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‘Destiny 2: Warmind’ Review: A Ray of Hope for a Flawed Game

If the past two console generations have taught gamers anything it’s that no game is unsalvageable if the developer cares enough to constantly update and fix the issues present. Games such as No Man’s Sky or The Division have gone through radical changes that have turned the once berated franchises into much more enjoyable experiences. The most prominent example of a flawed game turned into a gem is easily the original Destiny, which launched with a ridiculously shallow story and gear system that made the collective gaming audience tear their hair out. Despite Destiny 1‘s late lifetime success, Bungie has managed to repeat history with Destiny 2, releasing yet another shallow experience, arguably more painful this time round when considering the sturdy foundation of content the predecessor left behind. Destiny 2’s Warmind DLC, co-developed by both Bungie and Vicarious Visions, adds much more content and fixes many of the gameplay issues that made Destiny 2 such a slog in the first place, but Bungie still has a ways to go before Destiny 2 becomes a game that will be considered fondly.

Following the reawakening of the Traveller, many different sectors of the Milky Way are being affected by the recent explosion of light from the entity. Mars has been touched by the light of the Traveller, and as a result, many of the polar ice caps found on the Hellas Basin are erupting with ice-covered Hive. Ana Bray, a guardian formerly thought dead, has been investigating the Hive and attempting to stop them from reaching humanity’s greatest weapon, the Warmind Rasputin. Bray contacts the player through a distress signal, hoping for assistance against the awakened Hive and their mysterious, threatening leader.

The main story is so short that it’s over just when it begins to pick up steam.

Despite the great potential in the storyline, Warmind’s main campaign misses the mark of a gripping tale conveying the continued conflict between humanity and the Hive. The biggest concern is the fact that the main story is so short that it’s over just when it begins to pick up steam. The brand new villains, Xol and Nokris, only appear for two missions and are quickly disposed of in the span of about thirty minutes. The writing and tone, while an improvement on the vanilla Destiny 2 and Curse of Osiris story, are subpar at best, and Ana Bray comes off as very juvenile for an allegedly legendary Guardian. The one character who truly shines is Rasputin, who shows up just long enough to tease the eventual September expansion that has taken most of Bungie’s attention at this point.

Regardless of the mediocrity of the story, the majority of Destiny 2 players will be focused on activities and loot, which is where Warmind shines. After Warmind‘s narrative concludes, several different quest-lines open up which require the player to perform different tasks to obtain exotic weapons. The quests are lengthy enough to enjoy over the course of several play sessions without overstaying their welcome, and the reward for each of the quests are well worth the effort it takes. Warmind also re-introduces several mechanics and elements from the original Destiny, the two stand-out features being collectibles scattered all across Mars and the return of modifiers for Strike missions. While these aren’t necessarily new additions to the Destiny series, they’re welcome inclusions and aid in making Destiny 2 much more replayable than prior.

Escalation Protocol is some of the most chaotic fun a player can have in Destiny 2.

The expanded endgame included with Warmind is the most exceptional part of the expansion, with more avenues for leveling up than ever before and consistently enjoyable content. Destiny’s most beloved activities got a brand new addition in the form of Spire of Stars, a brand new raid lair that truly tests team communication and abilities. Spire of Stars is one of the toughest raids in Destiny’s history — great news for any players who want a truly challenging experience for their entire raid group. Warmind also introduces a brand new endgame PvE activity, Escalation Protocol, which is a wave-based mode that pits players against seven waves of increasingly difficult Hive opponents. Escalation Protocol is some of the most chaotic fun a player can have in Destiny 2, encouraging free-roaming Guardians on Mars to join in as they pass by. While extremely fun and a great alternative to raiding or endgame PvP, Escalation Protocol does suffer from the inability to party up with more than three players. The mode is scaled towards having around nine players at a time, nearly impossible to guarantee without glitches and exploits which allow groups to play in the same public instance. If Bungie allowed more than three players to be in the same party, then Escalation Protocol could easily become an endgame mainstay for the lifespan of Destiny from here on out.

There’s also the brand new PvP update, which makes Crucible far more enjoyable and addictive than any other iteration in Destiny 2’s lifespan. Weapons feel fantastic to fire and suitably powerful, and the brand new ranking system actually incentivizes improvement in PvP. Ranking up in both Quickplay and Competitive also yields unique rewards depending on rank, with the most revered rewards reserved for players who put in the time and effort necessary to obtain them. However, the matchmaking system for Competitive currently feels broken and offers a poor experience for solo players as it’s extremely common for teamed up players to be matched up against four solo players, usually leading to a one-sided stomp-fest. Loss streaks also exponentially decrease a player’s rank to the point that it demoralizes players to keep playing after they’ve lost a couple of matches.

Warmind isn’t without its share of issues intrinsic to Destiny 2 as a whole. The current weapon system (two primaries and one power weapon) still feels worse than the original Destiny, and the set weapon rolls lead to boring loot experiences overall. Leveling in Destiny 2 is still consolidated to weekly milestones, with little-to-no way to level up once you’ve completed all weekly objectives.  Reskins are still a pressing issue yet to be addressed in Destiny 2, many new weapons using the existing templates with little change beyond coloring and an accessory or two. However, Bungie at least seems aware of these issues as they continue publishing roadmaps that detail the problems the community has with Destiny 2. Additions such as a Public Testing Realm, exotic armor changes in order to make them more useful, and weapon randomization are just some of the systems that Bungie is updating based on community feedback.

While Destiny 2: Warmind doesn’t solve all of the titles problems, it’s a refreshing change from the barren landscape the game had devolved into prior to the expansion. As a fan of Destiny since day one and a gamer incredibly disappointed with how little longevity Destiny 2 had, Warmind gives me more to do and restores the familiar itch to log in every day and complete some of my quests or grind missions. The updates that Bungie has on the horizon make me cautiously optimistic for the future of Destiny 2, and it’ll be interesting to see if the current pressure on the sequel can produce another diamond like it did the original game by the end of its life cycle. If you left Destiny 2 out of boredom or a lack of content, then Warmind might offer enough engaging content to warrant a return. Flawed as it may be, Warmind is still enjoyable overall and a step in the right direction for the future of the franchise as a whole.

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