Breaking Down Destiny 2: Forsaken's New Gambit Mode: What Works So Far and What Doesn't

Breaking Down Destiny 2: Forsaken's New Gambit Mode: What Works So Far and What Doesn't

A little bit of Strikes sprinkled with Crucible makes Gambit, I guess.

It took me a few rounds of Destiny 2: Forsaken's new Gambit mode for me to figure out what was going on. It's a mode with a lot going on, from the very first screen where you're encouraged to emote at the other co-op team of four standing in front of you, taunting them with neon bowls of noodles and flossing. Bewildered and maybe a touch ashamed, you're then teleported to the map where everything goes down.

Gambit is a new PvEvP mode (or PvPvE, whichever you prefer), if that at all makes sense. It's for eight players total—two teams of four—all facing waves of foes across a map (it's determined what type at the start of the match; Cabal, Fallen, and so on). You get "Motes" with enemies you defeat, and have to deposit them into a bank at the center of the map. Sometimes a tougher enemy (a Blocker) spawns in that area due to the competing team depositing Motes, deactivating your bank until you take them out. There's also the ability for one of your teammates to teleport to the other team's side (think of it like you're playing on different timelines) and interrupt the other team who are doing the same exact thing. It's a constant tug and pull of invaders and Blockers trying to halt the other side's progress of installing enough Motes to summon the Primeval, or in other words, the final "boss" of the match.

Bank those Motes of Light, or regret it.

It's an interesting concept in theory, but there's a bit too much chaos in its current state. Powerful players have a leg-up on less powerful ones should they choose to invade. Some of the chaos may be more in line with players not quite knowing what to do—I witnessed one teammate on one of my teams, for instance, that wouldn't collect nor deposit Motes at all for some reason. They just kept slaying the hordes in solitude while the rest of us picked up the slack.

The more Motes are deposited, the more teleporters open for you to hop into your competitors' side and ruin their day. Of course, the other side can kill the invader too, but since you spawn in without them immediately knowing your locale, it's relatively easy to sneak up and get the drop on at least one other player. The other team summoning a Primeval isn't a game over either—the opposite team then gets teleporters to invade at a quicker pace. With every player the invader takes down, the Primeval heals too. This is when matches get a bit wild, since now the prevailing team is not only facing touch boss-like enemies, they're facing other players too. The team that takes down their own Primeval first wins.

The UI, too, is a little bit unclear at first glance. At the top of the screen, you'll find two numbers that show how many Motes each team has collected. While that's important, the meter is really what's more important, which can be blocked if teammates deposit five, 10, or 15 Motes individually, summoning a Blocker on the other side. Blockers halt progress for a certain amount of time for the competing team, summoning a tough foe and deactivating the bank, making them essential for pulling into the lead and driving a wedge. With two smart teams facing each other, it can be a tough ongoing battle. Often though, I've found my team either rolling over the other team, or the other team destroying us.

Pro tip: If your team designates you loosely as the go-to invader, make sure you have a sniper rifle at your arsenal to sneakily take out others efficiently in the short invading timespan. I say this as someone who was sniped one too many times in my rounds of Gambit.

Gambit's been hyped up to be a game changer for Destiny 2, a unique twist on the familiar multiplayer horde mode. After playing it, it feels sort of like the child left in the wake of an ill-fated marriage between Strikes and the Crucible, and the child favored Strikes over the simpler action of PvP because they let them play video games over doing homework. While it's a nice change of pace for Destiny 2's various multiplayer modes, I don't actually see myself devoting a whole lot of time to it in the future. Matches fall at an awkward length, where they're not long enough to warrant the investment like Strikes (and obviously raids) sometimes are, and it's not short and digestible like a Crucible match or Patrol on a planet with a fireteam either. I'm sure with time and balance tweaking that Gambit has potential to be something I'll return to time and time again, but right now, I just find myself itching to get back to the rest of Destiny 2: Forsaken's content.

And that's exactly what I'm going to do. Stay tuned for more Destiny 2: Forsaken, from its campaign to everything else, later this week. Check out our Destiny 2: Forsaken guide too if you need help getting started.

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Caty McCarthy

Senior Editor

Caty McCarthy is a former freelance writer whose work has appeared in Kill Screen, VICE, The AV Club, Kotaku, Polygon, and IGN. When she's not blathering into a podcast mic, reading a book, or playing a billion video games at once, she's probably watching Terrace House or something. She is currently USgamer's Senior Editor.

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