Gaming

Destiny 2 Review: A Superior Smorgasbord of a Sequel

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The first Destiny was one of the biggest games in 2014, but with its massive following also came plenty of complaints among critics, consumers, and even from the most diehard fans. Destiny 2 aims to address each problem, and succeeds more often than it fails.

Destiny 2 is an online-only sci-fi first person shooter. Its release comes with a ton of baggage. Despite winning awards and garnering a large, dedicated fanbase, the first Destiny took a lot of criticism for its non-existent story, lacking content, convoluted level progression, and tedious grinding. The expansions alleviated some of those of problems, but expectations were understandably high for a full-blown sequel to improve on those aspects and then some.


There’s a lot from the first game directly carried over, with a couple of tweaks. You still have the three classes to choose from: the tanky Titan, the agile Hunter, and the spell-casting Warlock. Each one has the same three subclasses based on the familiar elements of Arc, Solar, and Void. You’re fighting the same alien races: the scavenging Fallen, the mystical Hive, the AI Vex, the militaristic Cabal, and the intradimensional Taken. It’s a bit disappointing to see nothing majorly new in these departments, but at least the essence of playing as those classes and battling those enemies still feels good.

More story to see

Destiny 2 makes it loud and clear from the start that Bungie, the series’ developers, heard the gripes about the storytelling in the first game. You’re thrown right into action the moment you start playing. As one of the virtually immortal, superpowered Guardians of the Last City on Earth, you have to stave off a surprise invasion of your home from an alien army seeking to control the source of your celestial strength; Light, as the game calls it.

It’s a whole spectacle filled with characters firing off rounds and dramatic dialogue alongside you, spaceships doing battle across a laser-lit skyline, and a big bad boss alien that’s half-Bane and half-Darth Vader, speechifying as it robs you of your power. That opening sequence alone feels like more than anything the first game showed story-wise in its entirety.

The premise of depowering the Guardians, the gifted group tasked with defending the solar system from hostile forces, would have been an interesting setup for a game that’s not a blockbuster tentpole title. Like a lot of AAA action games, Destiny 2 at its core is a power fantasy. So it’s no surprise that this initial conflict for the player is resolved immediately. It wouldn’t be much of a high-octane adventure if you couldn’t access your supernatural abilities and wield an arsenal of guns and explosives and blades ASAP!

As for the rest of the non-player characters robbed of their Light, their doubts and vulnerabilities are relegated to small moments and aren’t explored past your early interactions with them. It’s a shame, really, as the plot would have felt more meaningful if it didn’t wrap up so cleanly and conveniently.

The campaign’s saving grace is that it has awesome set pieces sprinkled throughout the levels. You’ll be gawking at the expansive landscapes and elaborate interiors of the outer space worlds you go to, that is, when you’re not running and jumping around machine-gunning legions of baddies and flinging lightning storms or burning hammers at gigantic bosses.

Satisfying side activities

If you’re still hankering for bits of narrative to chew on, the whole new Adventures are meaty little side stories. These mini missions flesh out the NPCs of the level you’re in, and you also learn more about the Destiny universe. They take you to sections of the sprawling levels the campaign doesn’t lead you through.

Whether it’s crashing a demonic chanting Hive concert or preventing the Taken from assimilating the time-traveling Vex, you discover separate plot threads that weave into the bigger narrative tapestry of the series. Along with the many Lost Sectors hidden in every area that contain loot guarded by powerful enemies, the Adventures give you more reasons to explore.

Making your way to tackle these content, you’re likely to come across Public Events. These are live timed combat encounters with unique objectives that happen in public spaces. Since Destiny 2 is an always-online game, you’ll see other players roaming the areas doing their own thing. While story content is limited to three players partying up, anyone within proximity of an ongoing Public Event can seamlessly join the action. And boy are these events bursting with action.

Apart from just being a joy to play with their challenge tuned for multiple people, Public Events also dole out substantial rewards, especially when optional goals are accomplished, incentivizing participation. This leads to chaotic firefights that can then lead to impromptu coordinated firing squads against alien hordes. Blasting rockets at spider tanks and destroying mining drills in tandem with strangers is exciting with the unspoken camaraderie.

