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A spirit that is not afraid

Games on The Plains: 'Destiny 2' delivers

The first “Destiny,” or “D1,” came out in 2014 after tons of speculation considering what potential it had to change the shooter genre. Activision giving Bungie, the developers of the “Halo” series, creative freedom to make a first person shooter MMO seemed like a match made in heaven.

Many people caught up in that hype, myself included, were disappointed with the results.

Sure, the actual shooting gameplay was fantastic and reminiscent of Bungie’s classics like “Halo 3,” but that was about the only good thing about vanilla “Destiny.” The story was an uninteresting, confusing mess, the mission structure was forgettable and repetitive and the strikes/raids revolved around focusing fire on bullet-sponge bosses, running for ammo, rinsing and repeating until complete.

Although I had some good times playing with friends, it just wasn’t a good game.

Then came the paid expansions, which admittedly made the game better. Revisiting the game after major DLC, “The Taken King” provided some interesting changes to the “Destiny” formula, and added story elements that kept me around for a bit. But by that point the player base was small and it seemed like too little, too late. It was a shame because the foundation of the game was solid, and the world Bungie had created had so much potential; there were just too many problems to keep the game in players’ consoles.

It seemed like Bungie realized this because “Destiny 2” took that foundation and created something great this time around. Like the difference in quality between the first and second “Titanfall” games, “Destiny” felt like a beta to the completed, fleshed out “Destiny 2.”

Players start out by creating a custom character or continuing as their highest level character from “D1.” I have to admit, although the first game wasn’t great, seeing my Exo Titan brought back an embarrassing amount of nostalgia.

The classes are the same as the first game: Titan, Warlock and Hunter. Titans focus on defense and brute force, Warlocks focus more on team healing and self-preservation and Hunters are stealthy, high-damage dealers. Each class has access to three subclasses that take notes from the first game while adding some new elements including an entire new ability mapped on the circle/b button. While re-using the same subclasses could seem a bit lazy, the new abilities add enough to make any class you choose feel like a badass.

The story follows the events of “D1” and introduces a new enemy called Dominus Gaul. He’s a big, generic baddie that wants to take the power from the Guardians to use for himself. It hits a lot of the same notes as a “Halo” campaign, and while it doesn’t do anything mind-blowing, the fact that there is an understandable reason for players to do what they do makes the game feel whole.

I wish that the writers spent a little more time on the main characters, though. Gaul is great, but the members of the vanguard that “D1” veterans will remember as those guys who stood around a table and gave them stuff don’t do much in the way of developing themselves as characters. They each have questlines related to them, though, which is cool because it puts personalities behind the NPC’s of “D1.”

Unfortunately, these personalities are largely flat — the slight exception being Cayde-6, voiced by Nathan Fillion — and are ultimately there to give your character someone to complete missions for. This is just a minor gripe as the fact that there is a beginning, middle and end to the story at all is leaps and bounds ahead of the first game.

When you’re done with the story and it’s time to do side missions, strikes and player versus player content to get ready for the endgame raids, one of the best things “Destiny 2” does is never make these activities feel like a grind.

The four massive, open-world locations you visit throughout the story offer a myriad of bigger side quests called adventures, which consist of random public events that happen every few minutes, quests to complete for specific weapons, smaller patrol missions, mini dungeons called lost sectors and seemingly unlimited things to stumble across; all while playing with possibly the best shooting/traversal console FPSs have to offer.

The adventures act as even more story for the player to experience as they’re fully voiced and feature multiple steps before completion. During the adventures you’ll go to places you never set foot in during the main game, a very welcome addition when considering “D1” re-used locations for everything you did.

Public events feel more involved too. Instead of showing up to an area, clearing out enemies and grabbing their loot, events can now be turned heroic, which ups the ante with harder challenges and varied mechanics, subsequently dropping better loot for everyone involved.

Strikes, the dungeons of “Destiny 2,” follow the formula put forth in “The Taken King.” Fireteams of three are tasked with pushing through waves of enemies, coming across multiple mini-bosses until finally challenging the exciting endboss for a big reward. The weekly “Nightfall” strike puts a timer on these events and increases the enemy difficulty, giving players something to come back to every week.

As for the loot itself — and there’s a lot of it — “Destiny 2” gives the player a lot of quality of life improvements that the first game desperately needed. Guns and armor no longer have to be leveled up in an infuriatingly obtuse way, and can now be modded and shaded to the player’s own taste.

PvP content is much of the same as the first game, but now the fights are 4v4 instead of 6v6. It’s more accessible to new players and still a ton of fun, but the lower player count can, in my opinion, take away from the hectic, always-on-your-toes action from the first game. Luckily, this is just another minor gripe that I’m sure can be tweaked if enough players show interest.

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Whether you played the first “Destiny” or never even touched the series, “Destiny 2” has something for every FPS fan. It should definitely be your next purchase.

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