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  • Daniel James

The Curse of Osiris Review Part 1: The Campaign

Destiny 2's first expansion "The Curse of Osiris" has been out for a few days now, and players have been able to experience everything it has to offer. Set on the planet Mercury, it had players pursuing the legendary Warlock, Osiris, throughout time. From new activities, new gear and a new Raid Lair, how does it stack up?

Dstreet's been quiet for a while. I've been at school, churning out final essays and projects. Consequently, it's been a full week since my last article, the longest hiatus I've taken since the game's launch.

But be ye not alarmed: The day The Curse of Osiris launched, I rushed straight from my final to my dorm and played eight hours of the new expansion. As of this article's writing, I've put (count em) 28 hours into the new expansion. And I've got a lot of thoughts.

The Curse of Osiris | Bungie

So, I'm going to break down my thoughts on each of its parts. Each section will be its own article. But first, a disclosure.

Having read responses to the expansion, I feel as though criticism of the expansion is skewed. Destiny 2 was not immediately criticized for some of its longer-term short-comings, and I believe The Curse of Osiris is taking the brunt of those. Conversely, I find that the focus on these few issues means that some glaringly bad elements are actually ignored. I'm not here to excuse or condemn the expansion. But I think I'm offering a perspective outside of the common dialogue that many may agree with.

This review is going to be five-parter, because these criticisms are going to be beyond reactions to the expansion. Destiny is in a season of change, and having gone four months now without Rumble, I'd rather no more babies get thrown out with the bathwater.

Part 1: Campaign

Part 2: Adventures

Part 3: Infinite Forge

Part 4: Raid Lair

Part 5: The Crucible

Part 1: Campaign

The Curse of Osiris | Bungie

There are two elements of the campaign worth talking about: Its story and its level design. Both appeared promising at first glance. Osiris is one of the more interesting figures in the game's lore, and was a central figure in Joseph Staten's original story for Destiny. The Vex, too, are a fascinating enemy both in concept and in combat. To this end, Bungie hyped "The Infinite Forest," as a randomized series of encounters that would engross players. So does it?

Level Design

Right off the bat, the Infinite Forest is a bust. It's just not interesting. Most encounters can be flat-out skipped by jumping over them, with the exception of those featuring "Daemons," aka high-level enemies that need to be killed to unlock a gate. This isn't the worst part though, and in a twisted way, is its saving grace, because the encounters themselves aren't very good.

You rarely face anything more intricately designed than a mob of enemies in a single location, with smaller mobs leading up to them. Occasionally, there's a sniper section that forces the player to engage some strategy, but these are few and far between. More commonly, you'll mow down enemies with an auto rifle or fire a rocket and -voila-, you've erased them from existence faster than The Vault of Glass' Templar ever could.

Infinite Forest | Bungie

The actual story missions themselves aren't anything to remember, but there are some exceptionally good moments. By and large, it's standard Destiny fare: mow down mobs, travel in a straight line, and find a boss to kill. But it has the good sense to add a twist. Like Thaviks of Destiny 1's 'Shadow Thief' strike, multiple bosses will be encountered only to run through multiple stages. This adds variety at first, and is a welcome change, but quickly grows wearisome, as Bungie pulls this trick over, and over, and over again.

There's one exceptionally good usage in a level where you find a map to pinpoint the campaign's main villain. You actually start fighting a formidable Vex Minotaur when the Minotaur is smashed into the ground by…a Cabal boss, who you then fight instead. It's a very good cinematic moment in gameplay, something which was tragically rare throughout Destiny 2's campaign. The level overall is a standout and ends in a room that's breathtakingly gorgeous.

There are two missions that I'd consider up to that quality, though, and everything besides is remarkably average and chore-like. This is largely because the story does it no favors, and in many places, actually makes it worse. Of all The Curse of Osiris' shortcomings, none can touch the sheer calamity that is its story.

The Story

The Curse of Osiris | Bungie

The opening cinematic itself is good and Bungie was right to release it online ahead of time: because it's the only scene that displays any coherent thought.

There's a Vex Mind named Panoptes who can see the past, present and future. So of course, there's a bad version of the future where The Vex win, the sun dies and Mercury is a dusk-lit wasteland where The Fallen inexplicably roam the planet's surface doing heaven knows what.

Of course, this entire threat is impossible to take seriously for every reason imaginable. We already know the Vex can do this, so it's not terribly surprising. The Vex have already tried to do this in The Vault of Glass, and we beat them handily. Worse, there are still countless Vex minds who can still do this after the expansion's events. So victory feels empty, and the journey to that victory lacks any weight. There's a half-assed attempt to establish some animosity between Osiris and Panoptes, but it's executed in such a cartoonish fashion with such poorly explained context that I'm still not entirely sure why Osiris is involved.

The Curse of Osiris | Bungie

Oh yes, Osiris, the legendary Warlock. He's here. It's been said you should never meet your heroes, but one of my own heroes, Marty O'Donnell, shared one of my articles and tweeted at me, and I came out the other side intact. I was ecstatic, enraptured and was still experiencing euphoria until Osiris sucked it out of my bloodstream.

