Don’t Cabal it a Comeback – Shea’s Destiny 2 Journal

Note: These writings will contain spoilers for Destiny 2’s story, gameplay, and content progression.

This is not meant to be a review. These are simply updates on my experience with Destiny 2, written as I explore the world, unlock weapons, and tackle different missions. If you do want to read a Destiny review, you can check out my thoughts on the first game.

I’ll be adding to this whenever I hit another milestone or come across something worth talking about, so check back regularly. Most recent post is on top.

 

Oct. 26, 2017. Power level: 283 — This may be my last Destiny 2 update until DLC is released or Bungie creates more dynamic community events. I haven’t played the game in almost two weeks, though it’s worth saying that I could easily pop it into my PS4 and kill a few hours at any moment. It’s just such an easy game to play — not necessarily in terms of difficulty, but in relaxing and grinding out mindless activities.

I started watching a video walkthrough of the raid, knowing I’d likely never see it for myself, and I actually got bored after a mere hour. Granted, I was watching some annoying Twitch streamer play with his annoying Twitch streamer friends, but it was mostly about the content itself. The raid just seems so mechanics heavy to where it’s all about executing perfectly. There isn’t actually any strategy to beating the raid — you just do the thing you have to do. That just doesn’t seem all that fun to me, but there’s obviously a large grain of salt in there since I haven’t actually tried it.

As I said in my previous post, I’m not completely disappointed that Destiny 2 didn’t last with me — to be honest, this was my expected result. But I did hope that it would be different this time around, so I guess you could say there’s some inherent disappointment in that fact. Still, I’ve played Destiny 2 for well over 30 hours at this point, so I can’t complain about the “value.”

I’m still hoping Bungie does something to make me excited about Destiny 2. They certainly have the talent and creativity to make that happen, but I’m not sure they have the freedom or time.

 

Oct. 3, 2017. Power level: 282 — I think I’m done with Destiny 2. Not in a dramatic way, but the game is purely a time killer for me, now. I don’t have many friends playing nowadays, and the game is not meant for solo play. Maybe at some point, I’ll take on the raid — if I can find some folks to sherpa me through — but it won’t be for another few months, at least.

I’m not trying to complain about burning out on Destiny 2 after a mere few weeks; I did get well over 20 hours of (mostly) enjoyment from it. Do I wish there were more incentives for solo players? Sure. More reason to explore the open spaces? Definitely. A better progression system that actually felt rewarding? 100%. But Destiny 2 is a better game than Destiny 1 in almost every way, so that’s a step in the right direction.

I just don’t think Destiny, on the whole, is a game for me and the way I play. We’ll see how their DLC and updates shape out, but I doubt I want to invest more money into the game when I feel like I’ll just end up back here in a week.

I’m sure I’ll be online at least once or twice a week to do some challenges, play some strikes, etc. The game is super fun to play, after all. I’ll also check in on weekends to see what Xur is selling, but there’s no way my legendary shard stash will last long now that I’m not adding 100+ to it every week. It bums me out that Destiny 2 didn’t wow me the way that it’s wowed some others, but again, I think that’s down to how people play games. I don’t want to focus on one game for months and months, and I certainly don’t want to rely on others to have fun with a game. That’s the crowd Destiny appeals to, and I’m not in that crowd. I never was, and I never will be. It’s a bummer, but that’s ok. Different strokes, and all that.

If you’re still playing, have fun with it! And maybe send me a friend request?

 

Sept. 30, 2017. Power level: 280 — Some kind of switch flipped and I started getting all blues to drop at 276, then 277. Exotics have been dropping almost exclusively about 285+, which also helped me pop that 280 cherry. I’m sure there’s a hidden threshold I don’t know about that ups the power level on drops, but to be honest, the whole thing is pretty tedious.

I got all the gear I like to a minimum of 275, with certain things already being higher thanks to “powerful gear.” That process took a bunch of infusions and legendary shards because I had some weapons that were still in the 260s. Then I hit whatever threshold that causes everything to drop at 276. So I had to infuse all that same stuff again, wasting more legendary shards, just to go up one power level each.

