For the sake of clarity and transparency, we'd like to explain a few things from the offset. About a month ago, we visited Bungie in Seattle, where we played through two-thirds of the Destiny 2 campaign. We didn't get to see everything, but in total we managed to push through about 20 hours of the game during our visit. Now that it's been released, we've managed to spend another 30 hours finishing the campaign and exploring things we couldn't get to in Seattle. All-in-all we have spent around 50-55 hours in Destiny 2 so far, and we feel more than ready to hand out a score.
The type of game that Destiny is, however, makes it difficult to really dig into the depths of every detail, because many things only really get started when the credits have rolled, with the world and its contents growing over time - we know this from the first game. At the time of writing, for example, the first Raid has not yet launched and the new Guided Games feature hasn't been activated. What's there right now is, however, more than enough to judge the game, in our opinion, but new things will be discovered in the weeks ahead, like hidden secrets and previously undiscovered features. With all that in mind, is Destiny 2 worth your hard-earned cash right now? The short answer is: hell yes.
An important aspect for a lot of games is having a tight, well-directed, and interesting story with nuanced and well-written characters. Adventures like Mass Effect, The Witcher, and Metal Gear Solid are among our favourites for this very reason. The first thing that struck us as we started playing Destiny 2 was the production values surrounding the story. We're talking about hours worth of quality dialogue here, and the feeling that there's actually a story to tell this time - that's more than the first game ever succeeded in doing. There's even an internet joke that the beta version of Destiny 2 contains more narrative than the entire first game, and this joke certainly rings true.
We're thrown straight into the thick of the action at the game's opening, as The Tower, whose function has been to protect the last human city on Earth, is under heavy assault. Everything is burning, it's raining, and everything feels hopeless. Our ally, Ghost (played by Nolan North), sounds defeated and the feeling rubs off on us. That Tower where we spent three years of our real life kicking a digital ball around is going to have to be abandoned. It's designed for us to take it personally, and it does the job - this is a superb start.
We immediately learn that it's Dominus Ghaul who's behind the destruction, and just when it's time to kick his behind, he throws our character into the literal abyss. We barely survive and as we stagger through the streets of the city, the journey towards recovery, reconstruction, and then retaliation begins. The goal of the game's campaign will, of course, revolve around Ghaul and the need to stop him at all costs, but what impresses us is how well-crafted Destiny 2 feels. There's proper character development, a developed world, and a traditional narrative, with a clear beginning, middle, and end to this game, three points that were largely lacking from the first game.
It's a quality campaign that contains lots of interesting twists and turns, varying missions, and loads of great action. The returning cast of characters, headed by the charismatic Cayde-6 (played by Nathan Fillion), is a welcome sight, but we also get acquainted with a few new faces too, the most prominent of which is probably Hawthorne, who ensures that evacuation from the city goes as smoothly as possible. The exchanges between the characters are well-crafted and always reflects the current situation in a meaningful way too, as the Vanguard trio of Ikora, Zavalla, and Cayde-6 all have to deal with what it means to lose their "light", and the question of whether they are even Guardians anymore. It's about rebuilding what has been lost and at the same time finding out who you are when you don't have anything left. We fully enjoyed the ten or so hours we played before the credits rolled, and there was a sense of satisfaction at its conclusion.
When it comes to our complaints, the supporting cast perhaps doesn't get enough room, but that's a tiny groan in the grand scheme of things. On each planet, we get to meet a new person who then acts as a figurehead for said destination. On Earth (that's the European Dead Zone), it's the gentlemanly Devrim Key, a moody sniper who enjoys sitting in his church tower, picking off aliens while dismissing his contribution as a completely menial task. We'll not delve into the personalities of the characters you meet on Nessus, Io, and Titan, but we will say that they all felt a little underdeveloped. Having said that, we're convinced that they will grow over time and when more missions and expansions have been released, we're sure to develop a more intimate relationship with them.