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Monday, March 27, 2023

'Destiny 2: Forsaken' Is a Massive, Vital Expansion—But It Lost Me

Destiny 2's latest expansion is lush, creative, and a vital shot of energy to a game that has been limping since it released. And I'm just not that into it.

Destiny 2: Forsaken begins with a bang, as it kills one of its star characters, Cayde-6, a smart-alec gunslingin' scout who was never as funny or as interesting as Bungie thought he was. With Cayde dead, the tone sours and sharpens, turning into a bleak reflection on the moral grays of Destiny's universe, pulling the player character on a Western-inflected journey for revenge. The Tangled Shore is a lawless, wild place, and Forsaken is all about frontier justice. Hunt baddies, get what's yours, and set right some wrongs.


This all sounds well and good, and it comes with some stellar story missions, some truly creative long-term content ideas, and a bevy of improvements that Destiny 2 has needed since its start. Since its release last year, Destiny 2 has felt stifled, as if all the smartest improvements the original Destiny made to its systems over the years had been carved away or simply ignored in the quest to give players of Bungie's scifi shooter a fresh start. As such, it bled players, and instead of courting casual players for long-term play, it lost the interest of a lot of players of all intensities.

I used to be one of those hardcore players. As a long-time lover of Bungie's games, I felt Destiny's hooks in me early, and I stuck with it for years, through a long and increasingly predictable series of revivals. Bungie would release some vibrant, fascinating new glimpse into their gnarled world of arcane magic and space opera superheroes—a new story campaign, a new Raid or two, and a bunch of new guns to collect. I would play it, with friends, usually, sucking the marrow out of the expansion's bones. Eventually, problems would start to appear. Little intricacies of the currency systems, or the new guns, or the repetition of old play materials that started to grate. We would run out of things to do, and most of us would move on, flocking back to Destiny's hallowed player hubs when the next expansion dropped.

Destiny is, and has always been, a charismatic preacher always on the edge of a meltdown, a visionary pioneer with just enough brilliance and flinty intensity to bring the congregation back for a tent revival every now and then. And there's a joy to that, an exhilaration of constant renewal and return, a chance to see Destiny and play it for the first time again, and again, and again. It's an addictive rhythm. But after doing it for years, I think I'm just tired.

I have a lot of friends enjoying the ride with Forsaken. So many interesting things seem to be happening. The Dreaming City late-game zone is a changing, wild place, replete with danger and mystery. Supplemental story materials are finally included in the core game, and they're just as beguiling and weird as they've always been. The guns, by all accounts, are pretty neat! And maybe I'll get there. But I'm feeling something new when I boot up Destiny 2, a sensation I've not had with this game in… well, ever. It's apathy.

I'm sorry. Maybe it's not you, Destiny 2. But maybe it's time to move on.

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