- Game: Destiny 2: Forsaken
- Consoles: Xbox One, PS4 (Reviewed On), PC
- Publisher: Activision
- Developer: Bungie
When the credits rolled on Destiny 2’s first major expansion Forsaken I was completely overwhelmed with what to do next. Not since The Taken King has the Destiny series felt so fresh and exciting. Forsaken isn’t just an apology for the mistakes made in Destiny 2, but a powerful declaration for what’s to come to next.
(Author’s Note: Activation supplied a review copy of Destiny 2 Forsaken along with a Cayde-6 statue. This review will not include the new Last Wish raid. While we would have loved to play it, our level will not be high enough to go through this activity. Our review will cover everything else in Forsaken.)
Forsaken’s story opens up on a much darker note, with lovable rogue Cayde-6 dying at the hands of an Awoken Prince named Uldren Sov and eight nefarious Fallen barons. Driven by revenge, it’s up to your Guardian to kill those responsible for the death of your ally. While previous DLCs focused on the bigger picture, Forsaken is remarkably compact. There are no massive gods threatening the universe or the extinction of mankind. You are out for blood – plain and simple.
That’s not to say there aren’t hints of something larger always tugging at the seams, but Forsaken’s plot never strays away from the reason you’re here. It’s a compelling direction to take the story and getting a glimpse at the criminal underworld in Destiny 2’s universe is engaging. Speaking with a Fallen black market dealer who plays with dead Ghosts is a highlight, especially when he lends you the support of his own soldiers in missions. Even the barons and their motives are relatively small. They are just very strong, very twisted criminals bent on fulfilling their own personal goals.
All of this culminates in a truly fantastic ending that hints at what’s to come with the raid without becoming too overbearing. However, for those who want to dig deeper, Bungie added a ton of readable lore in-game via the new Triumph system. Alongside other challenges like completing raids or performing specific actions in an activity, users can collect story excerpts that flesh out Destiny 2’s world. It’s a great addition and will certainly give users something to strive for when the grind subsides.
Of course, the main drive will be collecting the plethora of new weapons, armor pieces, and Exotics. There’s a fair amount of loot to chase after, with the new (and returning) Exotics being the highlight. With this influx of gear, Bungie has implemented a new system called “Collections.” This new system allows players to purchase any piece of loot that is from Year 1, along with any Exotics, Shaders, Sparrows, and ships obtained. It’s an elegant way to not have a user’s Vault overflowing with old equipment.
Where Forsaken stumbles a bit is with the new economic system that has been introduced. It’s clear that Bungie wants to make upgrading our gear feel more meaningful, but the strain it puts on your resources is way to high – especially for casual players. Items such as Master Cores don’t come easy, even with the new ways to obtain them added into Destiny 2. Since there is no way to walk back an upgrade, the new infusion system feels like it’s stifling experimentation rather than letting it flourish.
There are also nine new skill trees and Supers available across all of the sub-classes. These new abilities shake up the traditional Destiny 2 formula, by offering unique and defined roles. If you want to be a healer, consider grabbing the Warlock’s new Attunement of Grace which lets them plant their fiery sword in the ground to great a massive aura that heals and buffs allies. If you want to be sneakier, then try out the new Spectral Blades that let you vanish from sight when triggered.
All of these Supers fill different niches that each sub-class was missing, allowing for users to have more flexibility in how they play. Out of the nine only one slightly underwhelms as the Arcstrider’s ability to reflect projectiles feels far more situational than the others. That’s not to say it’s bad, but just not as inherently useful as some of the other Supers.
As for what players get to use that new powers on, Forsaken introduces an undead race of aliens known as the Scorn. These twisted Fallen are more than just re-skins of existing enemies, as they possess a whole host of new abilities and gear. Marksmen Raiders vanish and reappear in a cloud of ether, Chieftans can summon totems that buff their kin, and hulking Abominations fire accurate bolts of Arc energy. Their aggressive tendency makes combat much more chaotic, which is far different than most of the factions we have in Destiny 2.
Leading the charge are the eight barons who each have their own mission and boss fight. Battles are varied, with each baron utilizing different mechanics to try and give them an edge. The Mad Bomber spawns mines that have to defused, while The Rider forces you to chase after her on a twisted, fire-spewing bike called a Pike. Fighting each one feels worthwhile and satisfying, easily overshadowing all the boss fights in both previous DLCs.
Outside of the missions, there are three new Strikes (four if you’re on PlayStation 4), a brand new game mode, and two major destinations. The Tangled Shore is the traditional destination that players will spend a fair amount of their time on. The strung together ruins and asteroids gives this area an otherworldly feel. It’s a fun area to run around in, but unless you’re completing activities there isn’t a ton of incentive to explore.
Inversely, the Dreaming City is Destiny 2’s first endgame location. This means far tougher enemies and objectives to complete. Enter the Blind Well, an Escalation Protocol-esc event that has players fighting waves of Scorn until a powerful boss arrives. The catch is the air is poisonous so players have to stay in a small bubble in order to not take damage. It’s extremely hectic, but quite entertaining if you can wrangle a group together. Curiously, there is still no way to organize large numbers of Guardians in-game, which means until you’re overleveled you’ll be reliant on LFG websites.
What makes the Dreaming City so unique is the number of secrets and hidden quests it has buried underneath is beautiful architecture. The entire location is one big puzzle filled with loot for clever players to uncover. We’ve spent several hours exploring this area and we have barely scratched the surface of what’s in this twisted labyrinth. It’s one of the best PvE additions made by Bungie and we suspect there will be secrets uncovered weeks – possibly months after release.
Finally, there’s the new PvPvE (Player vs Player vs Environment) mode, Gambit. Perhaps the best piece of content ever added into the Destiny series. Gambit has two teams for four competing to kill waves of enemies until a fearsome boss spawns. First group to slay their Primeval wins, but the catch is at certain points in the game players can invade the other team’s world and attack. Melding together both sides of Destiny 2’s gameplay, Gambit is an exhilarating experience that challenges Guardians in unique ways.
There’s a ton of strategy involved in when to attack, block another team’s ability to bank point scoring motes or invade. Since it’s a best of three, you can even accept losing a round if it means holding onto your Super for the beginning of the match. Its mix of PvE and PvP encourages teams to experiment with unique loadouts and synergies to give their team an edge. Gambit is a concentrated example of Destiny 2’s best ideas.
Destiny 2: Forsaken Takeaways
Destiny 2 Forsaken is a masterclass in how to improve and enhance an existing framework. While we still haven’t tried the raid, Forsaken has given us plenty of content to keep us busy. All of the new modes are quite fun and the grind for loot has been greatly alleviated by much-needed Sandbox changes. However, we fear that the changes to the economic system will make certain aspects of the game way to demanding. This doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of Destiny 2, but it’s so far the only major blemish on this expansion.
Whether your new, a veteran, or returning player, Forsaken is a milestone in the Destiny franchise.
Our Destiny 2 Forsaken Review Score: 9 out of 10