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

A somber look at the PlayStation 5 crisis

Can’t buy a PlayStation 5? You’re not alone

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PlayStation 5

In 30 minutes from the moment I’m typing this sentence, Walmart, one of the few American retailers selling the PlayStation 5 online, will restock its console shelves with an undetermined number of units. If the restocking goes exactly as it has in the past few weeks, the retailer’s website will crash within the first few minutes. When it goes back up again, everything will have disappeared from the shelves.

If you’re one of the millions of gamers looking to bag a PlayStation 5 or an Xbox Series X for the holidays, such an experience is familiar to you. Both Sony and Microsoft have fumbled their respective launches, leaving most of the hopeful without a console.

After weeks of the same, attempting to buy the new consoles and leaving empty-handed has turned into a shared global experience. Many are wondering when (or if) they are getting the device. Unfortunately, things aren’t as simple as they once were.

Day zero: zero stock

On November 10, the Xbox Series X and S dropped online for the first time. Though Microsoft’s console didn’t share in the same hype as its Sony counterpart, the new Xbox sold out within minutes. Faced with an even larger demand for the PlayStation 5, everyone portended much of the same for Sony’s console. Unsurprisingly, it was.

Days later, on November 12, the PlayStation finally launched. As expected, in the brief moment that “Buy Now” buttons opened, every retailing site either crashed or stalled. Most stores held a one-time drop. Meanwhile, Walmart did drops throughout the day. And, expectedly, every drop, one-time or gradual, sold out.

Only a handful received consoles on launch day: lucky pre-order purchases, even luckier same-day buyers, or, more likely, bots.

Rise of the machines

Most of the outcry revolves around despised bots refreshing every site and buying every stock before real people can do so. The bot’s owners, all of them scalpers, resell their supply at dramatic premiums. Hours after the initial launch, eBay had auctions going up to US$ 2,000. At the time of this writing, most entries hover around US$ 1,700. (For reference, the PlayStation 5 retails for only US$ 499.)

Neither Sony nor any authorized retailer explicitly commented on the bot takeover. Some (eventually) installed captcha measures to hopefully weed out bots from humans. It did little to stave to onslaught. Scalpers (or worse, scalper networks) thrived under the online-only purchasing system.

Should we, then, blame bots for the year’s most botched launch?

Bots, logistics, or supply?

Currently in our sights, bots and scalpers are easy targets. The systematic supply grab owes a lot of its shortages on the automated schemes of bots. Some scalper networks have even defended their actions. Supposedly, creating a scalping ecosystem creates jobs for scalpers who may have lost their jobs from recent furloughs.

However, a launch is hardly only a matter of consumers. There’s supply and demand, too. Didn’t Sony and Microsoft foresee the demand months ago?

Drumming up intense hype throughout the past few months, both companies naturally predicted a surge. It still wasn’t enough.

Sony, through the PlayStation’s official Twitter account, confirmed “unprecedented” demand for the PlayStation 5 series. It was still a surprise. Echoing the same, Sony Interactive Entertainment President Jim Ryan told a Russian outlet that “absolutely everything is sold.” Unfortunately for gamers, current predictions still estimate shortages lasting until spring next year.

Sony and Microsoft are hard-pressed to make more devices as soon as possible. However, with current COVID-19 restrictions, manufacturing facilities can’t work at full capacity. And it’s not just on the manufacturing side.

Recently, a logistics source confirmed that a lot of resources are still devoted to shipping COVID-19 aid, including PPEs and masks. With a potential vaccine on the horizon, supply transportation will certainly feel the crunch, leaving little room for less essential products like gaming consoles.

So, who’s to blame?

More than bots, scalpers, manufacturers, or logistics companies, the ongoing PlayStation 5 crisis pulls the curtain from an inherently broken system from a pre-COVID-19 era. The current global economy was, and is, ill-prepared for a global emergency.

Companies, manufacturers, and logistics did not anticipate an overwhelming demand for emergency products. Even now, the world is still aching for aid: from simple masks to scarce ventilators. We’re seeing the flaws only now because the new consoles are home appliances. Other launches this year weren’t as in-demand as the PlayStation 5. For example, with everyone staying indoors, not a lot of people are exactly lining up for a new iPhone 12. (Sorry, Apple.)

