Bungie released a new, gigantic expansion for Destiny 2. Forsaken has promised to change up Destiny’s formulaic play and mechanics, add a free-form campaign with a new territory, a new enemy race, and a new competitive play mode. Some may be sitting on the fence about it because of the beefy $40 price tag and the general disappointment garnered by the last two expansions, which I felt didn’t deliver enough variety. The hesitation is understandable, so I’m going to walk through what I’ve discovered about Forsaken in the first week of playing it.
If I could sum up Forsaken’s experience so far into one phrase, it would be “everything feels more important.” Gear, resources, and activities are all more impactful because there’s much more depth to them, and they have a wonderful feedback loop; resources and activities grant more diverse gear, and more diverse gear needs more resources to upgrade and allows you to tackle activities in different ways. I always felt Destiny 2’s defining weakness was a lack of depth, and I can say I’m happy with the new additions so far.
Finding new gear is far more exciting in Forsaken. Legendary (and the less-impressive rare) gear now comes with additional random perks, like quicker reloading for specific weapon types or explosive ammo, that impact the behavior of old favorites and new models. Now, instead of new gear leading to repetitive disassembly, each new find has the potential to be something great and unique, prompting further investigation. In addition, random traits, such as increased accuracy or handling, or resistance to an element, can be upgraded in 5 tiers, the highest creating a Masterwork. Some items are even already upgraded when found, increasing the excitement whenever a piece of gear with the Forsaken logo lands in your inventory. The feeling is similar to the effect in Gearbox’s Borderlands or Blizzard’s Diablo in that every item I pick up could easily replace a stalwart favorite. The end result is that Forsaken makes loot feel great again.
This also incentivizes deeper character build customization. Legendary armor comes with random traits like increased assault rifle reload speed, or a higher rate of basic, special, or heavy ammo drops. Combine that with equippable mods for weapons and armor that add effects like increased ability recharge, stat increases, higher damage to tougher enemies, or quicker radar recovery after aiming, and more interesting playstyles reveal themselves. Guardians have more options than ever to specialize or diversify their builds by mixing and matching all of these effects. The effects so far haven’t felt like simple wall dressing; each has impacted my play to a substantial degree. So using our loot feels good again too.
At the same time, this gear isn’t just dropping all over the place; Legendary gear is harder to attain randomly, motivating players to earn them through particular activities and redeeming various elements in the game like bounties, vanguard and crucible coins, and so forth. What’s more, absorbing a higher level piece of gear to increase the power of another is more expensive, requiring not just glimmer and legendary shards, but masterwork cores and various resources from the world environments like dusk shards. The economy of Destiny has changed in Forsaken in such a way that everything you can do and every item you can pick up has more impact on your entire experience.
This is great, because there’s more to experience, and all of the aforementioned new features make what was already there feel fresh. One thing I was looking forward to, in particular, is Gambit.
Gambit is a new mode that pits two teams of four players in a race to eliminate AI enemies and defeat a final boss before the other team does. These enemies drop a currency—motes—that teams turn into a central bank, filling it up until it summons a finals boss, the Primevil. Players also use motes at the bank to summon elite enemies to block the opposing team from using their bank. A player from each team may periodically jump to the other team’s arena to exact some vengeance and slow the other team down as well. Die while carrying a payload of motes, and they’re gone. It takes some getting used to—Gambit is different than anything Destiny has offered before—but after a few matches I fell in love with the tense rhythm. I tend to favor PvE content, so I enjoy the balance and strategy of Gambit.
In the week that I’ve played, I’ve barely scratched the surface of Forsaken. I still have the tail end of the campaign to get through, I’ve barely collected much new gear, and I’ve only unlocked one new subclass, so a full review will have to wait. One thing seems certain to me, however: This is the Destiny that I’ve been waiting for. It’s just a shame I had to wait at all.