‘Destiny 2: Forsaken’ Review: The ‘Kill Bill’ Of Video Games

It’s not easy to take a beloved character and kill them off. George R.R. Martin has proven pretty adept at it, but in video games, you usually want to keep your A-listers for the inevitable sequel(s). Destiny 2: Forsaken is already part of a sequel — but it feels more like a threequel with all the changes that were made to usher in Season 4. And the biggest change is the murder of longtime Vanguard leader Cayde-6, which sets off the events of the expansion.

To begin, Destiny 2: Forsaken doesn’t have any real ties to core game or the two expansions, Curse of Osiris and Warmind (it actually references the original Destiny more than anything), plus most, if not all, of your weapons and armor become immediately obsolete with the update. The new weapon and armor system seems a lot more complicated and it’s much more difficult to upgrade them to a higher light level (yes, I know it’s no longer called that, but I will always refer to it as light). The mods system has changed as well and, quite frankly, I still haven’t really figured that part out. All in all, this truly does feel like a new game. The main map has changed, the accessibility of Milestones has changed, weapons and armor have changed — essentially you are starting over. But that doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable.

Destiny 2: Forsaken Review

The original Destiny’s storyline left a lot to be desired. That’s probably quite an understatement. Destiny 2’s main story was such a huge upgrade that I actually really enjoyed playing some of those missions again during the Solstice of Heroes last month, especially since Curse of Osiris and Warmind were less than memorable and actually a little boring to me. Destiny 2: Forsaken is some of the best storytelling I’ve seen in video games in a long time. And the way the story reveals itself is immersive, innovative and just plain fun. This is a revenge story plain and simple, and hunting down each and every Baron involved in Cayde’s death felt like living in an old western.

The initial mission, “Last Call,” is a blast to play and hearkens back to classic sci-fi tropes that feel like the game was channeling the movie Aliens. Enemies are just popping out of everywhere and chasing you down, your radar is going crazy, it was intense. The rest of the missions don’t disappoint either, and hunting down the Barons in a series of Adventures is the most fun I’ve had playing this game in over a year. Not only are these missions entertaining, they’re also challenging. Sure you can solo them all, but the sheer volume of enemies around you sometimes can get overwhelming and more than once I was holding my breath and running for dear life. At first I didn’t think there was that much content for the main storyline in Destiny 2: Forsaken, but it proved to be enough to keep me entertained and I think it will be enough to keep me coming back.

I will say this: the final boss battle does feel a little weird, as if it doesn’t really belong in the Destiny universe. It never felt like the ending I was hoping for and playing toward. Things happen that just seem to come out of nowhere in the storyline. You expect something, just not what actually happens. The final boss gameplay is a challenge and it’s interesting, but it doesn’t seem to fit the story or the Destiny mythos. After it’s all said and done, The vengeance you’ve sought for the entire story feels less justified. Your ghost has a particular strong take on everything, but I’ll let you hear it from him. Like I said, I think this is some of the best storytelling I’ve seen in awhile, but it’s still not perfect.

Destiny 2: Forsaken Review

My one MAJOR complaint in the story, however, lies with certain advertising decisions before the game was even released. I can’t really fathom why Bungie would release the cinematic at the end of “Last Call” and announce the death of Cayde-6 before the game came out. The death feels a little hollow because I already knew it was going to happen. Shock value would have served the story better and actually been more immersive since I’ve spent the last four years with this character. Spoilers are bad; they are a million times worse when the company itself is the one to release them. And I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a more amazing cinematic cut-scene in a game. It shows everything you want to see a Guardian do — but in movie form. Seeing Cayde-6 in action was great! Why Bungie would use the cinematic in advertisements before the game was released is incomprehensible to me.

The other main addition to Destiny 2: Forsaken is Gambit — a new hybrid PVP and PVE experience that, well, needs some work. To start, the level advantages are not disabled, so if you are a new player, don’t bother coming to the Derelict to play. And if you are lucky enough to have a good team that actually plays together and doesn’t try to hoard all the motes for Gambit bounties, maybe you’ll win a match. Maybe. I haven’t had much fun playing Gambit, to be honest, but I’m willing to let it have time to grow and evolve. To be fair and honest, I’m usually not the biggest fan of PVP style FPS games in the first place. I play games mostly for the story. Destiny has been one of very few exceptions to that rule for me, as I’m just that immersed in the universe they’ve created.

The Crucible has changed a bit with the new update as well. Not because of any fundamental changes in the game, but because now Guardians can carry two shotguns and blast the hell out of you with one shot. I have only played a little since the change due to my focus on the main storyline, but I also haven’t enjoyed The Crucible like I used to. There’s also the random Guardian who sits further away and uses a sniper rifle to pick people off now — because some sniper rifles only need special ammo instead of heavy. Structuring the weapons in this new way has definitely changed the entire structure and strategy of The Crucible, and not for the better. Again, I’ll give it a chance and try to adapt, but it’s not enjoyable to play right now when my kill/death ratio is abysmal.

