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Friday, June 23, 2017

Destiny 2? First impressions to the sequel of my favorite shooter game!

Alright, so this might just be my weirdest blog post ever. Why? Because I'll be talking about a franchise I never blogged about, but one I thoroughly enjoy (I'd even call it my favorite FPS game), and recently learned that this September we're getting a sequel to that game. Today, I'll be talking about Destiny and it's upcoming sequel, Destiny 2. Keep in mind this is NOT a review of the first game and more of a "first impressions" for the second game.

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For those of you who aren't aware what Destiny is, it's another word for fate. Sorry, couldn't resist such an obvious joke. In all seriousness, Destiny is a First Person Shooter-MMORPG hybrid game created by Bungie, who are most famous for making the first three Halo games. The core concept of Destiny is you play as a Guardian, super soldiers brought back from the dead by a god-like entity known as the Traveler to help what remains of intergalactic life as we know it survive an apocalyptic galaxy wide event known as the Collapse. In other words, imagine creating an army of zombies to survive Ragnarok. And thus, Destiny is the only form of media that does zombies right. Sure, all of our intrepid heroes were dead at one point, but then BOOM! Traveler unleashes his "Thou Shall Riseth from Yon grave and join Thy army of super soldiers, henceforth Thou Shalt be called Guardian" magic.

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It's a nice premise that ties pretty nicely into the game's central theme of Hope (and the game will never let you forget that even in the darkest of times, there is always Hope for a better future). Unfortunately, most of the rest of the story is nowhere near as good as the premise. With the exception being The Taken King DLC, which adds a new story campaign that ACTUALLY had a decent story. I can't really speak for the Rise of Iron DLC, since I never actually played that. But the the original base game, while it had great, fantastically fun gameplay, had a bare-bones story and what little of a plot there was, it was filled with several unanswered questions and plot holes. Namely, who in the name of Jiminy Cricket was the mysterious android calling herself The Stranger? What's the deal with the militaristic but surprisingly under-used Cabal faction? And most importantly, why does The Cryptarch give you Rare weapons/armor even though you clearly handed him an Exotic engram? NOTE: for those of you who don't get that joke about the Cryptarch, he's an NPC that will give you free weapons and armor if you give him engrams. Unfortunately, the rarity of the engram does not determine the rarity of the weapons and armor you get, it only increases the chance to get rarer, and better quality, gear. Cue jokes about him being either colorblind (because the rarities are color-coded) or a conman.

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But there actually is an explanation as to why Destiny's story falls flat on it's face. Basically, the story writer got into a heated argument with the higher ups and promptly left the project halfway through development. Said story writer also took a massive chunk of the script with him, And thus, the story of Destiny ultimately was what Bungie could salvage from whatever scraps the original writer DIDN'T take with him.

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Which brings us to Destiny 2. The sequel to the best seller that garnered a MASSIVE fanbase, even with the lackluster story. This game's premise is interesting, and already shows that Bungie is actively setting up a great story. Basically, roughly one year after the events of the Rise of Iron campaign, a new evil rears it's extraterrestrial head in the form of the Red Legion, who are basically the admittedly under-used Cabal species, but on steroids. Only the leader of this faction, who is officially named Gaul but is nicknamed Gary by fan-favorite Cayde-6 due to being unable to remember his actual name, manages to capture the Traveler (which is impressive, considering that the Traveler is not only a being of Godlike power, but is also the size of a small planet), therefore stripping the Guardians of their Light (Light being the Destiny version of magic). Oh, and Gaul destroys all of the weapons from the first game (yes, ALL of them) so you can't just whip out your Gjallarhorns and your Sleeper Agents (two of the most overpowered weapons in the first game) and curb-stomp the Red Legion right then and there. Kudos for Bungie actually making a decent story (so far).

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One of the reasons why Destiny isn't your generic
space shooter is because of the RPG elements,
such as the skill tree (pictured) as well as extensive
amounts of stat tweaking and play style customization.

I like this premise a lot. It serves as a in-universe explanation as to how returning Guardians will be just as weak as newcomer Guardians (since you can transfer your character from one game to the next), and I'm curious to see where the story goes from here. And while some gripes people have with Destiny 2 is the fact that, at first glance, it looks so similar to the original Destiny that some folks joke about Destiny 2 being a glorified DLC campaign (completely ignoring that The Taken King DLC was so radically different that it could have been it's own separate game), Destiny 2 actually does make some noteworthy changes. Namely, the addition of three new subclasses, the Sentinel class, the Dawnblade class, and the Arc Strider class, which are basically Magical Captain America, Flaming *Sephiroth, and Electric Donatello, respectively.