I guess I could start waiting for more significant jumps before infusing, but I have enough legendary shards to where I’m able to buy armor from Xur for classes I don’t even play, so that isn’t an issue. It’s more just from an inventory management perspective that it’s frustrating.

Since I hit 280, I’m able to trade in rare mods to unlock their legendary variants. The legendaries also come with a nifty +5 to power, which makes it easier to level up gear. Unfortunately, those mods aren’t taken into account for infusion, which makes that process even more confusing. I don’t know whether my gun is 280 or 275 unless I open up the menu and check for a mod. That’s lame.

I’m still mostly playing solo (my brother has all but moved on from Destiny 2), which means grinding weekly challenges for powerful gear and daily ones for curing my boredom a few nights a week. I play some multiplayer here and there, but only to finish those challenges.

I did play some PVP with my brother and another friend, and it wasn’t the worst. I just don’t like competitive multiplayer shooters. The final match we had to play in order to get our gear, I pretty much just found new and exciting ways to kill myself to make the match end faster…

To be honest, I’m not sure how much more Destiny 2 I can take.

 

Sept. 26, 2017. Power level: 275 — At some point, I’ll make one of these updates with no change in power level. But in the words of Aragorn, son of Arathorn, “Today is not that day.”

However, my progression has slowed to almost a complete halt — primarily due to me still not having tried the Nightfall or raid. At some point I’ll attempt them, but see the above quote. I’m still getting gear that I can infuse into lower level exotics, but that process is almost over and those upgrades don’t contribute to my overall power level.

My only big update is that I’m nearly done with the Drang/Sturm quest, and boy did this one take way longer than MIDA Multi-tool. I’m a firm believer that the whole “kill this many of this enemy” type things are tedious, lazy ways to stretch out quests, but Bungie couldn’t remove all the MMO from Destiny 2.

I’ve also been playing around a lot more with the shaders. On the one hand, I like the change to be able to customize the color of each individual piece of armor, but I’m not a fan of shaders being consumable. At first, it didn’t bother me so much, since I was leveling up so fast that I rarely held onto a piece of gear for more than a few days. But now that I’m reaching the realistic power level limit for my purple haired, hipster Awoken character, I want to make him look cool.

I wish that Bungie would have taken the best from both of these design options: Let us customize our armor pieces individually, but without shoving microtransactions down our throats. I’m not to the point where I’ve run out of the blue/orange shader options I like, but I’m sure that time will come. I’m also loath to use any shaders where I have fewer than two or three, for fear of running out and then getting a cool new ship or sparrow I want to use.

I get it, we paid $60 for this game and it’ll have new, free content released periodically. MMO players are used to monthly fees in order to justify that free content. Instead, we’re given the option to pay for these customizations or not. But that doesn’t make it any less frustrating to rely on real dollars and luck to make your character look the way you want them to.

 

Sept. 25, 2017. Power level: 274 — Playing video games with friends is fun. Thanks to my brother, Kyle, and Chicago-based buddy, Alex, I’m now in the middle of yet another world quest, this one leading to the exotic hand cannon, Sturm. I already have Drang, the legendary sidearm you unlock as part of the quest (that you also use in specific ways to eventually unlock Sturm), and it looks like the golden gun from Goldeneye, AKA it is rad as hell.

We’re still spending plenty of time running around the different worlds, participating in public events, scanning for world chests, and tackling the odd lost sector. Yes, that stuff is getting repetitive, and yes, it’s still fun when playing with friends.

We’ve all spoken about our waning interest in Destiny 2, and how that’s come about faster the second time around than it did the first. I think that’s due to there being less mystery to the game systems in Destiny 2. I’m not saying most of the streamlining wasn’t positive, just that there isn’t much reason to go about and randomly explore. Most everything you need shows up on your map, and if there are some crazy easter eggs in Destiny 2, it seems the community still hasn’t found them. Bungie created all of these crazy worlds with plenty of variety, yet didn’t give us enough reason to explore them. Hopefully this changes as DLC is released, and I wouldn’t be sad if there were some free add-ons, too. Give us another strike, or some smaller mini-quest that takes us through lost sector zones and little side areas on the worlds. I want to explore Destiny 2, but there isn’t much point right now.

