Curse of Osiris was mediocre to say the least. This meant that Destiny fans didn’t really have high expectations for Warmind in the fear of being disappointed once again. Players want an enjoyable expansion that further enhances what Destiny is all about: mystery, unique weapons, engaging story, and rewarding PvE and PvP modes to play over and over again. Players want a reason to return to Destiny 2 and Bungie is desperately trying to make that happen. Thankfully, in Warmind, improvements are clearly visible right off the bat.
Bungie has made reaching max power not as attainable as it has been so far in Destiny 2, meaning that players will have to participate in more difficult endgame activities if they want to reach their full potential. Before Warmind, players would be able to reach max power by simply playing the campaign and completing milestones. The soft cap is 340, which players will attain easily through milestones and the campaign within a few a hours of playing. Reaching max power level, which is 380, only through milestones will take a few weeks. This is where Escalation Protocol will come in handy. The gap between 370 to 380 is expected to involve a lot of grinding. After reaching level 2 out of 7 in Escalation Protocol, it is safe to assume that anyone around 340-350 will have very tough time. Even though Escalation Protocol is compared to Court of Oryx and Archon’s Forge, it is completely its own thing. This is endgame content that players can participate in at all levels since the difficulty level increases as player progress through the levels.
Speaking of difficulty, Heroic strikes requires power level 350 and the players who finished the campaign and milestones for the first week of Warmind are still somewhere between 345 – 355. Since heroic strikes finally have modifiers, these add to their difficulty and will keep players coming back even when they are way over 355. This expansion brought two new strikes, one with Nokris, Herald of Xol who happens to be quite frightening, and a PlayStation Exclusive strike with a giant Psion. Both strikes are enjoyable with their own unique mechanics. However, there are no unique rewards from these strikes. In Destiny, Heroic strikes granted unique weapons or gear from bosses and that was the biggest motive of playing those strikes. Random rolls added to this as well because players would grind the strike until they received the best weapon or gear. Destiny 2 is not at that point yet, and is something Bungie needs to bring back in September.
It’s not really that surprising anymore. Since launch, Destiny 2 had a lack of meaningful grind for weapons and gear. Activities need to feel rewarding and it seems as though Bungie is trying to show the beginning of that type of grind with Warmind. An example of that is the quest from Bray after the campaign. The quest has a similar feel to the exotic weapon grind in Destiny, with challenges like using a certain gun to get a certain amount of kills and completing a string of events.
However, Warmind offers a lot more than Destiny 2 has done so far. In Destiny, the reason why players even bothered to look around the map was for Dead Ghosts, Calcified or SIVA Fragments. With nothing like that in Destiny 2, there was no curiosity, there was nothing to hunt for. With Warmind, that same feeling of curiosity is back with the sleeper nodes and data fragments. These collectibles are not pointless, both sleeper nodes and data fragments are needed for their respective exotic weapon quests. Other items players can hunt for are exotic catalysts for masterworks and resonate stems. Players will be occupied for weeks, and better yet, the rewards are finally worth the effort. I spent a good amount of time finding Data Fragments around Mars and this egg hunt is quite fun and sometimes difficult since they are hidden in unthinkable places. While hunting, I came across other players looking around corners and figured they were doing the same. I got to help out those people by using my emotes are directing them towards the Fragments and I also followed around others to see what they find.
Yet, there still happens to be one problem: the campaign feels short. Since strikes are tied in with the campaign, the story does not get to shine as much as it could. Although these are smaller expansions, having one or two more missions would make an incredible difference and grant more time for storytelling. Perhaps a few cutscenes could do the trick if not another mission. Destiny 2‘s campaign included many cutscenes that explained the situation, and that should have been the same for the DLC. One improvement with the campaign was the boss fight with Xol. It was much more satisfying in comparison to the fight with Panoptes in Curse of Osiris or with Ghaul in Destiny 2. Xol felt like an actual boss fight since his attacks were fatal and the summoning of enemies made things more stressful. In general, Xol was quite scary and this mission is deadly in the Heroic Strikes playlist, especially when all the modifiers go against the guardian.
The Valkyrie comes to the rescue in those scary moments when the clock is almost ending or the health bar is nearly gone. The Valkyrie is reminiscent of the hammer from Rise of Iron. However, the Valkyrie is a weapon forged by Rasputin, just like Sleeper Simulant. Its purpose in the game is more than being a fun weapon to throw around, it is a powerful weapon from the Golden Age where Rasputin’s strength was unmatched. The Valkyrie makes public events easier to handle when playing solo and is, especially, a lifesaver during Escalation Protocol.
The story of Warmind was much more dense and intriguing than Curse of Osiris, mainly due to Ana Bray. Bray’s character is interesting because she knows of her past. When a ghost revives someone to become a guardian, they lose their memories and identity. Bray dug into her family’s history, which guardians are not allowed to do, and discovered her connection to the Golden Age corporation, Clovis Bray. Bray also happens to be the only one that can properly communicate with Rasputin.
She played a significant role in helping guardians defeat Xol, and she is also the vendor on Hellas Basin, Mars. Players were afraid they were introduced to a fantastic new character only to have her not participate in the story. This fear came from Curse of Osiris since guardians played alongside copies of Osiris, and Sagira was the one talking the majority of the time. Players only saw Osiris in the last cutscene, and then he vanished again – it was quite disappointing. This time around, players were given a character that they can interact with after quests, adventures, and missions. It would not be surprising if here role in Destiny 2 grew to be more important in the September expansion.
All things considered, Destiny 2 is not in the best situation with many disappointed fans, but Warmind is a good start, and there is no doubt that improvements have been made. Warmind has definitely brought Destiny 2 back on track and has brought the community closer together like before. During E3, Bungie will showcase the September expansion and hopefully it will make fans excited to learn more about what they have in store. There is no knowing how much longer the Destiny community will be patient to receive a game that they can say is totally worth it.