The old grind made new.
In a lot of ways, Destiny 2 is a fresh start. Very little from the first game carries over into its sequel, including the gear we all worked so hard to get. Luckily, Destiny 2 makes leveling up and finding loot in the early game more about exploration and less about grinding. There's a lot more to do on planets than just quick, low-reward Patrols, and that all starts in the European Dead Zone on Earth. We recently had a chance to check out the EDZ, and Destiny 2's take on free-roam exploration
In Destiny 1, the open-world activities you had access to at any given destination were limited. There were Patrols and Public Events--and maybe a few secrets to find--but things tended to get stale pretty quickly. Exploration has been greatly expanded in Destiny 2, and the first thing I noticed when I touched down in the EDZ was how many ways I had to level up and get new gear. The two most substantial additions are Adventures and Lost Sectors.
At first, Adventures seem a lot like the standard Patrols. You find them at beacons around the map and opt into them, and then a voice crackles in through your Ghost and gives you an objective. But Adventures are far more robust, closer to the length of a story mission than a Patrol, and they feature a variety of tasks that build upon each other as you approach your goal. They also take you to different 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 clearing out enemies and destroying signal jammers throughout an area. The jammers were preventing a message from going out to any refugees from the Last City who needed to find other survivors. Though it wasn't part of the story, 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. (But, to sweeten the deal, you'll probably get some good loot for your effort in completing Adventures.)
Lost Sectors are more free-form activities that require a sharper eye to find. They're marked by symbols in odd spots around the map, and they have you work your way through a mini-dungeon filled with enemies to reach a boss. Beating the boss gets you loot. It's simple, but it's enough of an incentive to drive exploration, and some of the Lost Sectors are surprisingly difficult to find. You could wander around the general vicinity of a Lost Sector for a while before finding the entrance tucked away in a gap between rocks, concealing an extensive cave network below.
The EDZ isn't necessarily bustling with life--there's one NPC here, Devrim Kay, who exchanges loot and tokens you find around the area for weapons and gear. But Adventures and Lost Sectors add enough context, like more detail about the Fallen or what humanity is doing to survive, to make it an interesting world to explore.
Patrols and Public Events are still available in Destiny 2, but variety is really the key to revitalizing the Destiny formula. When the full game launches for Xbox One and PS4 on September 6, we'll be able to see the full scope of Destiny 2's changes.