Our story begins all the way back in 2014, when Bungie, the developers of the wildly successful Halo franchise, gave us something completely unexpected. They gave us half a game. This "half game" was called Destiny, and it was teeming with structural, story, and conceptual problems. Problem Number One was that they did not deliver on what they had promised to fans at E3 and other event shows the year before. Fans of Bungie had expected a full-scale MMO world, it was what they were promised - what they got was, at best, a "shared world" with both PvP and PvE elements in a first-person shooter format. Obviously, the development team bit off more than they could chew. They were building an expensive, triple-A game; a man-of-war, with no sails, rudder, or navigational chart and letting it hit the sea. So natural, y the problems didn't stop there.
The game was short. The armour sets (in the beginning at least) were scarce. The expansions, which capitalized on the fan's hunger for new content, were expensive and did little to satiate the player's needs. Fans continued to be —justifiably— irate and swore off Bungie and all its future works for the next decade. There were some who, through coughing up roughly two hundred dollars, stuck around and hitched their ride to Bungie's ship, but the damage had been done to the gaming community at large. The expansion's got progressively better, sure, but these were band-aid wound's being applied to a gaping bullet hole.
And then we got the announcement that they were making a sequel. Can Bungie right the ship and reclaim its fan base? Of course not. Here are Fifteen Reasons why next year's Destiny 2 is going to be absolute garbage.
Destiny 2 is going to have its own DLC. But you probably knew that already, since pre-ordering specific version of Destiny 2 gives players access to various DLC packs slated for launch later this year. Why is this an issue? Well, for starters, it's somewhat irksome that a game that is still in development is already working hard on more DLC for players to purchase. It's just not a good sign, and it feels manipulative. Especially given the fact that Destiny 2 is being marketed to a slightly younger demographic - with its slapstick, accessible humour (as shown in the trailers). What this might mean is that they're hoping to capitalize on players who don't really understand the value of a game, or sixty dollars, for that matter.
Then there's the highly controversial announcement that there will be exclusive content for players who play on the PS4, which shows just how much of a shill Activision —the game's producer— is. Why should one console get a leg up over another? Now that we've got Windows PCs on the scene as well, it just goes to show that the developers are willing to compromise the integrity and fairness of the play experience for money. Favoring one console over another has a negative effect on fans and casual players alike. Hopefully, fans will vote with their wallet, and not support this kind of backward business practice. Console choice is as arbitrary as any other consumer choice, and players shouldn't be punished for making it.
Following this announcement that the PS4 would have exclusive content, there came the news that Destiny 2 —while keeping specific character designs— will force you to lose all the gear you've worked for over the last two years. Which (while understandable), is still a loss, especially given the loot and gear situation at the beginning of the previous game. Narratively, there is no explanation for this beyond, "the Tower got destroyed by Ghaul and the Red Legion." It really is a shame. Why bring back the character without all of the work that made that characters yours? Well, Bungie only had this to say:
“It allows us to introduce the major advancements and improvements that all of us expect from a sequel, ensuring it will be the best game we can create, unencumbered by the past,”
The latest gameplay trailer for Destiny 2 made the series look like a schlocky action romp that is far more focused on the experience and the graphics than the gameplay mechanics themselves. The Guardians special powers are definitely awe-inspiring visually, and can provide some cool moments, but it's far less tried and true than say - Halo's more straightforward mechanics. All of it seems to take place in a more lush, childlike version of the Halo universe, as well. Villains, such as the Red Legion, are even more cartoonish Covenant. It's the classic scenario of 'less is more' - by throwing too much at the wall, the wall gets so bogged down that nothing sticks.
Bungie is a poor developer. Granted, making video games isn't easy. And Destiny, at least in its early conceptual stages, was nothing it not ambitious. But ambition can be a deadly thing in the world of game development - and if vision exceeds the ability to see that vision through, the results can be catastrophic. So it was for Destiny. So it will likely be for its sequel.
Back in 2013, the developers had an idea for merging the two game worlds of Halo, a sci-fi FPS with strong story elements, with the MMO appeal of Guild Wars and World of Warcraft. What we eventually got was something in between - but less appealing than either standalone concept. Learning about what went down behind the scenes at Bungie in 2013 right to its release, in retrospective, we see just how difficult a time Destiny had, and how poor Bungie is at managing development.
I'll say it again: this game is trying to do too much. By trying to deliver on everything that a prequel and four expansions had, and then improving it by creating a more central, linear storyline for players to follow, the developers have bitten off more than they can chew. Yes, the prequel took time to find itself both tonally and structurally, but Destiny 2 doesn't have that luxury with so much riding on a successful release. Will it be closer to what the first one should have been? Perhaps? But how can you have a story focused gameplay experience, while having an equally appealing massive multiplayer online make-your-own-story-up feel? The short answer, is: you can't. Like chocolate and sushi, two delicious things on their own, sometimes, you just have to know when not to mix.
