Feature Article

Destiny 2 Review Diary - Day 7: The Rat King

Gearing up for the review (and the Raid).

Destiny 2 is out now on Xbox One and PS4. I've played enough to put up a review in progress, but I still have a lot more to play before I can give my final review. Here I'll be detailing my day-by-day activities and impressions as I gear up for the Raid next Wednesday. Check back for impressions on the story, Strikes, PvP, and more, and keep an eye on our Destiny 2 news and guides roundup for everything else.

Editor's note: We've updated this article with a new entry. For previous entries, please scroll down. -- Kallie Plagge, September 12, 2017 3:00 PM PT

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Day 7: The Rat King

I had to apologize to the four other people in my house this morning, because at midnight, I was straight-up yelling. After two hours of trying, we finally did it. We got Rat King.

These are mild post-game spoilers, sort of, but these are the basics: Rat King is an Exotic sidearm that gets more powerful the more people in your Fireteam are using it. To get it, you have to complete a series of quest steps that culminate in completing the week's timed Nightfall Strike with five minutes or more remaining. It's not particularly easy.

Ben, Jean-Luc, and I wanted to get Rat King before the weekly reset at 2 AM PT on Tuesday, since we'd successfully run the Nightfall already and figured we had a shot. We started at 9:30 PM and stopped counting our many attempts after three (because the third time's the charm). The thing is, sidearms are generally considered a weak and undesirable weapon type, and none of us intend to use Rat King regularly--but we really wanted the satisfaction of getting it. And at midnight, we did it, and it was the best.

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Those are the kinds of moments that are going to keep me coming back to Destiny 2. The story might be basic and uninteresting, and certain characters' "witty" dialogue might be a bit much at times, but I (and most people I know) don't play Destiny for a spectacular narrative. I'm happy to have a more fleshed-out world and actual context this time around, since it's just enough to prop up the things about Destiny 2 that work well.

This will be my last entry before the final review, since I'm now making the final preparations before heading into the belly of the beast tomorrow. Expect the full review later in the week, once I've made it through the Raid. (Also, wish me luck.)

Day 6: Nightfall

After a weekend of playing, jumping up 30 or so Power levels, I couldn't sleep last night. I'm fully in just-one-more-thing mode. Just one more challenge. Just one more round in the Crucible. Just one more hour and maybe I'll get the gear I never knew I needed. I'm at 269 Power as of Monday afternoon, and there's still so much to do.

On Sunday, I teamed up with GameSpot's Jean-Luc and Ben to run the Nightfall Strike. If you aren't familiar, it's a much harder version of an existing Strike mission with a time limit and other changes meant to throw a wrench in your Fireteam's plans. We went in pretty confident--we all easily cleared the recommended 240 Power for the Nightfall, and we had a good Hunter/Hunter/Titan comp--but we failed. Twice. Because we weren't reading the directions.

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We broke for dinner after two failed attempts only to realize we'd missed a key modifier that would have made the Strike a breeze. (I won't spoil it here if you haven't done it, but it involves a bit of reading and strong team communication as you go.) But the process of collectively understanding a strategy in a group, and the excited yelling that went with it, was the most fun I've had in Destiny 2 so far.

I definitely feel more accomplished, or maybe more rewarded, than I did in the first Destiny. Grinding and repetition still exist, but the benefits you get from grinding are more immediate; getting to the late-game stuff isn't the frustrating slog it used to be. I'm technically Raid-ready at 269 Power, and I've only been properly "grinding" the most lucrative activities (like Heroic Public Events) since Friday.

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But it doesn't feel like Baby Mode Destiny, either. There's one post-game quest that requires you to beat the Nightfall with five minutes remaining, which Jean-Luc, Ben and I were sure was impossible after running out of time twice in a row. (We'll probably try again tonight, before the weekly reset hits, now that we've run it THREE TIMES.)

My first impression of Destiny 2 was that it was just more Destiny, and that's technically true to a point. But in nearly every aspect of the game I've seen so far, something is different enough to dramatically change how accessible and engaging the "same" formula can be. There are certainly moments and missions that you have to just get through, like a couple Strikes with uninspired objectives, but they're not so obtrusive that they leave a bitter taste going into the endgame stuff.

Day 3: PvP? Yeah You Know Me

I didn't do a lot of PvP in Destiny 1. I had a few bad games one night and, frustrated, decided that the Crucible just wasn't for me.

I was terrified to enter the Crucible in Destiny 2.

After exactly one game, I realized that I was very, very wrong about PvP. I went in with my trusty Graviton Lance and new, crazy-cool Exotic gauntlets with a SKULL and SPINE running down one arm, but absolute garbage for the rest of my armor… and I actually did very well. I was surprised, mainly, because I switched to my Gunslinger subclass to take advantage of my gauntlets' passive abilities, and I've put no time or upgrade points into it whatsoever.

