Destiny 2 – Expansion 2: Warmind review for PS4, Xbox One

Platform: PS4
Also On: Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Bungie
Medium: Digital
Players: Multi
Online: Yes

To say Destiny 2 has had its ups and downs over the past six months would be an understatement. The community has been quick to turn and Bungie has seemingly been slow to react. To be fair, it takes more than a snap of a finger to make sweeping changes, and the developers seem to continue to tweak things here and there to appease the complaints that have emerged since launch last fall. The first expansion did little to appease many players and it was over too quick with a small piece of the planet to explore and uninspired Strikes. With the second expansion now here, it?s only natural to wonder if Destiny 2 – Expansion 2: Warmind fares any better. The answer, thankfully, is a resounding yes!

Although the campaign portion of this newest expansion can still be beaten in a matter of a few hours, it?s important to note that the quality of the story and the payoff of the lore are much better this time around. For longtime fans of the original Destiny, this expansion finally answers some nagging questions about Rasputin, the A.I. that once helped protect the Guardians and the Vanguard. Of course the machine is just one step away from becoming Skynet, so Zavala has a right to be worried, and so should we all.

The game focuses heavily on the Hive this go round as we revisit Mars. Now, I know what you?re thinking: ?Recycled enemies on a recycled planet?!?? Not exactly! Sure you?ll be pouring thousands of rounds into the bug brains, but there are some slight variations on the usual enemies, some are a bit icier this time around. That?s because the polar caps have melted on Mars and revealed some ancient buildings from the Clovis Bray corporation. That means an all-new area to explore, which is at least three times the size of Mercury and much more varied in landscape and vistas. I really liked the environment this time around because for once we?re not exploring a destroyed section of Mars. Instead most of the buildings are intact and operational and it?s kind of cool to see what Mars looked like before the Cabal and Vex left their marks. Oh, and the final boss of the campaign is pretty awesome, as are the various missions. I just wish there were more of them.

The postgame stuff is much more exciting this time around. It?s funny because it seems like Bungie is desperately trying to recapture the magic of the original Destiny, and the best way to do is to revert back to what people enjoyed in that game. To that end they?ve scattered various memory fragments across the planet that can be found, somewhat similar to how I liked to look in every nook and cranny for dead Ghosts in the original game. There are also these special containers that can only be opened with the correct key, and those are fun to seek out as well.

Then there is the Escalation Protocol, which is sort of like a Public Event, except it is activated by the player and is designed for higher-level Guardians. It has several objectives, each of which are timed and must be passed to get to the next one. This is extremely difficult for players just starting Warmind, so don?t be surprised to fail it over and over again unless you get extremely lucky and are grouped up with a bunch of high-level players. Still, it?s great to have something to work toward and makes the grind a bit more worth it. I must say, however, that I still really miss Prisoner of Elders from the first Destiny and would love for them to just copy and paste that over into Destiny 2. Please?

Although you don?t necessarily need Warmind to take advantage of some of the improvements Bungie has made to the overall game, it?s great to see quality of life initiatives finally arrive. The big one, which will seem miniscule to non-Destiny players, is that Guardians can now have customized emotes assigned to the d-pad. We?ve only been asking for this since day one, and now it has finally arrived and it?s glorious. The other nice improvement is that quests that used to take up a weapon slot have been moved to a separate inventory screen. Oh, and there?s way more room in the Vault. Yay for small wins!

If I have one minor gripe about Warmind it?s that once again the Strikes are simply rehashes of the missions we?ve already completed in the campaign. It used to be these would be completely new experiences and I don?t like this lazy approach to the Strike designs. Sure, the older ones would often retread some of the same areas we had gone while in Patrol, but they?d usually creatively change the route or open up previously inaccessible sections of the map and feature unique bosses. Let?s hope they bring them back in the next iteration. Also, and this may seem like a small gripe, but I really miss having the Strikes on the actual map so I could replay any one I wanted to at any time. As it stands they?re placed in a randomized playlist and I never know which one I?ll get to experience.

When all is said and done I like the Warmind expansion more than Osiris. It features more likable characters, a more entertaining story, and way better post-game activities. It probably won?t change anyone?s opinion of Destiny 2 – so if you like the gameplay, graphics, sound (amazing score as always), and the story up to this point, Warmind does a great job pushing that experience even higher. This expansion doesn?t fix many of the issues that some have with game, but for me I?ve had a great time hopping back into the Destiny 2 universe and expect I?ll continue to logon throughout the summer. For reference, I hadn?t played almost any of Destiny 2 for the past 5 months – so this has done a fantastic job of reigniting my interest. Give it a shot. It might just do the same for you!

Note: Activision provided us with a Destiny 2 – Expansion 2: Warmind PS4 code/copy for review purposes.

Grade: B+