After being genuinely hopeful and excited for all the changes made in the base game of Destiny 2 on its release, it soon became a case of same old Bungie when it came to the lacklustre DLC content expansions in Curse of Osiris and Warmind, although I really enjoyed Warmind it did feel as though Destiny 2 had reached its peak way before its first year was up. Bungie have been very vocal about taking player feedback and making changes to the core of Destiny 2 in order to bring people back and with the start of the second year of Destiny 2 content now launched with Forsaken, it is very obvious to me that Bungie are focused on looking ahead, and if this content is any indication, the road could be very bright indeed.

This review is really going to focus on the Forsaken campaign as well as the changes to the game that have been made along with it including the new PvP/PvE mode Gambit. The new Raid does not go live till next week but I have spent the best part of 48 hours playing through the campaign and post campaign content enough to get a really good feel of how Destiny 2 is going to be going forward so I will be focusing on that rather than waiting for the launch of the new Raid as personally, Raids are not the reason I play Destiny 2.

There is a massive shift in tone for Forsaken and as all the trailers have already revealed over the last few months, the big impact this content will have is that it kills off possibly the most loved character in Destiny since the original game released, that of Cayde-6. Forsaken starts with Cayde-6 beaten down and about to be killed by the returning character of Prince Uldren just before the cutscene switches to the events leading to this moment with player as their chosen Guardian accompanying Cayde-6 to the Prison of Elders after receiving a distress call to say that a riot has started in the prison and the player must assist Cayde-6 in restoring order.

I really enjoyed the major shift in tone for this campaign story, it has enough weight to it that just by playing through it you appreciate the feeling at all times that this is a game changing moment narratively for the Destiny universe and its something that expansions and new content should do with Destiny which is why the first expansions for Destiny 2 failed to hit the mark for me. They felt like side activities where what I wanted was something to drive the main story forward. Sadly the price for this meant the best written character since the fist game was killed off, but the impact of it is what drives Forsaken forward in a positive way all the same.

Now the first elephant in the room that must be commented on is the fact that the original voice actor for Cayde-6, Nathan Fillion, did not return to voice him for this expansion. Why that is the case is still not fully known, we know that Forsaken and the idea to kill of Cayde-6 was two years in the making from developer interviews at Bungie, so why or how they failed to have Fillion return is just baffling. Instead Nolan North who also replaced Peter Dinklage as the voice of Ghost, takes the role and as good as North is, his attempt to imitate Fillion in the delivery of the dialogue and his mannerisms for Cayde-6 are glaringly out of place for me. The performance is not terrible but when you hear him doing his best ‘Nathan Fillion doing Cayde-6’ impression throughout the first hour of the story campaign, it sticks out and for me took me out of the story a little too much the first time I ran one of my guardians through the opening missions. It is disappointing that the original voice actor who made the character so iconic couldn’t come full circle at the end but as a character, the loss of Cayde-6 is going to be something fans will not forget.

Right away that loss has changed the relationship between the remaining head Guardians in Zavala and Ikora in how they respond to the murder of Cayde-6 at the hands of Prince Uldren and his new entourage of the Skorn Barons. Ikora is angry and thirsty for revenge and wants to send the Guardians to the Reef to take down Uldren and his Barons but is shocked when Zavala refuses by saying that the Guardians are not an army to be sent out for vengeance, and their job is to remain on Earth to protect it and the system as well as The Traveller. What happens next was a big surprise and I will not spoil how it happens because it was a genuine goosebump moment for me, but you as your Guardian take it upon yourself to go and hunt down Uldren with one single purpose in mind, to kill him for murdering Cayde. This is a rather dark motive whilst understandable, puts you at odds with Zavala for the very first time who will not sanction your actions but gets the understanding and motivation from Ikora to get revenge for her friend. This is the kind of relationship change I feel was needed to refresh the current Destiny universe going forward, and adding that little moral grey area when it comes to wielding the power of a Guardian and deciding how best to use it.

Campaign will then see the player head to the newest region for Destiny 2 in The Reef’s Tangled Shores where you will need to hunt down the eight Barons protecting Uldren and who are also responsible for taken Cayde-6 down. Each will require a certain power level increase for the player and with the new power limit raised to 600 and player level of 50, there is certainly room to quickly level up in order to meet this new challenge but will come to the changes in power levels a little further on. This is a campaign that will take a good few hours to complete which is a good thing compared to previous DLC which was over far too quickly. The need to increase your power levels does give it a false pace as you spend time levelling up but it is all very much worth it by the end of the campaign which happily leaves plenty of room for more story over the next year for Destiny 2.

