The internet has spent a lot of effort deciding whether Destiny 2 is a good game. (Personally, I think it’s good fun). But, to be honest, the game’s quality is almost beside the point.
Many players have already caught the Destiny bug. They’re already playing it, and will continue to do so for days, months, and years.
We’ve spent a long time wondering what it would be like to have a Destiny game that plays well from the get-go. Now, we have it – yet it doesn’t feel that different from the launch of the original, and like the original, we can’t stop playing. What, exactly, were we waiting for?
Perhaps Destiny 2’s launch-day content is less important than its long-term plans. Players’ feelings about Destiny 2, from its structure, to its story, to its microtransactions, grow out of expectations borne from Destiny’s three-year lifecycle, and the expectation that this game will continue expanding for at least two more.
Every time I look at Destiny 2, I can’t stop thinking about what it will become. That, at times, drowns out everything good and bad about the game. The merits of Destiny 2’s launch almost feel irrelevant next to arguments over the game’s future. Players aren’t just signing up for an experience that’ll last forty or fifty hours. They’re signing up for a game that’ll become part of their life.
‘Destiny 2’ or “2.0”?
For all its improvements, Destiny 2 is a continuation of mechanics and ideas of Destiny. It is more of a revision than an all-new game. Yes, it now has decent cutscenes, and some semblance of character development. The game’s previously obtuse progression, character levels and a gear-based “light” level, has been tweaked to be more complimentary. And the open-world areas are a bit more fun to explore. None of these changes take the franchise in a new direction.
The steady feed of content and improvements works in the game’s favor now.
The series has changed, however, over the course of its existence. The change was not part of any single release, but has arrived over many years. This steady flow has diminished the impact of what’s been added specifically in the sequel. For example, Destiny 2’s biggest improvement comes in the form of new storytelling techniques, including more facetime with NPCs and honest-to-god cutscenes, further improving on the light extra-narrative storytelling Destiny cultivated in its third expansion, The Taken King.
Destiny 2 is not the second entry in a franchise. It’s the second-generation iteration of a never-ending entertainment service, and the sixth chapter of an ongoing narrative saga. Throw in the changes added during seasonal events and random patches, and the wave of changes are so incremental that they all blend together over time. There will certainly be die-hard fans who can recognize every new change, but for most, the result is a game that feels more like Destiny 6 than Destiny 2.
The game as an old friend
This is most obvious in the game’s narrative, which benefits from the franchise’s extended canon. For returning guardians, the characters you speak to have real history — much more than the returning cast in most sequels — because there’s a good chance you’ve spent a lot of time with them. The bonds players have formed with them can’t be ignored.
Player who’ve made those connections will always be happy to see them again. Even when a single expansion isn’t an unequivocal upgrade, chances are you’re going to get something out of jumping in and connecting with your buddies Zavala, Ikora, and Cayde-6.
The steady feed of content works in the game’s favor now, as well. Few fans have batted an eyelash over the fact that some of the game’s features, such as clan support, were not ready for launch. Similarly, rumor has it the game’s first DLC pack will launch later this year. In the past, such news would have incited a virtual riot over the fact that the extra content should have been included in the primary game, but fans seem generally be content.
While that might be due to the honeymoon swoon of a new game, we think players are simply happy to be see more content coming soon. It seems players are fine with the notion that Destiny 2 is, and always will be, a work in progress. No, more than just fine – they wouldn’t have it any other way.