Hands-On: Destiny 2 Campaign

Hands-On: Destiny 2 Campaign

* PS Nation was invited to an event in Seattle, Washington by Activision and Bungie for a hands-on preview of Destiny 2. Travel, food, and lodging were paid for by the studios.


This will be covering the main campaign of Destiny 2. I will not spoil any story points, but I will still be giving my personal impressions of the campaign.

If you follow Destiny at all, you know that there was very little story in the base game that came out in the fall of 2014. Over time the story slowly got better with the expansions, but by then the damage was already done.

Multiple times I have heard “Destiny has no story” or “I don’t understand what I’m doing or why I am doing it”. A large population of the player base left before fully experiencing the end game content consisting of Raids, Nightfalls, Iron Banner, and Trials of Osiris, which I personally feel is where Destiny truly shined.

Concern yourselves no more, Destiny 2 does have a solid story that has a beginning, middle, and what appears to be a good ending. I was only able to play about two-thirds of the campaign missions before we needed to stop playing, but this was more than enough time to get a solid understanding of what’s going on and why.

I will briefly go over the basics of the new story. Back in the Fall of 2015 when The Taken King expansion launched, it began with a Cabal distress signal coming from Phobos, one of the moons of Mars. You went to investigate what was happening and ended up getting in the middle of a war between the Cabal and the newly introduced Taken. However, you never really knew where this distress signal went until now.

The Red Legion is a faction of the Cabal Empire. It’s led by Dominus Ghaul and he believes that the traveler chose wrong when granting Guardians the ability to wield the Light. He has devised a plan to take control of the Traveler and make it grant him the Light. Now, it’s unclear if the Cabal distress signal is what brought the Red Legion here or if it’s simply that Ghaul has been planning this for quite some time as indicated in the campaign.

A Guardian’s Light is what separates them from being just a normal member of society. Wielding the Light means it’s unlikely you will ever die, as your Ghost can revive you. It also gives you special abilities that make Guardians great.

These can be anything from the ability to make a golden gun that does massive damage to enemies or to become fully charged with arc energy and run around smashing the ground and shoulder charging into numerous enemies. This is what makes Guardians the god-slayers we have come to love from playing Destiny.

But within a span of a couple of hours, the Red Legion destroys the last safe city on Earth and takes control of the Tower and puts a shield around the Traveler, making our Guardians powerless.

Being a player of Destiny for almost 2,000 hours over the past three years, I have become very attached to my Light and my abilities in the game. Now a new enemy has come and ripped that all away from me and my friends.

For the first time ever in the game, I felt an attachment to what I was going to be doing and why I was doing it. The Red Legion’s attack sent members of the Vanguard, a council made to help protect humanity through the Guardians, away from Earth to other destinations in the Solar System. The Speaker who speaks for the Traveler is missing and the systems that have been in place for centuries in the last safe city are now gone and broken thanks to the Red Legion.

The amount of storytelling and cutscenes that are in the first few hours set this game far, far apart from the first. You can really tell that it was built with only current-gen hardware in mind as well as not going through the development struggles that Destiny went through.

The first major change, mentioned in my EDZ hands-on post, is that the open environments are truly open. It’s very clear where you need to go next if you are focusing on the campaign.

In the original you would open a new destination like the Moon and then three or four story missions would be made available to you but you didn’t know which one you should do first. Then, after completing what you hoped would be the correct mission, you would have to go back into orbit and then maybe go to the Tower and speak to someone who would just send you back to the Moon to complete another mission.

All of that is 100% gone in Destiny 2. Listening to the narrative that’s given to you while you’re playing the game is all you need. Story missions appear on your directory one at a time as you progress through the campaign.

However, I do recommend completing some of the adventures you encounter throughout your journey. There are two reasons for this. First, adventures supplement the base story perfectly giving you small tidbits that just make everything feel more connected. Second, you need to increase your power level as you play. Nothing feels worse than being excited to find out what happens next only to find that your power level is too low to enter the next destination.

Over the lifespan of Destiny, the storytelling and cutscenes got better, but in Destiny 2 you can really see the potential for Bungle to tell an amazing story from scratch. The character building with old ones interacting with newly introduced characters is perfect and helps the game feel fresh, as well as having some great moments for veteran players.

