Is Destiny 2 worth playing in 2022?
Five years after launch, Destiny 2 keeps bringing in new players, but is Destiny 2 worth playing in 2022?
There are few games like Destiny 2. Not necessarily in that, it’s a loot-shooter with MMO ambitions, but more so because if you’re playing it, it transcends gaming. It’s a place to hang out with friends, blow stuff up, and engage in some of the best endgame content in any game. If you’re not, though, it’d be fair to wonder what all the fuss is about — and ask if Destiny 2 is worth playing in 2022?
At the time of writing this review of a game that’s absorbed a frankly scary amount of my free time in the last five years, the future is bright. Lightfall has been revealed, and we’re in the middle of a pirate-themed Season of Plunder that’s delightfully silly.
A new Golden Age
It hasn’t always been like that, though; Destiny 2’s base game arrived with a solid 85 on Metacritic, but it wasn’t long before players ran out of things to do. The raid, Leviathan, was great, but you still needed five friends to play it.
That was followed by a pair of underwhelming expansions and some quality-of-life tweaks, but it wasn’t until 2018’s Forsaken that we finally got a significant chunk of content, as well as a shift to a seasonal model to eliminate content droughts.
That was further improved with Shadowkeep in 2019, before Beyond Light started to change the way players looked at abilities, and on top of this just-about-vaguely-coherent development cycle, you have 2022’s excellent Witch Queen.
If the thought of playing through the base game and three annual expansions just to get to the Witch Queen and catch up with everyone else sounds like a drag, then I have good and bad news. The first is that, because Bungie has been putting older content into the Destiny Content Vault, you’ll actually only need to play an introductory sequence and then pick the expansions you want from Shadowkeep onward in an a la carte fashion.
The bad news is that if you bought any of the prior content, or even if you buy a disc copy of the game right now, you won’t be able to play the base game’s Red War campaign or Forsaken’s excellent one either.
Destiny has long had trouble balancing out the cost of new content and the toll it extracts from players, but right now it’s at least in the healthiest state it’s been. The $10/£10 season passes are optional, sure, but they offer an impressive value when compared to the battle passes of FPS contemporaries like Warzone or Apex Legends. There are seasonal activities to take part in, new weapons to earn, and, in some seasons, entire new destinations to explore.
That’s not to say it’s perfect, though. Bungie took the unusual step of putting the game’s Dungeons (some of the best content) behind Deluxe Editions of expansions, with Bungie eventually making them available through an additional $20 purchase. It’ll still cost you, but you won’t be punished for not buying the most expensive versions of the expansions.
Can you keep up, Guardian?
Destiny 2’s lore and characters have evolved considerably from a series of vendors in the first game to genuinely fleshed-out digital folks with their own motivations, regrets, and personalities.
The trouble is that this can make it tough to break through a lot of the proper nouns and deep narrative walls that Bungie has inadvertently built up over the years. That’s especially true after The Witch Queen’s ending, as we now challenge the notion of “Light = Good, Darkness = Bad”.
Bungie’s “free weeks” and lore recaps are great, but much of the game’s narrative heavy-lifting is done by its community. I’ve lost track of the times I’ve recounted how Crow, a Guardian in the Tower, was formerly Uldren Sov, a bad guy, because the campaign that reveals that is gone.
The good news is that once you have got to grips with who is who, there’s an awful lot to appreciate in Bungie’s writing. The Witch Queen was great, but some of the seasonal storylines have been genuinely affecting in the same way FFXIV fans talk about that game’s character-driven moments. In fact, on the rare occasion that Destiny 2’s gameplay falters (usually in the grind to earn a Seasonal Title), it’s hard not to log in for the next breadcrumb of story and character development.
Guardians make their own fate
I’ve gone for 700 words or so now without getting to Destiny 2’s core gameplay, but that’s because it really is what held the game together through those early years.
Bungie’s ‘holy trinity’ of Halo, with guns, melee, and grenades has been replaced by something much more fitting of the MMO-Esque spot Destiny finds itself in. Guns range from different groups, but somehow each feels distinct, whether you’re a Titan punching through a small army, a Hunter with an exploding throwing knife, or a Warlock healing and empowering teammates, each class feels more distinct than ever. The addition of Stasis, and the upcoming Strand subclass, too, means there will always be new tools to play with.
Bungie has overhauled the three subclasses, too, with impressive results that make each feel powerful. It’s a tough line to walk, and while many will argue that PvP has been forgotten in favor of the PvE power fantasy, there’s still nothing quite like burning through a boss’ health bar magnitudes faster than you did the last time.
Since parting from Activision, Bungie has begun to lean into Destiny 2’s nerdier aspects, with character builds that let Guardians tweak their loadout ad nauseum. It’s led to an additional community aspect of min-maxing that sees players taking on the toughest content solo where possible.
Destiny is, however, at its best when players hit the endgame. Dungeons are three-player activities that require puzzle solving and teamwork, while Raids are a step beyond and require six. While Bungie is bringing an in-game LFG (Looking For Group) system with Lightfall, Raids will always be out of reach to more casual players. Here’s hoping the new Guardian Ranks system will mean more players get to run the likes of King’s Fall.
There are some pretty significant growing pains, though. Much of Destiny 2’s core is still the same game that launched in 2017. That means unwieldy inventory systems and a fairly clunky quest menu, as well as a lack of handholding and explanation that even Elden Ring might find obtuse in some areas.
That means players can find cryptic clues that really should be more easily explained, and while the community is not averse to banding together to solve a puzzle or two, it can feel exhausting when you’re following objectives that feel poorly signposted, if at all.
It’s the kind of idiosyncrasy you start to overlook after hundreds of hours, but it certainly doesn’t leave the best impression.
Still, the Destiny Content Vault means that Bungie can rotate content into the game to keep things fresh. Adding the 2015 King’s Fall Raid from Destiny 1, for example, feels like a hit of nostalgia for long-time players, while newer players can jump in for the first time. It’s an enviable position for the developer to be in, especially as so many live service games falter.
Is Destiny 2 worth playing in 2022?
Destiny 2 is absolutely worth playing, if you can love it for the beautiful mess of systems and overlapping expansions. While it is free, and I’d encourage anyone to try it, you’ll undoubtedly get more out of its systems, story, and setting by picking up the expansions.
If you do, though, you’ll open up a Solar System’s worth of refined combat, interesting characters, and frequently gorgeous settings that’s even better with friends.
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