Five Shouts Out

Are we there yet

Destiny 2: Forsaken – what to expect from the shooter’s next evolution

Following fan criticism that the game was limiting how much they could play it each week, the newest expansion has reversed course – with more to do than ever before

The competitive element makes every game feel meaningful … Destiny 2: Forsaken. Photograph: Activision

With all the focus on the economics and communities of Destiny – and other all-consuming “hobby” games ranging from Fifa to Battlefield – it can be easy to overlook that they’re supposed to be fun. But based on a day sitting down with a near-final version of the game in Bungie’s studios just outside Seattle, Washington, it’s clearly been as much on the minds of the team as any of the financial and fan pressure facing the developer.

When it was released last autumn, Destiny 2 dialled back on the original’s endless grind, for better and cooler weapons. It won praise from fans and critics for ditching the randomly awarded loot of the first game, in favour of a more predictable system that guaranteed players powerful items for hitting weekly milestones. But the reaction to the changes wasn’t what Bungie expected. Rather than feeling like they were freed from a pointless chore, a vocal part of Destiny’s player base felt like the game was artificially limiting how much they could play it each week.

And so, with the newest expansion to Destiny 2: Forsaken, Bungie has reversed course. There’s more to do than ever before, with the reintroduction of collectible bounties, weapons with randomised perks, multiple types of new currencies, and more.

The competitive element makes every game feel meaningful … Destiny 2: Forsaken. Photograph: Activision

There’s also an entirely new mode, Gambit, that shares top billing with the new story-driven campaign. Gambit sees two teams of four competing to be the fastest to take out waves of computer-controlled enemies, gather the items they drop and deposit them in a central bank. This indirect competition becomes direct when your deposits spawn large, tricky enemies in your opponents’ arena, blocking any further banking until they’re cleared; and more direct still when, periodically, one member of your team can “invade” the opposing team’s map, taking out players.

The whole thing comes to a head with a boss-tier enemy to kill, even while the invasions continue. First team to take out their giant mob wins the game, and best of three games takes the match.

Gambit is the most fun I’ve had playing Destiny for years. The competitive element makes every game feel meaningful, in contrast to some of the story missions, which rapidly cease to provide any reward beyond the satisfying feeling of popping aliens’ heads off their shoulders. But unlike Crucible, Destiny’s long-running player-versus-player mode, the matches aren’t ultra-tense. A Gambit match is surprisingly relaxing, only taking on a frantic edge when an opposing player invades.

Destiny 2: Forsaken. Photograph: Activision

For the Forsaken expansion campaign, the changes are more evolutionary, less revolutionary. For longtime Destiny fans, perhaps the biggest shock of the opening couple of hours isn’t the much-trailed death of fan-favourite robot Cayde-6, but what follows shortly after, when the player’s character talks. The Guardians haven’t always been the strong, silent type – they had a fair few lines of dialogue in the original Destiny – but since 2015, their chat has been limited to grunts and exclamations.

That tonal shift, a rethinking of what the world of Destiny is, continues throughout the first chunk of the games’ campaign. One character, an alien from a race with very few talking roles in the series, arrives speaking flawless English with a southern drawl, and reels off a list of villains the player is to take out, giving each one a personality and a backstory. Gone are the days when characters would drop preposterous names such as Herald of Xol, and Bungie would hope that the air of mystery made up for the slender substance.

For die hard Destiny players, the story missions are always just an appetiser. By the midway point of Forsaken’s campaign it was clear that players would not be wanting for endgame activities. Multiple forms of bounties, a plethora of in-game currencies, and the reintroduction of random rolls for some weapons all give players plenty to do. The question for Bungie will be whether it can convince them that it’s worth getting reinvested all over again.

Destiny 2: Forsaken is released on 4 September. Activision provided flights and accommodation to attend the preview event.

By @alexhern / This article was originally posted on