Destiny 2‘s beta kicked off this week, giving Guardians our first taste of what the highly anticipated sequel entails. In short? More of the same. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. And the fact that Destiny 2 feels like another expansion rather than a full-blown sequel isn’t necessarily Bungie’s fault.
We can all admit that Destiny was a bit of a disappointment when it first released in 2014. But over the years, through the release of expansions and DLC, it slowly morphed into the game that Bungie had originally promised it would be. It still wasn’t perfect when Destiny 2 was announced, but it had come a long way.
Now we find ourselves on the verge of the release of Destiny 2 — a full-fledged sequel with the promise that Bungie had learned from their past mistakes. And for the most part, it appears they have; however, having spent some time with the beta, Destiny 2 doesn’t feel like that it takes the leap that you’d hope from a blockbuster sequel. It’s not entirely Bungie’s fault though, and here’s why.
It’s starts with an underwhelming Vanilla Destiny
As I mentioned, Destiny at launch (aka Vanilla Destiny or Destiny 1.0) was underwhelming, to say the least. While the gunplay and mechanics were praised by just about everyone, some of Bungie’s design choices were seriously questioned. A lackluster story in-game, the use of Grimoire cards, a narrow universe, were just a few of the problems that plagued Vanilla Destiny.
Slow Improvements through DLC and Expansions
While it was easy to call Destiny a flop from a fan point of view, its gameplay is what carried it during those initial months. Simply put, it has some of the cleanest mechanics and smoothest gunplay for a console first-person shooter. It just felt good to play, despite all the other flaws. As an RPG or MMO, Vanilla Destiny was disappointing. But as a first-person shooter? It was fun as hell.
To Bungie’s credit, they listened to the community and taking feedback into account, they improved upon Destiny through the release of expansions and DLC. The Dark Below, House of Wolves, each improved upon the core game all leading up to The Taken King — the holy grail of expansions.
The Taken King, aka Destiny 1.5
The Taken King is when Destiny truly shined and became the game originally promised. Again, it wasn’t perfect, but it at least showed Bungie was listening. The massive expansions brought a ton of changes and new additions to game. It brought more story and cinematics, new activities and challenges, and changed the core gameplay of Destiny. For many it felt like more of a sequel! It was even marketed and sold as if it were an entirely new game.
This was the pinnacle of Destiny and essentially completed the years-long journey for Bungie to deliver on the vision they had originally promised.
Destiny 2 feels like another expansion
With The Taken King, Destiny became the game that Bungie had set forth on creating. But in doing so, it posed a very difficult challenge: how do you improve upon it?
The unfortunate answer is, you really can’t. Sure, you can add more story (they did) and make tweaks (they did, with PvP and gameplay balance). Largely though, Destiny 2 feels like a slight step up from The Taken King.
Based on the beta, which admittedly is just a morsel of what we’ll get when Destiny 2 officially releases, there’s not much difference in the overall approach to the franchise. The most noticable difference that I’ve seen is just a prettier and more immersive environment (and of course, an emphasis on cinematic moments).
While lack of story was undoubtedly vanilla Destiny’s biggest critique, is simply adding one now and polishing the graphics really enough? Destiny 2 is a victim of its predecessors. It’s hard to improve upon already-stellar mechanics. Do the rest of the improvements warrant a full-fledged sequel?
I’ll admit, I had a blast playing the “Homecoming” mission. If every Strike mission is as intricately designed as the Inverted Spire, that’ll be fantastic. I was pleasantly surprised with PvP’s switch to 4v4.
I like everything I’ve experienced so far in Destiny 2. It legit feels like a half-step up from The Taken King, which I guess if we’re getting technical makes it a full-fledged sequel to vanilla Destiny. But it doesn’t do a whole lot different. It’s more of the same, but pretty and more finely-tuned and polished.
That’s not a bad thing, but it feels like a lot of what’s in Destiny 2 could have been delivered via another expansion.