Destiny 2: The Journey So Far

Since its launch in the fall of 2017, Destiny 2 has led an interesting life that it turns out is going to extend far beyond that of its predecessor. A couple of weeks ago, Bungie revealed their long-term plans for Destiny 2, announcing major expansions for the game going all the way into 2022 at the very least. Instead of being on its way out, Destiny 2 may indeed only be halfway through its lifespan. With that in mind, perhaps now is a good time to look back and see how the game has grown since its dismal launch week.

Even before launch, Destiny 2 was in a rocky place. With the original Destiny still arguably in its prime, many players were reluctant to watch all of their hard-earned gear and progress get burned up in the fires of the sequel’s launch. Fans had been with Destiny for three years at that point. They’d learned the game inside and out, conquered its greatest challenges, made memories and gathered a hoard of magical space loot. Destiny had become a virtual home for many guardians, and the time to say goodbye was soon approaching. All knew it was inevitable of course, but welcoming the sequel still wasn’t going to be easy. Even so, all would be well if Destiny 2 at least built on all the progress Bungie had made over the past three years. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened.

When Destiny 2 launched, it was arguably a shell of the original. Sure the story was a little more cinematic, but much of what had made Destiny fun and compelling was now strangely absent. Customizable class builds were gone, replaced by ones pre-made by Bungie. Randomly-rolled loot was gone too; now all one had to do was get a gun once and that was it. No more chasing godrolls. Supers were toned-down and put on an excessively long timer; the other abilities were too. There was “more” to do in the hub-worlds too, but it all somehow came-off as even more shallow than the activities available in the original. Throw an over-emphasized Eververse and a merely “okay” raid (with disappointing loot) on top of that and the recipe for a disastrous launch period is complete.

The following months also weren’t kind to Destiny 2 and its fans. First, fans starved for meaningful content wound up being sorely disappointed with Curse of Osiris thanks to lackluster rewards and the reality of what the “Infinite Forest” actually was: a technologically-impressive loading zone. It sounded cool on paper and was a technological achievement on the part of Bungie, but it unfortunately didn’t amount to much in terms of gameplay.

Next, Warmind released to a subdued reception. It was more content-rich than Curse of Osiris thanks to an interesting player-triggered public event and actually decent guns to grind for, but it wasn’t the saving throw both fans and developer were hoping for. Adding to the problem was the eventual shelving of the Trials of the Nine PvP mode, leaving Crucible enthusiasts with no end-game content to chew on. Since launch, Destiny 2 had been on a nonstop downward trend, and it looked like the game was doomed to die a quiet death as players left for newer multiplayer games. Thankfully, that’s not what happened.

On September 4, 2018, Bungie released Forsaken, the first major expansion for Destiny 2. From this moment onward, the game changed for the better. Just as The Taken King saved the original Destiny, it’s likely that Forsaken saved Destiny 2. With its launch, many of the inherent problems were done away with. New sub-classes were introduced with new Supers, ability recharge times were tuned to align more closely with how they were in Destiny 1 and Randomly rolled loot was back with even more ways to earn it. On top of all this, Two new locations were added, there were more secrets similar to the excellent “The Whisper ” secret exotic quest from Warmind tucked away for players to find, and it was all capped-off with “Last Wish,” one of the best raids in the series to date. With Forsaken, Destiny was finally back, and many fans were feeling happy.

Destiny 2 has been on a more or less upward trend since then. The game’s been getting better and players have more ways to enjoy their time in the game now than ever before. This isn’t to say that there haven’t been problems of course. Bungie has put a lot of effort into delivering continuous, seasonal content since the launch of Forsaken, and that content has run the gamut from bad to actually pretty good. Perhaps “bad” is actually too strong of a word to use regarding any of this content. Instead, it’s probably better to say that Destiny 2’s seasonal offerings were underwhelming at worst.

The prime example that comes to mind is The Black Armory from the “Season of the Forge.” This was something built up as offering players a special kind of new weapon to chase via a new kind of public event. Both of these claims were true, but unfortunately the forge events wound up being overly grindy (and poorly balanced at first), and the weapons largely weren’t worth the effort. Successive seasons have had similar struggles, but not to the same degree and were largely successful.

The Seasons of the Drifter and Opulence added new modes such as the Reckoning and the Menagerie, gave lore-fiends interesting stories to chase, and re-introduced fan-favorite exotic weapons like Outbreak Prime, Bad Juju and The Truth. If it hadn’t been for the broken mess that was “The Revelry” event, these two seasons likely would have gone-off without much issue outside of the usual power and weapon balancing.

Destiny 2’s fourth expansion, Shadowkeep, and its most recent seasons have kept the positive momentum going. With the release of Shadowkeep, Guardians got to return to The Moon to take on nightmarish versions of many defeated foes. The main content additions also included two new strikes, one new Crucible map, two new-ish Crucible Maps and the “Garden of Salvation” raid. Shadowkeep also brought with it the reorganization of the Crucible and the launch of “Armor 2.0.”

“Armor 2.0” is perhaps the biggest foundational update that Destiny 2 has seen since Forsaken, as it both reintroduced the old stats from Destiny 1 and gave players a means to craft their own character builds via mods and randomly-rolled stats. Following this, Season of the Worthy hosted the return of every Crucible fanatic’s favorite mode: Trials of Osiris. There are still balancing issues and such to iron out of course, but at this moment it’s probably safe to say that Destiny 2 has finally surpassed its predecessor in just about every meaningful way. It’s still a different game of course, but that difference is no longer a bad thing.

Destiny 2 is now in the midst of the Season of Arrivals, which as itself brought a new dungeon and public event to the game along with near weapons and gear to chase. So far it’s looking like a decent seasonal update and will likely serve as a good prologue to the major expansion, Beyond Light, coming this fall. Bungie has promised great content coming with Beyond Light (including the return of Hawkmoon!) as well as the “vaulting” of locations like Mars and Mercury. Seeing previous paid content get “vaulted” is concerning, but it should be fine so long as it comes back from time to time as has been promised. That issue aside though, the future is once again looking bright for Destiny 2. Let’s hope it stays that way.