Future 2: Past Mild is Future Three with much less baggage

Future 2: Past Mild’s most spectacular feat is the way it takes Future’s first step into a brand new period — the Period of Darkness — with out being a full sequel.

Past Mild isn’t a brand new golden age for the franchise like Future: The Taken King and Future 2: Forsaken had been. Past Mild is one thing completely different. It’s extra Future, but it surely’s actively entering into a brand new technology of powers, efficiency, and design.

The sport hundreds sooner. The menus are snappier. The Director is cleaner. And the brand new tutorial expertise is definitely helpful for brand new and returning gamers. So is that this Future 3? Not precisely.

Past Mild is the closest factor we’re going to get to Future 3, and I’m positive with that. First-drafts and do-overs haven’t all the time fared nicely in Future, as Bungie overcomplicated the unique Future in 2014 and oversimplified Future 2 in 2017. Each video games obtained main expansions to repair their points, however most gamers aren’t desirous to undergo these pains once more.

And that’s the place Past Mild is completely different. It soft-reboots Future 2 with out forcing individuals into a brand new sport, one the place Bungie might doubtlessly begin the cycle over once more. The brand new powers and UI really feel like one thing I might discover in a real sequel. However Past Mild avoids the pitfall of a completely rebooted sequel by making strategic, focused enhancements quite than sweeping ones.

Stasis: the Guardian’s latest toy

Some Stasis talents generate crystals that erupt from the earth, immediately freezing enemies
Picture: Bungie

Stasis isn’t like the opposite tremendous powers in a Guardian’s arsenal. It’s much less about completely destroying just a few enemies and extra about controlling numerous them. My Tremendous potential that may usually kill a single wave of enemies can as a substitute freeze two waves. As soon as frozen, both my Fireteam or myself can destroy these foes in quite a few alternative ways.

On its face, Stasis is a powerful software. However once you dive into the ability’s distinctive customization menu, its potential turns into clear. In contrast to the acquainted powers that launched with Future, the Stasis talents aren’t binary. I can slot in several “Features” to present myself wild new capabilities.

Now my Titan can slide by way of frozen enemies to create a large explosion, whereas my Hunter can dive into the bottom from mid-air to shatter opponents. Two weeks in, and I solely have entry to one in all these Features on every of my courses. However the first is such a game-changer that I can’t think about what comes subsequent.

I’ve but to take Stasis off for greater than a mission or two since I obtained it. Stasis is the large, new toy I might anticipate from a Future sequel, but it surely’s coming in an enlargement. It’s extra strategic than the fundamental powers in Future, one which requires a bit extra thought. If I work more durable, I can get extra accomplished with Stasis. It makes me not need to return to the older subclasses, even when Stasis isn’t optimum in no matter exercise I’m doing.

Stasis recontextualizes each combat, and makes outdated content material really feel new once more. Stasis provides Future 2 that Future 3 really feel virtually instantly.

A visit into the ice on Europa

Destiny 2: Beyond Light Glassway Strike

The doorway to The Glassway Strike on Europa
Picture: Bungie

If Stasis is the brand new toy, then Europa is the proper playground to play with it in.

I land on Europa and listen to my Guardian’s toes crunch into the snow. The sunshine from the distant solar slams into the ice and radiates round me. Once I soar on my Sparrow, a storm rolls in, and the wind blows my Guardian off track. By way of the thick ice and wind round me, all I can see are blue and pink lights. Some could also be beacons, main me to a construction, however most are the eyes of my enemies.

Taking a look at screenshots of Europa doesn’t promote the vacation spot’s high quality. It seems like a gorgeous, desolate wasteland. However Bungie has taken that giant house and crammed it rigorously. There are barren factors, however they really feel purposeful, like a stark battlefield with no cowl. Different areas that seem desolate are wealthy with snow banks, science stations, or damaged buildings.

