Destiny 2: Forsaken (PS4) Review
It’s that time of the year again. Yep, another Destiny 2 expansion is upon us. As the first expansion that’s not covered by the expansion pass, Forsaken has a lot on its shoulders. If it’s bad, chances are nobody will get the new annual pass that gives more stuff to do over the next year. The good news? It’s rather good, but it’s still pretty much more of the same game, with a few tweaks under the hood.
After all the times you stopped evil and saved the universe in the past, the plot of Forsaken is a much welcome breath of fresh air. Instead of the grandiose scale of past stories, this one is much more intimate and personal; the death of Cayde 6 and the Guardians’ response to it.
It’s a rather simplistic ‘eye for an eye’ plot, though there are some overtures about how being a Guardian is about protecting the masses and whether revenge is the right course of action.
Done well, the plot could’ve delved into a rather interesting tale of morality, and whether it’s right for a protector to exact revenge for a fallen ally.
Instead, Forsaken just pays lip service to that notion.
Apart from a few lines by the Ghost and Zavala, the thought that Guardians shouldn’t be out for revenge is quickly thrown out of the window and never touched upon in greater detail.
Flimsy attempt at morality aside, the plot works.
I’ve (and I reckon many other players) grown to like (or at least tolerate) Cayde 6 throughout the years. He’s not a deep character, but as the sole wisecracking outlet for Destiny 2’s humor, he’s a pretty standout figure in a serious and dour game. That makes his death all the more cutting, since not only has Bungie eliminated the funny part of Destiny, they’ve made it personal by taking out one of the few genuinely likeable main characters the game has. It’s even more of a blow knowing that it’s due to the actions of a former ally, the Awoken Prince Uldren Sov.
Uldren’s motivations aren’t particularly made clear until the very end, where in a clumsy reveal, it’s shown that there’s a higher power controlling him as he’s been corrupted by the Taken. Perhaps the codex entries scattered throughout offer more clues, but since they’re optional, most people will probably not bother looking for them.
Destiny’s never been one to have a coherent plot, instead opting for Codex entries that players have to piece together. In Forsaken, that tradition continues, to my chagrin. I love the world and lore but Bungie seriously needs to beef up their storytelling instead of just chucking all the extra stuff into Codex entries or item descriptions.
The plot to avenge Cayde 6 is unlike other expansions as you’re almost immediately given a hitlist of targets to take out. These 8 targets are the ones directly responsible for Cayde’s death, and are the key to stopping Uldren Sov, one-time ally and Cayde’s killer.
Uldren and his 8 Barons lead a new faction in Destiny. Calling themselves the Scorn, they’re made up of dead Fallen soldiers, animated by dark magic used by The Fanatic, Uldren’s right hand man. The 8 Barons all have fancy names and personalities, and are ominously introduced through a pretty cool cinematic.
Unfortunately, the hype built up by that cutscene is pretty much lost when you face them as apart from three (The Rider, The Machinist and The Rifleman), most of the fights devolve into a battle of attrition…pretty much like every boss in Destiny. You run through their small area, killing everything while the boss pops in and out to attack you until you reach the end, where you duke it out with the boss and his cronies.
However, the three named Barons have incredibly cool battles. The Rider’s battle for example, has you stealing one of the Baron’s bikes before facing her in a vehicular showdown. The Rifleman fight on the other hand is a battle of wits, as you try to dodge sniper fire and take out the Baron’s hard light holograms. Finally, the Machinist fight is pure brute force as it has you piloting a tank for most of it, which is undoubtedly the most fun I had doing the Forsaken campaign missions.
Sadly, for an expansion based on taking down bosses, the final one is a major letdown. There’s no challenge to it, with you simply facing down waves of Taken, while being teleported in and out of the main arena as you whittle down the boss’ health. Frustratingly, you don’t even get to fight Uldren Sov and the aftermath of your final ‘encounter’ with him is infuriatingly vague and inconclusive.
Luckily, the plot isn’t the only thing that Forsaken adds.
The biggest and most noticeable addition comes in the form of a new playable location called the Tangled Shore. Like the other locales in Destiny 2, the new area is broken into smaller sub-sections, with their own Lost Sectors, Region Chests and patrol missions. The areas aren’t as big as previous locales but they make up for it in their verticality. You’ll be jumping, climbing and ascending more in the new areas than you’ve previously done.