I’m down to playing two nights a week, and I think that’s where I’ll settle. I’m not necessarily mad or sad about that, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just a little bit disappointed that there wasn’t more reason to do things like strikes and replay adventures. Once you hit that power level 270 range, it’s all about nightfalls and the raid. Nothing else gives you that sense of progression. I’m fine grinding out strikes by myself every once in a while just because they’re fun, but the experience does feel a little useless when I’m not progressing as part of it.

 

Sept. 21, 2017. Power level: 271 — I honestly haven’t been playing a ton of Destiny 2 the past few days (despite what my jump in power level implies).

Just as a quick aside, I played through two rounds of multiplayer because I was tired of seeing the prompt in my challenges section. I don’t like competitive multiplayer shooters because I’m just too damn competitive and it ruins the fun. True story, I broke my hand in 2014 while playing Destiny 1 multiplayer because some dude kept spawn killing me with a shotgun and I ended up punching the arm of my couch in frustration. Multiplayer shooters are not my friend, and I’ve learned to avoid them.

So, grain of salt taken, I think the multiplayer in Destiny 2 is fine. It definitely isn’t my thing long term, but the 4v4 seems like a decent enough change. It makes things more tactical, assuming you’re playing with friends and not randoms that don’t know how to aim a gun. I’m sure I’ll play more depending on special events, other challenges, and specific loot, but it’s not why I come to Destiny.

The reason I haven’t been playing a ton of Destiny 2 is that I find myself falling into the same trap I fell into with the first game. I start off regularly playing with friends, but since I’m not always in the mood to socialize, I revert to playing solo most of the time. And you just can’t play the best Destiny content by yourself. This contributed to my power progression slowing down that I mentioned in the previous post, because running strikes and doing public events don’t always lead to many legendaries.

Today I got back on the horse and played with a few rotating friends, and it was absolutely a better time than playing by myself. We tried this week’s nightfall, but the slow going was getting boring and then the server dropped us after about 15 mins. We didn’t load it back up.

Instead, my brother and I jumped to the Titan world quest. The deep levels of Titan are super cool; it feels like a futuristic shopping mall that’s been taken over by nature — and the Hive. This quest has you primarily running around those levels, chasing a Fallen leader for some reason or another. To be honest, I don’t pay much attention to the “why” in Destiny 2, especially when playing with friends. The shooting is enough to pull me through, and the desire for loot leads to skipping as much story as possible.

I love story in games, but when the game doesn’t make story the main draw, it kind of takes away the point. Still, continued props to Bungie for putting forth more effort and coherence to Destiny 2’s narrative and world.

After finishing the four or so mini-quests, we were rewarded with another quest line. This one leads to Rat King, an exotic hand cannon. I don’t use hand cannons that much in the game, but another exotic is too much of a draw, and this one has a cool feature where its power is increased by having multiple players in your fireteam using it. Maybe that will lead to me playing with others more often.

Speaking of exotics, I unlocked the trophy for acquiring 15, so I’m well on my way. I’m not finding most of the armor to be especially better than regular legendaries, but many of the weapons are fun to use. There’s a particular rocket launcher that I just got that fires multiple projectiles crazily into the air, all at once. It also looks like a shitty, handmade satellite. I like it.

 

Sept. 17, 2017. Power level: 265 — I found Xur today, the mysterious exotic vendor that used to call The Tower home. He’s now relegated to wandering around the open world spaces on each planet, though he seems to stay put in one each weekend.

This was Xur’s first week in Destiny 2, and we’re all still in the early going of discovering which exotics are better than others, so I was a little nervous to spend the few legendary shards I had after infusing things all week.

