It’s been barely a month since Destiny 2 released on PC, but it’s been almost three since the console versions hit. Thanks to that awkward bit of timing, the first expansion is already here: Curse of Osiris released yesterday, bringing with it a new mini-campaign, a new planet to explore (Mercury), a new level cap, and a whole host of quality-of-life tweaks.
Fresh off our review of Destiny 2’s base game, I dove back in with my Titan to check out the expansion content. I haven’t completed the new raid subsection yet nor spent much time in the player-versus-player Crucible modes, but I’ve finished up the campaign (such as there is) and spent some time tooling around the sun’s closest neighbor.
Is it enough? Will it “save” Destiny 2? I don’t know yet, but I do have some off-the-cuff thoughts on what I’ve played so far.
Like Destiny 2 proper, Curse of Osiris opens strong. You get to see the titular Osiris himself, a mysterious Warlock, step into the middle of a battle and freeze time, before being overrun by the robotic Vex faction and jettisoned into oblivion.
You’re charged with rescuing Osiris from Mercury, a once-lush planet that’s been taken over by the Vex and turned into a husk of itself. The problem: Osiris is trapped inside the Infinite Forest, some sort of ultra-powerful computer simulation and/or time machine and/or dimension-hopping gateway...thing. There are infinite timelines contained within, but each timeline ends with the Vex sucking all energy from the sun and rendering life in the solar system extinct. That’s not so desirable to humanity of course, so you’re charged with recovering Osiris and stopping it.
I’ll be honest: It’s a pretty compelling setup and a marginally more coherent story than the base game. That said, it still drags.
The biggest issue with Destiny 2’s main campaign is that it laid out the conflict, the stakes, and the plan within the first hour, and then you just did those things with no surprises. Set it up, knock them down, “Wow, you’re the greatest guardian in the galaxy.”
Curse of Osiris follows the exact same structure. It opens strong, it gives you a compelling conflict, it tells you the plan, and then you just execute the plan step by step for the ensuing three or four hours. Go here, talk to this person, shoot these enemies—it feels like running down a checklist of tasks, not a story.
And it sucks some of the life out of Curse of Osiris. Reviewing the base game, I said it was space opera on a grand scale, meaning the scope is incredible. Re-read the plot summary I laid out above. You have a robot race with a simulation so powerful it can be used to de facto access alternate dimensions or even change the fabric of time. No other game is attempting stories this dense.
So why does it feel so rote? Why do I feel so disinterested in what’s happening?
I’m not sure, but it’s deeply dissatisfying. When I think about the events of both the main game and Curse of Osiris, it sounds exciting. Playing it though, it just sort-of washes over you and then it’s over.
Which is not to say it’s all bad. Mercury itself is incredible, and once again Bungie manages to convey more through its environments than it does through its actual writing. The massive pyramid-shaped enclosure for the Infinite Forest, the decaying sandstone of the Lighthouse you’re based out of—this is some of Bungie’s finest work on Destiny 2. Just a shame that same jaw-dropping scope can’t come through in the more bespoke story missions.
The side platter
Anyway, the campaign is just the start of Curse of Osiris, like you’d expect. Partway through, Mercury becomes a new zone for you to explore, complete with a new public event, more resilient variants of familiar enemies, a new hub merchant named Brother Vance, and (after you’ve finished the campaign) new side-quests to undertake.
This last part is probably the bit that’s most interesting, as Osiris’s side-quests/”Adventures” all revolve around the Infinite Forest. And given the “infinite” nature of said “forest,” it’s appropriate that the zone is procedurally generated. Each time you enter the game shifts which enemies you face, the layout of the platforms therein, and the makeup of some key moments.
Or in theory that’s what happens. It’s hard to tell though because as with anything procedural, your brain quickly starts to recognize bits and pieces. “Oh, here’s that two-level platform with the circle thing in the center.” “Oh, here’s that overhang where there are always three enemies waiting for an ambush.” And so on.
The campaign trots you through this section three or four times, then the adventures repeat it another three, and to be honest I’ve about had my fill. It’s not nearly as repeatable as you’d hope, with the environments barely distinguishable and the layout so generic that even when it changes you don’t notice. Not only that, but you can’t just go into the Infinite Forest. You need to trigger it with an Adventure, each of which has some structure to it.
It’s underwhelming. If you were hoping for a zone you could run a thousand times and never get bored? Well, first you should adjust your expectations down probably—this is Destiny after all. But no, this isn’t it. Maybe if Bungie keeps adding bits and bobs into it over the next few months it could become that, but it isn’t right now.
Each of these missions ends with a giant setpiece battle in a more exotic locale and these areas are (pardon the pun) infinitely more interesting—but again not something you can freely explore. You go in, you kill the boss, you leave. A bit of wasted potential, and I hope Bungie gives us some more interesting stories in those areas at some point, or opens up the structure so you can just wander around. You know, seeing as that’s what you’re doing 90 percent of the time in Destiny 2. The Infinite Forest seems like an ideal setting for a much-needed horde mode, too.
Then there are the quality of life changes, and to be honest this is probably the most important category. Sure, it’s nice to have some new story and a new zone, but Destiny 2 has fundamental issues with its endgame that need fixing.
The bad news: Most of what’s manifested so far is just a foundation for things to come. Only a few small tweaks actually arrived alongside Curse of Osiris. The Gunsmith now sells a selection of mods directly, for instance. They’re expensive, but you don’t only have to play the roulette wheel to get the mods you need. You can also buy Legendary Engrams from the Engram decoder guy, giving you another use for your stockpiles of Legendary Shards.
The power level cap’s been raised from 305 to 365, reigniting the grind for anyone who’d finished up. And oh, your character level’s been raised to 25 for no good reason too. (No good reason because you probably already maxed out your skill trees, and the expansion doesn’t add any new skills.)
A lot of changes lay groundwork, though. For instance, Bungie talked up the “Armor Customization” feature added in this update—cosmetic changes you can apply to specific armor pieces, mostly faction-related armor. But since it’s faction-related, most of those won’t actually be attainable until the faction event in question unless you obtained that armor last time and didn’t dismantle it. The rest of you will be stuck waiting for those events to go live again before exploring those systems.
There’s a much larger update coming December 12 that’s supposed to add in even more—the new “Masterwork” weapon class for instance, which adds a random stat to each weapon drop to slightly prolong the chase for perfect gear. You’ll also see changes to exotic weapons and armor, reward throttling when you open too many chests, and more.
But none of that’s here yet, and as a result Destiny 2 this week still feels pretty much like Destiny 2 last week—and since launch.
In other words: It’s a good start, but we’re definitely not at a “ Destiny 2 is saved!” point yet. The new campaign is a decent excuse to dip back in, but it’s short and as I said a bit underwhelming. The Infinite Forest holds promise, and is definitely a format Bungie should explore moving forward, but it’s not quite as long-lasting as the name implies. And I’m looking forward to checking out the new raid content and the new PvP maps, but neither of those will matter if next week’s update doesn’t significantly flesh out the endgame.
We got a bit spoiled on PC. With such a short wait between base game and expansion there wasn’t as much time for boredom to set in. This next stretch between Curse of Osiris and whatever comes next will be the real test. Will people (myself included) stick with it, or will the notoriously-fickle PC audience move on to something else? We’ll see.