This week, Bungie released the first expansion to its online-only shooter Destiny 2, called Curse of Osiris. The new content comes at a challenging time for the game, as its vocal and divided player base has hit a fever pitch over the state of the series and whether it can be redeemed. A few months after launch, Destiny 2 is a game that finds itself being pulled in every direction by the many contingents of its community, resulting in diametrically opposed opinions on the game and the direction it should take. It’s an environment that taints every discussion about the future of Destiny 2.
Amid all of this turmoil, Curse of Osiris is a solid step forward that brings much-needed improvements and more content to a community of players that’s habitually starving for more. The update brings new story missions and sidequests on a previously unexplored planet alongside new weapon and armor sets and a brand-new six-person raid activity.
After playing roughly five hours of the expansion, including all the new story missions and a fraction of the subsequent sidequests, I’m satisfied with what the $20 expansion delivers. It’s in line with what players should expect from a more minor post-launch piece of downloadable content. (The first really big update is coming in September 2018, Bungie says.)
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The campaign, centered on the infamous Vanguard warlock Osiris (a character who stands tall in the game’s opaque lore), is short, repetitive, and shallow in a way that may disappoint players who hunger for a more concrete and answer-heavy narrative. But it is nonetheless beautiful. The lush alien environments rank among the most stunning that Bungie’s artists have ever rendered. The expansion also introduces a unique antagonist with a worthy final showdown, and a handful of post-story activities to further build out the world.But if you’re one of the many harsh critics of Destiny 2 — or if you’ve been bemoaning your empty friends list and spending time reading or writing lengthy grievances on the game’s subreddit community — then Curse of Osiris will not do anything to change that. It is not a radical shift, but a series of subtle improvements tied to a somewhat rudimentary story campaign. The expansion is as meaty as the series’s previous mid-year ones — 2013’s The Dark Below and 2014’s House of Wolves — and it offers enough new customization options and collectible rewards to hold most players over until February, when Bungie is expected to start offering more limited-time events to fill space until the next expansion in May.
For instance, you can now customize existing armor sets by performing in-game achievements, as well as unlock new “Masterworks” versions of top-tier weapons, a change that comes in direct response to players’ clamoring for more variety and uniqueness to the game’s trove of collectible firearms. (Masterworks comes next week in a secondary update.) Bungie also refreshed its in-game store of cosmetic items, which can be earned by grinding XP or paying real money for loot box-style grab bags. Many look fantastic, including a new selfie emote. There’s also a brand-new raid, albeit a smaller one Bungie is calling a “raid lair” because it will live inside the same environment as the game’s original one. That comes out on Friday and will give players an all-new boss to defeat and armor set to collect. And as is the case with every new Destiny expansion, there’s a new level cap to shoot for — 335 compared with the base game’s 305 — if you like to ensure your characters are maxed out and at the peak of power.
All of the above should satisfy the loudest complaint from die-hard fans, which has been to improve Destiny 2’s “endgame,” or the activities you spend your time performing when there’s no main story content to complete. I say should, but I know it won’t. That’s because Destiny 2 has become a particularly vicious battleground over what players think they deserve and what a game developer can or should reasonably provide. On one side are players who think the game is irredeemably inferior to the original, while on the other are satisfied players and Bungie, which is tweaking its product to appease fans while still pushing forward a franchise that it’s likely mapped out for years to come.