Earlier today, I was streaming with my colleague Mike Williams when he called Destiny 2 an "active chatroom." What he meant was that it's a game you play to keep your hands busy, and your eyes too, while you're doing something else. That can be talking with friends, listening to podcasts, jamming to a new album. Destiny 2 is almost a game that's required to only be enjoyed in the passive sense, with no focus paid towards it.
Of course, high level play obscures that. But at Destiny's core, as it always has been, Destiny 2 is a game that just feels good to play in the moment to moment. There's not much else to it. Only now, players have been upset that Destiny 2 doesn't come with a lot of the long-term rewards the first game did. The endgame has been severely lacking. Recently, Bungie even tweaked how players gain XP, which usually doesn't matter, but with Season 2 here and a new host of items in the Bright Engram shop, it kinda does. The reason for the drama was obvious from the jump: Bungie was gently prodding players to spend real money on Bright Engrams (the only microtransactions option in the game), instead of earning them naturally. It wasn't a problem and it didn't need fixing, until Bungie decided so.
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If XP had always been gained slower from launch, this wouldn't have been an issue. (In fact, I always personally felt like it almost happened too fast. I was swimming in Bright Engrams I hadn't cashed in sometimes.) Even hearing horror stories of throttled XP determined by particular activities played and a doubled requirement for "leveling up" at all, a couple hours deep into Destiny 2's first expansion Curse of Osiris, I saw three Bright Engrams pop up on my radar. I was leveling up way faster than I expected to, which was suprising considering the drama that has plagued the game in the weeks to this very moment. After the widespread outrage, Bungie's not-so-sly attempt to encourage players to spend money on Bright Engrams in lieu of naturally earning them seemed to be a bust. Ultimately, for me and others too, it wasn't a huge deal given that Bright Engrams hardly net worthwhile things in the first place.
That is, until now.
Destiny 2's update 1.1.0 is a new season for the game overall. That includes Season 2 for shopkeeper Tess' Eververse, where players can buy and break down Bright Engrams, and spend "Bright Dust" (the currency from broken down items from Bright Engrams) on other goodies. In the past, I didn't care about most things in the Eververse, outside of a few shaders I'd cross my fingers at getting. This season has changed that. There's a lot of desirable things in the Eververse now. I even got a pretty dope Vault of Glass-inspired ship, which doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. And now, I can see why players were at once upset, and why Bungie did it too. (They wanted to incentivize spending, and what better way to incentivize than actually having decent gear.)
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But after the outcry, XP gaining feels a bit natural again. It still takes longer than before, but even then with increased loot drops, I hardly noticed it. Bungie's answer to the endgame complaints seems to just be more, more, more. More loot. More tokens. More gear and a higher threshold for levelling up (25 for base players, 335 for power level). Who knows if Bungie's solution will actually fix things (I'm betting in the longterm, probably not).
But so far with my time trotting across new planet Mercury and the other redressed Strike areas in Curse of Osiris' brief campaign (I imagine I'm almost done at this point after a few hours spent with it), Destiny 2's first expansion just feels like more Destiny. It doesn't really bring anything new to the table; its campaign is a snooze so far (with one memorable moment and area in the early goings). Mercury in general is a kind of bland planet, a formerly lush No Man's Sky-looking world now outfitted to the whims of the villainous Vex.
It also bears the Infinite Forest, a series of islands you hop across time and time again, which feels procedurally generated. According to Bungie, the Infinite Forest isn't procedurally generated. Seemingly, Bungie constructed different versions of the Infinite Forest, only for them to be shuffled in and out of existence each time you visit them. It's an interesting workaround to spice up the locale of Mercury, which is pretty small compared to other planets, even Titan.
It's still Destiny though, meaning it still feels solid to shoot aliens in it. I've jumped from power level 301 to 305 over a few hours so far, which is far faster than the glacial pace the higher levels have seemingly been to climb when breaking down, infusing, and adding mods to my guardian's gear. Given the sparse content spread across the new DLC, it'll be a test for the more dedicated (and currently unhappy) players to see if it's worth sticking around any longer. There's still plenty to experience that I haven't even seen yet too, so there's still a bit of hope.
Destiny 2: Curse of Osiris is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC for a standalone price of $19.99, or for $34.99 with the game's season pass. Stay tuned to our review, and more on its deeper content such as the special Raid Lair on Leviathan, later this week. In the meantime, if you're fishing for help in the expansion, check out our guide!