Forsaken didn't 'fix' Destiny 2, but it improved it for every type of player

2018 GOTY awards

Accompanying our team-selected Game of the Year awards for 2018, individual members of the PC Gamer team will each discuss one of their favorites from the last 12 months. We'll post a new personal pick alongside our awards until 2018 ends.

There will always be something wrong with Destiny 2. It's the price you pay for being an evolving, malleable game that tries to cater for both daily and intermittent players; that offers solo, co-op and competitive play; that oscillates between microtransactions being present and being the entire point of an event. There will always be one gun that's just too powerful. There will always be an activity that you don't enjoy. There will always be that Super that's frankly just bullshit. And why the hell was that player awarded an exotic weapon? Where's my damn exotic weapon?

The oft-stated opinion about Destiny 2 pre-Forsaken was that it was particularly broken, but I think that only applies if you're a very specific tier of player. The kind most likely to upvote a Reddit thread, or leave a comment, or scour patch notes in the hope that something—anything—is going to change. As someone who played the game once a week, more as a way to relax and catch up with friends, it did the job.

I'm not saying it didn't have problems. Destiny always has problems. And the two DLC releases of year one—Curse of Osiris and Warmind—were actively disappointing. Still, I think Forsaken didn't so much as fix Destiny 2 as it more meaningfully catered to every type of player. For those who treat it as a casual playspace, dipping in occasionally to enjoy the beautifully tuned weapons by popping the heads of some gribbly insectoids: you can still do that, but more so. For those who want an ongoing hobby, with reasons to play every day: welcome back.

The campaign was fun, but it's largely irrelevant. The actual game is the thing you do for the year after you finish the campaign. The things you pursue when you log in and look at a screen full of icons showing your weekly assignment of awards and opportunities.

And Forsaken contains more stuff now than I—as someone who also plays other games—will likely have time for. Three months since its release and I've barely touched The Dreaming City, the expansion's end game zone. What I've been able to piece together suggests it runs on a hidden meta cycle that… well, I don't know. For now, I just enjoy knowing the mystery is there; that there's still a part of the game that isn't yet a loot chase.

The loot chase is what drives a game like Destiny 2, and Forsaken tweaked its systems just enough to make sure you always feel like you're progressing. Whatever you do, a number is always increasing. Maybe it's your power level after you complete a daily or weekly activity. Maybe it's the completion of a particular goal—one of the many exotic or legendary quests that offer a particular gun after grinding enough specific kills. Maybe it's your Triumph score—a database of possible achievements that offers little except the chance to show off to other players, which, if we're all honest with ourselves, is enough.

For me, the more relaxed player, it offers Gambit: a brilliant race against another team of players to kill baddies, collect their shiny cores, and stuff them into a tank to summon a big evil that needs killing. It's everything that's great about Bungie's shooter—that has always been great, regardless of the how 'good' Destiny 2 is at any particular moment—encapsulated in a single activity. There's wave upon wave of enemies to dispatch, the occasional player to kill, and just enough strategy that it doesn't all feel random.

And, of course, there's that jerk who's running Sleeper Simulant or Thunderlord or whatever other ridiculously overpowered gun is currently ruining the game. There will always be something wrong with Destiny 2. But Forsaken makes Destiny 2 good enough that the current bullshit is worth playing through.

Phil has been PC gaming since the '90s, when RPGs had dice rolls and open world adventures were weird and French. Now he's the deputy editor of PC Gamer; commissioning features, filling magazine pages, and knowing where the apostrophe goes in '90s. He plays Scout in TF2, and isn't even ashamed.