We have been told that each player’s experience will be slightly different with the way things are introduced to you via lines from your Ghost. For example, if you’re a veteran player, when you first run into the Hive on Titan, your ghost will respond to you differently than a new player who has no idea what the Hive even are.

This will all be account based, not save based, so even if you delete and start a new character it will still know your history. It doesn’t appear that any of this will be significant info either missed or not understood, but just small call outs for the players that have already been playing in this universe for the past one to three years.

If you played the Beta, then you know how the first mission goes. The Tower is under attack and you’re trying to protect the people and your home. You board Ghaul’s ship in hopes of being able to shut down his attack. However you are already too late and Ghaul now has control over the Earth as well as the Traveler leaving you powerless as he kicks you off his ship, tumbling to the ground and not knowing where your Ghost is.

The next mission sees you powerless and weaponless for the first time ever in Destiny. Your health is low and even just moving is a struggle. During this mission, you’re in a third-person perspective and the city is absolutely destroyed.

Without your Ghost, you cannot regenerate your health and if you die you cannot be revived. Bungie has done a great job of showing you the impact and damage the Red Legion has made to your home. Now fear not, after a short period of time you do become reunited with your Ghost but he is damaged as well.

Still not having Light, you cannot be revived and need to play much more cautiously then you have become used to in the past. I found myself playing very slow and passive, feeling powerless for the first time ever. You run into an eagle that flies away in the direction it wants you to go every time you get close to it.

As you progress through the destroyed city you begin to move through a forest making your way towards this bird unsure of why it’s even there. You come upon a group of non-Guardians that are trying to help people escape the city and taking them to a new home they have found that is safe from the Red Legion.

You’re introduced to Hawthorne, the leader of this resistance group who has been fighting for years without the Light of the Traveler. Hawthorne then invites you to come with her to the place she is calling the Farm.

The Farm serves as your new social space in Destiny 2. Some familiar things have made their way here and they’re set up to aid you in your new adventures. The first thing you notice once you get arrive is that in the distance there’s a shard of the Traveler that appears to have fallen off during the Red Legion’s attack. However, this shard is deep in a dangerous forest that Hawthorne says no one ever goes into anymore. Your Ghost is adamant that you go to that shard, as it might have something that you need.

The fact that Hawthorne doesn’t even want you to go to this shard begins the main dialogue for the campaign. You are introduced to a lot of other non-Guardians that have been holding off the Red Legion without the help of the Light and who think it’s better to just let them have the last safe city and to move on with the fact that we lost the war. But you decide to go the shard of the Traveler anyway and thus begin building back your power.

As you get into the campaign, you start to help the Farm with some of its communications issues. You’re sent into the European Dead Zone (EDZ) where you are introduced to another non-Guardian character called Devrim Kay. He gives you the lay of the land for the EDZ and between him and Hawthorne, you need to help them rebuild a communications terminal.

Upon completion of this terminal, you hear a message from Commander Zavala, leader of the Vanguard. He’s directing all Guardians to come to Titan to begin a resistance plan, thus kicking off the story arc of your war against the Red Legion.

I am purposely giving very little detail, as I do not want to spoil what appears to be a solid, well told story so far. The dialogue between the characters either in game or in cutscenes is so much better than the story in the original game. I care about these characters and I care about getting my home back. But you need to build the Vanguard and you need to find out what happened to the Speaker.

As you progress through the campaign you’re being introduced to new and interesting characters that need your help while you’re trying to get the Vanguard rebuilt from being scattered throughout the Solar System.

I was not able to complete the campaign at this event. It was very important to Bungie that we complete this with our friends or on our own. They just wanted to help plant the seeds of desire to complete the campaign.

As of writing this piece, I can’t wait to go through this story again either on my own or with my friends. You can tell it’s building to something very cool. It appears to have some kind of interesting twist to it and I am unsure which way it will go.

If you’re a player that just likes games for their story and you don’t want to dig deep into end game content, as of now I would recommend this as a great story mode that should be played even if you didn’t play the first game at all.

Published by Activision and developed by Bungie, Vicarious Visions, and High Moon Studios, Destiny 2 will be released on September 6, 2017 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

* All screens used in this preview were provided by the publisher.

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