I’m playing a Warlock, so the armor Xur had for me was a chest piece that allows me to float in midair while firing. This was an option for me to pick while playing through the story, but the power itself didn’t seem all that useful to my playstyle, so I went with some new gauntlets instead (which I’ve since infused and now use whenever I’m going with the Stormcaller Warlock). So, that chest piece was a skip for me this time around.

Instead, I picked up Xur’s lone weapon this weekend — a solar damage fusion rifle that increases its charge rate on a non-kill shot and increases its damage when reloaded after a kill shot. Seems perfect for bosses.

No idea what Xur’s inventory will look like in future weekends — if he’ll always have one weapon and an armor piece for each class — but I’m already chomping at the bit to see other exotic options. I have 10 or so exotics right now, and I believe there are over 30 in total. Let the chase for loot continue!

 

Sept. 16, 2017. Power level: 264 — I’ve actually managed to “power up” much faster than I expected after beating the game. So many side quests, world quests, strikes, and patrols unlocked that it’s very easy to find something to do that leads to gear. I don’t see myself getting bored with the available variety anytime soon.

However, after those fun initial hours running around the different worlds with friends and getting a few new shiny exotics, I’ve finally hit the progression wall. It seems like once you get in the 260-265 range, gear no longer drops that is always a higher power level than what you have equipped. Legendary engrams still drop fairly regularly — and those at least usually come with levels nearing 270 — but since I’ve already found legendaries that I really enjoy using, they’re mostly infusion fodder.

Infusion was around in Destiny 1, but it’s more streamlined in this new game. Here’s an example: I have a legendary auto rifle that I love to use. It has the right combo of magazine size, damage, and recoil, and I’ve equipped it with a pretty killer blue and white shader. But it’s power level 255, which is significantly lower than most of my other gear. I beat a boss and get a new auto rifle. This one is power level 268, but I try it out and am not a fan. I can sacrifice this new auto rifle in order to bring the one I like up in power. It only costs some glimmer and a few legendary shards, which are earned by dismantling legendary gear.

I still haven’t parsed out the math of how the leveling up actually works, or why some infusions cost one legendary shard while others cost four, but I assume it has something to do with the rarity of the weapons you’re infusing and the comparative power levels. I infused a power level 155 exotic helmet with a 265 legendary helmet, and that exotic skyrocketed to 272. Doesn’t make sense to me, but I’ll take it. Like most everything in Destiny 2, the process is streamlined, if still a bit arcane.

Despite my leveling progress slowing to a near halt in most activities, it does encourage me to try out some of the harder content. I’ve yet to take on a nightfall, but the world quests at least seem much more manageable with communicative players in your fireteam. And heroic public events are a fun — if short — challenge whether you’re playing solo or with friends. Finishing challenges and trying Cayde’s treasure hunts are also great ways to get high-level legendary gear. But at a base level, there’s still a lot of luck involved.

 

Sept. 14, 2017. Power level: 226 — We did it. My fireteam beat the game. Ghaul has been defeated, The Traveler has released its light back to the guardians, and Earth has been saved. At least I think that’s what happened, I wasn’t super paying attention.

That’s part of the problem I’m having with Destiny 2, if it can truly be considered a problem. The story and world just haven’t grabbed me thus far. The story is a clear improvement over the first game; I’m not denying that. But, basically anything would have been an improvement over the first game’s story.

Rather, the plot and character voice over serve as just enough impetus for me to know sort of why I’m doing what I’m doing. It’s still just shooting things and holding square with friends, but I guess the context is better this time around.

I can’t say I was expecting a huge leap forward, or even that I’m tremendously disappointed in Destiny 2’s story — especially considering what they were building on. For fans of Bungie games, you can expect something more in the vein of Halo than the first time around. The final few missions give some better gameplay variation, but it’s mostly killing things with some vehicle sequences thrown in.