The new Public Events are a step back though, as most of the areas share the same ones; particular a very boring one where you have to clear out waves of enemies and then eliminate a mini-boss. Alternatively, the Heroic version of that event has you rooted in a place around the boss as you prepare him for transport. It’s a decent event by itself but having it appear in multiple areas in the Tangled Shore is just plain laziness especially considering Forsaken is a paid expansion, not a free content update.
Another hidden area opens up once you’ve started the post-game content, called the Dreaming City. It’s here where you’ll be able to get another Seed of Light for your class as it drops during one of the Public Events that regularly occur. You’ll need a ton of friends with high Power levels though as the event is meant for 550 Power and above players. Of the two new areas, the Dreaming City is my obvious favourite with its unique look and compact locations. I just wish there was more to do apart from patrols and the Public Events there.
There’s been a whole reworking of nearly every aspect of the game under the hood, though the biggest change is definitely the one done to the weapons system. Now, guns are grouped into ammo types instead of weapon types, similar to how it was in the original Destiny.
This update of the original system results in much more flexible gameplay setups. You can now equip two shotguns if you desire, as long as the guns are in the primary and secondary slot. Heavy Weapons remain relatively unchanged, with rocket launchers, grenade launchers, swords and other high damage weapons.
Weapons also now come with randomized perks, so even copies of the same gun might perform differently depending on which perk its imbued with. If you’re one of the many who enjoyed hunting for the perfect weapon with the best perks, get ready to be in hog heaven again. Bungie’s also increased the stash size to 500 slots now, perfect for those who love to hoard duplicates and variations of different guns and other items. The star attraction for hoarders though has to be the new Collections tab.
The Collections tab collects nearly everything you’ve acquired in the game; Exotics, Weapons, Armors, Ghost Shells, Vehicles and Flair. Once you have something that’s supposed to go in the collection, it’s unlocked for all time. If you need to reacquire it, you can just pay the Collection’s asking price (which differs from item to item) and you’ll get a copy of it in your inventory.
Forsaken also introduces a new weapon type; bows. You get one relatively early on in the campaign and it’s freakishly fun to use. It’s incredibly powerful, though it doesn’t really require much skill to use owing to its generous headshot ability with auto-aim, especially when you’re aiming down its sights. I’ve not encountered the Exotic equivalent but I’m sure there’s probably (or one is probably coming soon) an Exotic version of the weapon.
The expansion pack also introduces a new feature called Triumphs. These are achievements and feats you’ve accomplished, which are recorded in one handy place. They all give you Triumph points, which raises your score and gives you various special badges and nameplates to display.
It’s a pretty neat system that encourages you to play a ton but I honestly feel that the rewards are a bit lacking, especially considering how hard to accomplish some of the triumphs are. A more well-rounded rewards system (with more variety in the types of rewards you get) would make the Triumphs system a lot more addicting and useful than it currently is.
With Forsaken, you can now level up to Level 50, with power levels rising up to a max of 600. You can easily get to 500 just by doing the normal Forsaken missions though going past that will require you to do the usual post-game content in the form of Strikes, Nightfall Strikes, Raids and Weekly Challenges for ‘Powerful Gear’ drops.
Like in previous expansions, Forsaken also includes new supers, one for each subclass, which you’ll need to unlock via gameplay. You’ll need an item called a Seed of Light to unlock the base ability, and continue usage of that ability will unlock the other skills in that tree. The new Supers don’t really shake the game up but they do offer more gameplay options. I like the new Titan special that gives my character a mobile shield AND buffs the team’s firepower if they shoot through it, though at times I’m still using the tried and true shield throw and bash special.
As per the norm, you also get some post-game Exotic weapon quests, one of which will get you Cayde’s Ace of Spades handcannon. As usual, the hoops you have to jump through are still as annoying as ever.
One of the steps for the aforementioned handcannon for example, forces you to play the Gambit game mode, invade the opposing side AND kill a total of 5 players with handcannons. What if you don’t have Playstation Plus? You’re screwed.
I wish Bungie would stop forcing players to jump through hoops to acquire some of the Exotics. At the very least, make the conditions for acquiring them more flexible for those who aren’t inclined to (or simply can’t) complete some of the steps. How hard would it be to add in alternative methods (like headshot 500 AI with handcannons or something) if you don’t want to do the Gambit requirement.