We first encounter Osiris in a very cool way. Sagira guides the player into a Vex structure, where we encounter virtual copies of Osiris that wander around. The Warlock has "hacked" the Vex network and created countless copies of himself to explore the area. Now, this is cool at first. He has some cool lines, chats it up with Sagira, and generally seems less enamored with us than most Tower residents. But I don't hold that against him, because I know he's quite an important dude.

What I do hold against him is his role in ruining our first encounter. Talking to a yellow, transparent copy of Osiris is cool, but, Bungie counters, what about TWO of them? If you think that's cool, whattya think about twenty of them? The scene continues to barrage the player with poorly written exposition via glowing Osirises for what feels like several minutes. It goes from cool, to okay, to tiresome to outright irritating.

The Curse of Osiris | Bungie

The story get worse from here. Sagira finds out that Panoptes is going to erase the good timelines and it's off to…do fetch quests. Now, the one saving grace is that Nolan North's infamous "Nolanbot" is replaced with Morena Baccarin's Sagira for most of the story. The bad news, is that the entire story structure is: Sagira needs to be plugged into a thing, we kill bad dudes until we find the thing, Sagira gets plugged into the thing and OH NO, Sagira needs to be plugged into a DIFFERENT thing! Her voice may not be irritating, but her character is designed around the same irritating purpose that neither the voices of Nolan North nor Peter Dinklage could overcome.

Throughout this story is no nuance, discovery or conflict. It's a cover ops mission that pretends it’s a race against time in a time-bending galactic war. There's a badly conceived attempt at making some conflict between Ikora and Sagira, but it's painfully contrived and thankfully lazy enough that it doesn't exist beyond a few lines of dialogue. Sagira expresses that she's disappointed that Ikora let Osiris be exiled, Ikora expresses that she's changed, and Sagira blows this apology off.

It ends after a few missions, when Sagira expresses thanks via this random line: "You're right. You're not the old Ikora. You're better." What happens between these two snippets of dialogue? Absolutely nothing. The two have no interaction to speak of. You shoot a bunch of stuff and this conflict is magically resolved. This was a problem in Destiny 2's main campaign, but it's far more noticeable in this concentrated story. Halo operated beautifully with its "show, don't tell," policy, but Destiny operates with "tell, don't show."

The Curse of Osiris | Bungie

The story operates within a world that doesn't exist onscreen and the seams aren't just noticeable, it's the only dimension the player is allows to operate. The player is always an unwelcome complication between the existence of the story and the game, two worlds that have no intention of coexisting.

The story ends with a reasonably good boss-fight. It's actually better than the painfully boring encounter with Ghaul, but it's nothing special. There's a very basic mechanic that's well executed, and the boss goes down. It's worth noting that Osiris himself makes an appearance here. He helps you defeat Panoptes, and the satisfying boss battle climaxes, transitioning us to the supremely unsatisfying story it briefly gave us respite from.

Osiris makes his appearance known, declares victory and talks to Ikora. Ikora expresses regret at his banishment, and Osiris spouts some wise-sounding, empty lines. Now in the lore, Osiris is a far deeper character. He's an egomaniac, narcissist and demonstrates tunnel-vision. The expansion's own lore doubles down on this, with Saint-14 straight-up explaining why he's an asshole and why his Mercury trip isn't as heroic as he pretends it is.

The Curse of Osiris | Bungie

Onscreen though? Nothing. He's a flat cardboard cutout of Santa Claus that malls use when they can't afford to import a jolly old fat man for the afternoon. Further, his instrumentality in the story is dubious. All the player character has to do to defeat Panoptes is find out where the dude is and shoot him. Worse, my own instrumentality in the story is now in question, because there's no earthly reason why Osiris couldn't have done this himself.

Bungie themselves clearly have no reason to explain this, since Osiris actually finds Panoptes without our help despite our character struggling to do so without multiple fetch quests. So, Osiris, the Warlock of legend…had trouble clearing three trash mobs, dunking a few arc orbs…and firing three rockets. This isn't exaggeration. I downed Panoptes with three rockets. I'm glad I was of help, but Osiris should probably retire. Hang it up, old fellow, because my underlevelled 270 Hunter just did in two hours what you couldn't in two decades.


The Curse of Osiris | Bungie

The story is absolutely the worst part of Curse of Osiris, and the expansion absolutely gets better from here. But a weak campaign and atrocious story mean the events that follow are forgettable. Ultimately, the story plays a huge role in the Destiny universe's cohesion across its varying titles and expansions. So the failure to create one that's remotely compelling is deeply disappointing.

Destiny was sold as a science-fantasy space epic in a mythic universe. Bungie may have struggled to tell a cohesive story in the first game, but its lore promised that it had stories worth telling. The Curse of Osiris erodes the franchise by fumbling those myths.

Bungie promised we would become legend, but when it takes its existing legends and makes them pedestrian, it's hard to find hope that our characters will find a better fate.

#Destiny2 #Review #Osiris