The tale of Destiny has been a long, arduous one full of memorable highs and lows. The Forsaken expansion looks to reinvigorate the series, yet again, and thankfully it does so in a way that Destiny has never seen before.
Destiny 2‘s newest expansion will no doubt be beaten to death with the analogy that the latest expansion is what Taken King was for the first Destiny. While this is absolutely true, it is also so much more than that. When Taken King dropped it was received with welcome praise and everyone let out a huge sigh of relief because this is the Destiny we had all been wanting to play. However, certain things like loot drops and balancing issues still left some wanting more from the AAA title. With Destiny 2, players started a new game with things feeling reminiscent of Taken King, the changes made there nicely translated over into the new installment, while other changes left players wondering why those things had changed at all.
Destiny 2 was good, it wasn’t perfect, but it felt like a great first step in the right direction. Then the Curse of Osiris and Warmind DLC’s dropped, expectations were that the game would see changes that players had been calling for from the beginning. Sadly, all those expansions brought with them was a feeling of disappointment. Again, we were left with a bad taste in our mouths, and many began losing faith in the series. Bungie had claimed they had listened, and apparently, the changes those DLC’s brought with them were supposed to echo that statement. Obviously, they didn’t.
Going into this expansion I was beyond apprehensive. For those that have read previous content know how much I disdained the first two DLC’s. Honestly, if Destiny 2 wasn’t made free this month I probably wouldn’t have taken the plunge to dive back into the series. Thank god I gave it a shot.
Forsaken is the expansion Destiny 2 needed. From its strong emphasis on storytelling to the overall changes to the meta to the insanely fun, new Gambit mode, the Forsaken expansion makes Destiny 2 feel like an entirely new experience.
To start things off, yes Cayde-6 is dead. The expansion starts with an incredible hour, to an hour and a half long segment that sees you and Cayde running and gunning your way through a prison break. The cutscenes here are fantastic and show us a side of Cayde-6 we’ve not seen before. In just a few scenes I felt more connected with him than I ever had, and then they killed him… I can only hope going forward that Bungie gives us more character development like this. It made me want to see more of him, know more about him, and then they took him away from us. Hopefully, it wasn’t all there just for the sake of the story. I’m going to say it wasn’t only because Forsaken’s villain, Uldren is pretty fleshed out as well, and he is a character totally new to the series.
Uldren takes Cayde’s life and it falls on us to avenge our fallen comrade. This is when the game truly opens up. After a few missions we get to a new area, the Tangled Shore which is a desolate, eerily beautiful space crammed full of secrets and treasures waiting to be discovered. This sense of discovery is something that’s been missing lately with the series and it feels so good to have it back. Stumbling into a new lost sector that is WAY above your light level happened quite a few times, and left me wanting to grind as hard as I could so I could return and collect whatever loot was waiting for me.
After you meet a new Fallen NPC, Spider, you get bounties that let you hunt down escaped Prisoners as well as Uldren’s Barons. The Barons are some of the coolest boss fights in the entire series. Each Baron is unique and requires you to approach them in a completely different way than you would approach any other boss. Each one is like a puzzle that needs to be solved before you can start dealing some serious damage to them, and each fight is extremely enjoyable.
After you beat the campaign, you have the chance to go to yet another new space, the Dreaming City. Everything here is an extremely high level, but it offers more end-game content than Destiny has ever seen before. New patrols, activities, and lost sectors pepper the area making it very easy to get lost in exploration. This is one of the greatest aspects of the Forsaken expansion though, discovery. Never knowing what lies down a tunnel, or around the corner left me with a sense of awe and excitement I never thought I’d find in the series again.
One of the greatest changes made to the game though is the Loot System. New and improved in every way, it almost feels unfair how quickly your light level will start to climb. Granted, Forsaken takes the Light and Physical levels to extreme new highs, with the cap, now being 600 and 50 respectively. Going from level 30 and Light Level 300 can feel daunting at first, but fear not, the new and improved loot system allows you to gain levels at an almost breakneck pace.
Granted there are still some soft caps you’ll encounter, but completing activities and side quests that let you gain Legendary engrams from NPC’s quickly gets you over these minor hurdles. In fact, it wasn’t until I was into the 500’s that I noticed things starting to slow down. To give you an idea of the progression, when I began my time with Forsaken I was around Light Level 305. After a couple of hours, I was sitting at around 350-360! Before Forsaken this kind of jump would have taken days to see the same kind of improvement.
With new loot comes new gear, and again the changes made here feel incredible. From the moment you begin your time with Forsaken, there is an instant sense of things feeling different. Your Guardian feels powerful, no matter what weapon they’re using, and this gives you a sense of confidence few have probably felt in the game before. Within the first couple of hours, I had left my year one gear far behind me, and was decked out in new and way more powerful blue gear. My Guardian that had once been covered in Legendary and Exotic items now radiated blue across the board, but was 20 light levels above what he had been an hour ago. Never would I have thought this would be a loadout I was ok with. Rare engrams had never given me gear I would ever have thought to use.
