Destiny 2’s blandness, aside from an admitted spectacle of color, is the fault of contemporary safe, big studio design. Small guns swap out for bigger guns, and the joy comes from holding even larger guns still.
It’s a mess of thousands of heroes criss-crossing energy beams and bullets, battling over a giant spherical object hanging in the sky. All of the shooting is benign, lifted from hundreds of other games, then crammed with the number crunching of Borderlands. No surprise – Destiny 2’s publisher is Activision who in the recent decade made their quarterlies with Call of Duty funds, so the mash-up of three different blockbusters (Halo, Call of Duty, Borderlands) is almost too predictable.
The once revolutionary superstar studio Bungie quit making Halo as to not be creatively typecast by a single series. Here they are with Destiny, Halo in a different dressing with the thumped up musical orchestration and multiplayer-led combat. And a sphere in the sky. And an ugly villain coated in armor. And heroes also coated in armor. And lots of color.
It’s worse because, despite the similarities, Destiny 2 is so plain; the flat comedy in the dialog sounds like a cast-off from a better entrenched Marvel script, and it’s as if Destiny is more concerned with a few sarcastic jibs and jabs than establishing lore. Halo played with narrative conventions through a multi-game religious saga, and did so with careful world building plus an industry upsetting design. Master Chief failed Halo as a character, but he spoke. Whatever Guardian charges through a personal session of Destiny 2 blankly stares as if an ambient part of the game, or maybe mystified by the plotting as anyone playing. The lack of engagement – or worse, the utter lack of interest in the results – crushes Destiny 2 in an inexcusable way.