Post-game play

If you’re looking for something more mechanically and tactically demanding, Strikes and their Nightfall versions await you after you beat the campaign. These are equal to the length and scale of the biggest story missions, but surpass them in terms of complexity and difficulty. Such operations will have you running through cordoned off dungeons and arenas, completing tasks like hacking terminals or smashing magic crystals while fighting off waves of enemies, and culminating in multi-stage boss fights. Nightfalls are modified Strikes, adding layers like damage multipliers and time extensions for a more challenging experience.

While you can finish the campaign by yourself, Strikes and Nightfalls require teamwork. The former automatically groups you with two other players if you’re not already in a party of three. For the latter, you need to either find two people to join your group or start up Guided Games.

Guided Games lets you matchmake with players from a Clan. Clans are basically communities players can set up and join, making it easier for like-minded Guardians to help each other and gain rewards.

For the hardcore

Rounding out Destiny 2’s cooperative content is the Raid. It’s the biggest, most intricate, and most difficult mission in the game, needing six players actively communicating and playing specific roles to complete. It can take hours spread across numerous gaming sessions. Only the most dedicated gamers will finish it, as the coordination, time commitment, and skill it demands are leagues above everything else in the game. For those who can answer that call, it’s worth the effort to see its visual splendor, conquer its challenges, and forge bonds with friends and even total strangers.

Lastly, there are player-versus-player modes for those looking to test their mettle against fellow Guardians. In the Crucible, two teams of four face off in dedicated PVP maps, with different objectives to achieve victory. There’s a more relaxed Quick Play mode if you just want to fight other people. Competitive mode sets goals that ask for more teamwork, while the Trials of the Nine invites the best of the best with fixed match setups for less randomness and more skillful play.

Overall, it’s a much slower version of Destiny’s Crucible, with the smaller maps and teams encouraging methodical collaboration over individual ability.

Loot lust

Tying all of this content together is the drive to get loot. Stronger weapons, tougher armor, and just cooler looking gear; Destiny 2 showers you in loot no matter what you’re doing. The rate at which you get high-tier equipment is vastly increased from the first game. How you get better loot is way more streamlined too, cutting down the dizzying number of currencies and upgrade materials from Destiny to a more manageable number.

You’ll be reaching the upper limits of your power level so much faster, and doing so gives you access to endgame content earlier. Being locked out of Nightfalls and Raids in the first game because of the boring grind and poor loot drop rates has been completely remedied in this sequel.

The only glaring problem is how shaders, the color modifiers for your gear, are used up when you apply them. You can earn them through a slow drip-feed from just playing the game. However, it’s easy to get tempted to pay real money for the blind boxes containing these cosmetics. Options are welcome, but you’ll feel the effect of these microtransactions soon enough. When you start hesitating to customize your character, fearing that you’ll have to grind to find those shaders again, it just sucks.

Destiny 2 is a behemoth of a game. It’s chockful of content with more to come in the free updates and the two major expansions. Casual players will have more than enough to consume over 25 hours, while hardcore gamers can easily spend upwards of 50+ hours taking on recurring weekly challenges and optimizing their gear. Either way, it’s a great time that can be made all the more memorable with friends to play with.

Destiny 2 is out now on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with a PC version coming out on October 24. PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold are necessary for 90 percent of the game.

SEE ALSO: 8 PS4 multimedia features you must try out

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Gaming

Razer holds first ever SEA Games bootcamp for esports teams

Held in partnership with one of the best eSports teams in the world

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Image from fb.com/razer

Preparations for the upcoming 2019 Southeast Asian Games are underway, especially with eSports now added to the competition. Razer, the official eSports partner for the SEA Games has an idea on how to make preparations more interesting. The global gaming lifestyle brand wants to bring esports teams from all participating countries to train them by learning from the best players in the world.

Razer officially rolls out the Razer SEA Games eSports Bootcamp, a two-day training camp for eSports teams participating in the Dota 2 tournament for the SEA Games. The bootcamp will feature a series of mentorship sessions and practice games for all the competing teams from Singapore (Team X) , Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia (PG.Barracx), and the Philippines (Sibol). With the inclusion of eSports in this year’s SEA Games, Razer’s Global Sports Director David Tse hopes to “bring eSports to the next level.”


To guide these teams to success, Razer taps upon a global eSports powerhouse in the Evil Geniuses. EG’s Dota 2 coach, Sam “Bulba” Sosale will mentor the five participating teams to compete at the highest level for the upcoming tournament.

“Evil Geniuses is excited to help some of the best players in Southeast Asia prepare for it,” Sosale said. As of writing, members of the EG’s Dota 2 team are competing in the Upper Bracket semifinal round of The International 9 in Shanghai.