So, this season pass business. What you're really getting with the season pass is two bits of DLC, and that seems a little too enterprising a thing from Bungie. Now, we all understand that games are getting more expensive to develop — especially triple A games, which often have budgets as big or larger than the greatest film franchises. As a result, developers are leaning towards more buy-as-you-play DLC, including expansions, new maps, new characters etc (depending on the franchise) and that has been the case with Bungie. Despite this, there is something disconcerting about simultaneously purchasing the game, and its next two expansions. In fact, it's downright unethical and abusive of loyal players.
There has been a massive media blitz since the announcement trailer earlier this year. Bungie has been trying to pitch Destiny 2 as both story and character driven. The first trailer focuses on a character named Cayde 6, who has a weird, robot face, and is performed by Firefly's Nathan Fillion. While this may be a good PR move, the story driven arcs and scenarios from the original game were weak. Frankly, the bits of story in the original Destiny undermined the essence of what worked well about the game: its open-world where you create your own story.
It is difficult to find the balance between these two disparate things. Mixing a strong plot, with a cutscene oriented story, and an open-world feel where you build your own character is no easy task. Like its predecessor, they have promised something that is too big and ambitious — what they will likely deliver is something only mediocre at best.
The Destiny franchise has one of the worst, most abusive client-player relationships I have ever seen in the gaming world. From the downright heinous use of Sony and Activision's agreement to release exclusive content onto the PS4, to subtracting a subclass to make room for another. Bungie is abusing the relationship with their fans in the worst way, which contributes to creating a genuinely toxic environment around the game. The truth is that Bungie needs to rely on their fandom, not the other way around. But you'd never know it, the way they disrespect them. Since the beginning, they have rewarded only those who cough up extra cash for better content. This pay-to-win style has been toxic and rightly criticized since the start of the franchise.
Destiny had many problems with its initial release. The first being: it wasn't what was promised. It was not a massive, interactive world where players could talk, discuss with other players as they pleased. It was something else - something Bungie called a "shared world shooter," with limited zones of engagement with other players.
What's to say Destiny 2 will be any different? The first game, which had a day release of $500 million, the highest new franchise launch of all time, speaks to this. The franchise is too large and too much is at stake for the developer to deliver a satisfying experience - as a result, the game, which is slated to have all the features that players loved in the original plus more, will suffer for it.
The most striking approach to how Destiny 2 has been marketed is that it's playing everything so safely. Every decision made on the marketing team appears meticulously calculated. That said, the reveal and gameplay trailer are both calculated to appeal to an audience of both hardcore gamers and kids who are just looking for some fun. Their biggest mistake so far is using Cayde-6 as the central "mascot" for the sequel. Cayde-6 is as endearing as he is irksome, and it shows just where this blitz went wrong. Unlike Overwatch, which has mass appeal and is truly fun, Cayde-6 and the general tone of the trailers are just annoying. By making everything so campy, you take away the stakes of this "end of the world" assault the Red Legion is making on Earth.
The biggest concern with games these days, especially games as service, is that you can never really tell when something starts and when something ends. This is true of Destiny 2, which rather than feeling like a true sequel, is just more of the same. There are no new classes, the scenarios are similar. Sure, you could say, if it ain't broke don't fix it; if Bungie has finally found their steak and potatoes in this mass world shooter, then why change that? Well, that's the point of a sequel right? In this sense, Destiny 2 really does just feel like a large expansion, or maybe a soft reboot, of the original game. How many times is Bungie going to do a big universe, big story, sci-fi shooter that features humans fighting: a cabal, a covenant, or a legion of aliens?
That brings us to another point. The story is perhaps the worst part of the game. How many times can Bungie make a game about aliens attacking earth? That's not even the real issue. It would be fine if, in the wake of the Halo franchise they created, say, a story-driven RPG about mankind working alongside an alien race to help stop the ending of the universe using science, or some such thing. But instead, Bungie did more of the same. An alien legion is attacking earth, again. The biggest difference is that this time, rather than engineered super humans to defend us, we have something completely different: mystically empowered Guardians who do pretty much the same thing. It is laughably lazy writing. Even the amphibian-like Red Legion seem reminiscent of the Brutes in the world of Halo.
As we have said before, a sequel ought to offer something fundamentally new. Most expansions (I'm thinking of World of Warcraft) have brought in various new classes. But Destiny 2 is giving us nothing on that front. While there are new "sub classes," that's very different than bringing in something nuanced, which opens up the gameplay options and team based fighting style. Each class is getting a new sub-class, one for the Warlock, Titan, and Hunter, but these sub-classes are mostly just replacing old sub-classes from the original with new names. For example, Arcstrider and Blade Dancer are practically one and the same. There is certainly cause for creating a new class entirely, and Destiny 2 should have done that.
And that's the thing. This entire game, whether it be the marketing and media blitz of the trailers and gameplay that we've seen, or the various announcements about exclusive content, season's passes and so on, just goes to show us one thing: Destiny 2 is shaping up to be a missed opportunity. Where Bungie and Activision had the option to truly break out from the mixed reception and poor release of the prequel, they chose to stick to their guns and double down on delivering what worked. It's just that what worked in the prequel wasn't a whole lot. And that's the problem with many developers these days: they are too busy refining what works to get creative or think outside of the box. But gamers don't just want revamped versions of older games, remastered for a new audience. They want new experiences, new gameplay, new playstyles, stories, and settings.