Destiny 2: Forsaken Review

The hobby is back

Ever since the release of Destiny 2: Forsaken on September 4, there’s only been one thing I want to do day in and day out: play Destiny. That’s not a feeling I’ve had since the release of Destiny: The Taken King back in September of 2015. Sure, I’ve played plenty of Destiny in the three years since, including plenty at the release of Destiny 2 last year, but there’s a different feeling in the air this time around.

When Destiny 2 was first released in September of last year, we were all ecstatic to have new Destiny content to sink our teeth into. It felt fresh. It felt new. It felt good….until it didn’t. Once the endgame content dried up and the PvP got stale, there was nothing left to play for. As such, I stopped playing the game about a month and a half after release. I came back here and there to try out whatever minor changes Bungie had implemented, but never more than a couple hours here and there.

With Forsaken, though, Bungie has truly brought the grind back and it feels better than ever.

One of the first things you can see when launching Forsaken is the Collections and Triumphs tabs on your character screen. These are features that were inexplicably not brought over to Destiny 2 on launch. Collections show you every single weapon, piece of armor, emblem, ghost, ship, and sparrow, along with where you can find them out in the world. Triumphs are achievements of sorts that cover everything from unlocking every subclass to doing campaign missions to doing different feats in Crucible and Gambit. Basically, Collections and Triumphs give you something to do outside of just doing the campaign or doing your daily bounties. You could spend hundreds of hours going through and trying to complete your Collection and claim all your Triumphs.

This is all before you even get into the meat and potatoes of expansion itself.

Speaking of which, the campaign of Forsaken was incredible. After getting a pair of weak campaigns with Curse of Osiris and Warmind, Forsaken was like a shot of adrenaline in terms of the kind of storytelling that Bungie can muster. We knew from the E3 cinematic that Cayde-6 was going to die, but the manner in which the story unfolds is just so damn good.

What Bungie has done with the combination of the campaign, the Dreaming City (an endgame location unlocked after you beat the main story), and the raid have been nothing short of a masterclass in building a cohesive world.

Perhaps the best part about the story is that it doesn’t involve story mission after story mission like we’ve become accustomed to. Instead, the vast majority of the campaign plays out over a series of Adventures that eventually culminate in a few huge story missions at the end of the campaign. The story also feeds right into the raid, Last Wish, that was released this past Friday.

What Bungie has done with the combination of the campaign, the Dreaming City (an endgame location unlocked after you beat the main story), and the raid have been nothing short of a masterclass in building a cohesive world.

Once you make your way into the Dreaming City, which also doubles as the location where the raid takes place, you are met with easily the best-looking location Bungie has ever made. It’s downright gorgeous. It’s also a living, breathing world that changes based on the actions we take in the game.

After the first team took down Riven, the final boss of the raid, in the early morning hours on Saturday, a staggering 18 hours and 48 minutes after the raid went live Friday morning, every player was met with a stunning cutscene upon entering the Dreaming City. The scene detailed how Riven was slain by a brave team of six guardians and then told us that things had changed in the Dreaming City. When walking around, the air looks different and all the NPCs act a little bit different. Bungie has said that the Dreaming City will change every few weeks, so it’ll be interesting to see what the next change will bring.

The raid itself is another beast worth mentioning. I haven’t even attempted it yet; despite all the hours I’ve put into the game, I’m nowhere near geared up enough to do much of anything. But I watched multiple teams during their attempts throughout the day on Friday and into the wee hours of Saturday. I didn’t get to see the final clears since it was first beaten around 4 or 5 am my time, but I saw enough of the raid to confidently say that it’s quite possibly the best raid they’ve ever made. I’m hesitant to say it’s the best since I haven’t played and it honestly looks stupidly difficult and complex. But it’s beautiful and has some interesting mechanics that recall back to my days of raiding in World of Warcraft. So kudos to Bungie for really knocking things out of the park with this raid. I hope to one day actually be able to beat it!

Outside of all the story elements, Forsaken is quite simply the best product that Bungie has ever put out.

The weapon system is fantastic. With the host of changes put in place now, Crucible once again feels fun. Especially once I got my hands on the Ace of Spades hand cannon and a bow. The AoS is the best feeling hand cannon since the Holy Trinity of Thorn, Hawkmoon, and The Last Word from the original game. If you haven’t finished the quest for it yet, do yourself a favor and do so because the gun is crispy.

And then there are bows. I remember hearing from people that played them in the E3 build and they felt so great and all that. But I just wasn’t sold on them. I had one in my inventory at E3, but I chose not even try it. Boy, was that a bad idea. The minute I got one in the campaign, I was in love. Any bow is just incredibly satisfying to use and I’m glad that they’re in the game.