The Razer SEA Games eSports Bootcamp will run from September 2 to 3, 2019 in Singapore. As a treat, Evil Geniuses is hosting their first ever meet-and-greet in Southeast Asia on September 1. Fans will have a chance to get up close with members from EG’s Dota 2 team: Arteezy, SumaiL and s4, along with Bulba. Fans will also get a chance to win signed jerseys from their favorite players.

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Gaming

NVIDIA GeForce Now will bring PC games to Android devices

Taking on Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud

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Cloud gaming is a recent trend in the industry which aims to revolutionize gaming in the future. In the past few years, industry giants have launched their own cloud gaming platforms: Google announced Stadia, while Microsoft announced xCloud. Soon, they will be joined by NVIDIA with its own GeForce Now which will be available to Android devices soon.

GeForce Now is NVIDIA’s cloud gaming platform that has been in beta for PC, Mac, and NVIDIA Shield TVs. With this recent announcement, GeForce Now will finally come to Android devices. More people will be able to play AAA PC games from their Android devices, regardless of specs. NVIDIA’s platform also has the advantage of streaming PC gaming titles from Steam, UPlay, and other digital stores. In comparison, titles available to Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud is more limited.


NVIDIA is improving the GeForce Now — as such, the platform will remain in beta phase for the foreseeable future. It is free for everyone to try. Those willing will need a compatible Bluetooth gamepad, since some games are unplayable through touch controls alone.

There is no exact date when the GeForce Now will be available to the public. There are also no details yet as to how much the platform will cost as of the moment.

NVIDIA’s GeForce Now is part of the industry’s push towards cloud gaming. Cloud gaming works by streaming a whole game through the internet so people can play their favorite games anytime, anywhere. However, it remains to be seen if people will welcome the technology with open arms — after all, it requires a fast and stable internet connection.

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Gaming

Final Fantasy VIII Remastered has a release date!

So soon yet, not soon enough!

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After our heartstrings were played with by the Final Fantasy VIII Remastered teaser, fans have swarmed with tons of memes predicting and wondering how specific scenes would appear with stunning new visuals. Well, our memes and dreams are about to either come true or get shut down because Final Fantasy VIII Remastered is getting released on September 3, 2019!

Final Fantasy VIII and why fans love it

Final Fantasy VIII was a game that plotted itself in a fantasy world while digging into an emotional story-line of war and love. The game focuses on a group of young mercenaries led by Squall Leonhart. They’re adventure begins with a striking conflict: Ultimecia. Ultimecia is a sorceress from the future who possesses Edea and wants to compress time. In this quest, Squall encounters friends who inevitably join his quest to keep the world in its balance.


Final Fantasy VIII was the first of its series to reinvent the active time battle wheel without ignoring its roots. The game allowed more customization which ultimately allowed players to work around weaponry, armor, and summons that drastically affected characters’ combat style. These seemingly small tweaks in gameplay gave players breathing room to pick how they wanted to play the game making it all the more immersive.

While its predecessor, Final Fantasy VII, had 3-dimensional models, it didn’t significantly refine designs as much as Final Fantasy VIII. Every element in the game expressed more detail with as much accessible technology as Square could get their hands on. From the planet that showed a level of meticulous detail we hadn’t seen in the series before, to the hilarious “you’re the best looking guy here” memes, Final Fantasy VIII was weirdly ahead with visuals at the time.

What’s new with Final Fantasy VIII Remastered?

First, and obviously, enhanced visuals. The announcement trailer that was revealed in E3 this year made it loud and clear that each element of the game — characters, enemies, objects, and summons — were all refined and enhanced.

Second, battle assists. Final Fantasy VIII Remastered allows you to activate a booster to max out health points (HP) and active time battle (ATB) bars that trigger limit breaks at any point players need. Regardless, you will lose HP when you get hit with a critical attack that renders more damage than your HP, or by lethal damage.

Third, turning off encounters. Final Fantasy VIII Remastered has setting you can use to allow you to turn off random encounters. This is incredibly useful when you’re out of potions, phoenix downs, and need to run to the nearest shop. This doesn’t apply for event battles that need to be done to further the game’s plot.

Fourth, battle speed boosts. The game lets you accelerate time by a factor of three. If you want to breeze through easy battles or rush through level grinding, this feature is useful. This feature isn’t applicable for certain scenes and movies.

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