‘Destiny 2: Forsaken’ Makes Some Big Changes, But Can It Win Back Lapsed Fans?

Sam White
Games Destiny
Games Destiny PlayStation Xbox PC Gaming

Destiny 2: Forsaken is going to fix Destiny for good. Or at least that’s what Bungie wants you to believe. For many players, this hugely hyped sequel lost a lot of the magic that made its predecessor – maybe the most hyped game of all time – so special. Forsaken is a reset of a lot of the bits so intrinsic to the Destiny experience, but an evolution and an expansion of a lot of other ideas, too.

In other words, it’s trying to do a lot of stuff – especially for what is essentially an expansion pack to the base game.

At E3 this year, Bungie was showing off a small portion of its story campaign, plus the new multiplayer mode, Gambit. As always they’re making bold claims and promising big changes that sound pretty exciting, but will the aptly named Forsaken be enough to make up for Destiny 2‘s disappointments?

As revealed in a 9-minute Vidoc released a couple of weeks before E3, Forsaken introduces two brand new areas to returning players – the Tangled Shore and the Dreaming City. Both look like some of the most inventive and beautiful places in the game to date, located out in the purple-tinted region known as The Reef.

It’s essentially a vast asteroid field chained together to create a mildly livable surface. It’s pretty cool, especially the Dreaming City, which is also where the game’s all-new raid, supposedly the biggest Bungie has ever made, will take place. It’s been described as a mix of the Dreadnaught and the Vault of Glass, and we’re down for whatever that means because as seasoned raiders, it sounds like a dream come true.

The non-raid activities within Forsaken seem to be a mostly familiar affair, whether you’re a hardcore fan or you’ve just spent the last 4 years dipping in and out of Destiny. There are no new subclasses for the three main classes (Titan, Hunter, Warlock), which is a bit of a disappointment if you were hoping for something entirely new to muck around with, but you’ll get all new supers and class trees to play with.

All of them look like pretty decent upgrades, and there’s nine in total, which is definitely more than we expected. Each of the two locations will include new Strikes and, of course, new patrols, on top of additonal campaign missions. We’ve currently no idea how long the actual story itself will be in the final release, but judging by previous expansions it won’t be all too long from start to finish.

Darker Times

The big difference with the campaign is the pivot to a much darker tone, which kicks off with Bungie killing off its most jovial – and arguably most loved – character: Cayde-6. In an interview with Eurogamer, Bungie’s developers assured players that Cayde-6 really is done, dusted, dead – Destiny isn’t doing a The Walking Dead and teasing and faking deaths of some of its main characters for a cheap rise. It’s just not willing to announce exactly when or how Cayde-6 meets his end. That, you’ll find out in September.

In a snippet of the campaign we played at E3 we tore through just half a mission. It’s set in the Prison of Elders, a location that’s returning from the original Destiny, and it has you second-guessing the entire time when Cayde-6 is going to meet his unfortunate end. He’s his normal self, cracking jokes, but around every corner you’re expecting a cutscene to trigger and for you to witness it – the end of one of your most loyal companions in the Destiny universe.

We didn’t get to see the end proper, though. The demo ends with a precarious position for Cayde – we shan’t spoil the specifics – but it felt like definitive proof that this is a real, impactful move from Bungie. Not to mention a big shame for players who have grown to love Cayde-6’s witty one-liners.

Cayde-6 Vanguard Destiny

Sadly, if you’re trying to take your game to darker places, killing off the class clown is the quickest way to get there. It’s a smart move that seems well done.

Bungie has a huge amount of room to make Destiny 2: Forsaken one of the most exciting and intriguing adventures in the series to date. All by raising the stakes.

One problem with having a massively multiplayer game like this is that the majority of the characters you meet are just other people – they log in and log off, but they never meet real, unfortunate ends in front of your eyes. In many ways, Forsaken feels like a turning point similar to how the original team turned things around with The Taken King expansion. We’re not expecting to see any more big deaths crop up throughout the short story campaign’s duration, but even just having Cayde’s in there is a significant change of tact.

Portal Power

The most exciting part of Forsaken – at least from what’s been shown off at E3 – looks to be the game’s all-new multiplayer mode, Gambit. It’s the most challenging, dynamic mode in team-based online shooter for quite some time. Even compared to the big scale battles of Fortnite, or the endlessly enjoyable Overwatch.

Gambit essentially blends the repetitive satisfaction of a PvE wave match with the fraught tension of a PvP battle. It’s points based at heart, but layers strategy on top of that simple climb to the top in order to keep every game feeling like a desperate push for victory.

It’s tough to explain and takes a little while to get accustomed to when you sit down and play it. Two matches in and we got the hang of it… just. The fundamental concept is cool, though. It sees two teams separated on two maps, unable to see or fight each other.

Each team racks up points by killing waves upon waves of NPC enemies, which are randomised from any of the four main factions in Destiny’s universe. By killing enemies and banking points (or Motes) at a designated spot on the map without dying (which means you’ll lose your Motes) you edge your score meter towards a victory.

A victory occurs when you hit the top of the scoreboard, which summons a hugely tough boss called a Prime Evil to destroy your team. The first team to kill their Prime Evil wins, but you’ll have to contend with this new big bad regaining health whenever your teammate dies.

What complicates this, and makes Gambit a stroke of genius, are the portals that occasionally pop up in your map throughout the course of a single game. By heading through one, you can send one overpowered player across to the other team’s map in order to give them hassle (see: murder the hell out of them).

You’ve only got one life and around half a minute to do the damage you need to the opposing team, but it’s a brilliant way of hampering their progress to victory while your team cracks on killing computer enemies back on your own map.

How’s Destiny 2: Forsaken Shaping Up?

Is Forsaken enough to put Destiny back on an upward trajectory? I’m not sure, but regardless, it feels like the most significant shakeup in a year. Bungie is guilty of a lot of things, but no one can accuse them of not taking on feedback from their huge community of extremely passionate (see: vocal) fans.

It may have taken time and a lot of outward frustration from the player base, but Forsaken is going to be a tonal shift unlike any other in the series to date. That alone is enough to offer a lot of exciting potential going forward, and it’s a sign that Bungie are prepared to do what’s necessary to get people back onside.

As for Gambit, it’s a masterstroke of multiplayer design and we can’t wait to play more.

Sam is a columnist for GQ and a writer elsewhere.
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