One of my biggest complaints about the first Destiny was that despite how beautiful I found the game's open-ended areas to be, it was too sparse—too devoid of compelling things to do beyond story missions. That's why when Destiny 2 was announced, one of the more interesting new features to me were related to Bungie's plan for beefing up their worlds. More quests, more side missions, more reasons to stay on a planet. After getting an extensive look at one of these new areas, Bungie's new open-areas feel far richer with both content and diversity than the planets from the first Destiny.
I recently got a chance to fully explore one of the new open areas in Bungie's Destiny 2. Called the European Dead Zone (or EDZ for short). The area is the new region on Earth, moving away from the Old Russia in the first Destiny to a location a little more westward. The EDZ Trades in Old Russia's industrial wasteland for a more lush region. The EDZ is a thick, forested region full of decaying ruins, rivers, and remnants of an alien invasion. But while Old Russia often felt monolithic in its design, the EDZ features plenty of distinct regions with their own unique features.
Aside from being aesthetically pleasing, this helps with navigation. I used to get lost a lot in the first Destiny if I only relied on physical markers. This was partly because areas in the first Destiny tended to look to similar throughout. With the EDZ, it was very easy for me travel around the map without the map, relying solely on the physical look of an area, which is already a huge plus in my book.
So what can you do on the EDZ? Well the usual suspects are there like Public events, hidden treasures, and regiments of enemies to cut through. However, there are also new elements to interact with including Adventures, Lost Sectors, and other little skirmishes that help make the EDZ feel more alive.
I'll start with my two favorite new elements of Destiny 2's open-areas, Lost Sectors and Adventures.
Lost Sectors are little hidden areas littered across the EDZ. They're marked on your map with a little tunnel looking symbol, which you can find painted on the walls of the area when you successfully discover one. While not huge by any means, the Lost Sectors are big enough to host a large alien brawl, which is what you'll usually end up doing when you find one.
Basically, you uncover a Lost Sector, venture in until you find a horde of enemies. Your job is to clear the area and kill the captain so you can unlock the loot chest that's in each of these areas. They're short, but there's a lot of them. And while finding one isn't difficult, they are challenging enough that the little extra effort to go conquer these little areas feel rewarding. While it's a shame that the Lost Sectors don't lead to long side-quests, some of the ones that I found took players to really interesting and hidden parts of the EDZ. For longer missions on the EDZ there were the Adventures.
Adventures are sort of like quests that are specifically related to the area. Unlike the patrols from the first Destiny, Adventures are longer, more engaging missions that involve the locale and the local NPCs. They're multi-tiered missions that often break-up into multiple sections and send players across the EDZ to help region-specific characters like Devrim Kay (more on him later). From what I've gathered, most of the EDZ Adventures have to do with making the area safer for refugees who need to cross the area after the events of the public Destiny 2 beta where the Tower falls. However, I couldn't complete every Adventure on the EDZ, but knowing that they all function to help flesh out the EDZ and human's side of the story in the Destiny lore makes me eager to jump back in.
I just really like how the Adventures don't feel like generic fetch quests, but help build the story of the specific area. It adds a narrative richness to the EDZ and that context goes a long way to help make the area not just another stop in Destiny 2's galaxy-spanning adventure.
Devrim Kay, the gentleman sniper as he's titled, is your main point of contact in the region. He's the man tasked with watching over the EDZ and he's one of the characters you'll be working with when going on Adventures in the EDZ. Do enough missions around the EDZ and Kay will reward you with rare gear. My only concern is I was really hoping for more than one NPC to work with in the EDZ, but there was just Kay. While Kay's snarky demeanor is fun to work with, I would have liked a little more character diversity during my time on the EDZ to make the region feel a little more lived-in.
Beyond Adventures and Lost Sectors, there are other little hidden things to play around with. Scannable items are scattered across the EDZ and they seem to paint a larger story which I didn't have time to piece together. And of course there were loot chests to find in random parts of the map, but no collectible Ghosts to uncover—or at least none that I've found.
The main concerns I've had during my time in the EDZ. At times, the area would just throw things at you at inopportune times. For example, while looking for a Lost Sector I accidentally stumbled upon a High Value Target, a powerful enemy that rewards players for killing them. I didn't really have time for a High Value Target at the time so I turned my back and fled, right into a public event. Basically it was a mess.
I worry that in an effort to build worlds to be more interesting than in the first Destiny, Bungie might have made the areas a little too busy, which is different from my earlier criticism that there wasn't enough to do in the first game. Basically, I wonder about the flow of the EDZ and how it balances its more quiet moments with loud explosive objectives.
Another worry is that while the EDZ promotes exploration, and invests players into the region with more story, I feel like I could see an end to the EDZ during my hands-on time. After all the Adventures are done, and the Lost Sectors found, there's a chance that the EDZ could revert into an Old Russia, with just Devrim Kay there to keep you company and offer you loot.
All-in-all though, the EDZ is a big step forward for Destiny 2. After hours and hours in the first Destiny, I was loathed to spend time on planets to do another patrol quest. Destiny 2's EDZ makes a compelling case that the worlds in the sequel will offer more than just resources, pretty vistas, and fetch quests. There's a story to the EDZ, a lore I'm eager to uncover more of.