The most important thing to know about Destiny 2 is that, if you play it, you play it with other people. Even if you start out on your own, you will meet others and link up with them on an inexorable journey. If you don’t, you’ll stop playing altogether.
For that reason, Destiny 2 is a game you experience through dialogue. Not with characters (you play as a silent protagonist), but with your companions, whomever they may be.
These are some of the conversations you should expect to have.
“I really like this gun.”
You will pick up a lot of guns in Destiny 2. Your guns are the closest thing you have to a voice, and wielding them lets you converse with enemy combatants.
A Guardian carries three guns at all times: a kinetic weapon, an energy weapon (comes in three flavors), and a power weapon. You can also carry up to nine other weapons of each type through the magic of transmaterialization. Once you fill up your inventory space for each weapon type, you can then store additional weapons you receive in your vault. Think of it like the Cloud, but for weapons.
You will like a lot of guns in Destiny 2. Some of them for minutes, some for days, and some for the entirety of the time you spend with the game.
When someone says “I like this gun a lot,” it could mean they like a certain type of weapon, like a pulse rifle or a hand cannon. It could mean they like a specific gun, like The Old Fashioned or the Graviton Lance (there are no guns in Destiny 2 that do not have names).
What it more likely means is they will like that gun until the moment they enter an encounter and are instantly atomized, after which they will switch to a different gun, sending their previous affection back to live in the vault.
That’s part of learning how you should play Destiny 2. Not every weapon will suit you. And sometimes you need to use different words.
Also, loudly repeating you like a gun every time you use it is not always an effective way of getting others to give it a try.
“How does this chest piece look on me?”
Guns do a lot of the talking, but what you wear in this game might say more about you than anything else.
As with guns, Armor comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, and Destiny 2 even divides these up into Mobile, Restorative, and Heavy armor. These distinctions usually have more to do with stats than aesthetics, but how you spec your gear is something else that tells another Guardian how you play the game.
You might be the kind of person who finds all the armor in a set and wears a complete outfit. You might be a more adept dresser, able to mix and match pieces from different wardrobes to make your own look. Or you might be fashion agnostic, choosing to wear only the strongest gear, regardless of the outcome.
Beyond the form factor, Destiny 2 also gives guardians more color options. Each piece of armor (legs, chest, arms, head, and class item) can take a shader, (items that paint gear in a predefined color palette). Do you trend toward subtle but serious hues like Metro Shift, or do you dress head to toe in the ever gaudy Nebula Rose?
Some people like to play it low key while others need to be noticed as soon as they arrive at a public event. Those people are usually Hunters, but regardless, it’s their prerogative. If you think that razzle dazzle pink cape is working for you, be my guest.
“After this I’m gonna stop for the night.”
Guardians put in long hours. Everyone has their own routine, be it patrolling planets, fighting through the heart of the enemy on strike missions, or honing your skills against other Guardians in the Crucible.
It depends on what your group wants to do that day, to an extent. There’s a flashpoint happening on Nessus, and Shaxx wants us to stay polished, and of course the Leviathan raid, the game’s ultimate challenge, looms large every week. With rewards possible in every activity, it can prove difficult to escape from the loop.
It’s also a very fun game, even when you aren’t getting glittering prizes in the moment to moment play.
When you do decide to stop, there’s the matter of that last run to the social space to take care of. After a night in the field, there will be vendors and factions with reputation rewards, and the dutiful postmaster bot will be holding onto your lost and found.
You walk around social spaces in third person, too, so it’s easy to get distracted by the aforementioned sartorial struggle. One minute you’re trying on new shaders, the next it’s been half an hour since you said goodnight.
Destiny 2‘s claws are every bit as long as Destiny 1‘s, though they’re much better manicured.
“What do you see, boy?”
Between combat, while exploring, your Ghost can pipe up to say there’s something interesting nearby that he can scan and tell you about, like a little nugget of lore. When he does that, I say this to myself. Clarification: your Ghost is not a pet.
Ghost is more like a little magic robot sidekick. He’s your radio, your assistant, your encyclopedia, your teleporter. Most importantly, he brings you back from the dead whenever you’re bested on the battlefield.
In other games, death is treated as unreality. You, the player, die, and the world suspends itself, reverting to a previous point in time when you were not dead. You try again and if you succeed, it is as though that death never happened.
In the world of Destiny, you were dead until your Ghost found you and gave you a new life as a Guardian. If you die again, he brings you back without pause, all thanks to the Light of the Traveler (an interstellar body and the source of all this space magic stuff).
Where death is a period in other games, in this one, it’s a comma.
“I think I’m lagging.”
You missed a shot you shouldn’t have missed, either on a stationary enemy or someone you’re flanking or enemies whose power is far below yours.
Good thing this is an always online game. Just blame it on latency.
When in the Crucible, this is often accompanied by:
“That guy is definitely lagging.”
You got caught out of position or you got outgunned or there were three people behind that guy you challenged waiting to clean you up.
Either way, he was definitely lagging. You would’ve got him otherwise.
“The story was so much better this time.”
It was, and yet this is still a Destiny game. I do not envy the people who have to write a game like this. They face the challenge of writing a story to make individuals feel special in a game played by a million.