This has been by far my favourite expansion story yet for Destiny 2 and again is another example of Bungie looking back to locations and characters from the original game now able to return to make the world of Destiny feel even bigger by revisiting locations left behind when Destiny 2 launched. The post campaign content is massive and filled with plenty of things to do including a rather moving tribute to Cayde-6 which rewards you with the Ace of Spades, Cayde-6’s very own hand cannon and a very formidable weapon indeed. But of course, as with all Destiny expansions, the story campaign is just the appetiser for what is perhaps the biggest change to the game since it launched this time last year in 2017.

So much has changed with Forsaken that is it is very obvious where Bungie felt those changes were desperately needed to both refresh gameplay but to also try and resolve so many of the complaints that has plagued Destiny 2 far sooner than it had for the original game. The weapon system has been completely revamped with weapons types previously locked away under the Kinetic, Energy and Power class of weapons brought in with Destiny 2 now far more open with many being reclassed back to how they were in Destiny 1. Shotguns and Sniper rifles are no longer locked away as Power weapons and instead can now be equipped under kinetic or energy allowing for more freedom in weapon choice and loadouts making sniper rifles especially far more viable for players. It is by far yet another instance of Bungie reverting back to how things were in the original Destiny and something players and myself have hoped for to be implemented.

The surprise came in the way players upgrade or infuse weapons and armour now with Forsaken’s changes and this was a strange change which is going to take some getting used to. Players can still game powerful weapons or armour and use Legendary shards and glimmer to infuse their favourite items to increase their power levels but now, and just like in Destiny 1, you will require certain materials from each of the world hubs in order to complete the levelling up. Previous picking up items such as Akane Dust on Titan was almost pointless for how you used it before Forsaken, but now such planetary materials are required in large numbers to infuse things making it a must for players to return to the hub worlds in order to farm these materials which has slowed down the infusion process especially when some of the high power infusion upgrades require Master Work cores which are not so easy to come by.

Bounties are now a huge factor of Destiny once again with daily bounties from just about every person you can speak too offering challenges to complete for rewards. Bounties were a huge reason I enjoyed firing up the first Destiny when playing solo just to go and be in the world for a couple of hours to complete them and it was something I did feel Destiny 2 was lacking but no more, and with the new large amount of room players have to store bounties to complete as you go along for normal gameplay, Crucible and Strike activities, there really is just an abundance of things to keep players going for now until the next content drops later this year with the Annual pass.

Possibly my favourite addition to the Multiplayer side of Destiny for either game has to be the new mode Gambit, something I can quickly becoming especially fond of. Gambit pits two teams of four Guardians against each other and blends the two worlds of PvP and PvE together so effortlessly. At the start of each match the newest character to Destiny, The Drifter, randomly selects which enemy the two teams will fight against. Each team will then be tasked with fighting this enemy to collect shards which must then be deposited in their teams’ ‘tank’ with the aim to deposit enough to summon the Prime Evil taken boss who must be taken down before the other team can defeat theirs. What makes it new and exciting is that both teams are separated but by depositing shards they will send ‘blockers’ to the other team which lowers their tank until they defeat the blocker. Once a team member has deposited ten shards they will then have the opportunity to ‘Invade’ the other team’s location to kill them and disrupt their play and should they be fighting a Primeval Boss, each kill the invader makes gives more health to the boss.

This mode is truly exhilarating and requires solid team work and it is har to decide which is more satisfying, invading another team and taking them all out or cutting off their invader before they can do any damage. This is so much fun from the normal PvP and even when playing with Randoms the action is still just so enjoyable. The Drifter as a character will also play a part in the future as a full content drop will feature his story and the secret he carries with him could be another big change in the Destiny universe.

So far just a couple of days out from Forsaken’s launch I have a far more optimistic outlook for Destiny 2 in its second year than I previously had. The story campaign and post campaign content is compelling and all the changes made to the base game systems are welcome and bring a much needed feeling of connection to the first game compared to the complete overhaul and throwing away many of the things Forsaken has brought back to the game. I still do not like the business model that is linked to the different versions of Destiny 2 in order to get Forsaken such as owning the original DLC before you can use Forsaken and when other gaming publishers are starting to drop the Season Pass, the Annual Pass is still an expensive purchase after Forsaken to keep Destiny 2 up to date without knowing what that pass actually contains.

But the future for Destiny 2 is back on track and as long as Bungie stay committed to responding to player feedback and making the changes required to keep the game fun and relevant for fans, this sequel is finally what I expected it to become even if it has taken a full year for Bungie to learn from its mistakes. Destiny 2’s playing world is huge now and with the two new locations with Tangles Shores bringing back The Reef but also the Dreaming City, the high level region which has its own secrets to discover, I am excited to see what will happen next now that Bungie officially have taken their gloves off.

I will miss Cayde-6, but I will carry his Ace of Spades with pride and will always remember him fondly, as I finally can with Destiny 2.