Coming out of the big Destiny 2 reveal event the question that I see the most online is, ‘is Destiny 2 a true sequel or just expensive DLC?’ It’s a fair question, and an important one for those who are looking to buy the game when it hits PS4 an Xbox One on September 8th, with PC coming later. So, let’s break it down a little based on what we know so far.
There were a lot of things about the Destiny 2 reveal that felt off. The game doesn’t look like a major revamp in almost any way. In fact, if you queued up gameplay footage of Destiny 2 and lined it up with that from the original game, it would be very tough for anyone to tell the difference. That is, unless it’s the PC version, which does show some significant graphical improvement. But Destiny already looked great, so how much more could it improve within the same console generation?
Likewise, the base gameplay, that of shooting at bad guys and watching their health bar slowly (sometimes far too slowly) dwindle to 0, is also still the same. Aside from some new sub-classes and abilities, running and gunning in Destiny 2 is pretty much the exact same as before. However, the question again is, ‘is this bad?’ Even Destiny’s biggest detractors, which many feel I am a part of due to my criticisms of Bungie’s 2014 shooter, will admit that the shooting gameplay in Destiny was top notch.
So, Bungie kept what worked with Destiny pretty much unchanged so far. And yes, this lends credence to the arguments that Destiny 2 is actually just Destiny 1.5. And those arguments have a lot of merit right now. However, there are key areas where Bungie made big, sweeping changes that do help push this game firmly into sequel territory.
For one, they are currently promising to fix my major issue with the original game: the story. Promising a grand, epic, and engaging storyline, Destiny 2 looks like it could finally take the huge, sprawling universe of Destiny and put it into a digestible video game format. This is evidenced by the shift away from Grimoire Cards, which were sort of a storytelling crutch for the first game. But either way, I’m excited to see if they can deliver on the promise that this series always held in the story department.
There’s also the fact that every single area that you explore in the game will be brand new. No locations or maps from the first game’s campaign will make a return. This was a big sticking point for some of Destiny’s DLC, which sometimes tasked players with playing through the same areas they already had, but backwards, or with some other alteration. Destiny 2 so far only promises four main areas, but each is fresh and new, and apparently quite large.
Then there are the smaller, often behind-the scenes changes. Longtime Destiny players will dig into the class, sub-class, and inventory shifts. While the menu looks pretty much the same, some of these will have big impacts on the gameplay. Having shotguns shift to Power Weapons will fix a big problem that I had with the Crucible, which often felt like a shotgun fest in some of the modes and maps.
Quality of life improvements also seemed to be a focus. The crowd went wild when Bungie announced that you don’t have to constantly “go into orbit” in Destiny 2. Players can open the menu, choose a new location or mission, and they’ll load it up right away. Seems silly, and yes, it probably should have been in the first game already, but it’s still a big change for players.
Finally, Destiny 2 seems to be billed as a fresh start for the series. This allows new players, as well as those who abandoned the game at some point, to feel like they can get back into the franchise. DLC doesn’t do that. No matter how much Bungie promised that The Taken King was pretty much a whole new game, few if any players actually felt like it would let them join back in, if they hadn’t played in over a year. DLC usually causes your playerbase to splinter, with those who didn’t buy it dropping off soon after. There’s no way to know if that happened with Destiny, but the promise of a complete and total fresh start for Destiny 2 is worth calling it a true sequel.
One problem, I think, was Bungie’s language during this announcement. They would announce “a new Raid” or “a new Strike.” Are these the only Raids and Strikes that will be in Destiny 2 at no extra cost? Maybe, and if so then there is a problem with that. But it could just be that that was all they were showing right now (something that kept getting repeated to us whenever we asked about other content). So players simply have to wait on that front.
This is Destiny 2
There’s still a long road to that September 8th release date. My time with the game did give credence to the argument that it isn’t a full sequel, but it also did the opposite as well. It was also clear that a lot of stuff was locked off in the demos, and the full experience is still unknown to anyone outside of Bungie. Will the full package deliver enough content to justify the cost? Find out in September.