With two new areas to explore, one of the coolest NPC’s (Non-player characters) since 2014, a story that has personal stakes for fans, more goodies to collect, and a revolutionary multiplayer mode, Destiny 2: Forsaken is the one of the best expansions in the series’ history.
I was immediately taken aback by Forsaken’s opening mission, which starts as a fun trip down memory lane for those who’ve played the original game’s House of Wolves add-on, and ends with the death of fan-favorite character, Cayde-6. This loss was far more effective than I thought it would be, especially since it was announced months before players were able to experience it. It not only serves as the beginning of a path towards justice and revenge for your Guardian, but it motivated me personally to avenge the Hunter Vanguard’s death as quickly as possible. Cayde-6 was the reason I chose a Hunter as my first character roughly four years ago, and I couldn’t wait to put his murderer, Prince Uldren Sov (a returning character who was last presumed dead) six feet under.
However, there’s an army of zombie-like creatures called “Scorn” standing between you and Uldren. The Scorn aren’t the most unique of enemy factions, but their combat style is different enough from the others that they still stand out. For example, there’s one type of Scorn that carries a flaming mace that acts as both a weapon and weak spot. Instead of going for headshots, their spinning and swaying vulnerable points forced me to backpedal while shooting more often than usual.
Serving under Uldren and leading the Scorn are the eight Barons. They’re towering figures that you must hunt down in order to reach Uldren, and most of their missions involve a fun, short chase sequence that leads up to a boss battle. That formula applies to the majority of them, but there’s enough variety in the way the chases unfold and the Barons’ abilities, weapons, and tactics are cool enough for them all to stand out as some of the series’ better bosses.
Aiding you on your quest are the returning character Petra Venj, who served under Uldren’s sister and has knowledge of villainous Prince’s plans, and the Spider, Destiny’s version of Jabba the Hutt. Unlike other Fallen, one of the most prominent enemy species in both games, Spider is more focused on profit than anything else. He’s more than happy to aid the player during their search for the Barons and Uldren because he wants them dead too, but I’m curious to see how he may evolve later in Destiny 2 if his interests no longer align with the good guys. Most of the English-speaking Fallen we’ve seen until now have been somewhat bland (sorry, Variks), but Spider is one that’s interesting enough to hope we to see more of outside the Tangled Shore.
Speaking of the Tangled Shore, Forsaken’s first new landscape is one of the most unique in Destiny 2. It’s made of broken landmasses patched together (poorly) and helps add to the darker vibe of the story. It’s nothing groundbreaking (heh), but is one of my favorite locales in either game. There’s an endgame area as well, but I won’t spoil the details here.
After finishing the Forsaken campaign, I hesitantly jumped into the new multiplayer mode developer Bungie had been hyping up, Gambit. I never cared much for the competitive modes in both Destinies, but Gambit stands far above the others because it’s the only one that I think is actually fun. Two teams of players are separated and tasked with killing enemies, collecting the motes they drop, and depositing them at one location in order to summon and kill a boss before the other team. Occasionally, one player from each side can invade the other group’s world for an attack from behind, which can lead to some truly clutch kills or genuinely embarrassing deaths. All of this creates a risk/reward dynamic that often decides the outcome of the match. Do you bank your motes immediately, or risk dying and losing them to hopefully save up for a blocker that will halt your opponents’ progress? Should you keep killing enemies, or hide until you know where the invader is so he/she doesn’t kill you and heal the boss? It’s fast, frantic, and intense in all the right ways.
And as always, there’s tons of new loot to find. I’ve barely scratched the surface of all the new gear, weapons, and sub-classes, but I already love what I’m seeing.
With all things considered, Destiny 2: Forsaken is a highlight in Bungie’s four years of Destiny so far. It adds a strong chapter to the series’ constantly-improving narrative, multiple new sandboxes to explore, one of the best multiplayer game-types since 2008’s Horde Mode in Gears of War 2, and it will surely keep me coming back for the next few months at an absolute minimum.