It was only one year ago that Destiny 2 launched to a great deal of anticipation, not only from die-hard fans but also from skeptics. Would it be able to fix the issues found in the first entry, build upon what worked, and become the epic sci-fi fantasy Bungie clearly wanted it to be? Well, looking back now, the first year of Destiny 2 has sadly not lived up to the hopes many had for it.
That’s why the latest expansion has perhaps more pressure on its shoulders than the base game did. Forsaken needed to not only make up for a game that has turned many off with its lackluster content and less than stellar DLC, but it also needs to reinvigorated the players that have stuck around and give them a clear indication that the future looks good.
While the first Destiny cultivated a strong following, it wasn’t until after its most prominent expansion—The Taken King—arrived a year into the game’s life that the sci-fi shooter finally hit its stride. Oddly enough, Bungie has somehow managed to repeat that same cycle, essentially making Forsaken Destiny 2‘s version of The Taken King. Similar to the last rodeo, not only is the new campaign important to the future of the Destiny series, but it also makes many changes that have been needed since day one.
I’ve already documented my feelings on the opening portion of Forsaken‘s campaign, but now having completed the entire story, it’s undeniable that the death of Cayde-6 has been the best thing to ever happen to the Destiny universe. Bungie’s decision to off its most charismatic Vanguard shot adrenaline into almost every major character. Ikora reveals several times that she has been putting up an emotional wall with everyone, while Zavala finally acknowledges that roaming the galaxy to destroy darkness might not be the best long-term plan. On a meta level, their sudden concern over the future of the Guardians feels as if the developer is promising that it knows things have been stagnant and need to pivot into new territory. This time around, nothing feels more drastically different in the storytelling than the villains that drive the DLC’s plot. Uldren Sov and the Barons are complex antagonists that make the player want to understand their reasons for targeting Cayde. Unlike Ghaul or whatever that giant worm thing was from Warmind, the new baddies have clear motivations and distinct personalities that make every encounter memorable. Without spoiling anything, Uldren’s obsession with following his dead Queen is oddly tragic, while the various Barons transcend the “I’m a Destiny monster” stereotype to feel like real characters you’re hunting down.
As for the new enemy faction, the Scorn, they display a similar uniqueness as the Barons. Sure, the Fallen, Taken, Cabal, and Vex have their different types of minions, but only a handful make the player do something more than just point and shoot to take them out. On the flip side, the variety of Scorn enemies are designed to keep a Guardian on their toes, with some throwing out traps that need to be disarmed and others dashing across the screen to avoid damage. I often found myself dying to hordes of Scorn when doing my typical strategy of running in guns blazing, but once I studied the weaknesses of each enemy, I realized I needed to focus on defeating certain ones first to help splice up the group. Getting a player to focus has been another weak aspect of Destiny 2, so the Scorn’s arrival is welcome and hopefully a sign that more enemies like them will roll out in future expansions.
When it comes to general gunplay, the most significant update easily goes to the weapon slot rework, allowing players to experiment with the guns in their loadouts. Destiny 2 has had a big problem with making the Kinetic weapon slot feel necessary, as most of the effective guns were sanctioned off into the Energy and Power slots. Now that players can have, for example, a pulse rifle and hand cannon at the ready, it’s much more fun to switch between weapons and try out different strategies against enemies. The return of random rolls on guns is also fantastic, as it makes duplicate weapon drops less frustrating and more exciting. Now, even the most powerful Exotics can be improved upon with different perks, and Legendaries that might not have the best Power level could come with mods that are worth implementing into a loadout.
Even the new Supers are a blast to use, with the Hunter Gunslinger’s Way of a Thousand Cuts being my personal favorite. It felt amazing to unload dozens of flaming knives on a group of enemies, especially knowing the more kills I racked up the faster I was able to access my other abilities. I honestly have never had that much fun using a Super before, and will always look back on it as one of my favorite parts of the expansion. Overall, the time to kill in PvP is much better, and clearing out areas in PvE feels snappier, which is a massive improvement on the base game’s original format.
So, you might be thinking that everything sounds great so far, but there is one major aspect of Forsaken that will likely keep many players from returning to Destiny 2, and that’s the Power progression. To make up for the lack of daily content that hardcore players have been clamoring for, Bungie slowed down the process of becoming the most powerful Guardian possible. Most Milestones still drop gear relatively equal to your current Power level, but getting items above it is rare. On paper, this isn’t a terrible way to go, as it will give the players that want to make Destiny 2 a daily activity something to do. However, for the casual player that wants to experience the best of the endgame activities, it’s incredibly frustrating.
By the time players finish Forsaken‘s campaign, they should be right around 500 Power. That may sound like an impressive number, but once the post-campaign patrol zones are made available, it’s clear that 500 is extremely low. To put things into perspective, the Last Wish raid, which is undeniably one of the biggest features of the DLC, has a minimum Power level requirement of 550. It took me three days of play, or roughly 20 hours, to move from 500 Power to 507. If I kept that same pace, I wouldn’t have reached the minimum level for weeks, and even then, I would need at least five other Guardians that put in the same effort to join me in the raid. In the developer’s efforts to extend the life of Forsaken and Destiny 2 as a whole, it has slapped a pair of shackles on the casual player that will make many—such as myself—throw in the towel and leave the game to those that have more than 60 hours a week to devote to it.
This even breaches into the expansion’s other major selling point, Gambit. The PvP and PvE hybrid mode is a refreshing and addictive experience at first, especially considering it’s one of the best sources of receiving more powerful gear. However, once a player reaches their daily and weekly Milestones or Bounties in Gambit, it becomes a waste of time. When there are other activities that can be done over and over each day to earn better gear, and in turn, reach a higher Power level, Gambit ceases to offer any incentive to keep the player interested. Yes, it’s fun to collect Motes and summon enemies on the opposing team’s side, but when the goal of Destiny 2 is to reach the raid and be ready for Crucible ranking, that good time doesn’t pay the bills.
In the end, Forsaken does improve upon what it needed to to make Destiny 2the proper sequel it was always supposed to be. The fact that it took a year, though, is almost unforgivable. It’s even more mind-blowing to know that this is the second time players have given Bungie a year to fix the mistakes of a base game.
For the ones that have held out hope this time, they’ll surely be pleased because of the narrative stakes being raised and the daily grind becoming worthwhile. Of course, that’s only one portion of the community. The other side will undoubtedly need to take a step back and reconsider how important Destiny 2 is to them. Do you sink hundreds of more hours into a game that might not continue to replicate the highs of its latest expansion, or do you move on and wait for Bungie’s third attempt at a new Destiny game? For now, Forsaken is a step up and the game that players should have gotten when Destiny 2 launched, but it’s understandable if that’s too little too late.
While it took longer than it ever should to fix its mistakes, Bungie’s new expansion for Destiny 2, Forsaken, is a massive leap forward. Guardians can finally experience a story that packs an emotional punch and several reworked features that make general gameplay epic. However, it also divides players with its endgame progression, forcing them to choose between becoming a dedicated daily player or someone that can only enjoy a small portion of what it has to offer.
T – Teen
|Destiny 2: Forsaken is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for PlayStation 4. Review code was provided by Activision for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of one to five stars.|