A World Without Light? Not in My City

Gabriel Silvas, Columnist

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Hey, remember that one time about two years ago when the Cabal sent a distress signal that was directed to the leader of the Cabal Empire? No, just me? Well, after giving Oryx the Taken King a severe case of permanent death, followed by shutting down the SIVA Crisis a year later by destroying both the SIVA Replication Chamber and Aksis, the leader of the Devil Splicers that had become both a machine god and the mind behind the outbreak, it would be safe to say that humanity deserved a time of celebration. Thus did the Last City, safely tucked beneath the shadow of the Traveler, enter the Age of Triumph. Nearly four years after your Guardian was resurrected in the outskirts of the Cosmodrome, so much has been accomplished and humanity has come out of one of their darkest hours even stronger. The Black Heart, Atheon, Crota, Skolas, Oryx, SIVA, and Aksis have all been defeated by your hand. Now, the Fallen have all gone into hiding, the Hive have lost two of their gods, the Taken are leaderless, the Cabal have been almost completely wiped out, and the Vex have failed to perfect their experiments within the Vault of Glass. No matter what comes their way, the Guardians will rise up to protect humanity from their enemies and the Darkness. Except when Cabal reinforcements (something about a distress signal) stage a sneak attack on the Last City, destroying the Tower in the process. Oh, and now the Traveler has been captured and is being held in a giant cage. Also, the Guardians have been cut off from the Light and have lost all of their powers and immortality. Well, shoot.

The highly-anticipated sequel to the original 2014 shooter, Destiny 2 is the next proper installment in the Destiny series by Bungie. Released in early September of 2017, the game follows the Guardians, the defenders of humanity, as they lose the source of their powers and struggle to fight back against the elite Red Legion of the Cabal Empire in order to take back the Last City and the Traveler. Taking all of the great things from the first game, continuing to improve on it all, and most importantly, addressing the issues that plagued the original title, Destiny 2 has delivered on all fronts, with many calling it the game that the first Destiny should have been. As support for the previous console generation was dropped prior to the release of Rise of Iron, the game is not only available for the PS4 and Xbox One, but also the PC, bringing in that community into the fold.

The core cast from the first game returns alongside a few new faces, but with a larger focus on the story this time around, they all have a larger presence and have more chances to shine. The player Guardian, now solidly going down the silent protagonist route, and their Ghost barely survive the initial onslaught on the Tower, escaping the Last City before meeting up with other survivors. Heading to the Shard of the Traveler in the European Dead Zone, they manage to regain their Light and stand as the last hope the Guardians have in saving everything. The Vanguard have been scattered after the attack and are now facing their own issues as well. Commander Zavala arrives on Titan and is burdened by what he sees as his failure to protect the City, wondering if he can even be called a Guardian anymore; Cayde-6 heads to 7066 Nessus, now a Vex machine world, to steal a teleporter from the Vex, his frustration with their situation pushing him to essentially go on a one-man suicide mission to assassinate the Red Legion’s commander; and Ikora Rey travels to Io, the last place in the Sol System touched by the Traveler, in the hopes that she might find answers to their crisis while she herself is plagued with doubt and fear of the fact that she is now mortal. Joining up are numerous faces both new and old, bringing back the likes of Lord Shaxx, Arcite 99-40, Tyra Karn, and Amanda Holliday, while introducing new characters such as Suraya Hawthorne, Devrim Kay VIII, Deputy Commander Sloan, Failsafe, and Asher Mir.

In sharp contrast to the first Destiny, there is a central, tangible antagonist that immediately commands the player’s attention. The Red Legion is led by Dominus Ghaul, the de-facto leader of the Cabal Empire. Ghaul desires the Traveler above all else, as he believes that it should have been the Cabal, not humanity, that received its power. Taking control of the City after a brutal one-sided fight and in possession of the sleeping god, the Dominus is interrogating the Speaker in the hopes that he can properly be chosen and recognized as the Traveler’s rightful wielder. Elsewhere, while the Red Legion has spread all across the system, the other factions have not given up all of their territory so easily. The Fallen, after suffering defeat after defeat in the first game, have been driven to desperation and have united to form a single new House, the House of Dusk, which has spread all across the Sol System to continue to survive, now more coordinated than ever before; The Hive are only encountered on Titan, but with its close proximity to the Dreadnaught, it was easy for a new, stronger generation of screeching abominations to be born and infest the ocean moon, waiting for more of their gods to return; The Vex continue to do whatever they want, having turned Nessus into another of their machine planets and are even present on Io, where they have constructed the Pryamidion, a nightmare complex of Vex geometries and gateways that can convert organic matter into new Vex units; Finally, the Taken still continue to haunt the system long after Oryx’s demise, but have shown considerable interest in Io as they feast upon the Traveler’s energy that laces the moon in order to strengthen their dwindling numbers.

The gameplay remains as good as it was in the first game, but with a number of notable changes and improvements. Guns now have their own dedicated perks that can be changed right from the get-go, subclasses have become a bit more streamlined and possess a number of new and improved abilities, the patrol areas are larger and have more to explore (as well as having a map to interact with), and everything looks better than its already impressive-looking predecessor. The loot system has been further expanded on, with new equipment dropping fairly regularly either through killing enemies, completing Public Events and Adventures, or opening chests in Lost Sectors, mini-dungeons that can be explored for additional prizes. Perhaps the biggest addition are the three new subclasses that replace some of the old ones. Hunter Bladedancers are now Arcstriders, where they wield staffs of Arc energy and become nimble warriors that can be hard to it; Warlock Sunsingers have become Dawnblades, manifesting their Solar energy into wings and swords that can deliver swift justice from above; and Titan Defenders are now Sentinels, where they essentially become Space Captain America and offer equal opportunity for offensive and defensive combat, though the original Ward of Dawn can be used in one of the two skill trees.

Much like the first game, two bits of DLC have been initially revealed as part of the Season Pass. The first one, Curse of Osiris, is slated for a December release and will center around the legendary Warlock himself, finally shedding some light on the exiled Guardian. Returning to Mercury to properly explore it this time around, the player must find and save Osiris, rebuild the ties between him and Ikora, his greatest student, and stop the latest Vex plot that will reshape the future to their designs. Players will also gain a new Patrol Zone in the form of the Infinite Forest and the good old Lighthouse returns as the Social Space, fulfilling the dreams of everyone that could not go flawless in the Trials of Osiris. The second DLC is currently untitled and no details have been revealed so far, but it appears that Rasputin, everyone’s favorite crazy Russian A.I., will become involved after being mostly absent from the base game, while also possibly delving into the history of the Warmind Project.

Destiny 2 is everything the original game should have been and is a fantastic improvement. Fans of the original that stuck with it to the end will no doubt continue to love what is being done. Even those who were burnt out by the first Destiny, especially during Year One, might be able to enjoy all of the upgrades the sequel has. The game also does a great job at both easing in newcomers and rewarding veterans, as the dialogue will change accordingly depending on if you are continuing your adventure from the first game or are just now starting out. With how Destiny 2 was delivered, Bungie seems to have learned from their mistakes and are completely focused on making the game the best it can be. If you think that the series is now worth getting into or worth picking back up, then you might very well find yourself as engrossed in this world as the fans. If you are continuing your journey from the first game, welcome back. Eyes up, Guardian.

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