Our thoughts so far.
I've spent around 20 hours playing Destiny 2, covering the majority of the story missions, dozens of side activities, a Strike, and a handful of rounds in the Crucible. I still have a lot more to go, and I'll be documenting my progress over the next few days as I play more. So far, Destiny 2 builds on the original in smart ways that make me excited to keep playing.
My first impression of Destiny 2 was that it was barely distinguishable from the first game. The things I loved about Destiny--the exhilaration of nailing a precision kill, the satisfaction of shooting each weapon--and things I didn't like as much, namely its inherently repetitive nature. But the more I played, the more I noticed that some of Destiny's other problems have been fixed.
I haven't finished the main story yet, but so far it's a clear improvement over Destiny's much-maligned storytelling. Like the beta, Destiny 2 begins with an attack on The Tower by a Cabal faction called the Red Legion. But rather than being thrust into situations with little to no context, as was so often the case in Destiny, each mission of the Red War arc has objectives that make sense within both the mission itself and the grand scheme. Locating a missing Cayde-6, for example, is important to the fight against the Red Legion, since he's a powerful Hunter. But fighting waves of Vex to get to him also makes sense, as he's trapped in a Vex teleporter, and that small bit of context makes that moment feel distinct from others where you're killing the same enemies.
Your Ghost also does a better job of introducing you to enemies like the Fallen and Vex, provided you didn't port your character over from Destiny (in which case the dialogue is supposed to be different, though we haven't tested it yet). Destiny has some fascinating and complicated lore, and giving you the foundation necessary to understand it works in Destiny 2's favor.
That goes well in tandem with Destiny 2's new-and-improved Patrol zones. There are four new destinations: Earth's European Dead Zone, Nessus, Titan, and Io. When you touch down, you have many more options for what to do, and it's surprising how far that goes toward breaking up the repetition. You can do a regular, quick-and-dirty Patrol, or you can embark on a longer Adventure, completing a series of objectives for better rewards. There are also the new Lost Sectors, which are essentially dungeons that forgo structured objectives for bosses and loot chests.
Both Adventures and Lost Sectors take you to far-flung areas of the map and often include a healthy bit of backstory. Because of that, it feels like you're doing something of substance, rather than a series of menial tasks. One Adventure had me setting up comms for refugees of the Last City, which then led me to fighting off a horde of Fallen that were jamming the signals. It felt more important than just killing a Fallen Leader in some random area of the map with no purpose other than to get XP and a bit of loot.
My favorite change, though, is a small one that greatly impacted how I play. The old weapon categories--primary, special, and heavy--have been replaced by kinetic, energy, and power. Weapons are sorted a bit differently, and what were previously primary weapons can show up in both your kinetic and energy slots. Kinetics have no special attributes, while energy weapons can take on the arc, solar, or void energies and are better for taking down enemies' shields. For me, this meant switching my weapon more often based on the situation and using weapon types I never used in Destiny 1. I already loved the feedback loop of Destiny's shooting and spongy enemies, and that small bit of variety made me love it even more. (This is subject to change the more I play, however.)
Of course, all of this still feels like Destiny. The new social space, the Farm, is functionally the same as the Tower in the original. Finding loot and switching out your old gear still takes up a significant portion of your time. Enemies have been tweaked, but they're not wildly different, either. That's not necessarily bad, but it also makes me wonder if I'll see Destiny 2 as a sequel, rather than a half-step forward, the longer I play and the more I grind and repeat.
Because my time with the game began prior to launch at a Bungie event, I am starting fresh at launch like everyone else. After I've caught up to my previous progress, I can finally look forward to finishing the campaign and seeing how the story wraps up. Of course, I also need to spend a significant amount of time with Strikes, the Crucible, and eventually the Raid. In short, there's a lot of Destiny 2 left to play before I can deliver my final review. Until then, check GameSpot every day for a brief look at my progress and thoughts on Destiny 2 as I go.
Disclosure: Kallie played Destiny 2 at a three-day event in Seattle, WA organized by Activision. GameSpot paid for travel and accommodations.
Kallie will be posting further updates in a Review Diary as she plays through the game.