Fitbit’s Ventilator

On the other hand, a lot of people truly are jobless from a crumbling economy. Albeit a lackluster excuse, scalper networks do have a point that some people are reduced to less-than-stellar ways of making money amid the pandemic. (Not to defend scalping, though. It’s still a shady business.)

Throughout this entire shortage, one thing is clear: The world, as we know it, cannot adequately save itself from a global emergency. The fault inevitably rests on both individuals and systems who persistently refuse to accept the realities of the pandemic: from anti-maskers who put more people at risk to companies who haven’t prepared for the surge to governments who can’t provide aid for its citizenry.

Should you still get a PlayStation 5?

PlayStation 5

If you’re still inclined, Sony promises more stock before the end of the year. Anyone can still try their luck for a fresh device from the factory. More realistically, you can wait a few months without the new console; by then, Sony should have ironed out a lot of kinks and bugs.

No one is judging you if you do. No one is judging you if you don’t. But if you’re worried about the fear of missing out, just remember that not a lot of people have the PlayStation 5 yet, as much as we all would want one.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, remember the new stock I mentioned 30 minutes ago? Sold out in less than ten seconds. Go figure.

SEE ALSO: Sony PlayStation 5 Unboxing

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Gaming

Ubisoft reveals animated trailer for Immortals Fenyx Rising

Discover Immortals Fenyx Rising Animated Trailer that shapes the myth of Fenyx

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Immortals Fenyx Rising

You might not be too hyped for this game but this trailer might change your mind. Immortals Fenyx Rising (formerly known as Gods & Monsters) is a fun new take on Greek Mythology. You play the role of Fenyx — a new winged demigod who’s on a quest to save the Greek gods and their home from a dark curse.

This short animation film created by CLM BBDO shows Fenyx battling epic creatures. He tussles against the Minotaur, the Cyclop and the Griffin while How You Like Me Now by The Heavy insolently plays in the background.

Using the Sword of Achilles, Axe of Atalanta, and Bow of Odysseus, Fenyx defeats the monsters one after the other. Each battle she wins dents the rock and, as huge boulders detach from the summit, she ends up shaping the mountain… and her myth!

Watch it here!

Immortals Fenyx Rising takes grand mythological adventure to new heights. Only by mastering the legendary powers of the gods, overcoming heroic trials and confronting powerful mythological beasts, will Fenyx be able to take on Typhon, the deadliest Titan in Greek mythology.

It will be available on December 3, 2020 on the PlayStation 4, the Xbox One family of devices (including the Xbox One X), Nintendo Switc, Epic Games and Ubisoft Connect. The game will also be available on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S.

SEE ALSO: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla review: Home in unfamiliar territory

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Gaming

Seagate launches The Last of Us II PS4 hard drive

With 2TB of storage, slim design, and compatibility with most PS4 systems

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Seagate just launched a limited-edition hard drive to mark the release of The Last of Us II on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro.

Unlike any regular hard drive, this one comes with a laser-etched design featuring one of the character’s distinct tattoos. The limited-edition HDD also has 2TB of storage for gamers looking to expand their gaming collection. Sony says this drive can store more than 50 games with the required storage of about 40GB.

However, it is worth noting that the game itself doesn’t come preinstalled on the hard drive. Players still need to download the game separately, after which they can store it on the drive to start playing.

The drive is also plug-and-play compliant, so gamers can take the drive anywhere. It connects via USB-A 3.0 for compatibility with other PS4 systems. It also has a slim and pocketable design for ultimate portability.

Availability in the Philippines

The Last of Us II limited-edition hard drive is now available in the Philippines for PhP 5,290 through gaming retailers Game One Tech, Datablitz, and Gameline.

Those who will purchase the hard drive also stand a chance to win exclusive prizes and freebies. Seagate will give away a PlayStation 5, a 43-inch smart HD TV, headphones, and PlayStation classic t-shirts to raffle draw winners on December 18, 2020.

Every purchase of 2TB Seagate Game Drive grants 5 raffle entries while a purchase of 4TB Seagate Game Drive grants 10 raffle entries. Finally, a purchase of The Last of Us II limited edition drive grants 15 raffle entries. Buyers have until December 16 to submit their raffle entries. Winners will be announced through Seagate’s official Facebook page and via email.

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