E3 2018: Destiny 2: Forsaken’s Opening Mission Sets High Stakes for Guardians, Bungie

Destiny 2 has been put through the wringer since it launched back in September 2017. From removing earnable content to sell in Loot Boxes to throttling XP to encourage microtransaction purchases to the terrible paid DLC, Destiny fans have had plenty to complain about over the past year. Since then, Bungie has been working to regain the public’s trust through a series of updates aimed at making the experience more like Destiny. The culmination of Bungie’s efforts lies with Forsaken, this fall’s significant expansion. Much like Destiny: The Taken King, Destiny 2: Forsaken looks to push the reset button for Destiny 2. We were able to go hands-on with the campaign’s first mission and the new Gambit mode to see if Forsaken can.

Destiny 2: Forsaken kicks off with a bang. You and Cayde-6 arrive at the Prison of Elders on the Reef to help Petra Venj contain an outbreak. Someone has helped the prisoners break free, and chaos has engulfed the prison. It’s a free-for-all between Hive, Cabal, and Fallen, and it’s quite an exciting sequence to play through.

Many of Destiny 2: Forsaken’s quality-of-life improvements are made apparent from the get-go. Once landing in the prison, we were prompted to open the inventory and mess around with the weapons. As promised, players can equip any weapon to the three available slots. Shotguns could be primary or secondary weapons, elemental weapons are available for any slot, and the new Bow was available for testing. Fans are going to be happy to equip the guns they want, and glad that random rolls are returning.

Traveling further into the prison, we assisted Cayde and Petra with getting the prison back online. There were a handful of exciting setpieces including a massive prison riot, getting trapped in a room with hordes of Hive, and resetting the prison’s defenses. All this work culminated in the unmasking of the culprit; Prince Uldren. MIA since the events of The Taken King, the Awoken prince returns as the main antagonist of Forsaken and, at the end of the mission, seemingly kills Cayde-6, setting players up for revenge.

Destiny 2: Forsaken’s opening mission is excellent, filled with excellent setpieces, plenty of enemies, and gets the plot moving in an exciting direction. Continuing the momentum set by this opening mission is Forsaken’s big task. Remember, the opening mission for Destiny 2 featured all the same elements but quickly lost its momentum in the missions afterward. It also remains to be seen if Uldren can be a compelling villain. He was an antagonizing force in the original Destiny, but he never was a villain. It’ll be interesting to see how he develops as the story progresses.

We also got a chance to try out the new PvPvE mode, Gambit, which pits two teams of four players against each other with the first team to capture two victories winning. To claim victory, the teams must defeat waves of enemies, collect nodes, and deposit them in their bank. The big twist is that each team can screw with each other in a variety of waves. Banking the nodes summons ‘blockers’ on the enemy’s map that prevents them from banking until they’re defeated.

What makes Gambit unique is that when 25 nodes are banked, a portal to the enemy’s map opens and one of your team can jump through. For thirty seconds, or until defeat, that player is free to unleash hell on that team. This is what makes Gambit such an exciting addition to the Destiny universe. For years, fans have been waiting for some mode that blends PvP and PvE, and Gambit is the first step towards realizing this.

After banking 75 nodes, the final phase of the match begins. A ‘Primeval’ is summoned, and a portal to your map permanently opens. Killing the big baddie ends the match, but the enemy team has ways to prolong the pain and, perhaps, snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. With the portal permanently open, the enemy team can send a player through to hunt you down with each death adding more health to ‘Primeval.’ Gambit is a surprisingly addicting mode, and hopefully, players take to it when Destiny 2: Forsaken launches.

Bungie is looking to course-correct the franchise with Forsaken and only time will tell if they’ll succeed. What we got to check out at E3 2018 does show promise. The opening mission is filled with the excitement, action and surprise necessary to grab interest and drive player motivation. Meanwhile, Gambit is an addicting mode that finally begins to deliver the PvPvE experience fans have been waiting for since the first game’s announcement in 2013. The proof, however, is in the pudding. Destiny 2 had a fantastic first mission too but quickly lost steam. The ball is in Bungie’s court and it’s up to them to prove they can deliver on their promises with Destiny 2: Forsaken.

Destiny 2: Forsaken is out September 4 on PS4, Xbox One and PC.