I spent most of my youth avoiding the First-Person Shooter genre, mainly due to stubborn boyfriends of yesteryear being reluctant to let me try the like of Halo: Combat Evolved or Call of Duty 2 on the Xbox 360. One was kind enough to show me the ropes of RPG and FPS PC gaming, which led to my unwavering dedication to completing every quest, challenge and collection in each RPG I play, as well as a new respect for shooters. So, when the time came for me to set out on my own gaming adventure in 2014 – with Christmas just around the corner – I asked for Fry Cry 4 and Destiny alongside my shiny new PS4 and try my hand at some next-gen FPS’.
Needless to say, I wasn’t particularly enamoured with either game because I was so terrible at them. Having never played any of its predecessors, I found Far Cry 4 unintuitive and clunky and I could barely walk straight and chew gum at the same time in what was my first experience of a next-generation console. Then there was Destiny. Revered by Bungie aficionados as the next best thing since sliced bread and the Spartan laser, Destiny was poised to revolutionise the genre just like it’s grandfather, the aforementioned: Halo: Combat Evolved. Now, considering that I had barely touched any of the Halo games, as well being disgracefully bad at a wide range of FPS games, I’m not sure why I even tried to play Destiny. I could recognise its appeal: The graphics were stunning, it was set in space which already made it pretty enjoyable, and it even had the robotic voice talents of Peter Dinklage to boot. So why did I hate it so much?
Destiny was unforgivingly rigid and difficult to grasp if you weren’t used to either the genre or Bungie’s well-honed shooting styles. Having since played through the Halo saga, both Destiny and Destiny 2 feel a lot more natural to me, but back in 2014, I was pretty sure that there were 8-year olds with a better grasp of the game than I had. And so, it was banished to the bottom of the pile and I jumped ship to The Last of Us, another apparent “Next-gen triumph” that I failed to connect with.
But I digress. In 2017, as taking on as much feedback from the fans as humanly possible, Bungie released the highly anticipated Destiny 2. Before its release, there was a stiff air of apprehension regarding how the game would be received; Had Bungie listened to the waves of fans who shouted “Bungie, fix your game!” every time their connection dropped, or their fireteam was once again wiped out by an overpowered enemy? Would this be the game fans had dreamed of and that the creators aspired to make the first-time round?
I may have my limitations with experience of FPS; I don’t claim to be an expert by any means. But Destiny 2 was a fucking triumph. It was exciting, challenging and beautifully designed; the vistas and commitment to detail were outstanding as you ran, glided and blasted your way into battle. There was a real team spirit between players when we all congregated at The Farm; I played football with around 6 other players at one point, forgetting entirely that I was playing an online FPS game. The main questline progressed at a good pace, had a believable and well-developed plot and a worthy nemesis to fight at the end. And, of course, Nathan Fillion and his pet chicken.
Having bought the game the day after release, I anticipated a few lag and connection issues but to this date, my connection hasn’t been dropped once, whether I was playing solo or with friends, much to my surprise. What caught me out was how accessible Destiny 2 was for new players to the franchise and/or genre. The controls were easy to remember, and the player is presented with a choice of layouts, meaning that we tweaked the settings slightly to resemble the Halo 2 controls since I was playing it in between Destiny 2 sessions. Upgrading, changing and even destroying weapons was simple and straightforward, which made getting to grips with the different playing styles far easier than the previous instalment. It was well signposted without holding your hand the whole way and the transport and maps systems gave a real sense of freedom which you often don’t get with a typically linear genre. The controller sensitivity system is also far superior allowing for a more natural feel when scanning the horizon and aiming at your foes, as well as more accuracy when gliding and strafing. I actually became quite good at it which, having read this far, you probably aren’t wrong to assume that I’m absolutely shite at these types of games.
My only gripe about this game is the mute protagonist. Whilst Master Chief didn’t exactly have the conversational range of Commander Shepard, having an entirely silent champion didn’t make much sense, considering our last Guardian had some dialogue. Instead, my Guardian just made a few surprised, “Oh, shit.” faces now and again, scowled when she was inconvenienced and nodded happily like Harpo Marx. Whilst it doesn’t detract from the overall quality of the game, I’d have liked to have heard more than pants, grunts and death wails. Having said that, the soundtrack sets the tone and pace of the game well in a way that allows for a lack of dialogue; the fast, electronic tempo of the battle music is enough to rile anyone up for a good fight and the calmer, uplifting feel of the ambient music on The Farm and whilst in orbit allows you to relax and gather your thoughts before you decide which quest or area to tackle next – just as a good soundtrack should.
I like to think that, as part of my personality, I’ve “grown” as a gamer; I have readily accepted new genres that I otherwise wouldn’t have touched with a bargepole (looking at you, JRPG) and have connected with a much wider community because of it. I’m much more adept with a sword and a fire spell than I am with a rifle and grenades, but the transition from monster slayer to Guardian was a smooth one, mostly because I picked the Warlock class which, incidentally, comes with a power move that combines swords and fire, which only increased my love for this game. Destiny 2 was a gamble for Bungie and their fans and for sceptics like me who didn’t hold out much hope due to the less than stellar reception of the first game. Whether you love a good shooter or you’re new to the world of online gaming and want an engaging, funny and downright gorgeous game to play then get in amongst Destiny 2. Otherwise, pick up The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and thank me later.
Anyway, you can add me on PSN for a game: Thirsty_llama.