Damn It, Destiny 2 Got Me Again

Here’s an entirely normal Destiny 2 experience, something long-time fans will know all too well.

My fiancee and I, relapsed Destiny refugees from the Rise of Iron days, organise to run some Strikes and Crucible games before bed. We didn’t sleep that well, so she puts down an ultimatum.

“It’s about 7.30pm now. Let’s play a few games for about an hour, and then I’ll head to bed.”

Sounds good, sounds plenty reasonable. Lots of time to grab bounties, suss out wherever Xur is, do a Crucible or two, maybe go up a light level.

We find Xur. Being the creepy fucker that he is, he’s hiding in a tree. (Why? Why.) I look over the exotics on offer, the rolls of the purple armour.

There’s .. there’s some genuinely good stuff here. The extremely rare Bombardiers have reappeared, with an astonishingly good set of stats to boot. But, through sheer luck, I’ve also pulled an extremely interesting bit of chest armour.

The total number: 76, with a great mobility roll to boot. For a hunter, something I never played until getting back into Destiny 2 until recently, that’s astonishingly handy. But then it becomes a matter of balancing out everything else.

You love to see it. Image: Kotaku Australia / Bungie

After some juggling, my mobility number rises to 99 — that’s great! But 29 resilience, Destiny 2‘s value for how much damage you can take before dying? That’s pretty trash. A friend mentioned that I’m going to be shit out of luck in most scenarios — PvE or higher level PvP matches, particularly Trials of Osiris where player levels aren’t normalised for fairness — without resilience of at least 60.

So I shuffle some more. Maybe an 80-level mobility is better if my resilience is sitting at about 70? That’ll mean my Hunter class ability doesn’t regenerate as quickly, but it’s not massively lower. And I can take a lot more damage.

I notice we’ve got some Umbral Engrams, and so does my partner. So off to the H.E.L.M. we go to get more gear, inching our light level up piece by piece. The Prismatic Recaster is there, and now that we’ve finally worked through the initial quest steps, we’re able to better focus the rolls we can get from those Engrams.

Digging through my 75 completed triumphs unlocks the Tier 3 variant I need to make sure I only get armour pieces, and armour pieces with high mobility rolls. I burn a few engrams on that, and shock horror, I’m suddenly getting purple chest pieces — things I can use in conjunction with my flashy new Exotic armour from Xur.

I check the rolls. 28 mobility?!?? This is huge. That means I can get a better juggle on the rest of my armour, because I don’t need to rely so much on the sub-70 pieces that have good mobility, but pretty ordinary everything else.

It feels like some time has passed, and my partner pipes up. “Alex?”

“It’s 8.15pm, and we haven’t played a game yet.”

Trippy. Image: Kotaku Australia / Bungie

Destiny 2 has its hooks in me once more, but in reality, Destiny was always appealing. Convenience was the only reason we stopped playing, as other games like Overwatch either supported more players, or were just a little easier to jump into after long breaks.

We never treated Destiny like a commitment, even though its live-service, raid-style drip feed of seasonal loot is very much designed around regular sessions. But you could always casually play Destiny and Destiny 2 if you didn’t care about that. Regular Crucible normalises all the levels. There’s tons of random content if you just feel like a random strike or Nightfall.

Destiny 1 also had one massive advantage: it was only on console. Destiny 2 marked the first time the franchise had come to PC, my natural home for all shooters, but it didn’t have cross-play between platforms.

This year, that all changed. And with all the Destiny 2 content necessary making its way to Xbox Game Pass, the only real hurdle to getting back into the game was the initial download.

Which I queued overnight, only for my partner to pause. “I know what you’re doing,” she said.

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Took two hours of pain, but it was worth it. Image: Kotaku Australia / Bungie

But something that’s become clear as we’ve rediscovered Destiny 2 in a very hodge-podge fashion is just how poorly structured a lot of the experience is for newcomers. Starting a guardian for the first time drops you into random locations. I didn’t know why the opening cutscene immediately dropped me into the Cosmodrome, or the second time I launched the game, the Dreaming City. I figured it  out later — it was an automated thing because I’d purchased the expansions, as my Destiny 2 account was going through Steam, not Xbox Game Pass.

But Destiny 2 itself needs to take care of that stuff. Similarly, there’s bugger all consideration for how new players who weren’t accustomed with the first iteration of armour, let alone Armour 2.0, the seasonal Wayfinder’s Compass and its respective grind, or what the biggest priority for content story-wise is. I know there’s stuff on Europa that will help unlock further stuff that my partner and I need for our stasis classes, but I got that information from a friend who reconfirmed my suspicions after diving several tabs deep into my character menu.

It wasn’t clear at any point, for instance, that I needed to head to the Tangled Shore to get the materials necessary for unlocking cool items from the Vault. It’s obvious once you make the connections — Destiny Year 2 was the year Shadowkeep dropped, but why can’t the game just say that outright, or have an extra prompt letting you know where those materials come from? How is a new player supposed to know which of the several story locations has the random flowers they need for that one Exotic gun that looks cool?

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This is an absolute mess if you don’t know what you’re looking at. Image: Kotaku Australia / Bungie

But even if you just meander around all the various planets without knowing what or why, the range of content and the freeform nature of it all is still at least entertaining enough to keep you going. The Xbox Game Pass model makes it easy to a degree too, because it doesn’t unlock everything off the bat, so that small amount of gating at least minimises the absolute mess that new players are presented with.

Bungie still needs to overhaul the entire system. Not by vaulting content that people actually enjoy, but by creating a better pathway that leads players through all the things they actually need. It’s nonsensical for players to just get dropped into missions with no rhyme or context. The UI for the quests tab is an absolute mess that doesn’t provide enough context. And if they’re going to introduce weapon crafting in Witch Queen next year, there has to be a better system for helping players identify where they need to go for what resources.

Mind you, these are all the problems you ask after Destiny 2 has its hooks into you. Which isn’t a bad thing. I’ve had friends regularly ask if there’s any good co-op shooters to play these days.

“Why not Destiny 2,” I say.

After all, it has just about everything. I wish it’d support bigger parties outside of Raids and Crucible, but hey. Most of what you need is on Game Pass. The cross-play is excellent, and even the balancing of aim assists to help those on controllers versus PC is well managed.

There’s nothing quite like Destiny 2. Still.

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