Put yesterday’s Forsaken expansion reveal to one side for a second and brace yourself for a highly topical and timely opinion: Destiny 2’s Warmind expansion is actually pretty good. No, it’s not really the dramatic overhaul that it has needed since day one – I’m excited to have a shotgun as my secondary again – but the most important thing for Bungie is that I’m playing it again. I’m thinking about playing it in my free time, I’m looking forward to the weekly reset so that I can tick off my activities and advance my character, and I’m building up toward a tilt at the new Raid Lair. Destiny is back… kind of.
Warmind didn’t leave a good first impression though. It’s about as run of the mill as they come, with only a handful of story missions, samey enemies, so-so characterisation, and Bungie squandering the potential that exploring the motivations and growth of the titular AI Warmind Rasputin. The problem is that we’ve seen all of this before, and you just know that we’ll see all of this again.
This expansion takes players back to Mars, where we’ve already been in the first game, and down into the scientific complex that houses the Warmind, which is full of architecture that we’ve already seen countless times. Then we’re facing off against the Hive, but this time they’re, wait for it, frozen Hive. There’s one or two new enemies, like a Knight that has a sword and ice shield and a new type of sniper that has the exact same charge up and fire mechanic as literally every other sniper in the game but with even fewer interesting quirks.
It is, to put it plainly, a bit dull. That’s OK, though. Destiny is a game series that’s been a bit dull from day one and thrived despite, or perhaps because of it. There was the endless resource farming on Patrol, there were the Strikes that would repeat time and again, there were the bosses that you effectively had to cheese, and all of this was in aid of incrementally improving your character so that you could enjoy and savour the highs that the game could offer. That grind was missing from Destiny 2’s endgame, but Warmind brings it back with the gear drops soft-locking to 340 Power, and then leaning on the ‘powerful rewards’ to bump your character up step by step to reach something approaching the 370 Power that’s recommended for the new Raid Lair.
Thankfully, nothing has been left behind this time. All of the previous activities that could reward you with powerful rewards remain the same with nothing being depreciated. In fact, some of these are now almost insultingly easy, but that’s fine because they feed your character’s growth toward the new high at such a slow and steady pace across several weeks. The Nightfall Strike, once a fearsome challenge, is now at 270 Power, making it amusingly easy to complete, there’s completing a handful of Public Events, the Leviathan Raid, the first Raid Lair, playing Crucible, and on and on. You can still quite easily run out of things to do in a given week, but it will come after a good few hours of play and needing to run the Raids for two sets of rewards.
There’s also the multi-step quests that eventually lead to some of the new and returning exotic weapons, which tap into various activities including the new open world endgame event. Escalation Protocol is a temporary curio, I feel, but another activity to aspire to taking on and beating. Just as you start digging into Warmind’s story, you might see players triggering it, causing veritable hordes of high level Hive to spawn in that you can barely even scratch. Level up and it suddenly becomes more relevant as you can actually contribute, clear a few waves and eventually try to beat it. You still need a healthy dose of luck and other players willing to take part (it’s best to bring a fireteam of your own and wait for the location to fill up).
Following the Go Fast update in March, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I’m now enjoying the Crucible as well. After the recent Iron Banner, I still feel that 6v6 is a more natural size of multiplayer match than 4v4, but even there the pace has improved, the action feels more fluid, I feel more powerful, and I’m enjoying myself. Certainly, a lot of that will be down to having found a few weapons that I can be competitive with in this particular meta, but I never felt at home before.
Yet this is still just a single step on a path to recovery for Bungie. Warmind shows that the company got the balance wrong when designing the base game, catering too heavily to the more casual players and not planning enough for those that would remain through the rest of the year. Forsaken is where the big changes are happening and, with any luck, it will have as big and lasting an impact on Destiny 2 as The Taken King did for the first game. They’re making a lot of the right noises about the game’s future, but, in the here and now, I’m back to killing time in Destiny 2 thanks to Warmind.