Destiny 2: Homecoming

Let’s get the unpleasantries out of the way. For me, and if my Twitter feed is any indication, for millions of others, this was the welcome mat that Bungie seemed to lay at the door of their much anticipated sequel:

One Moment Please- Waiting screen
Not the best opening cinematic…

This appeared on my screen only after several failed attempts to even launch the application on my Xbox One. Disappointment is an understatement. Of course, my immediate impulse was to vent to the echo chamber that is Twitter. But as I started to craft my scathing indictment of the team responsible for this travesty, my head cooled almost instantly. This release is, I’m sure, a huge undertaking. I have no idea what’s involved, and at that point, Bungie, Activision, et al, had wasted a mere 282 seconds of my time. I felt childish. I adopted a ‘wait and see’ mentality. Sure, I poked that maybe they should have seen the traffic coming, but really, I know that they did, and this was still the result. So I jotted down some thoughts, and some minutes rolled by. I was bummed out.

I equate the feeling to that of an eight year old being told that they’re going to a Cubs’ game at the end of the week. Being eight, this larger than life experience consumes their every waking thought for days and days. And then it rains. Wrigley Field doesn’t have a dome (my example wouldn’t work with the Blue Jays here in Toronto.) The child is crushed, the family is sad for the child, but the game is simply not going to happen that day, and even if they’ll get to see the make-up game sometime in the future, it just isn’t soon enough to make things right in that eight year old heart.

I am not eight years old. I should be able to handle disappointment better than an eight year old. And this is what I was thinking about when, 34 minutes into my waiting time, the gatekeepers let me in. 34 minutes. Not perfect, but not terrible. It still left me time to get through the first mission of the game and get to bed by 2:00AM. Personally, I’m going to give the team a pass. The ride was worth the wait. (Mind you, I haven’t tried to log on today. Hopefully it’s running smoothly throughout this initial push.)

So my first impressions… I skipped the Beta test because I wanted to see this fresh. I think this Homecoming mission was included, in some form, there, but I went into the launch completely blind. I’m glad I did.

Without spoiling anything, there is a gentle little nod to those of us who had a long history with the first game. I won’t oversell it. But it was a nice touch. And right after you gulp down that big sip of sweet nostalgia, they take everything away…

I’m not sure why I was expecting to have to dabble with a character creator, my Guardians were all still there, as I made them before. I grabbed my Hunter and away I went. (Although, I am curious if there is a more fully fleshed out creator in this sequel. The original’s was pretty bare-bones.)

I’m not typically overly interested in graphics quality, but the graphics were the first thing that made me say ‘wow’. My Xbox One, it’s the vanilla edition, has never displayed such a rich array of colors, such a range of light and dark, such depth. Honestly, it looked like High Dynamic Range demo videos I’ve seen. But running on a console without HDR, on an old 40″ 1080p tv. I’ll dock some points because the facial animation on my Hunter looked like a creepy mime, but as stated above, I created the dude. A lot of that might be my fault.

The story has been pretty well covered throughout the press. But it did live up to what I felt I could expect. There is a palpable sense of loss, fear, and danger in Destiny 2’s opening hour. The mission allowed me to immerse myself in the urgency of it all. And while I’m not sure how much was revealed in the Beta and the trailers, (again, I’ve kept my blinders on pretty tight for this game), there’s a cut-scene toward the end that shifts the focus to Dominus Ghaul, the antagonist of this campaign, and for me, it really hammered home some high stakes in the things to come.

The gameplay felt like Destiny. And I mean that as high praise. The guns feel and sound incredible. I did feel a little neutered without my trademark throwing knife ability, but I’m sure it’ll unlock after a little more play time. And the up-close-and-personal knife strike both felt great and came in handy. The experience was a little too familiar, running down corridors, killing minions, popping headshots, matching ammo-type to shield-type, wash, rinse, repeat. But that is what Destiny is. And this was the tutorial mission for new players as well, so I’m not sure I can make too much of a judgment on the game itself at this point. I’m certainly not dissuaded from playing more.

Then I found myself at the game’s new social space, The Farm. I noted to myself that it was visually far more interesting than I ever found the Tower to be, but maybe it was just that it was new. Alas, it was late, and while everything was begging to be explored, I decided that was a sign that I should turn in. We’ve got at least a few years to check it out. I’ll keep you all posted.

Feel free to comment to your hearts content.

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