Destiny 2: Forsaken Gambit Hands-On Impressions from E3 2018

Destiny 2 was a great game, at least before you get to the end-game. The biggest problem with it stems from what came after players complete the titular raid. Various changes from the first Destiny, while they might've made things easier for new players, unfortunately axed a lot of the randomness that allowed for strikes, raids, and other activities to remain interesting. Drops, both armor and weapons, held less variety, and controversy surrounding other changes such as with shaders made it so the game launched without too much goodwill.

That was all the way back in last September, and Destiny 2 has changed a lot. The 2 DLCs from the current expansion pass might not have fixed a lot of the issues that players had with the game, but Forsaken offers answers to many major player concerns. Weapon loadouts can now be further customized by relaxing the limit on which weapons can be equipped in which slot - no longer are players locked into using one "normal" weapon with no element, one "normal" weapon with an element tied to it, and a heavy weapon - and random attributes on both armors and weapons return, giving players more of a reason to inspect drops outside of their power level. This all comes along with a new social space, more story, and a truly new raid.

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What we got to test during the show, however, was Destiny 2: Forsaken's new PvP mode: Gambit. It's a bit of a mix between PvE and PvP, and at least from where I stand it easily takes the crown as the most interesting competitive mode in the game. Players split into two teams, battling waves of enemies on two versions of the same map. Killed enemies drop motes - the stronger the foe, the more they leave behind - and the goal is to manage when to deposit these motes, as depending on how many are in your inventory when you bank them different special enemies will appear in the other team's world to impede their progress. The objective for both teams is to collectively deposit enough motes to spawn the boss, and the first team to kill theirs wins the round.

Adding another wrinkle to the experience is invading players. Once a team have banked a total of 25 motes, their portal will activate, allowing players to hop to the other teams world to wreak havoc. Invading players are stronger, more agile, and become a number one threat to whomever is on the receiving end of an invasion. Since dying resets how many motes are in your possession, a big part of Gambit's gameplay loop is deciding whether to deposit early and secure your motes, or to hold onto them and attempt to bank more at once to summon a stronger enemy to the opposing team's world. On the flipside, would it be more helpful to invade the enemy team and attempt to disrupt their gameplay instead of collecting motes yourself? There's a lot to consider in the heat of the moment.

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During our demo, we got a chance to play through a full Gambit match, which took us around 20 minutes from beginning to end - but even though the match was fairly long, there was always some action going on in the background, and various options for how we could proceed. I've never been a big fan of Destiny 2 PvP, but the mix between PvE and PvP has me interested to see more. Hopefully the rest of Forsaken can surprise me as much as Gambit has.

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