‘Warmind’ Turns Destiny 2 into a Game I Can Throw 1,000 Hours At
I've put a thousand hours into very few games; fewer than many of my friends, I discovered after a brief polling via Discord. My goal in playing games is to play as many games as possible, rather than to master a few. Even 'God of War,' a game I found breathtakingly terrific, was abandoned the second I beat the main story. By the time the credits rolled, and the "end-game" rose to greet me, I had installed Destiny 2's latest expansion: 'Warmind.'
Destiny is one of the few games that's defied my inability to commit to a game. It breathes rarified air among Grand Theft Auto V, Halo 3 and Garry's Mod as games into which I’ve sunk over a thousand hours. Despite my being a PC gamer almost exclusively, half those games were played on Xbox. Is my 'PC Master Race' cred in jeopardy? No. Even the most hardened PC elitist would understand why. Halo 3 and Destiny are two games that have collectively eaten so much time that Bungie could scientifically declare their servers alternate realities and the timelines would check out.
It's with this expectation of depth that I entered Destiny 2, and exited with little thought. As established earlier, I bounce from games quickly. Destiny 2 didn't give me any real reason to play after I beat the Prestige Raid, so I didn't. The subsequent 'Curse of Osiris' expansion was so breathtakingly bad that it soured me to the entire world, and pushed me out of a fictional world I'd loved for over three years.
It didn't help that the same week, Rockstar Games released 'The Doomsday Heist,' a free DLC update for GTA: Online that inexplicably had more content and a more coherent story than Bungie's $20 expansion. Despite having just bought the game on PC, I couldn't bring myself to finish the expansion, leaving my new Hunter at Power Level 320 and the Sagira shell just 2 forge weapons away. Instead, I aided and abetted a rogue AI's takeover of America's national defenses from the streets of Los Santos.
Months later I found myself face to face with another rogue AI, this time defending humanity. Quite the upgrade. Because, yes, 'Warmind' is a worthy upgrade to the Destiny 2 experience. I encourage any fan of the first game to play it.
In short, 'Warmind' accomplishes everything I missed from the first Destiny game. The art style and music captivate me in a sci-fantasy atmosphere that was nonexistent in the base game, and poorly served in 'Osiris.' The open world destination, 'The Hellas Basin,' is one of the franchise's best, shy of The Cosmodrone but on par with Venus. The story, while not exceptionally good, has intelligent stakes and leaves me hungering for more.
Contrast this with the base game, whose story left me apathetic; or 'Curse of Osiris,' which had me recoiling in disgust.
While the Hive enemies presented are familiar, Bungie's given us a bit more variety. There are new units. And no, I don't mean "reduxed" units as 'The Taken King' and 'Rise of Iron' presented. These aren't old enemies with 'Taken,' 'Splicer' or 'Frozen' tacked on with a new ability or two. We now face Hive snipers and the 'Vanquisher,' the Knight's bigger brother, armed with a shield and a cleaver. They're far more aggressive than Knights, too. The second you lock eyes with one, it makes a beeline straight for you.
All of this serves to challenge your usual tactics. The addition of snipers keeps forces you to play mobile, and the aggressive Vanquishers force you constantly reprioritize how you play. This variety is well served by the story mission level design, and two surprisingly good boss fights.
Best yet, there's a grind. Not one artificially inflated by absurd difficulty spikes, or cheap obstacles, but a series of varied challenges that will keep me returning. Escalation Protocol, a stage-based horde mode with rotating bosses, is so difficult at 245 Light that, at the time of writing, no one has managed to finish its second stage (there are seven total). This is in large part because few players have actually breached 250 light, much less the cap of 285.The Power grind is steep, but fair, and as we fight upward, more content will rise meet us.
Throw in a pretty intimidating list of collectibles, check that, two intimidating lists of collectibles, and I'm buckling in for the long haul.
The Crucible's new ranking system is a definite win, but I'm not sure Bungie's gone far enough. For starters, the 'Casual or Competitive' playlist system still streamlines far too much diversity of the game's experience out. Destiny 1 had individual playlists for each game mode, and in my opinion, that should have returned by now.
Halo 5 is a perfect example of what Bungie should have implemented. At least within Competitive, each game mode should have its own playlist where the only random variable is map, not objective. Halo 5 is currently getting flack for only having eight or nine playlists at the moment, so it's absolutely bonkers to me that Bungie called it quits with two with Destiny.
The actual rank system they've added is well done, with fantastic rewards worth grinding for. Emblems that display rank, and grant more ornate variants upon rank-up are welcome badges of pride. Redrix's Claymore, the exalted pulse rifle awaiting the game's top ranked players, is a worthy prize. It's just such a pity that this system is wasted on a single playlist.
What's going to make the most difference are the many sandbox changes that Bungie's made. Players are faster and more powerful. It's not a subtle change by any means; you really feel that extra umph in every moment. The outplay potential is far greater, meaning you'll have absolutely terrific moments of euphoria on maps and with guns that were boring last week. That's not to say there's been some groundbreaking meta shift, though. Guns that were good last week are still good now, they're just less boring at that task.
Warmind improves Destiny 2's Crucible far better than I thought Bungie capable of. At the very least, it should make for a comfortable five months until the Fall 'Comet' DLC.
'Warmind' can't right the wrongs done by its preceding DLC which I judged "offensively bad" in my review. But it's done the next best thing and given me reason to forget 'Curse of Osiris' exists. It heads back to the original game and improves upon it. Destiny 2's base game was a solid foundation that lacked depth and challenge. 'Warmind' amends those shortcomings. Where the base game was competent, this expansion is thrilling. It's not an end-all solution, but it's more than just a step forward. It absolutely stands on its own as one of the franchise's finest expansions yet.