Then there are the locations. I already talked about the Dreaming City, but that wasn’t the only new area that Bungie introduced with Forsaken. Tangled Shores is the first new location you travel to and where most of the campaign takes place. Not only is it gigantic, but it’s home to two brand-new public events that give more variety to the game as you’re leveling up your character and doing bounties.

The addition of WANTED bounties, something we haven’t seen at all since the launch of Destiny 2, have also brought some new variety to the locations we’ve grown familiar with over the last year. You buy the bounties from The Spider, a new NPC in the Tangled Shore and then go find the bad dudes to kill them and reap the rewards.

Those rewards are another thing that keeps sucking me back in with this new expansion. Not only is there plenty of new weapons to acquire, but they all have random rolls, which makes every single drop unique. No more automatically dismantling a duplicate gun or armor piece since this new one might have better perks on it than the other. It’s just another area in the game where everything feels new and there is more to do.

Now, with all that good, there has to be a little bit of bad, right? I mean, this is Destiny that we’re talking about after all. So it can’t all be rainbows and roses. Well, dear reader, you’re completely right. The couple problems that I have with the game, however, are ones that are easily fixed and not game-breaking in the least bit.

The first deals with the infusion economy. As a primer for the uninitiated, infusion involves sacrificing one piece of gear to make another stronger. For example, you really love the Sleeper Stimulant but its light level (I’m aware that it’s called “power level” now, but as a Destiny diehard, I refuse to change my vocabulary in this area) is a little low. But then an Edge Transit drops at a much higher level. You can infuse the Sleeper with the Edge Transit and it’ll be brought up to that higher power level. It’s a system that is essential to the game since you won’t always find the weapons you want at the light level you want, so this method helps bridge the gap.

Infusion used to only cost some glimmer and legendary shards (which come from dismantling unwanted gear). With the launch of Forsaken, though, it now also costs planetary materials and Masterwork cores. The planetary materials part is fine since finding them throughout the world is fairly easy to do. The problem lies with the Masterwork component. These are incredibly rare since they usually only drop when you dismantle a Masterwork version of a weapon. I’ve played this game for 80 hours and I have not gotten a single Masterwork weapon. As such, getting the cores is a pain in the ass. You can either buy them at a pretty steep price or wait for them to randomly (at a very, very low percentage) drop when sharding gear. In short, this is a bit of a problem since it means you aren’t able to readily infuse gear when you need to. Either the Masterwork cores need to be taken out of the infusion recipes (which is what I think they should do) or they need to make them drop at a higher rate.

The other problem isn’t as prevalent to your enjoyment of the game as a whole. It does, however, affect your enjoyment of the new game mode, Gambit. This PvEvP mode pits two teams of four against each other in a race to kill a boss enemy called a Primeval. As you race to summon the Primeval, you can invade the opponent’s side of the map and pick up kills to give your team an advantage. It’s an incredibly fun game mode that is having the fun sucked out of it by a single weapon.

Sleeper Stimulant.

This exotic linear fusion rifle is very strong. So strong, in fact, that it can quite literally kill anyone. Your super is active? It can one-shot you. Have an overshield from invading the enemy team? It can one-shot you. Hiding behind a rock and just have a toe in line-of-sight? It can one-shot you. Whereas most weapons require headshots to one-shot anyone, the Sleeper only requires a bodyshot. Did I mention that it also has ridiculous aim assist that makes it so that you can land shots with an about 99% accuracy if the enemy so much as even crosses your field of view? Yeah, it’s just a little strong.

It’s come to the point where it’s pretty much a must-have weapon in Gambit. It’s also a weapon that everyone can acquire by simply doing a questline, meaning that it’s not even a rare exotic. The prevalence of the weapon has led Bungie to let fans know that they have heard the cries and are working on a fix.

It’s a delicate situation since the gun is one of the best PvE weapons, too, so you don’t want to simply nerf it into the ground. Something simply needs to be done with either the ammo economy in Gambit to limit the guns use or the way damage is done to other Guardians.

The simple fact that Bungie has even spoken out on this issue at all is newsworthy in and of itself. Throughout the first year of the game’s release, Bungie would frequently go months without saying a word about issues like this. That they’re already looking into something like this just a couple weeks into the life cycle of Forsaken is a very good sign for the longevity of this game.

So there you have it. Bungie has done the unthinkable and brought this game back from the dead with the best expansion in the franchise’s history. They’ve brought the hobby back and given fans a worthwhile piece of content that they can really sink their teeth into. Not since the release of The Taken King back in 2015 has Destiny felt this good. Yet here we are, folks.

Destiny is back.