A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Destiny 2 is a sci-fi first-person online shooter in which players engage in nearly nonstop combat that sees them killing countless aggressive aliens using a variety of futuristic guns and explosives. Battles are frenetic and intense, but there's no gore, and the violence is directed at aliens (except for in competitive multiplayer modes, where humans fight humans). Defeated enemies sometimes emit black blood before disappearing, while humans bleed a small amount of red blood when injured. The player's customizable character is clearly on the side of good, fighting a grave menace to save the solar system, but it's also obvious that he or she takes pleasure in combat and shows no remorse over killing hundreds or even thousands of sentient aliens. Play is designed to promote positive social and cooperative experiences, with players able to join up with friends or strangers in most modes. Parents should also note that players can purchase certain items within the game using real-world currency.
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What's it about?
DESTINY 2 pits the series' vaunted Guardians -- protectors of the last remnants of humanity -- against a new menace: the Cabal Red Legion, a faction of aggressive aliens intent on stealing the Light, the force that makes the Guardians essentially immortal. The adventure begins with the Red Legion laying waste to the Last City on Earth and capturing the Traveler, the source of the Light. Players spend the rest of the campaign -- which can be played solo or cooperatively with a couple of other players -- journeying around the solar system, learning what they can of the Red Legion while mounting a counter-offensive. As in the original Destiny, players explore a series of open and exotic worlds, choosing between a mix of story missions and side quests, all while growing in level and collecting and equipping more powerful loot. Players can also engage in competitive multiplayer modes in the Crucible. Once the campaign is finished, they can join forces with other players to take on special missions called strikes and raids, while continuing to grow their character.
Is it any good?
The original Destiny made for plenty of good times with friends, but there was plenty about it that needed fixing. Happily, this adventure solves a lot of its predecessor's problems. Destiny 2 tells a much less convoluted and more entertaining story that's easy for players to understand. More than that, the missions -- both primary missions and side quests -- are better integrated within the world. There's much less repetition, and missions are now accessible from within the worlds in which they take place, which means fewer loading screens and a better sense of immersion and context. Plus, players can now access an in-game map and even fast-travel to specific locations on each world to save time. And the worlds available at launch -- Earth, the moons Io and Titan, and a distant planetoid named Nessus -- are gorgeous, exotic, and detailed, a pleasure to explore not just once but each succeeding time, as well.
Multiplayer has also evolved. Public events on each world are now easier to find and participate in and provide tiered goals. Competitive play in the Crucible offers a pair of fun new modes called Countdown (an objective-based match) and Survival (teams share a pool of lives). Strikes offer the same everyone-can-play fun as in the original game, and while raids are still limited to teams of friends rather than strangers (perhaps the biggest disappointment in the sequel), Bungie has at least made it a bit easier for solo players to find and join a group of pals in need of an extra player. What will likely keep people coming back, though, is the perpetual promise of bigger and better loot, leading to higher levels of Power. This part of the game is evolutionary and will likely change with the release of expansions. That said, the growth systems at launch -- you can modify weapons and armor, grow your abilities in the class of your choice, and raise your primary level to 20 and Power level to 300 -- should prove plenty compelling to keep people playing for quite a while. It's not flawless, but Destiny 2 is an undeniable step up from its predecessor.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in the media. The bulk of the violence in Destiny 2 is aimed at aliens, but is there a substantial moral difference between killing sentient aliens and killing humans?
Talk about screen time. Destiny 2 is designed to keep people playing for weeks, months, and even years, so what's your strategy to make sure you don't become too obsessed with such engaging and immersive games?
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