Destiny 2: Warmind review: Everything old is new(ish) again

Sadly, as with most of the plot in developer Bungie’s loot shooter, the setup is a lot less interesting in practice than on paper. ’s two-ish-hour single-player campaign gives us exactly one monologue from Bray explaining the situation. Guardians (a.k.a., the space zombies) aren’t supposed to investigate their pasts, though the of that directive is never really addressed.

The regulation comes off like an overly convenient excuse to pit Bray against another speaking character from the main game, Zavala, who doesn’t trust the old Earth war machine. That mistrust is a bit odd, given that is narratively and mechanically about collecting otherworldly weapons.

Meet the new gear, same as the old gear

Plot aside, offers a fairly fun clutch of missions in the mold. You move through new zones killing things with what is still possibly the most rhythmic action to be found in current first-person shooters. Like the previous DLC, , some of these missions are recycled as three-person Strikes once you best the micro-campaign.

The upshot is that these story missions are more involved than standing in a room, holding the square button, and practicing headshots on incoming enemies. At least there are still some of those “classic” moments sprinkled in between. The downside is that the new Strikes feel like repeats right off the bat.

Strikes aside, there are plenty of other elements that feel like echoes of past expansions this time around. “New” exotic gear like the Eternal Warrior helmet and Sleeper Simulant fusion rifle come straight out of the first and its expansions. On one hand, getting loot I already owned and played with for three years isn’t as exciting a reward as an entirely new toy when unwrapping exotic loot drops. On the other hand, I did miss my Suros Regime.

The high-end gear is just a bit more fun across the board, too. Alongside the expansion came a free update that, among other things, made most exotic weapons feel that much more . My personal favorite change is to the Graviton Lance, which now operates better at range and spawns virulent, heat-seeking dark-energy explosions with every kill.

These weapon buffs are just the thing to spice up yet more rerun contentlike the public events in the new Mars zone. I was instantly disappointed when, after unlocking the frigid open area, the first thing I found was the same Cabal Injection Rig activity from the base game. Meanwhile, fans of the original will recognize the one new public event as a slightly modified version of Warsat defense.

Escalate those protocols

There’s also a high-level activity called Escalation Protocol that feels like a wider, more open version of ’s Court of Oryx. In both, you and nearby strangers team up to kill waves of enemies and a boss that rotates weekly.

This doesn’t require the coordination of a Raid, nor the variety of a Strike, but it provide a slightly greater sense of scale than the average public event. Hive Thralls swarm in greater numbers here than elsewhere in . Dealing with them, plus their much larger Knight escorts, while completing some very light objectives, is not a one-person job (until someone finds a juicy exploitas players tend to do). It is still inconvenient that I can’t take a full fireteam of six into patrol areas, though, a fact to which Escalation Protocol’s sheer chaos draws even more attention.

I could level a similar complaint at ‘s player-versus-player suite, the Crucible. The newly weirded-up exotics have spiced it up so much so that I’d say constantly staying with your three teammates and hosing anyone foolish enough to round a corner isn’t the only viable tactic. The problem is that Bungie gave us a taste of classic, six-on-six multiplayer for a limited time earlier this year. While the Crucible definitely feels more interestingless squashed flat for the sake of balanceit still slows down in spots.

’s accompanying free update does finally add ranked matches to , though. So even if you’re bored with loot from an entire console generation ago, there are new guns and cosmetics to unlock at certain ranks. The strange caveat is that none of these tweaksnot even the set of new mapsrequires . All the DLC nets you is the use of those new maps in private matches. This is a good thing when it comes to keeping the player base unified, but it does make itself a little less valuable.

And that’s the critical pickle I’m in. all by itself feels like another quality shot of . It’s got a new patrol zone, more loot, and a story that’s comprehensible (even if it doesn’t pay off on its promising premise). Its added high-level content (Escalation Protocol and a new Raid Lair) won’t grab headlines, but it does add more spokes to the fundamentally satisfying wheel. That’s still one hell of a step up from  which felt more like a demo than a complete product.

Yet the things I’m most excited about in these days aren’t part of at all. They’re expansion-adjacent intangibles: a balance philosophy of “make all the guns good” instead of “make the good ones as weak as everything else” is one giant leap in the right direction. Ranked Crucible’s reward structure adds genuine progression to the player-vs-player combat (and here’s hoping six-player teams don’t remain a temporary feature). I’m more excited about the of than I have been since… before was released.

alone isn’t nearly enough to keep me on the train until this year’s big expansion, but it was a decent excuse to see how the foundation of the game is changing. You could do worse than indulging in a bit more of the familiar before some hopefully big changes on the horizon.

The good:

The bad:

The ugly:

Verdict: : is more of the same built on a shifting foundation. Try it if you’re curious about the direction the game is going.

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