Aside from the main story, where most of the gameplay can be played either single-player or co-op, Destiny 2 gives you side quests, public events, Strikes, a Raid, and a myriad of PVP modes. Side quests are self-explanatory; they are PVE quests with their own individual premise and backstory that can be tackled either single-player or co-op. The public events are unlocked fairly early, and can be played as often as one would like. They can occur in any of Destiny 2’s PVE worlds, and can be tackled by any number of players that happen to be in the area.
Strikes are co-op only stages where the players are matched up in teams of 3, if they do not already have enough players in their fireteam. They engage in a somewhat larger than usual mission, with its own stand-alone premise and story, and face off against a boss at the end. There is also a rotating weekly Nightfall Strike, where you yourself must put together the team of three and face off against a harder version of the Strike for that week. These Nightfall Strikes have a set of weekly changing modifiers that would either give benefits to the players, the enemies or both. Accomplishing the Nightfall Strike for the week leads to better-than-normal rewards.
The Raid is an even larger and longer version of a Strike, granting a unique set of rewards only available through the Raid. You must compile a team of six and engage in a series of traps and puzzles all while trying to keep your head above water against enemy waves. The Raid is designed to be the most difficult of PVE challenges, as it demands higher levels of coordination and communication. In a Raid, even a single player’s misstep can wipe out the entire team. Raids consist of multiple parts and are usually topped off with a large boss fight at the end, where more player-challenging mechanics are in play.
The PVP modes in Destiny 2 are more or less the same as they were in Destiny 1. Except this time, they are sectored off into two play styles: Free Play and Competitive. In Free Play, you have Clash as the obligatory “team deathmatch” mode, Control as the “capture and hold” mode, and Supremacy, which is a mode where your team must confirm their kills by grabbing the crests of those that they killed. Competitive PVP gives you two new Destiny modes. One is Survival, which is exactly like Clash except each team has a shared and limited pool of lives. The other is Countdown, which uses the same kind of bomb planting and defusing model as seen in Counter Strike or Call of Duty’s Search and Destroy.
There is also a weekly, end-of-the-week event intended to provide the highest level of PVP competition. The once-called Trials of Osiris is now known as Trials of the Nine. Compile your best team of four to face other teams in Countdown matches. The goal is you get as many wins on your “ticket” as possible before your team acquires three losses. The closer you bring your card to seven wins, the higher the rewards. The pinnacle and prestige in Trials of the Nine comes by getting seven wins in a row with no losses on your card.
Destiny 2 tries well to push the “play your way” motif where you don’t have to engage in ALL of the game modes to continue to reach end-game limits in your character’s strength and leveling. Sure, you’ll grow faster by dipping into all of the various modes, completing any and all of the weekly tasks assigned to you. However, Destiny 2’s new clan system helps to close the gap between casual single-players and PVP’ers and raid-goers. When members of a clan complete weekly clan goals, all members of that clan are rewarded with powerful gear that actually work towards character growth. The clan’s members don’t even have to participate in those tasks if they do not want to.
For the most part, players who wanted to continue to grow in Destiny 1 were stuck with items of a certain level cap if they did not participate in (or sometimes complete) Destiny’s more rigorous end game content. This posed to create a divide between players who lacked the desire to engage these modes vs the players who did. While this was addressed somewhat in the latter part of Destiny 1’s lifespan, it was a taste that many were familiar with. Destiny 2’s new clan system does a pretty decent job at being more welcoming, encouraging even the lighter Destiny players to sign in to see what clan rewards they may have gotten.