Destiny 2: Forsaken Review

Another addition is that you can wield a bow as a weapon now — which is a lot of fun. It’s slow to reload and you only get one shot, but man is this weapon powerful. In the words of a friend, “this won’t last long, they’re going to nerf it soon.” So enjoy the bow while it lasts – it’s a blast to shoot enemies in the head and get one-shot kills! I’ve found three of them and keep one in at least one weapons slot at all times. I’ve coupled it with a pulse rifle or auto rifle and had a great deal of success.

Perhaps my biggest complaint is the price tag. As a video game consumer, I have many choices to make and am unable to just buy every game that comes out. If you don’t already own Destiny 2, you also need to purchase the core game and the two original expansions just to play Forsaken. Luckily, if you’re a PSN member (and you kind of have to be just to play this game on the Sony system), you can get Destiny 2 as a free game for September. But you’re still going to have to buy the first two expansions, the underwhelming duo of Curse of Osiris and Warmind.

There just isn’t enough content in this game right now to warrant the price. If you want the Digital Deluxe Edition, it will cost you $80, the same price as another top-tier digital deluxe edition for a complete new game that came out the same week.

Let me be clear, I absolutely love this game and have spent a lot of time playing it. I’m not one of the people that have spent the last year bashing Bungie for the mistakes they made (which I think in no way overshadow the greatness of this game). I just feel that, if I’m paying the price of a new game, I should get a lot more content for my money. There have been a ton of glitches over the last year (I’ve actually done the “weekly” Flashpoint for the first week of Destiny 2: Forsaken THREE TIMES in less than four days due to a glitch I still haven’t figured out), but that hasn’t taken away from the sheer enjoyment of this game for me.

Destiny 2: Forsaken Review

Essentially, Destiny 2: Forsaken went from doing a lot of the same things each week to learning how to play again – and then doing some of the same things again every week plus a new story mode. Add that to the influx of new blood who are just now starting to play (we are glad to have you around new players!!!) and you really do get the feel of starting something new as opposed to continuing a yearlong journey. Bungie is also encouraging players to play every day, which just is not possible with any semblance of a life happening around you.

I used to be able to do most of the weekly challenges for all three of my characters in about two days playing time. It takes a little longer now, especially the clan activities because you have to acquire bounties to finish that off. While all these changes do feel “new,” they don’t necessarily feel “improved.” Sure the main storyline is amazing, but I finished that in less than a week. I’m sure I’ll avenge Cayde again with my Warlock and my Hunter but what then? I am very excited for the future of this game and for the next expansions to come out, but I’ll have to keep grinding if I’m going to be ready for them when they release.

Speaking of, I Miss Cayde. Bungie let slip early on that Nathan Fillion would not return to voice Cayde-6 in Destiny 2: Forsaken. Unfortunately, it is fairly evident. The voice acting in Destiny has been amazing and spot-on for almost four years. Some fantastic genre actors have lent their names to the entire project, and that has only helped Destiny become what is, in my opinion, an amazingly fun game. I’ve spent a lot of hours flying around the solar system killing Fallen, Vex, Taken, and Cabal and I’ve gotten to know these characters as friends and companions. The Cayde that I went to the Reef with — that just wasn’t Cayde. And maybe that’s the point. They didn’t want to kill Nathan Fillion’s Cayde-6. But his voice is missed, not only in the Destiny 2: Forsaken storyline, but at the Tower and beyond. I really wish Fillion would have been able to record his lines, because having someone else do the voice just didn’t feel right.

Rating a game like In Destiny 2: Forsaken is difficult because it has to be a rating based ONLY on new content. I’ve been playing Destiny 2 for over a year and I love it, and have played the franchise since its inception in 2014. I will continue to play it in the future, but I’m not sure I like a lot of the changes that have been made. The story is the best I’ve seen in the Destiny universe, and I can’t wait to hunt down all the Barons again. But there are a lot of things that just don’t make sense to me just yet or seem to have made the game better. I still want The Sparrow Racing League to return and I’m just not sure how I feel about PVP with level advantages.

The story is great, save for the odd ending battle, but the missions and changes to weapons and power level grinding are kind of a step back. Destiny 2: Forsaken is very much a transition expansion in the Destiny 2 cycle, and Bungie has been very good at making tweaks when needed. So the score I give the game today may not be the same score the game deserves in two months. I guess we’ll all find out as the game soldiers on.

Destiny 2: Forsaken is out now for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. This review is based off the PS4 version from a review code provided by Activision.

Destiny 2: Forsaken Review
out of 5

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