A Titan creates a shield in Destiny 2

Destiny 2 launched this week, continuing the story of the Guardians and their quest to overthrow a dark force threatening to consume the entire universe. Bungie has been touting this latest FPS romp for months, promising to build on their successes from the first three years of the Destiny series. And, according to early impressions, they've delivered on pretty much all fronts.

When the first Destiny launched, many felt it was a top-notch shooter from a mechanical standpoint, but it floundered in the department of delivering a compelling story. And while there was certainly a lot to do within the game at launch, many felt the development team at Bungie did not quite deliver on the grand arcade of activities they had been promising. Over the course of three years, they corrected most of those missteps. It became clear through big DLC drops that the team was starting to get a feel for what Destiny actually was, how to make its story compelling and how to keep players coming back for more.

So, obviously, everyone is going into Destiny 2 hoping that all of those lessons learned will make for an even better game right out of the gate. Based on my first evening with the game, that certainly seems to be the case. The pacing is better, the story is more present and pressing, and there have been a metric ton of quality of life improvements. It's much easier to find what I need, make upgrades on the fly and interact with the world around me.

Without going into spoiler territory, the first handful of missions already require a bit more from the player than just running and shooting, but, when the shooting does happen (and it happens a lot, obviously), it's just as fast, frantic and fun as it has always been.

I've already come across about a dozen new enemy types in my first evening of play, meaning I'm having to learn some new strategies to handle a fresh mix of baddies. I've only visited a couple of new areas at this point, but they're just as dense and detailed as I've come to expect from a Bungie game.

Most importantly, in the opening hours of play I've already interacted with a handful of characters, several on multiple occasions. This has helped tremendously in tethering me to the game's world, giving me folks to fight for rather than just a vague sense of "I must save the Earth because of reasons."

I'll be taking a much deeper dive when a full review is ready but, in the meantime, you can check out what other critics are saying in their early goings. Most outlets have a "review in progress" posted at this point, which is a solid route to take when the servers only went live yesterday and we've learned that Destiny likes to roll out mechanics, systems and surprises over time. The first Raid doesn't even go live until next week. Until then, here's some buzz from around the net.

Polygon, from their review in progress:

At the very least, what I've played of Destiny 2 is an incredibly promising start. In plain English, it feels like Destiny without all the bullshit. It seems like the sequel Bungie needed to make --- not a fundamentally different experience, but improved enough over its predecessor to reel veterans back in and attract people who skipped the original Destiny. Now we have to see how it holds up.

Gamespot, from their review in progress:

I haven't finished the main story yet, but so far it's a clear improvement over Destiny's much-maligned storytelling. Like the beta, Destiny 2 begins with an attack on The Tower by a Cabal faction called the Red Legion. But rather than being thrust into situations with little to no context, as was so often the case in Destiny, each mission of the Red War arc has objectives that make sense within both the mission itself and the grand scheme.

IGN, from their review in progress:

My initial impressions leave me with more questions than answers. Is the story going to stay engaging through the end? Are the great drops going to get stingier at higher levels? Am I going to get bored exploring the new destinations? We'll have to answer those hanging questions later, but based on what I've experienced so far, Destiny 2 hasn't disappointed my high expectations as a fan of the original.

Dualshockers, from their review in progress:

When I sat down to play this game I had one mission for Bungie: prove to me that Destiny 2 isn't just another expansion. Thankfully, it turns out that Destiny 2 has listened to the fans and has taken a look in the mirror: the product is one that I --so far-- thoroughly enjoy.

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