Destiny 2 is a strange game. Obviously it was hugely anticipated by fans of the first game, and Bungie gave their all to streamline the experience. What we ended up with was a game that addressed a lot of the complaints that the original faced, with a much more engaging open world and a more compelling central story – if not particularly groundbreaking – but one which eventually left long term fans thinking, “Is that it? What do I do now?”
Curse of Osiris, the game’s first expansion pack, has released at a critical point for the game. It’s been three months since launch, Bungie have faced some of the stinging criticisms, and even found themselves mired in a bizarre experience reduction scandal. It’s become clear that, while the reasons are very different to the original, Destiny 2 is in need of improvement to keep its players engaged and coming back week in, week out. Curse of Osiris itself is a relatively brief jaunt, but does just enough to tide people over to more meaningful improvements in the new year.
The new story takes players to Mercury in earnest, expanding greatly on the reward location that appeared for those that completed a Trials of Osiris passage in the original game. While the Cabal might have been tearing the planet apart as fuel for their doomsday machine, the Vex have been busily working underneath the surface creating a reality simulating machine, just as they always do. It’s a threat that’s large enough for the fabled Osiris to come out of exile and contact Ikora Rey, who sends her most trusted Guardian to investigate.
Naturally you head to Mercury and delve into the Infinite Forest, seeking to find a way to stop Panoptes, the Infinite Mind, and rescue Osiris, who’s found himself at a bit of a sticky wicket. However, in typical fashion, you’ll be bouncing around the existing locations as well, returning to familiar mission locations given a new twist and refilled with enemies. The expansion feels small as a consequence, especially because the Mercury region is diminutive and the amount of times you’ll be running through triangular tunnels and across sections of Vex architecture that spawn in dynamically as you get near and open up gates. While it has you ostensibly interrupting Vex simulations, jumping backward and forward in time, it really doesn’t make the most of the concept and feels rather one note.
It also feels as though Osiris is underused as a character. Instead of him chatting to you during missions, you’re actually accompanied by his ghost Sakira, and while she’s a good companion, it’s not the same thing. You do see the fruits of his labour, but only get glimpses of his awesome might as one of, if not the most powerful Warlock. It’s always been a disappointment for me that notable characters such as Osiris or Ikora never truly accompany you on missions, restricted instead to fleeting moments of spectacle instead.
What the expansion does do much better is transition you from the story to the end game content of Mercury’s Adventure missions. These littered the main game, but offer little real incentive, while here completing them is the first step on the path to new weapons. Complete them, then complete their Heroic versions and you’ll earn Prophecy Tablets which then send you off to grind certain events and activities for materials.
That repetitious nature then rears its head once more in the two new strikes, both of which reuse missions from the expansion’s story and redress them to better suit fireteams of three. Forget what I said about the expansion not making the most of the Vex Simulation theme, perhaps we’ve been stuck inside the Infinite Forest this entire time? At the very least, they’re thrown into the mix for the Strike playlist, and there’s a renewed incentive to play these with the Heroic Strikes increasing the difficulty and boosting the rewards.
In the wider game, we’re yet to really see the changes that Bungie have promised for the end game. You’re quick to hit the new player level cap of 25, and then there’s the familiar grind to level up your gear and hit Light 335, exacerbated by the way that having access to armour mods mean that engrams will typically drop 8 to 10 points lower than your light level, dragging out the upgrade process further. This week will see a second update, coming out tomorrow on 12th December, to add things like the Masterworks weapons with the return of randomised rolls for stats, Three of Coins to boost Exotic engram drop rates, and so on.
As is so often the case, the Raid is the best and potentially most enduring aspect of the game, but the difference here is that Eater of Worlds has been dubbed a Raid Lair. Bungie learnt the hard way that creating a compelling new Raid takes a long, long time, and considering that this expansion is out so soon after the main game, the Raid Lair is a way for them to bring something a little more bitesized to players. Limiting its scope means it can still having enough polish to challenge and should scratch the itch for those wanting a new Raid.
It’s actually really enjoyable with a little bit of everything in the mix. There’s an obligatory jumping puzzle – don’t worry, it’s not too bad – and a nice battle before Calus withdraws his forces and sends you into a Vex lair deep within the Leviathan. It’s something completely different to the main Leviathan raid, and there’s the usual joy of figuring out the puzzle of how to divide your fire team of six and what you need to do in order to succeed.
Curse of Osiris won’t be viewed as the best expansion Destiny has ever seen, but its release will hopefully mark a turning point for the game as a whole. While the added content is nice to help bring people back into the fold, more important are the changes to add more reasons to keep on playing the game beyond this short story. There’s still work to be done, but this is a start.