Your Guardian has been mute for most of the time since he was reawakened, which isn’t uncommon in games.
Link is mute. Mario has limited dialogue.
The difference here is you’re also nameless. When you emote, it’s your choice whether your avatar dances on his enemy’s corpse, makes a sassy gesture, or kneels while waiting to revive a fallen comrade.
Beyond that, the characters call you “Guardian” or refer to you by your class, and they tell you you’re a hero, that you are chosen.
And it works fine. You’re there as an instrument. You show up where you’re expected, you bring your guns, your Ghost explains what’s happening and speaks for both of you, and then you save the day. You accomplish great things, and you are lauded for it. You, the Guardian behind all of the Last City’s recent triumphs.
But you know you didn’t do those things alone.
If Atheon lies shattered beneath the glass throne, it’s because you joined a raiding party and made that fate. If Crota’s soul is ready for its last rites, it’s because six of you went down into the pit and emerged untarnished. If the Dreadnaught and the Court of the High War echo empty, it’s because you and five friends committed regicide. And so on.
The campaign in Destiny 2 is an improvement on almost every level from the first game, but it still gets held back by what kind of game this is. In a lot of ways, the story might be better if you weren’t involved at all.
But the secret, which is almost definitely known to the writers at Bungie, is that the best stories emerge from what you do with your friends.
“Did you just kill that mini-boss by ramming him with an interceptor?”
“Dude you got ______? Congrats.”
You wanted that helmet. It’s an exotic that refunds energy to your Stormcaller abilities when you get kills with them.
But your friend got it first.
Maybe they got better gauntlets than you after downing a raid boss, even though the after action report says you did more damage to the boss.
Or maybe you were both in the Nightfall strike, and you were able to clutch it out as the last Guardian standing with seconds on the clock. But he gets that exotic fusion rifle and you’re left with a legendary sidearm.
You don’t even like sidearms.
You still say congrats. You’ll get yours later, and you don’t want them to remember you whining or telling them to fuck themselves when that happens.
When you finally do get that Crown of Tempests, you will want them to hail the true king of the storm.
“We did _______ last night (without you).”
A ton of Crucible.
The Prestige Nightfall strike.
It will always be mystifying that some of your friends choose to lead off conversations this way. You don’t know how they expect it to make you feel. But you can’t let it get to you because of one of the Laws of Destiny:
Someone always has more time to play Destiny than you.
Either they work flexible hours or they took a week off right at launch or they’re in grad school while you work a 9-5, but they have that inherent advantage. In Destiny, time is power.
And you are weak.
But you’re not so weak that you try to control people or begrudge them their hour of the wolf pursuits.
You would be there with them if you were still free.
“Never send a Hunter to do a Warlock’s job.”
The two principal rivals in Destiny‘s fashion fracas have different approaches to combat and are best left to their own roles.
Plus those capes are tripping hazards.
“Let’s establish some rules for the raid before we go in.”
A blind raid is the purest aspiration of any Guardian.
Mere weeks after a raid releases, there will be only a handful of strategies for each encounter. The fastest route through the environment will be clocked. Paths of desire will begin to wear into the soil, killing the grass and showing you which corners to cut.
Going in blind is your chance to explore a dark wilderness with five friends. It’s a test of your cooperation, your teamwork, your intellect, and your trust. Every raid after this will challenge those same things, but that first raid tests your bonds on an atomic level.
Rules are important. Rules like:
“No one goes ahead on their own.”
Turn corners together, and make sure everyone is at a door before you cross a threshold. You never know what you might trigger with your presence, nor which wonders you might behold.
If you find a chest that you can unlock, wait until everyone is around it. They’re known to despawn after a time if not everyone gets it, and they can also be tucked away in a place you can’t easily direct someone to.
If you’re the first person to make it through a platforming challenge, it is probably worthwhile to hang around and help others rather than waiting around the corner.
And of course, death and misfortune can await anyone who wanders off alone.
“Don’t complain about loot drops.”
You do not deserve better rewards based on your performance. You did not play a larger role in defeating the boss. The game does not know you were the one who worked out the mechanics of the encounter.
You are one of six, and your time will come.
Remember well when you could do an entire run through the Vault of Glass and get nothing but ascendant materials.
“Make sure everyone can communicate.”
There are people who naturally fall into the role of shot caller, and there are others who have no trouble making themselves heard.
This won’t be the case for everyone in your fireteam. You might be missing crucial information from someone who can’t or won’t raise their voice.
“Know when you’re beaten.”
Gear checks happen. There may come a point when no matter what you do, you don’t have the power to defeat enemies and withstand their attacks. When that point comes before you can even work out what to do, there are diminishing returns each time you attempt the encounter.
Your first attempt at the raid will last hours, and it will either be late at night or past the point when someone should have taken a break for food. The more times you wind up looking at the wipe screen, the higher tensions will get.
“Your light fades away…”
The raid is the most fun you can have in a Destiny game, so keep that in mind throughout.
Furthermore, this is not the last time you will do this. It is only the beginning. Make sure you don’t do or say something that would make your fellow guardians not want to raid with you in the future.
All images belong to Bungie.