Still, it shouldn’t be held against the new Gambit mode, which is a pretty great mix of PVP and PVE. Two teams of 4 go up against AI controlled enemies in mirrored maps. The AI drop cores when killed, which players will need to collect. You’ll need to deposit those cores at a certain point in the map but choosing when to do so plays a large part in the strategy. Depositing one or two cores ensures you’re steadily contributing, but banking in large numbers of cores at once also spawns blockers on your opponent’s side, which delays them from depositing their cores. It’s a tightrope you’ll have to walk, and it’s incredibly fun to juggle.
Bank 75 cores and you’ll summon a primeval, which you’ll need to kill to win the match.
On top of that, a portal will open at certain intervals, which allows a member of your team to invade the other team’s map to cause some mayhem. Used strategically, this can turn the tide of any match though the invader only has 30 seconds to wreak havoc. Even better, if you down somebody while their Primeval is active, it actually heals the beast, which gives more time for your team to take down yours.
Forsaken also now comes with all new Bounties. You can get these from nearly every major NPC in the game, with each NPC specializing in their own bounty types. Spider (a new Forsaken NPC), for example specializes in Scorn hunts, which has you tracking down and killing Scorn leaders hiding out in the various maps.
The Bounty system was one of the best reasons to keep playing in the original Destiny and the MASSIVE number and types of Bounties you can now undertake in Forsaken in a HUGE step up from the original. Hopefully Bungie tweaks the rewards to include ‘Powerful Gear’ engrams in the future too, so that you have more avenues of getting stronger gear.
Speaking of gear, upgrading them is now MUCH more expensive and require a lot more materials and glimmer. Fortunately, there’s now a way to get some of the earlier materials via Spider, the new Forsaken NPC. He provides an exchange service, allowing you to trade in glimmer and other materials in exchange for items like Masterwork cores. It’s not cheap, but it’s still a great alternative to farming, especially if you have extra stuff and money to burn.
Shaders however are still one time use items and not much have been done to address them piling up in inventories. Master Rahool can now delete them in bulk for you but managing which ones you want (and the tons that you don’t) is still an issue which eats up precious inventory. While the Stash’s inventory has been increased, player inventories are still the same, which means the shaders quickly eat up the space. This has been an issue since Destiny 2 came out and it’s incredibly frustrating to see that even after three expansions, this issue is still plaguing the game. Honestly, why aren’t shaders part of the Collection? It’ll wipe out all issues players have had with them in a single motion.
Forsaken’s new content means there’s a ton new but it also unfortunately means there’s bound to be bugs. In my playing, I’ve encountered two glitches; one annoying and another, more troubling one.
The annoying one is a ‘Joining your allies’ bug, which displays the ‘Joining Your Allies’ screen. Normally, this happens when you’re separated in a strike or other team event. However, I encountered the bug multiple times when I was playing solo and ALWAYS after respawning in a Respawn Restricted zone.
The other one is pretty major, considering it affects a Triumph. It occurred during my fight with The Rifleman, when he’s down to around half health.
The Rifleman will constantly spawn decoys you’ll need to kill to get to him. The glitch happened when I killed about five decoys during a wave and instead of reappearing back to fight me, the fight just ended with the Rifleman considered dead by the game despite having about half his life bar left.
Due to that, WANTED: The Rifleman and The Hit List (which is given for killing all Barons) Triumphs are still locked away for me, though I’ve already finished Forsaken’s campaign. My only hope right now to get it is to play as another character, or hope that a Daily Mission will include the Rifleman fight one day and hope it triggers correctly.
Bugs and some questionable decisions aside, Forsaken is a pretty decent expansion for Destiny 2. The overhaul to the weapons gives you a lot more choice on how to outfit your Guardian and Gambit is a fun new addition to the game. The quality of life updates like the Collection feature should’ve been in since day one but it’s still a welcome feature, late as it may be to the party. While Triumphs are a great idea to celebrate each player’s achievements, I just wish that the rewards for having high scores are a bit more impactful.
Sadly, those looking for a more substantial plot to beef up Destiny’s story will definitely be left wanting. Underneath the new coat of paint, this IS still Destiny 2. It’s better now sure, but some of the real issues are still present; one of them being the shaders.
But hey, with a year’s worth of content still on the cards, hopefully Bungie wises up and moves to enact a much requested change real soon