By Danny Ryerson, copy editor
Coming of off a history of rocky releases, failed expansions and hate from every corner of the Internet, it’s safe to say that the Destiny series hasn’t had the greatest lifetime.
After the release of Destiny 2 and its first expansion, Destiny 2: Curse of Osiris landed the franchise in hot water among reviewers for reusing old assets, breaking promises of new content and removing systems that had been in place in Destiny for over two years at that point, many lost hope for the game.
Now, with Destiny 2: Forsaken on the horizon promising hours upon hours of new gear, missions, activities and more, players are right to be skeptical. After all, series developer Bungie hasn’t had a great track record so far.
However, in what seems to have been an act of goodwill towards their players, Bungie released a substantial update on August 28th, with it coming a slew of preview features, including bulk deletion of “shaders”— cosmetic palette swaps that drop like rain, clogging up valuable inventory space— 200 extra slots in player vaults for a total of 500 and, most importantly, a total overhaul of the game’s weapon system.
This requires a bit of explaining. In Destiny, players carried three weapons; a primary, a special weapon and a heavy weapon. Primaries filled the role of workhorse guns; ammo was plentiful and they did enough damage to reliably deal with the majority of enemies. Special and heavy weapons were often powerful enough to kill in a single hit in player-versus-player combat but had limited ammo to compensate.
Destiny 2, however, changed this system substantially. Instead of having a primary, a special and a heavy, players could carry two primaries but both special and heavy weapons were relegated to the “power” slot.
This change was almost universally disliked by players, so Bungie has since decided to revert the weapon system back to Destiny’s: Primary, special, heavy; but with the option to run two primaries like the original Destiny 2 system.
And it’s made for some of the most fun I’ve had playing the game yet.
I’m a minority among Destiny fans, as I mostly play for the PvP. I used to think of the changes that Destiny 2 brought as positive; putting the brakes on gameplay that I had thought was just a little too fast. Boy, was I wrong. The anemic pace of pre-Forsaken PvP pales in comparison to the sheer fun that speeding up the game has brought.
Before, the presence of a few overpowered primaries and a lack of useful options in the power slot made PvP feel stale after just a few matches.
It was hard to find variety in loadouts— why use a primary that kills in 1.2 seconds when I could use one that kills in 1 second flat, and why use a skill-intensive sniper rifle when I could use a fire-and-forget grenade launcher?
Update 2.0.0 changed all that. The relocation of underpowered power weapons like shotguns, sniper rifles and fusion rifles to the special slot means that I don’t have to choose between a sniper and my launcher, and a drastic reduction in time-to-kill for primaries across the board to compete with new special weapons has combined to form one of the most diverse metagames I’ve seen out of Destiny 2 yet.
There’s a representative of every weapon type on the leaderboards, and you certainly don’t feel pigeonholed into using one loadout or another.
On the player-versus-environment (PvE) side, everything’s going just as well. Destiny has always been a series about making the player feel like an unstoppable space magic demigod, and the update certainly facilitates that.
With the weapon slot changes plus buffs to several unique armor pieces and subclasses, more builds are possible in PvE than ever before. Take, for example, the Voidwalker class.
This subclass of the Warlock has two skill trees within it; the Attunement of Hunger and the Attunement of Chaos. Hunger has always been popular in PvE due to its signature ability, “Devour”: whenever you kill an enemy with a melee ability, your health is fully restored, and further kills within a nine-second window fully refresh the timer and restore your health.
Chaos, however, has never been as useful. Designed around “overcharging” grenade abilities at the cost of taking charge away from one’s heavy-hitting Nova Bomb super ability, it was never seen as nearly as viable as Hunger, which promised instant health at all times for little opportunity cost.
Update 2.0.0 made it so that overcharged grenades are drastically more effective and that they no longer siphon energy from Nova Bomb. Add to the mix the Skull of Dire Ahamkara helmet, which was revamped to refund Super energy for every kill you score with Nova Bomb, and you have yourself a class based around nothing else but sheer power.
In addition to all these lovely changes, one of Forsaken’s biggest selling points— the hybrid PvEvP gamemode, Gambit— was available for play to all players for 24 hours starting September 1 at 1PM PDT.
In Gambit, two separated teams of four compete amongst each other to kill hordes of enemies, put the “Motes” that they drop into the central bank and get enough to summon and kill a boss monster, called a “Primeval.” However, at certain times during the match, one player at a time can invade the opposing team’s arena and wreak as much havoc as they can in 30 seconds before getting pulled back.
I played Gambit for nearly four hours straight and it felt like 15 minutes. Suffice to say that the gamemode is a lot of fun
Aside from a few bugs and balance issues, nearly every part of Gambit gets the adrenaline pumping. From the mad scramble to shred enemies and bank their Motes to the feeling of a perfectly executed team wipe while invading, every part of Gambit is pure enjoyment.
Even the little things, like the in-game announcer trash-talking your opponents, add to what is sure to become Destiny 2’s quintessential experience. This fusion of PvE and PvP has always been something I was sure Bungie was capable of, but hadn’t delivered on until now.
Bungie knocked it out of the park with this update, and with the new raid, new missions, new story, new play spaces and everything else coming with Forsaken, I’ll be waiting with bated breath for its release on September 4.