An enormous, Fallen fortress lives in Europa’s clouds. And a derelict laboratory sits beneath its floor. It’s instantly one of many coolest places we’ve seen in Future, crammed with secrets and techniques and small particulars in every single place I look, just like the windswept icicles, hidden Exo our bodies, or small penguin toys to gather.

And the planet is residence to one of many extra attention-grabbing tales we’ve seen in Future. Future’s story has been fairly good because the begin of Future 2, however the telling of that story in-game has been missing. Past Mild pulls out tips Bungie began utilizing a 12 months in the past to complement the storytelling, like a great deal of dialogue unhindered by too many huge in-universe phrases in a single sentence. Past Mild explores easy, attention-grabbing concepts — the suggestion that an “evil” drive is simply evil as a result of we don’t perceive it, or {that a} “good” drive isn’t inherently good as a result of it supplied a present — that reward invested gamers and pique the curiosity of people who by no means gave a rattling in regards to the plot.

It’s a a lot better storytelling method from Bungie, hosted by a planet that feels just like the studio’s finest places — Dreadnaught and the Dreaming Metropolis — blown out to a a lot bigger scale.

The step again

Destiny 2: Beyond Light Guardians pose with new weapons

A number of the new gear and Exotics in Past Mild
Picture: Bungie

What helps Future 2: Past Mild really feel so refined is the pruning Bungie did firstly the enlargement. Fewer planets to land on, fewer Strikes, and the sunsetting of outdated weapons drive gamers to rethink their method. And whereas all the brand new content material in Past Light is among the finest we’ve seen but, the rising pains of a paired down Future are the enlargement’s tallest hurdles.

Earlier this 12 months, Bungie introduced plans to sundown over 100 weapons, making them primarily ineffective in most actions. Based mostly on what we’ve performed to this point, each Future 2: Past Mild and its companion season, Season of the Hunt, will solely add about 30 weapons again into the sport. This creates a restricted pool of usable weapons for all gamers. For instance, because of sunsetting, there are solely two non-Unique Machine Weapons within the endgame: Seventh Seraph SAW and Thermal Erosion (with a 3rd coming within the raid).

It’s a large blow for veteran gamers — shedding tons of choices we’ve been accustomed to since 2017. And whereas we definitely anticipated sunsetting to harm, the dearth of loot in Past Mild is presently rubbing salt in that wound.

However sunsetting is a minor lower on Past Mild’s stunning face. It stings now, however it is going to heal in time.

Destiny 2: Beyond Light Guardians fight a mech

The Fallen have a brand new enemy sort: Brigs
Picture: Bungie

Past the launch, Future 2: Past Mild’s lack of content material does arouse some concern. Since Bungie turned impartial from Activision, its two launched expansions (Shadowkeep and now Past Mild) have launched with restricted loot swimming pools, implying that Bungie is struggling to hit watermarks it as soon as reached. However Past Mild’s loot woes are frustrations, not a deathrattle for the enlargement or the franchise.

And whereas gun choices could also be missing, the brand new story missions, Hunts, and talents are conserving Future 2 recent for me, regardless of having already logged 2,000 because the launch of the sport in 2017. And we’ve nonetheless a raid and undiscovered Unique quests coming within the subsequent few weeks.

One of the best half about Past Mild is that it seems and seems like a sequel without having to start out from scratch. A brand new energy set like this isn’t one thing I anticipated to see out of an enlargement. In that approach, Past Mild solutions a query that’s given me critical doubts as a fan: how a lot can Bungie change Future 2 with out shifting to a brand new sport solely? For the primary time, Past Mild seems like Future 2 is actually putty in Bungie’s arms, quite than a titanic ship that takes eons to show.

Future 2: Past Mild launched Nov. 10 on PlayStation 4, Home windows PC, and Xbox One. The sport was reviewed on PC utilizing a pre-release obtain code offered by Bungie. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These don’t affect editorial content material, although Vox Media could earn commissions for merchandise bought through affiliate hyperlinks. You’ll find extra details about Polygon’s ethics coverage right here.

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