Now that I’m done with the story, the “real game” has unlocked. I’m on the side that thinks maybe the whole game should be the “real game,” but here we are. Landing on the new hub area post-credits becomes a huge activity dump. I can’t even begin to guess how many hours of real-deal content I have in front of me, but it certainly seems like a lot. And that’s even before I’m to the point where I can take on the nightfall and then the raid.

I’m still not sure if I’ll stick with Destiny this time around. I played Destiny 1 mostly solo and it quickly became a “brain turned off” type of thing where I’d just grind strikes when I had an hour to kill. The guys I play with right now seem more invested, but I often prefer playing games solo and that’s not the best way to play Destiny. But at least for the next few weeks (hopefully longer), I’m looking forward to uncovering, exploring, unlocking, and shooting. There will be lots of shooting.

 

Sept. 10, 2017. Power level: 212 — I’m standing in front of Tess, the Eververse salesperson (AKA the chick you give real money for customization shit). In my inventory are two bright engrams, earned by leveling up in the EDZ’s open world area. I turn them in and watch the right side of my screen with bated breath as a myriad of items are unlocked. A shader, a few mediocre mods for my weapons, and… holy shit, something that’s bordered in bright yellow. It’s an exotic hand cannon!

I immediately open my inventory to check out my new toy. But wait, it isn’t in my kinetic weapon slot, where non-elemental primary weapons are kept. It isn’t in my elemental weapon slot, either.

Did it go into my storage vault for some reason? Nope, nothing in there but the other exotics I’ve unlocked that are already outclassed by my current rare weapons and armor. Gearing up in this game occurs consistently and rapidly… at least early on.

I keep scrolling through different pages of my inventory until I spot it… in the mods menu. Turns out, I didn’t unlock an exotic hand cannon from that bright engram. I unlocked a weapon skin that can be used to change the appearance of another exotic hand cannon… one that I don’t have.

This little story of ups and downs perfectly describes my feelings on Destiny 2 thus far. It’s brought back that excitement around loot and the sense of discovery, but with that elation comes confusion and disappointment with how some new things have been implemented and how some old things have changed.

I hope my feelings change as I become accustomed to the mechanics and systems of the game, but I’m not sure Bungie succeeded in their apparent attempt to streamline things for the more “casual” player. Sure, there have been plenty of quality of life improvements. You don’t have to go into orbit after every single mission anymore. Vendors aren’t spread out on several different planets. Public events show up on your map. There is a map.

But not everything is better. I still barely know how mods work. There are still too many vendors. I’m overwhelmed with activities, strikes, adventures, events, and more types of things to do. Some secrets and experimentation can be fun, but too much can make a game seem daunting.

I think there are some YouTube tutorials in my future. But hey, at least there’s no more need for LFG.

 

Sept. 9, 2017. Power level: 140 — I’m in this shit, now. I’m a few hours into the story of Destiny 2, playing solo. I’ve reached the point of no return. I’m not saying this game will be my life for the next year or more, but I’m invested enough to see the story through and try out the end game.

So far, Destiny 2 feels like Destiny. The opening mission was cool, despite me having played it in the demo. I’m glad Bungie is making an effort to develop the side characters and involve them in the missions. We’ll see if that holds up.

Where the Cosmodrome felt industrial, the European Dead Zone (EDZ) is residential. There are broken down houses and shops, and the main area NPC is holed up in a destroyed church. Other than small differences, the new space feels like the old space. We’ll see if that changes as I explore additional worlds.

The game feels great, as expected. Despite the story issues of the first game, at least it felt good to shoot things. I don’t love the switch from primary, secondary, power weapon to the new method of kinetic, elemental, power weapon. The elemental weapons don’t feel all that useful all that often.

There’s a lot of “we’ll see” in this post, but I think that’s part of the Destiny experience. There are so many different types of things to do, it’ll be a while before I can speak definitively on any one part of the game.

But the biggest question is, do I like it so far? Yes? Kind of? I’m not totally sure. I need to play more, and I’ll definitely play more. We’ll see.

2 thoughts on “Don’t Cabal it a Comeback – Shea’s Destiny 2 Journal

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