Most Anticipated Games of 2017, Part Five: Destiny 2

Destiny has had a rocky three years and didn’t quite live up to the initial hype surrounding it. Naturally one would assume that Bungie, the team behind the Halo franchise, would excel in making a space opera first-person shooter in the vain of an MMORPG. Despite its fantastic setting and weapons, the shared-world shooter faced many problems in the forms of a busted loot system, repetitive missions, and the absence of any significant story. Year one expansions The Dark Below and House of Wolves did little to solve any of these overbearing issues, but offered a handful of new content including raids, which many consider to be the highlight of the game.

It wasn’t until year two with the release of The Taken King that Destiny began to land on its feet. This $40 expansion added more fleshed out story elements and essentially served as a “soft reboot” to the vanilla version of the game. However, even such a massive step forward couldn’t fix the problems that were written into Destiny’s DNA. Bungie’s many updates helped to patch up the experience, but they were still additions onto what was essentially a broken game. Following The Taken King was a declaration that the team would be focusing on small updates as opposed to significant expansions, which was the first indicator that Bungie was all-in on Destiny 2.

Bungie recently unveiled a teaser for Destiny 2 as well as a story trailer highlighting the fan favorite character, Cayde-6. It’s a confirmation that the humor first seen in The Taken King will be continuing on into the sequel. This franchise needs relatable characters to latch onto, especially considering that the majority of players have no idea what’s going on in the story anyway. Destiny supposedly has a great lore behind it, but I never paid much attention due to the fact that most of it was stashed away in the grimoire cards, which were only accessible outside of the game itself. Like many other players, I chose to play the game rather than dig through them. Bungie have made it clear that the sequel will have a greater focus on in-game story and lore — exactly what this franchise needs.

I’ve poured nearly 700 hours into Destiny because I am in love with the way the game feels and because I am addicted to its stingy loot system. Bad Juju is a pulse rifle that is synonymous with my Titan character and I hardly go anywhere without it. Armor and weapons are crafted with such care that they feel personal to the player. Bungie laid this strong foundation early, which means they can only improve upon it with a sequel. Though the loot system was too randomized and ultimately failed to reward players for their time, it felt incredible to finally get ahold of a Gjallarhorn rocket launcher or Icebreaker sniper rifle after many hours of grinding. In Destiny, the grind was always real, despite efforts to make loot drops more calculated. As a person who enjoys grinding in video games, even I found it frustrating to be waiting for that one significant drop that would allow me to catch up to my friends just so I could raid with them.

Destiny 2’s trailers show the tower being blown to bits by the cabal which perhaps symbolizes a new beginning for the franchise. This raises the question of how many settings and environments will be reappearing from the first game and if we will see new planets altogether. Mars and the cabal race in particular were underutilized, especially when compared to the hive, fallen, and vex, which were all spotlighted in their own raids. Ghaul has been teased as the new main villain thus far, similar to the way Oryx was. Having a central villain was a great asset for focused storytelling in The Taken King and it looks like Bungie are using that device once again. What I hope to see is some insight as to how the cabal operate and what their motivation is for war. In fact, Destiny’s storytelling could benefit from seeing both sides of the war instead of just guardians fighting the bad guys and allegedly saving Earth. Make this a space opera with personality so that there is some emotional weight to victories and defeats.

It’s a no-brainer that Destiny 2 will have more armor, weapons, gear, etc. but that isn’t quite enough to build a new gameplay experience. One of the great missteps in the original game was the underutilization of vehicles. Halo created memories with its balance of vehicular combat, grenades, and guns. Destiny’s sparrows are nothing more than a quick way to get around and let’s not pretend that anybody uses the pikes. Even the space ships, which are aesthetically pleasing, are just something to look at while the game loads. By implementing ground vehicles into multiplayer matches and campaign missions, Bungie would be expanding the combat and overall mindset for approaching situations. Who can forget driving a warthog around the map at full speed while your buddy blasts away enemies in the mounted turret? Bungie know how to create this experience and it would serve Destiny in a monumental way.

Lastly, Destiny 2 should feature a better way to communicate with other guardians. Getting together a six person team for a raid has always been frustrating due to most players having to rely on LFG websites to find peers. It was a rare occurrence when I had five friends ready to sacrifice an evening playing through Kingsfall or Vault of Glass. My proposition to solve this issue is to have a designated area in the tower (or whatever the new social area may be) that allows players to post activities they are looking to do. Allow me to let other players know that I’m looking to run a few strikes and I’d be glad to have the company. It’s a great way to make friends and allies in this game that is supposed to be a social experience.

I have high hopes for Destiny 2 and I am confident that it will deliver on many of the promises that the original game fell short of. Bungie has fantastic weapons and shooting mechanics already in place, which leaves room to improve on the story, loot system, and mission structure. I still believe in the franchise and the ten year model, even if there is a big number “2” slapped on it now.

Previously I expressed my interest in Resident Evil VII, Tacoma, Thimbleweed Park, and Yooka-Laylee. This entry concludes my Most Anticipated Games series for 2017, which has been an absolutely phenomenal year for video games. Now I just need to find the time to play everything.

Published by Ben Eberle - Senior Editor

I'm a freelance writer and musician based out of Providence, RI. I started playing videogames at a young age and I have since developed a love for JRPGs, indie games, shooters, and all things Star Wars. When I am not gaming, I am reading science fiction novels or performing music. Follow me on Twitter @_northernfrost