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Level advantages are disabled in the Crucible, which means you can hold your own even at level 1, with a low Power level, against higher-level players. I'll keep messing around in the Crucible to see just how balanced it is (and to get some sweet loot, obviously), but I'm having a ton of fun with it so far.

I'm signing off for the weekend as I dive completely into Destiny 2, but check back Monday for more updates. Clans just launched, so I'll be checking that out along with more Strikes and some general Raid prep. We also have tons of guides and the latest news, including how to get certain Exotics, in our Destiny 2 hub, plus a new weekly Let's Play, Destiny's Children.

Day 2: Ups And (Server) Downs

So, my progress was kind of derailed last night by server issues on PS4. I'd wanted to run some Strikes, but a bunch of us around the GameSpot office were locked out of the game. I spent about an hour intermittently trying to sign in before I gave up.

I thought a lot about what makes Destiny fun, or specifically, I guess, what makes it a game I want to keep playing. I like grinding in games, and I like a feel-good combat feedback loop. A certain kind of repetition is therapeutic for me. I stopped playing the original Destiny because the repetition wasn't balanced by anything else; I didn't really play with other people, and running the same Strike for the hundredth time by myself was a special kind of lonely.

Thankfully, I now have tons of people to play with (when the servers work). That's one of the missing pieces, found. But I think that Destiny 2's core changes--the greater variety in activities, the once-hidden lore now brought to the surface, the increased focus on character and personality--has made playing alone better, too.

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I finished the last story mission this morning. Overall, it's a pretty standard save-the-world story with some cheesy moments, but it capitalizes on Destiny's most interesting narrative trait: its lore. I won't spoil anything, but I was satisfied and maybe even a bit emotional about the ending. A little worldbuilding goes a long way.

I've reached max level, 20. I also found a stronger version of the Graviton Lance, my beloved pulse rifle, and am no longer indebted to the annoying NPC Asher. (Sure, there's a lot more "character" to the characters, but some are better than others. My favorite is the deranged AI, Failsafe.) Crossing my fingers that I'll actually get to some Strikes tonight.

Day 1: The Replay Day

My review in progress is based on my experience at a Bungie event a few weeks ago, where I'd played Destiny 2 on a dummy account. My first day with the game at launch--with my own account and character--has mostly just been replaying the story missions and side activities I've already completed. It's… actually kind of nice.

I played the original on Xbox One and switched to PS4 for Destiny 2. I wouldn't call myself a hardcore Destiny 1 player, but I did play through Year One and all the expansions and spent a decent amount of time grinding. Leaving behind my old character wasn't as hard as I'd anticipated, though. I like having the opportunity to start fresh with a game that's already more compelling than its predecessor, one that I can see myself committing to in a more substantial way, without having to worry about catching up to the people who have been playing regularly this entire time. And surprisingly, replaying the story isn't the slog I thought it would be.

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Part of that is due to using my own character and knowing that the loot and gear I get is mine to keep. But for the first time in my history with Destiny, I'm also properly invested in the story and characters. The dialogue can be a bit cheesy at times, but the characters are more three-dimensional and have more personality. There's also plenty of lore peppered in thanks to quips from your Ghost and items you can scan in the environment. Because the story missions (and in many cases, the side Adventure missions) give the proper background to contextualize your actions, it feels like you're doing something of substance, rather than running through missions as a means to an end.

I also tried the story and side missions with a Fireteam of myself and one other person, which worked seamlessly--neither of us lagged, and from what we could tell, we were watching the same cutscenes at the same time with no delays.

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The coolest thing that came of of co-op, though, was the discovery that dialogue does indeed change if you import a Destiny 1 character rather than making a new one. My friend had imported his character (we're both Hunters), and certain conversations were slightly different between the two of us. Where my Ghost gave me a basic introduction to the Taken, for example, his reminded him of the time they beat Oryx and questioned why the Taken would have returned.

At the end of Day 1, I'm at level 15 and have a pretty sweet exotic pulse rifle courtesy of mad scientist Asher. (It's called the Graviton Lance, and it's a nice first exotic.) I otherwise kind of hate Asher.

Though I've only replayed things I've already done, I'm still excited about Destiny 2. I can't wait to find my next exotic weapon, but I'm also looking forward to completing more Adventure missions and learning more about the world. My next step is to finish the story, reach level 20, and run some Strikes, so check back soon for more impressions.

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    Kallie Plagge

    Kallie Plagge is an Associate Editor. She loves Pokemon, anime, and Grunt Birthday Party.
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