Cayde-6 is dead, but is he really? You could probably say the same thing about Destiny 2. As one of the players who hasn’t signed in since the release of Curse of Osiris, it’s clear to me that Destiny 2 has some ground to make up and some players to win back. But Bungie has done it before. It did exactly that at this point in the lifecycle of the original Destiny, and the community seems to think that it’s going to happen again with this Year Two expansion, Destiny 2: Forsaken. And the jet fuel it plans to use to rise from the ashes is actually killing off a fan-favourite character, Cayde-6.
(Well, you at least hear a gunshot after Cayde’s seen lying on the floor wounded with a gun being pointed at him, both in the new trailer for the Forsaken expansion and in my hands-on with the story. But as we know in movies and games, if you don’t see a body, they ain’t necessarily dead.)
He’s a main part of Forsaken’s storyline though, the Prison of Elders, as you accompany him to the eponymous clink only to discover that all the worst bad guys have escaped – is this actually a comic book game? – and they’re all out looking for Guardian blood. I’m dropped into the game after the jailbreak and Cayde’s split up from you to try and find a way to close the cell doors again. You’re trying to work your way to him, battling through waves of Hive and Cabal enemies in a fashion that feels very, well, Destiny 2. There’s thundering, almost warlike music blasting through your ears, with explosions and fire and general chaos going on all around you. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before, and it’s actually got similar vibes to the very opening of Destiny 2 when the Tower falls.
There’s only one part of the gameplay that feels brand new too, and it’s literally the fact that you have to shoot out some debris from a mechanism that the Hive are also crawling out of while Cayde presses some buttons behind a glass screen. God I hate the Thrall. The bow is an interesting weapon though, and brand new for Destiny 2: Forsaken, but although it’s satisfying, it basically functions like a sniper rifle that sits in your secondary weapon slot. Of course, sniper rifles, as power weapons, will soon be able to sit in any weapon slot, so that will change things again.
But Destiny 2’s story has always been epic, full of highs and lows, good guys and seriously awesome bad guys. It doesn’t have that to fix. It does, however, have a lot of faith to restore when it comes to the long game – the multiplayer experiences beyond that package of story content. And with Gambit, the new competitive multiplayer mode that’s a fantastic blend of PvE and PvP, Bungie is definitely on the right track.
It’s rather brilliant. Here’s how it works: Two teams of four play in separate arenas, fighting off waves of enemies that drop glowing triangular items known as Motes of Light, or just Motes for short. You collect them, and then go and bank them in a central machine – but if you die, you lose them. So, um, don’t do that. When you cash in your Motes, you’ll send enemy Blockers into the other team’s arena and also start the process of triggering the end boss, a Primeval. You need to get enough Motes to summon the beast and then kill it before the other team can do the same on the other side.
There’s a catch, though. At certain points in your Mote banking process, a portal will open up to let a player through to kill Guardians on the other team. You’ll be alerted to the presence of an ‘intruder’ and they’ll glow in red if you see them coming to take you down. If you manage to kill the other players, you’ll heal your teammates and slow the other team down. It’s ridiculously good fun, and the kind of drama that Destiny 2 multiplayer is missing for me right now. Everything can change in the blink of an eye, and if you don’t work together and communicate, it can all go awry very quickly. The only slightly annoying thing for me as a competitive person is that your in-match performance is ranked on the Motes you bank, but other members of your team can take the Motes that drop from enemies you kill. But that’s probably just my personal ego issues.
I’m actually excited to see what else Destiny 2: Forsaken has in store for us later this year. If Gambit’s anything to go by, this could very well be the return to form we’ve been hoping for.
For all the exciting titles at this year’s show, check out the best E3 2018 games.