Destiny 2: Curse of Osiris – First Thoughts
On December 5th, 2017 Bungie, Inc. released the first expansion for Destiny 2, during a period of controversy surrounding the base game. Just one short week ago, multiple media outlets including Kotaku, IGN, Game Informer, Forbes and others, all covered the “XP Scaling Issue” detailed by Redditor EnergiserX in a post on the /r/DestinyTheGame subreddit. For those who aren’t aware, XP earned from events was being scaled on the back end, while still showing that you were receiving the full amount on screen in the game. Players were receiving as low as 5% of their advertised experience when repeating multiple popular activities in quick succession. This system was apparently designed with the sole intention of slowing the rate at which players would receive free Bright Engrams (the microtransaction-funded loot boxes of Destiny 2) for their efforts.
Bungie followed up the reports by disabling scaling, instituting a larger per-level experience requirement, and detailing a list of upcoming improvements to the game. It all, however, felt like it was simply too little too late. Despite all of that, Bungie chose to proceed with the scheduled release of their first expansion to Destiny 2; Curse of Osiris.
On the surface, Curse of Osiris is visually stunning. No amount of accolade would be enough to properly credit the art and design teams that worked on the environment and visual aspects of the new expansion areas. They are beautiful, stunning and feel polished enough to see your reflection. The problems only appear once you start to dig a little deeper and realize that slapping a fresh coat of paint on this house doesn’t repair the rotting wood underneath.
The story campaign itself is exceptionally short, filled with incoherent plot points and loosely strung together bits of lore that seem to contradict themselves and leave you with more questions than answers. As I played through the new story missions, I wasn’t presented with any real sense of urgency, impending doom, or feeling of need to be doing what I was doing. More or less, everything felt like it was just slapped on top of the existing game with no thought or care put into how it would blend into the existing content.
As of writing this, the new Raid Lair included with the expansion has yet to be released, but unless it is massively epic and delivers where literally the entire rest of the expansion has not, I feel like there isn’t much room to improve. On the plus side of things however, it really doesn’t have much more that it could decline either. Presently, the review aggregator, Metacritic, has a critic score of 50/100 average, and a fan score of 1.7/10.
Where it falls short
The campaign for Curse of Osiris revolves around repeatedly entering the Infinite Forest, a new area described as a “simulation engine” built by the Vex to generate and predict an infinite number of timelines and possibilities. Sounds pretty cool, right? Well, in delivery, it’s actually a series of loading screens glued together with some seemingly-random, but highly repetitive platforms that feature a handful of enemy combatants that you can usually just run past to get to the end. It feels neither “infinite” nor like a “forest”. A more fitting name would have been, the “Moderately Annoying Vex Platform Add Fight Area”. It’s pretty bad.
The few breaks from the repetitive aspects of the Infinite Forest that you get during the campaign see you traveling back to previous planets and locations that we’ve seen before– albeit, in previously inaccessible areas on those planets– or traveling into more complex and solidified areas of the Infinite Forest to participate in the pseudo-boss-fights that you’ll find out later, are actually dumbed down versions of the new Strikes offered with the expansion.
The new public/patrol area on Mercury is incredibly small and feels less like a patrol area, and more like a repurposed PvP map. The new Public Event on Mercury is fun the first time you do it, but then you realize that they happen way too infrequently and take way too long to be worth the amount of effort that goes into them.
Heroic Adventures, while nice in theory, simply see you returning to the boring and repetitive Infinite Forest to kill a Fallen, Hive, or Cabal mini-boss (based on the adventure selected). The heroic strikes are also a similar scenario. Do the same stuff we could do before, but now with modifiers and more shielded enemies. Also, why weren’t Heroic Strikes in the game from the get-go?
The Real Endgame
The real endgame of Destiny 2 seems to be built around Eververse– the Microtransaction Store available to players in-game– and the new “seasonal” inventory changes available. A lot of players online are questioning exactly why it is that the new cosmetic items that became available in the Eververse store with the Curse of Osiris expansion, also happen to be available to players that chose not to purchase the expansion. Without those items also being exclusive, it feels like Bungie took $20 from each of their players, but delivered $5 worth of content. Honestly, even if they were exclusive, one could reasonably argue that we didn’t receive $20 worth of content either way.
The problem with Eververse is only exemplified by the fact that half of the newly introduced exotic weapons and armor included in the expansion are simply exotics that previously existed in Destiny 1. For Destiny veterans like myself, it seems we’re being resold the same content we’ve already paid for once before. If Destiny 2 is really a “reset” and a “new beginning” like the developers have suggested, they shouldn’t be reintroducing content to us and slapping a price tag on it, or if they really need to go that route, they should give us all of the content from Destiny 1 so that the sequel doesn’t feel so hollow and half-assed.
Considering the new swath of PC players jumping into the Destiny universe, expectations are higher for new content releases, especially when they come with a $20 price tag. Other games that release “expansions” and offer similar semi-open-world environments also offer exponentially larger content updates for the same price range, and Bungie is going to have to try a lot harder in the future to impress anyone. What may have worked previously on consoles simply isn’t going to work for PC players because they have an infinite number of better options out there.
After three years of improvements on the base game of Destiny 1 and a complete overhaul and revamp of their development tools solely for the purpose of allowing faster and easier content creation, releasing lackluster DLC like Curse of Osiris simply isn’t going to do anymore. We need better. We deserve better, and we demand better.
Curse of Osiris feels less like an “expansion” and more like a mediocre seasonal update to hopefully try and keep people interested just long enough to spend money on microtransactions.