When I finally managed to log onto the Destiny 2 servers on Tuesday, a few minutes after noon, it felt like I was playing a whole new game. Except worse because I knew I wasn’t playing a new game and had a whole pile of expectations about how things worked that wound up being wrong. There were some growing pains at first, and I’m certain there will continue to be more, but I’m optimistic the changes the “Live Team” made to Destiny 2 are going to result in a better gaming experience over the course of the next couple years. Even after only two days of play, both shortened by internet problems unrelated to the game, I can confidently say the game is miles better than it was before.
My only major gripe is how frustrating it is to try to track weekly progress now. Instead of having one place I can go to check out my progress on everything, I now have to go to the map location of each activity and hover over it to see my progress. This means that, in order to check my overall status, I have to do a few dozen clicks whereas I used to be able to check it by tapping or holding a few keys on my keyboard. Additionally, there wasn’t really a clear explanation of how the changes would roll out for the weeklies, so I was left searching for them until I hit both level 50 and the “soft cap” of my character’s power level (500). I’m sure the information is out there somewhere, but so much happened in the space of a week that it was almost impossible to process how the immediate changes affected my gameplay, let alone what the future changes would mean. You can even see it in the community as a lot of the once-reliable information resources are struggling to keep up with everything that’s rolled out and the vague promises that more will be coming as time passes. Even the patch notes are too dense to read through without missing stuff and I’m someone who literally studied how to parse texts in order to get at the meaning inside of them.
When it comes to actually experiencing the changes rather than trying to learn about them, things are much better. After the update, the gameplay feels so smooth that it’s like playing a different game. Shooting feels way better than it ever did before, as does bullet impact and ability strength. Reload speeds feel somewhat sluggish now, but I’m pretty sure it’s because everything else is so fast-paced now that the unchanged reload speeds feel extra slow. I feel like my character moves faster, that combat resolves faster, and that all of my abilities are available faster. In the first mission alone, I used my ultimate ability, my “Super” three times before the first cutscene interrupt the mission. It was amazing. I finally felt like the powerhouse the game’s lore and history says you should be. A one-man (or, in my case, robot) army capable of beating even the toughest foes into the dirt with enough cleverness and ammunition.
Probably the biggest change to the pacing of the game was the introduction of what feels like sharper contrasts around your character’s power level (or Light level). Before, I could easily muddle through encounters above my Light level so long as they weren’t that far above it. If the gap was bigger, about thirty or higher, I’d get stomped into the ground and the same wasn’t really true of when you’re that much stronger than your enemies. Now, even a ten-level difference is noticeable and that’s for both sides. Being stronger than my enemies lets me just soak up damage like nobodies’ business and laugh as my health drops into the red because nothing but a bunch of mini-bosses or a single-big boss could kill me before I killed them. Enough mooks could kill me, and they have the times I got overconfident, but it’s pretty easy to just mow them down on your way to the real fight.
The new story isn’t very long, but it sets up a few interesting questions and leaves enough of an open end that their promises of more to come might actually be in reference to lore and story content rather than just gradually shifting environmental stuff. It’s also pretty engaging, given that they revealed during the announcement of the expansion that they were killing off one of the favorite characters in the game. It’s hard not to get caught up in what’s going on, especially because the bad guys talk now and say things that make you actually think for a moment about what you’re doing and what a “Guardian” (the generic term for what your character is) is supposed to do in general, when confronted with a situation like this one. All that being said, it doesn’t really leave you with much question about what you’re doing by the time you get to the end of the missions and anyone who has spent any time thinking about mortality or taken a decent philosophy class in their life will be able to adequately answer the questions. It’s fun and engaging, but nothing particularly special.
What has wound up being the most fun part for me has been the sense of exploration and discovery I get as I re-learn how to play this game at the same time that everyone else does. I can google almost anything new I want and never actually get answers to my questions unless there’s a discussion on a message board with people also trying to figure it out. The efficiency of new weapons, the locations of enemies that give you good rewards, how to trigger the more powerful versions of the public events, where to go to find all of the vendors, and so much more. Everyone is still figuring things out and it feels great to be able to contribute to that.
That being said, here are some things I figured out, specifically for anyone playing Destiny 2:
- Join a clan and have people on your fireteam. It makes life so much easier and certain bounties require it.
- Do all the bounties you can. Glimmer is easy to get right now, so spend it freely (and they’re super cheap) and reap the rewards in consumables and tokens.
- Try new weapons and probably stay away from any PvP experience right now because either I really suck, everyone else is amazing, or people have just figured out how to win by being super shitty and do nothing but play PvP so they can be shitty to people. Seriously, it sucks.
- Keep an eye on your random perk rolls but only for Legendary and up gear. If you like the perks, just hold on to it since you can always strengthen that gun or armor later.
- The Tangled Shore is super fun, so spend tons of time there.
- Bows are silly but only really work well in the Tangled Shore. They feel a little underwhelming elsewhere.
I’ve got a lot more specific information, but that’s not super useful unless we’re chatting while you’re playing so I’m not going to post it here. If you play and are reading this, let me know if you’ve got any questions or found anything particularly fun you’d like to share! I’d love to hear about it.