The curse continues — Destiny 2: Curse of Osiris review

Curse of Osiris begins when the infamous Guardian, Osiris, learns of a new plot by the Vex to destroy the galaxy by dominating time itself. It’s a vague, over-the-top jumping off point with dire implications and a clear setup for shooting a lot of things right in their face — in other words, it’s all storytelling in Destiny. The player is tasked with traveling to Mercury, finding Osiris, and helping him put an end to the Vex’s sinister designs. Along the way you’ll run into some old acquaintances like Brother Vance, and make some new friends like Osiris’ Ghost: Sagira. And of course, you’ll meet new enemies too, namely the mastermind behind the Vex’s plans to destroy you: Panoptes.

Sadly, the whole affair is over as quickly as it begins, and ultimately has no long term impact on the story in Destiny 2. Curse of Osiris can be completely easily in under two hours. Like most Destiny content before it, everything happens in a bubble, and introduces new concepts and resolves them in the same breath, leaving no room for growth or change in the franchise’s overarching narrative. It’s a problem I highlighted in my review of vanilla Destiny 2, and have discussed at-length in podcasts and other public forums before, and in a way Curse of Osiris is the epitome of this ongoing issue. The expansion treats its characters, setting, and plot developments as disposable things, to be discarded once they’ve served their purpose in the immediate present. Doing so not only harms the long term story that Destiny 2 provides to players, but actually negatively impacts this expansion by feeling overwhelmingly meaningless. The “Curse” in Curse of Osiris seems to be that Bungie refuses to allow their own stories have a purpose or impact on their game, and it’s something players (including myself) will continue to criticize until Bungie gives players an ongoing enemy, objective, or direction.

It’s such a missed opportunity, because Curse of Osiris has some stellar new characters (e.g. Sagira), and badass villain (i.e. Panoptes), and plays with some really interesting concepts that could have much broader implications than Bungie allowed. After making such a fuss about Osiris’ return from exile, he simply wanders off at the end of the campaign without much of an explanation. Instead of delving into the Vex’s plans and taking time to tell that story, a lot of the campaign feels like filler, even going so far as to include both of the new strikes in the campaign itself instead of using that time to flesh out the narrative. And in the endgame, instead of expanding upon their barebones story with additional story-focused encounters, they give us missions that have us going back into the Vex’s simulation machine and fighting against simulated enemies, which is essentially meaningless busywork inside of a fake reality that doesn’t matter much at all. The result is something that feels like Bungie tried their hardest to make Curse of Osiris have as little of an impact as possible, which is a huge departure from Destiny 2’s vanilla campaign where they killed off almost all the Guardians and destroyed half of a planet.

The new patrol zone of Mercury is equally disappointing, as the entire landscape essentially amounts to a large circle. Though it’s quite a beautiful circle, there is sadly very little to do. There are a few hidden chests, one lost sector, and a Lighthouse to hang out in, but beyond that you’ll find yourself quite literally walking in circles. The exception here is the excellent new public event, which was designed with the space in mind, and is the most complex and entertaining public event to-date. Once you’ve run it a few times though, you’ll have little reason to return. You aren’t allowed to enter the Infinite Forest without a specific purpose, which so far only includes the campaign, the strikes, and the adventures. Those encounters are great, but brief, like everything in this expansion, and Mercury’s patrol space quickly becomes a spent force.

As I mentioned, the two new strikes are included as a part of the campaign, and I can’t understate enough how thoroughly awful this decision feels. Most players will go into the strike playlist as they have in the past, expecting unique little slices of story and a unique boss fight at the end, only to discover regurgitated content from the campaign. The truth is, I don’t know how I would have felt about these strikes had they not been included in the campaign. Chances are I would have favored them much more highly, but because I first played the campaign and went into the strikes expecting something fresh I can’t really evaluate these missions fairly. Their presence as a redundancy takes the wind out of the sails that probably could have improved this expansion markedly.

Curse of Osiris also adds a system whereby players can forge unique Osiris-themed weapons, a prospect that excited me when it was first revealed. Unfortunately the process by which players forge these weapons requires one to grind public events and other activities over and over again until you gain enough materials to craft your weapon. It’s another massive opportunity missed, especially since players have been bemoaning the lack of meaningful endgame content. The forged weapon system seems like a last-ditch effort to artificially expand the endgame loop for Destiny’s most hardcore players. The problem is that this system isn’t fun. Grinding the same strikes and public events over and over again to get a single weapon that isn’t even especially powerful is a pain in the ass that I can’t imagine any players enjoying.