Yet here I was, rocking a full set of blue gear and hitting harder than I ever had before. Then, when you do get Legendary Engrams, which feel like they drop more frequently as well, the jump in light level on just that one piece is at least 15-20 points higher than the gear I had equipped. The best part is I was consistently obtaining new, better gear, whether it was weapons or armor. No matter what dropped was almost always higher than what I had on, and by more than just a couple of levels.
OH! And did I mention random rolls are back?! If you were looking for an incentive to jump back into the world of Destiny, random rolls returning should be enough on its own to suck you back in. Why they got rid of them in the first place is mind-blowing to me, but thank god they’re back. Random rolls add a sense of inventory management that few games can offer, or do well at all. It makes you care about every engram drop you get and makes the grind that much more rewarding when you finally get that one weapon with the perks that perfectly fit your build. There will be times you’re hanging on to multiples of the same weapon just because you don’t want to lose a perk that one version has over another. Thank you, Bungie, for bringing back Random Rolls!
Having played Destiny from the beginning these changes feel almost too good to be true. It’s like we’re kids making a mess, playing with our toys, and I’m just waiting for our parents (Bungie) to come in and say “Ok honey, time to clean up.” So far, that nerf has yet to happen, and I truly hope Bungie lets things remain this way for the foreseeable future. The loot system they have in place now rivals that of systems like Diablo 3 which, in my opinion, has one of the best systems around. This change to the drops was beyond necessary but feels so foreign it can take some getting used to. No longer do I covet certain items, I no longer hold allegiance to any one piece of gear because I can confidently believe that within the next hour, or less, I’ll be getting something better that will replace it.
Every single element of Destiny has received some change in one way or another, and every single change made just feels right. Even the menus in your character screen have received a substantial overhaul. Now Triumphs and Collections are their own tabs within the menu, and allow you to keep tabs on things that, at one time, I’m sure some players didn’t even know existed. Triumphs let you monitor an overwhelming amount of achievements that you can complete and earn at your own pace.
For those with a more competitive nature, you’re even given a triumph score to boast to your friends. The Collections tab lets you access every piece of armor, weapon, collectible and lore all from one place and it’s just a button press away. Changes like these, now that they’ve been implemented, made me wonder how I ever got by without them. Everything was readily available for me to examine or equip in a way it had never been before.
The changes made here don’t just affect the single player aspects of the game either. Crucible has finally received the changes it has long deserved, and it feels great to tank through matches with 3 shotguns if that’s how you prefer to play. Subclasses feel ridiculously more powerful, weapon functions and how you equip them seem borderline unfair, and the experience within the competitive play itself just feels faster and much more exhilarating. It makes you feel like you’re playing the original Destiny again, and the chaos born from it really is something I didn’t think I would ever see return to the series.
Speaking of PvP, the new Gambit mode is one of the greatest new developments Bungie has ever created. There is something here for literally every type of player. Gambit pits your team against another. You’re dropped into one of four new maps and must shoot your way through wave after wave of one of three enemy load-outs spread across the game’s four alien races. During your shooting spree, you must simultaneously collect motes the enemies drop that must then be deposited in a centrally located bank. Depositing a certain amount will send an extremely powerful enemy over to the opposing team’s map that they must deal with to proceed. The strength of this AI enemy is equivalent to the amount of resources you and your team have deposited.
While all of this is going on, two bars slowly fill at the top of your screen. One for your team, one for the opposing team. When the bar is full a “Prime Evil” is spawned, which is basically the “boss” for the round. The first team to defeat the boss wins the match. Oh, but while all of this is happening, there are certain times when portals will open and players can then jump into the enemy team’s map and go on a killing spree. The benefit here is that for players that die before they deposit their resources, those resources are lost, which adds a “dark souls” feel to the mode. This risk/reward mechanic adds an additional level of tension to the match. Do you deposit what you have, or kill a few more enemies before the bank goes away so you can inch ever closer to summoning the Prime Evil?
On top of this, there is another mechanic that lets the opposing team fill the Prime Evil’s health bar, making it more difficult to take down, and potentially putting you at a disadvantage. While all of this might seem like a lot to take in, Gambit mode actually runs remarkably smooth. There is a fluidity to the mode that keeps things moving right along, and the modes generally don’t last more than 10-15 minutes. Gambit is easily one of the greatest additions to Destiny, hands down.
Forsaken is the Destiny players have been clamoring for. With a seemingly endless amount of dynamic content, remarkable changes across every aspect of the game, and a fantastic, meaningful grind that rewards and respects player’s time, Forsaken is the best Destiny has ever been. While I remain a little apprehensive about the long-term content for Destiny 2, Forsaken, if nothing else, has restored my faith in the series and I can’t wait to see what else Bungie has in store for us.