It’s hard to shake the feeling that we’ve been here before with Destiny 2: Forsaken. When The Taken King hit the original Destiny and propelled the game to a point where it once again felt complete and compelling, it was a welcome addition after months and months of frustration. It’s the same story with Destiny 2, a title that’s been struggling to stay relevant, treading water with its lacking Curse of Osiris and Warmind expansions and essentially betting the farm on Forsaken. But is it enough to repair Bungie’s slowly sinking ship?
In a word, yes. Again, it feels like everything has been leading up to Forsaken’s release, but the wait has ultimately been worth it. Hardcore Destiny fans will gobble it up and likely find that their passion for the game has been rekindled. The urge to play Bungie’s shooter on a regular basis hasn’t been this strong since the launch period of Destiny 2 last year.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Forsaken certainly restores Destiny’s status as a “hobby”, but it’s also a very good expansion in its own right. There’s a grittier tone to Forsaken that’s appreciated — it’s less Superheroes in Space and more Intergalactic Outlaws. After the death of Cayde-6 — arguably the best character in Destiny — your Guardian sets off on a mission of revenge as you take down a ruthless group of baddies one by one. It’s a straightforward and consistent narrative that does a solid job of keeping you interested, and although Cayde’s demise was used as the main thrust of the expansion’s marketing, it’s an event that still adds some welcome weight to proceedings.
Having said all that, Forsaken does unfortunately go down the “but what if you’re actually the bad guy?” route with its main plot, and to be brutally honest, it’s a suggestion that comes across as tired, lazy, and incredibly lame. It can be fine to ask that kind of question in a role-playing game where there’s choice and consequence, but we’ve been blasting the heads off evil aliens for years in Destiny because we literally can’t do anything else. You can’t just suddenly turn around and suggest that the zombie-Fallen who crave destruction may in fact deserve some kind of mercy. We’d love Destiny to be a little more nuanced in its storytelling, but this is entirely the wrong way to go about it.
Narrative gripes aside, actually facing off against the aforementioned zombie-Fallen — or Scorn, to give them their official name — is the meat of Forsaken’s campaign. The gang that killed Cayde is made up of seven Barons, or generals, and you’re tasked with tracking each one down and putting a few hundred bullets in them. The twist is that each boss fight has its own theme, and it works really well. For example, one battle sees you hop on a pike and challenge a Baron to a vehicular duel, while another has you cautiously tread through a trap-filled lair. The variation kind of reminded us of the boss encounters in Metal Gear Solid 3, and that can never be a bad thing.
The new patrol zones are pretty interesting, too. The Tangled Shore — a haven for outlaws that sits in an asteroid field — is dingy and atmospheric, while the endgame Dreaming City zone is, well, dreamlike and rather striking. What’s more, Bungie’s breathed new life into Destiny 2 by gifting basically every non-playable character daily bounties that you can pick up and chase, giving you actual good reasons to get out there and explore the game’s world(s).
And that’s really where Forsaken is going to shine for a lot of people. There’s once again a sense of purpose in returning to Destiny 2 on a regular basis. There are daily and weekly challenges and bounties to complete, and doing so nets you guaranteed ‘powerful’ rewards that steadily make your Guardian stronger. The grind is most definitely back, and it’s perhaps more accessible than ever. Co-op Strikes, competitive Crucible, solo exploration — you can earn this stuff however you like, and that’s the beauty of it.
On the topic of activities, Forsaken adds one more mode to the mix: Gambit. Combining PvE and PvP elements, Gambit offers something a bit different, and even though you’re still shooting big ugly aliens and dealing with the occasional opposing player, it’s by and large a refreshing addition. There’s a unique rhythm to Gambit as you and your team slaughter computer controlled hordes, banking tokens in order to summon strong enemies that the other team of players have to deal with, effectively slowing their progress. And adding spice to proceedings, players can periodically hop through portals to take the fight directly to their opponents for a short time. It admittedly takes some getting used to, but it’s a varied and addictive experience. Barring some slightly questionable balancing — players can potentially steal the match if they time their ‘banks’ properly and there’s no real way to stop them — Bungie’s crafted something great here.
It’s safe to say that Forsaken delivers on its promises, but at what literal cost? In order to play Forsaken, you need Destiny 2 and its two previous, smaller expansions, Curse of Osiris and Warmind. Destiny is an expensive hobby, then, and ‘hobby’ is the key word. If you have the time to spare and you’re able to hop on Destiny 2 a few times a week, then you’ll probably get good value out of Forsaken. If not, then you’re left with a rock solid expansion, but one that doesn’t quite justify its hefty price tag.
Destiny 2: Forsaken is an undeniable return to form for Bungie’s shooter, boasting a very enjoyable campaign and breathing some much needed life into the overall experience. It reestablishes Destiny 2’s status as a ‘hobby’ game, once again giving players good reason to come back on a regular basis, but your mileage will no doubt vary depending on your tolerance for the grind. With a hefty price tag, it’s best to make sure that you know what you’re getting into before lining up the shot.