Story and Presentation
To give a little Destiny background, Destiny is a story about Light-imbued Guardians (the players) that protect humanity against the Darkness. The Darkness is a generic reference to all species of enemies that challenge humanity’s existence. The Light is humanity’s most powerful weapon against the Darkness, allowing chosen humans to become Guardians, wielding super powers as well as a sort of immortality. That Light was brought to Earth as a gift by a silent moon-sized being known as the Traveler. The Traveler casually floats close to the Tower and humanity’s main city on Earth.
The story starts off right away, taking you into just another day in the Tower, humanity’s capital and last line defense against the Darkness. The heads of the Vanguard start to notice a lack of defensive reporting from Earth’s satellites. With little to no warning, the Tower is attacked in an epic scale by the Red Legion, a military force of the alien Cabal race. Their leader, Dominus Ghaul, is driven by his jealousy of humanity, as he feels that he is the one that is most worthy of the Traveler’s Light and the powers therein. Using brute force, he is able to completely imprison the Traveler cutting off all of Guardians from their coveted Light.
Without the Light, the Guardians are now without the powers they need to properly oppose Ghaul and the Red Legion. The Guardians and the Tower fall to the Red Legion quite quickly, with powerless Guardians either fleeing or being killed off with barely a fight. You, the player, happen to be flying back to the Tower right before the Traveler is captured. Your gameplay starts as you arrive at the Tower shortly after the start of the Red Legion’s attack. You get to experience this losing battle and the loss of your powers first-hand.
Destiny 2’s core story is about your struggle to regain your lost Light during this losing war. You encounter allies, both old and new, as you assist with the desperate war effort to retake the Tower and fight to ensure that this isn’t humanity’s last stand.
Destiny 2’s visuals and environments are quite nicely designed, whether it be a cinematic cut scene or just straight gameplay. The scenery has very nice detail and, combined with the musical score, gives you proper ambiance the game is trying to portray. You start off with backdrops of ruin with music having depressing and hopeless undertones. As you start to gain power and turn the tides, the music gets very energetic and epic. The music alone is definitely a step up from Destiny 1’s pre-DLC presentation. The right music plays perfectly for the right scenes and you get that little drive in your story experience.
Game dialogue in both Player-vs-Enemy (PVE) and Player-vs-Player (PVP) modes got quite the upgrade. During the story, banter between the characters is both believable and entertaining, with plenty samples of good humor. Cayde-6 (Nathan Fillion) grew as the comic relief in Destiny 1 through iterations in DLC. In Destiny 2, he’s just plain humorous throughout. The ever-serious Commander Zavala (Lance Reddick) also has several moments in the spotlight that are just as enjoyable. The newly introduced characters are also quite likeable, with each having moments of their own, none of which felt “forced”. Even Lord Shaxx (Lennie James) has pages and pages of new hilarious lines that he yells at you during PVP Crucible play or when you simply walk by him in social areas.
Bungie clearly took everything they learned from the successes and failures of Destiny 1’s later DLC, captured that flavor, and gave it back to the fans twice fold. Having played every nook and cranny of Destiny 1, the immediate take-away I got from Destiny 2’s presentation can be put in one word: complete. Destiny 2’s story and presentation is clearly what Destiny 1’s first appearance was aiming for. The difference here is that not only did Destiny 2 get it right, but did it very very well. We enjoyed what we saw and what we heard in this Destiny 2 story that is both well-written and easy to follow.