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Destiny 2 is rolling out in certain regions ahead of its September 6 release on consoles, and many players and fans are eager to jump into the highly-anticipated sequel of Bungie's big MMO-FPS. That is, if you aren't one of the legions of players turned off by Bungie's decision to essentially restart the series with an expanded sequel. I'm here to tell you that while you will be starting from scratch, there are reasons for you to come back once the sting of your lost loot and rank dissipate.
I spent several days sequestered in a hotel in Seattle to play a bunch of Destiny 2. And while Bungie refused to let me finish the main story campaign, I played enough in a short amount of time to form a pretty solid impression. While this isn't my final opinion of the game, I recognize that Destiny 2 is a soft reset for Destiny despite what Bungie says. You start over, the universe as you know it is changed, and the story emphasizes a clear, singular narrative. It's friendly for newcomers and veterans alike.
For players who sunk ungodly human hours into the game however, the sting from the loss of those hours are real. But it was all so Bungie could build a sturdier foundation for the future of the game. And for those of you who feel left behind, I have a list of things that Bungie's done to make Destiny 2 a worthy follow-up for even the most hardcore Destiny players staunchly against the game.
The story and lore go deeper
One of the things that worried me about Destiny 2 would be how it would essentially turn a page on the numerous loose-ends left by the time Destiny finished its final expansion. Gaul and the Red Legion are part of a previous enemy race (all the enemies are), but it's established that the Red Legion are a group apart from the Cabal. As a main story goes, Gaul and the Red Legion are an easy starting point.
The real story comes from exploring the game. They might feel like throwaway bits of information, but over the course of my 20 hour playthrough of Destiny 2, they all began to add up and set the stage for an even bigger Destiny universe than the one first introduced in Destiny. And even though players are racing towards the end game, Gaul and his Red Legion are there to help get you there in an enjoable way.
An actual plot
One of Destiny's earliest mistakes, later corrected with The Taken King expansion, was embracing just how much story matters. Bungie will argue that the framework for a story existed in the first Destiny and over the course of multiple expansions Bungie proved capable of building a compelling universe. But it wasn't immediately apparent nor was it immediately accessible. While there is a balance between what the developers can show you versus what players have to seek out on their own, Destiny's story experience never got off to a clear enough start for that line to be clearly established.
Destiny 2 reverses that course from the get-go, relying on a heavier exposition from the offset, while sprinkling in whispers of story elsewhere. This goes hand-in-hand with what I was saying earlier about deeper lore but the initial start of your campaign, your reason for partaking in the hero's journey is clearer. This is thanks in part to Gaul, whose Red Legion casts such a wide sphere of influence that he makes the other enemies make sense too. The Cabal, Hive, Vex, and Fallen have motivations that are in response to the actions of Gaul instead of just a strange patchwork of factions with their separate agendas.
I touched on this in my preview of the new EDZ area on Earth, but now that I'm free to talk about the rest of the game I'd like to emphasize how these changes extend to the other planets as well.
Each of the new areas in Destiny 2 are filled with their own secrets, adventures, and just reason to be that shines a light on just how much the first couple of worlds in the first Destiny felt like empty Hollywood sets. Although I wish there were more NPCs on each planet to help populate the world a bit more, exploring each individual planet feels like a mini-adventure, rather than a pitstop.
Quality of Life Changes
The first Destiny was a polished shooting experience, but in trying to be a MMO-FPS, there were some growing pains. Year one in particular was full of painful loot experiences such as rare engrams dropping common gear (which was fixed in the first Destiny), or having Guardians equip their best gear before decrypting an engram lest the game judge their level too low for certain drops. The latter is one of the biggest changes to the game, as you no longer have to change your gear before decrypting an engram as the game looks into all your loot before deciding what you deserve.
Things like Patrols and the skill tree have also been changed, allowing players to switch between different play styles for a particular subclasses which creates a deeper level for the game's many systems. It makes for a more comfortable experience though by no means easier. Destiny 2 just finds a way that makes sense for a game like Destiny—which I feel embraces more of its RPG elements in Destiny 2—but with a better understanding of how to get through the more grind-heavy aspects while being a true shooter.
Loot and customization
Will you miss your old loot? I might argue you won't. For the collector in all of us, Bungie knows that loot is the sweet, sweet blood that keeps us kicking and the various trailers for the game knows it.
The thing is, loot worked against you at times in the first Destiny. Randomized drops would mean that some hour long playthroughs would end in tears when your drop's random roll wasn't up to stuff. Now, all gear has a set lineup of stats and skills that can be changed thanks to the game's deeper customization options. Cosmetics are one thing, and you'll be able to change the individual parts of your overall gear with consumable shaders and Auras (which add effects like fire), but mods will also change your weapon's stats in a variety of ways like their element class or skills. You won't have your old gear, but you'll sure as hell have better control over your new gear.