of content require PlayStation Plus to enjoy, but youíll be rewarded with all sorts of top tier gear from completing this. In Strikes and Raids, players will group with other Guardians to take down powerful enemies that wish to see their end. Currently, the only Raid is the Leviathan raid, which allows six players to go into the Nessus Orbit to take on Emperor Calus. This raid suggests players to have a Power level of at least 270 and I wouldnít recommend you going in there with anything less. Thankfully, Strikes have a much lower Power threshold, allowing players to go take on one of the six maps for some extra gear. Strikes only allow three players, but again, they are notably less difficult. If thatís not enough, you can also try the Nightfall strikes, the hard mode equivalent of normal strikes. Nightfall strikes change every week, but you can try them as much as youíd like while theyíre up. Youíll need 240 or higher Power level if you want to make a noticeable dent in these. They also have mods active to make them even more difficult. So, uh, good luck with those, Guardian!


Difficulty:
Like the first game, Destiny 2 does not feature a customizable difficulty level. Youíll start at the same difficulty level as anyone else, but areas do get more difficult as you unlock them. Enemies become stronger on average with each new world you unlock and missions will require your character to be stronger in order to take them on. The game isnít incredibly difficult as long as you continually update your gear and each world provides fresh missions for the player to complete for rewards such as better items or skill points. Unlike Destiny, however, every mission is scaled by your light power level instead of your regular player level. Essentially, as long as you keep your gear up to date, youíll always be ready for the next mission.

Game Mechanics:
Customization plays a pretty big part in Destiny 2, but thatís as obvious as a clown with a red balloon in a sewer being dangerous. You can level up and hit the cap of 20, but it wonít mean much if your gear is outdated or low level. Players are able to equip a helmet, gauntlets, a torso, shoes, and cloak to change their armor rating. For weapons, players are allowed a primary kinetic weapon, a secondary energy weapon, and a power weapon. You can also customize your ghostís shell, the vehicle you use on the ground, your space ship, emotes, player emblem, and character auras. Man, thatís a lot of customization. Anyway, the latter group is merely for cosmetic purposes for the player, except for the vehicle. Your main focus will be on weapons and armor. These contribute to your overall Power level, which is a rating of your offense and defense. After level 20, your Power level still continues to grow to reflect your increasing strength. Always upgrade your gear if you find something new, and even if it isnít better, itís still worth some glimmer.

What makes a Guardian is the light. Light is the source of a Guardianís powers and without it, theyíd just be a normal person. Or robot thing. Or ascended being. Either way, without light, a Guardian wouldnít be nearly as strong. Thatís where class enhancements come into play. Players can choose from three classes to bind a character to: Hunter, Titan, and Warlock. These make a return from Destiny, but they do have a few change-ups this time around. After a certain event, youíll be granted a subclass to your class. This grants your character certain powers to use in combat. For example, my character is a Hunter, a rogue who stalks the battlefield looking for prey. Instead of being a Gunslinger, Hunters start off with the Arcstrider subclass. Each subclass comes with a few abilities for players to unlock with the use of upgrade points. Kudos to Bungie for making the interface significantly more intuitive to upgrade skills in a subclass. Each skill is tucked away in its own little corner of the screen, allowing players to easily identify their grenades, jump abilities, and class passives. Players may also unlock other subclasses for their classes by completing Heroic Events with other players. Heroic Events spawn randomly on different worlds, but players can see where and when one is spawning simply by checking the Director. Itís really that simple this time around.

Destiny was met with a surprising amount of criticism from fans upon initial release. Being the next big project from famed developers Bungie, everyone expected an infallible masterpiece. Instead, their expectations were met with disappointment when they didnít get the game they were hoping for. A few expansions later, and Destiny was saved thanks to tireless efforts from the company. Fast-forward a few years and weíve got Destiny 2, backed by a more experienced Bungie. This time around, they certainly do deliver. I canít say I greatly enjoyed Destiny, but Destiny 2 was a whole different ballgame. From the funny, zany characters and interesting interactions to the rich music and gorgeous environments, Destiny 2 really blends together to create a wholly enjoyable experience. Weíve seen the improvements that Destiny could make with just some DLC. Destiny 2 takes that and runs with it. So, letís suit up, Guardian. Time to get back out there.

Activision provided me with a copy of the game. The opinions I share are my own.


-SS-54, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ren Plummer

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