Destiny 2 saw its fair share of criticism during its first year, from its lack of content to the shifting focus of the PvP game modes. It improved through the game’s seasons, updates and expansion, but it’s now with the start of Year Two and Forsaken where it’s really recaptured a whole lot of the grindy fun and long term reward.
It starts with the dramatic, of Cayde-6’s final moments, before flashing back to the events preceding it, where you fight alongside Cayde and Petra Venj to try and secure the Prison of Elders during a riot. Little known to them, it’s actually Uldren Sov and a cohort of Barons, some of the most notorious and powerful prisoners, which make good their escape into the Reef despite your best efforts. It’s all too little too late when you get to Cayde making his last stand.
The game truly begins when your character vows to kill Uldren, speaking for the first time in three years, making this revenge story just that little bit more personal. It puts you on the trail of these the Barons across the new Tangled Shore location, as we see Sov in cutscenes communicating with his deceased sister, Mara Sov, the Queen of the Reef. What’s great about the Baron Hunt missions is that these individual boss fights appear as Adventure missions around the Tangled Shore, helping you to explore this new area with relatively lengthy and individual battles. You’ll be taking on a Pike-riding Baron, the Rifleman sniper, a mad bomber and several more, each with a different twist.
The Tangled Shore is also where you obtain the new abilities for each character subclass, adding to the existing supers from the base game. I’d go through all nine supers, but my favourite of these is probably the Hunter’s new Blade Barrage for its super subclass, where you throw multiple knives at enemies to insta-kill them – it’s also very good bosses in general. The other cool abilities for other classes include the Thundercrash for the titan, which is basically Fist of Havoc from the original destiny, but with a bit more control, while one of the new Warlock abilities is more of a support super, granting a healing and attack buff to all players, which is particularly useful for raids and fire team challenges. The new Arc Strider super for the Hunter is less imaginative, simply adding a deflect button that can repel incoming attacks. It’s a bit of a let down compared to others, but I did manage to take a boss attack in the new raid and clutch a completion for the phase, so everything has its place.
One thing making a return in Forsaken is that armour pieces and weapons now come with randomised perks, excluding exotics. This can help shuffle the gameplay and allow players to create a perfect loadout for their character, much like you could in the original Destiny, and is welcomed addition to add longevity to the quest for the perfect character build. There are obviously new exotics introduced and some returning ones like the Queenbreakers and Lord of Wolves, but some of the newer weapons are interesting. One of my favourites is the Two-Tailed Fox rocket launcher, which fires two rockets of different elements. The armour is great too, but I feel like some of the best exotic armour pieces came out last year.
Upon exploring every public area, old and new, you’ll notice each vendor sets daily and weekly bounties to complete, which help players earn materials and gear in order to level up. The game’s light level cap is now 600 Light and the first mission of this expansion begins at 330, so there is a fair bit of levelling to do, even when you consider the accelerated early progress to get you to 500 Light. This is more than welcome as there’s lots to find and do in the two new patrol areas in the expansion.
The Dreaming City is the new post-game area full of even more secrets for players to discover as they travel between different realms, there is a lot of interesting lore in this area that is worth digging into and it really feels like a post-game area with a higher difficulty than you’ll find elsewhere and enemies that are still overpowered at this point.
It’s a location that will change and evolve over time, with the first evolutions coming after the first Raid completions and some dramatic shifts with the weekly reset. The Last Wish raid is something worth savouring (and not spoiling), but the gist is that you’re working to free the Awoken that have been Taken in the Dreaming City, as well as free Riven, the last of the Ahamkara – a mythical wish granter that supposedly gave the gods in the game their own power. The raid has five phases and features more bosses than ever before, filled with puzzles where you fireteam members have to memorise symbols and activate the corresponding plates around a room, chasing a killing a boss as you’re progressing through another area and much more. One thing that’s obvious, is how gorgeous the raid is and how well thought out each section is, making it a real treat once more.
There’s also three new strikes and Forsaken tries its best to make each boss feel significantly different as you work your way through these larger levels. One of these Strikes will have the player going through an underground train system, another is a throwback to the Prison of Elders game mode from the original Destiny and more. The strikes feel a bit more fleshed out, which is nice when playing with a team, but can feel a bit of a chore when playing. What’s interesting though, is that another one of these Strikes unlocked after the first Forsaken raid completion, which again involves freeing an Awoken that has been been Taken.
Tucked away in a corner of the Tower is a shady new character called The Drifter who explains a new mixed PvE and PvP competitive mode called Gambit. Two teams of four compete against each other by trying to bank motes collected from enemies. 75 need to be collected by a team before they can summon a primeval boss. The idea is to kill the boss before the other team to win the round. What’s interesting about this game mode is that a player from your team can jump through a portal to invade and sabotage the opposite team. It’s a lot of fun with a competent team and if you’re good at communicating. Gambit is probably the easiest to rank up and is also an easy way to level up due to the reward engrams you earn from ranking up.
The more regular Crucible game modes feature much of the same classic gameplay we enjoyed in the original Destiny. 6v6 has been made into a permanent game mode, and the pre-expansion weapon class shuffle gives players more versatility when selecting their loadout. What’s probably the most interesting thing in Crucible, outside of the renewed viability of shotguns, is seeing the weapons with random perks come into play. Other than that, there have been a few modifications to the way you capture zones in Control, as they now lock for 15 seconds before resetting entirely when you capture all three zones now. Sadly there are very few new maps, but Bungie promises that these are coming in future.
The yearly chase for Triumphs has been turned into a way of reintroducing the lore collection system, revealing extra snippets of stories from passing characters and items that you find in the game. Some of these triumph’s unlock things like emblems and shaders, which plays well with another feature introduced in this game, where the player is able to pull out any weapon they acquired in Destiny 2 without even having to go to the vault in the game’s social spaces. This makes it easier to switch to exotics that have a one purpose for specific sections in the Raid, or to just pull out old legendaries that you want to give a quick run out.
Bungie has done an excellent job in, not just creating enough content for the game’s fourth season and start of the second year, but in reviving a game that stuttered after its initial launch. Whether you’re glued to PvE or PvP, Forsaken caters for both players even with its fun and unique new Gambit mode and range of bounties across all current and previously introduced areas. The one problem I’ve found is that while the content is great, it can be a bit too grindy on the road to the Raid level requirement. That being said, we all wanted more content and got just that. If you’re unsure about this game, don’t be: Forsaken is the best that Destiny 2 has ever been.
Tested on: PlayStation 4 Pro – Also available on Xbox One & PC