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Aside from the maybe unintentional (or maybe INtentional) pop culture references, the new subclasses offer new abilities for our determined Guardians. Sadly, as Bungie felt that some of the new subclasses would feel otherwise redundant compared to the previous nine, the new subclasses replace three of the old ones. So sorry, Defender mains/Sunsinger mains/Bladedancer mains, none of those three subclasses will return. Although, let's face it. Sentinel is a thousand times better than Defender.

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The new Sentinel subclass (pictured) is definitely a 
must-have for team battles. Not only can they summon 
barriers to serve as makeshift cover, said barrier 
automatically restocks any ally' ammo if they crouch behind it.

I actually really like the new subclasses, and I personally can't wait to try them all out. But the one that I'm leaning towards most is Dawnblade, because it's a more aggressive Sunsinger without sacrificing the team player-iness of providing buffs for friends (and you can turn into a sword swinging angel that's ON FIRE!!!), and Sunsinger was really fun to play. However, if Arc Strider inherents the Blade Dancer's ability to camouflage, then I'll roll with Arc Strider. It doesn't appear to, since the Arc Strider puts a lot of emphasis on using speed and agility to outmaneuver enemies with insanely fast melee combos and bo staffing(?), rather than using the power of invisibility to quietly eliminate opposition. The Sentinel class looks interesting, but only really viable if you play with friends, and I don't normally play with friends because most of my IRL friends don't own a PS4.

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I think this Guardian might need a bigger gun...

They also made changes to how the main weapons work. For those of you who have never played Destiny, the crazier weapons, like the Arc Strider's spear, are summoned into battle for temporary super attacks that deal ludicrously large amounts of damage, or just improving survivability substantially. It wouldn't really be a First Person Shooter without something to shoot with, while in the first person. In the first game, you had Primary weapons (Auto-Rifles, Scout Rifles, Pulse Rifles, and Hand Cannons), Secondary weapons (Sniper Rifles, Sidearms, Fusion Rifles, and Shotguns), and Heavy Weapons, (Rocket Launchers and Machine Guns). Basically, you can carry one of each of these types, but you can't use two of the same type (e.g. You can't carry a Auto-Rifle and a Hand Cannon because they are both Primary weapons).

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However, Destiny 2 overhauls how the weapons are handled. Basically, all of the aforementioned weapons are grouped together, except the Heavy weapons. for obvious reasons. Only now, each individual weapon (not weapon TYPE) will inflict a different damage type. Kinetic and Energy. Because of this, you can now use almost any weapon combo your heart desires. Oh, and we got two new weapons, S.M.G.s and Grenade Launchers. Such variety!

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We also got new worlds to explore, side-quests, more lore (apparently), and a focus on the story. The only real thing that's on my wish-list for Destiny 2 is vehicular combat. Considering that Bungie made a video game famous for combining FPS with vehicular battles, it's really strange that Destiny didn't have dedicated weapons on vehicles. Sure, you COULD summon a hover-bike and run some enemies over, and you COULD steal the tanks that the Cabal use (but given how missions worked, the tanks were hilariously impractical), but I want the ability to fight stuff while on a vehicle. Imagine a boss battle that's a high speed chase through the valleys of one of the new worlds and you have to ride some kind of hover-speeder to keep up with it, and you can still shoot while driving. Don't ask me why, but this sounds awesome to me. And if they have spaceship dogfights in space, then Destiny 2 will get a 10/10 from me. Seriously, Bungie. You let us customize our spaceships yet they only show up on a glorified loading screen. You have no excuse for not putting spaceship dogfights in a sci-fi game. There should be an unspoken rule that if a video game has space ships, it MUST have spaceship dogfights. And let me play as a Fallen please. The Fallen are arguably the coolest alien race in Destiny and you even team up with one named Variks during the House of Wolves campaign.

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But do I have any worries about this game? Nah. As long as the story is better than the original's, then it will be a superior game. After all, the only reason why I played the first Destiny for several hundred hours is because was just so fun to play. And Destiny 2 is exactly what I want it to be: Make some changes to the finer details, but keep what made the first game so great. There's nothing wrong about a "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality. The only real negative I can think of is how Destiny 2 is more akin to a soft reboot than a sequel, since Bungie is basically fixing the mistakes of the predecessor and giving everyone, newcomers and veterans alike, a brand new start. But given how the story of the original was a mess, that's probably for the better.

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Oh, and PvP is back. It's now mostly 4-versus-4 team matches, which makes some folks a little salty because in the original it was 6-versus-6, but I honestly don't care about PvP because every time I try fighting other players in the original, I am normally dead in about 20 seconds or less. Mostly because I'm a Strikes (three Guardians work together to complete missions usually ending in a boss battle) and Raids (Six Guardians work together to infiltrate incredibly challenging areas, fight epic bosses, and get rare and valuable loot), kind of guy, both of which are ALSO returning. Yay!

*Sephiroth (sometimes called The One-Winged Angel) is the main villain of Final Fantasy VII.  Yes. After all these years I finally made a Final Fantasy reference.

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