Yet another issue that I have with Curse of Osiris lies in the deployment model for the content itself. The expansion runs players $20, which isn’t a huge asking price, but in the larger context of Destiny’s economy feels like a huge slap in the face. Players not only are expected to purchase the base game and buy additional expansions, but must also put up with highly annoying platform-exclusive content and the growing presence of microtransactions. For those keeping score at home that’s four sources of revenue that are, one way or another, coming at the player’s expense. And with all that, players who don’t pay for the expansion lose access to certain endgame activities and are limited to separate playlists from those who bought the expansion. It might not be a big deal this early in the game with Destiny 2, but if things continue this way, the community will continually fragment until it reaches a comical state of affairs. How many playlists will there be when expansion number two comes out? How much of the new content will be locked behind microtransactions and loot boxes? How many pieces of content will be exclusive to a single platform?

All of these issues could very well culminate in a slow death for Destiny. The truth is that if Bungie doesn’t want to fragment their community, they need to think about providing the expansions to players for free and supporting that with the other three ways they’re getting money from their players. Alternatively, they could do away with microtransactions and put more of that content into the expansions that they’re expecting players to pay for, which might make that content more worth the asking price in the eyes of their fanbase. The bottom line is that the model upon which Destiny 2 is being built is problematic at best and broken at worst. Players can’t be expected to buy a game for $60 that locks a good portion of the community out of content via platform exclusivity, then locks even more content behind a microtransaction/loot box model, then asks them to buy expansions every 3 months as well, or lose content that they had access to previously. If Destiny 2 wants to be a game-as-a-service, then it needs to be a deal that is fair to players and creates a sustainable model for the community. The deal that players are being given now isn’t fair or sustainable — not even close.

The Crucible situation in Curse of Osiris is a bit of a mixed bag. Since the launch of Destiny 2, players have felt that something was a bit off about the game’s PvP mode. Complaints include: guardians aren’t as powerful, super abilities aren’t game changers, team-shooting is the only mechanic that matters. To be honest, there are a lot of points in the community that I don’t necessarily agree with. I think that some of Destiny 1’s more random and imbalanced design choices were bugs, not features. But regardless of my opinion or the community’s stance of this, Curse of Osiris does nothing to address any of these issues, and that’s a problem. The two new Crucible maps (3 on PS4) are a lot of fun, but they aren’t game changers. They don’t solve or improve any of the issues with Crucible. They don’t even add a new game mode to Destiny, as many past expansions have. They just shovel a few more maps into the game as if that will make players more excited to play a mode that most of the community seems to dislike.

And oddly enough, one accidental change seems to have addressed all of these issues. When Curse of Osiris shipped, it shipped with a bugged weapon called Prometheus Lens. The gun shoots a laser that does more damage the longer you’re able to train it on your opponent, but also unintentionally does damage over time. The weapon’s bug is so egregious that enemies can be killed in just over a second without much effort, making it the only choice for anyone wanting to be competitive. And when Xur sold this weapon on Friday, and the entire community go ahold of it, this bugged weapon made Crucible more enjoyable than it’s been for me since the game’s launch. It’s stupidly-overpowered, and has no place in the game’s meta, but somehow its existence adds a layer of randomness and challenge that it puts a smile on my face. Perhaps it’s a bad sign that a broken weapon improved my PvP experience in Destiny. Perhaps this validates the Destiny community’s complaints that Crucible has become too dull and predictable. I’ll leave that for the community and Bungie to debate, but for now this bugged weapon goes into the “Pros” column in my evaluation of this expansion.

Now that I’ve ranted and raved about many issues I had with Destiny 2: Curse of Osiris, I want to highlight its single biggest saving grace: the all-new raid content. The expansion upon the leviathan raid, entitled “The World-Eater,” is unlike anything in Destiny before. Although it’s shorter than most raids before it, it’s challenging, unique, and highly enjoyable. The basic idea for the raid expansion, which Bungie has dubbed “Raid Lairs,” is that we’ll get a shorter, but equally challenging raid experience that expands upon the base raid that came before it. Before this content’s release a lot of the community (myself included) was expecting something very minor that utilized the same space of the base raid, but we could not have been more wrong. Instead the raid lair offers all-new areas to explore, epic puzzles to overcome, and one massive, challenging boss fight to tie it all up. The fact that it was a bite-sized version of a raid didn’t hamper my experience at all — in fact I was happy to have a raid experience that didn’t take a good chunk of my day to complete. A lot of things in Curse of Osiris disappointed me, but The World-Eater reminded me why I put up with that stuff and continue to play Destiny.

Finally, it wouldn’t be fair for me to end my review without gushing about how great Destiny looks and sounds. Curse of Osiris has its own original soundtrack, unique sound design for guns, and is the first time that players on console can enjoy 4K and HDR. The game looks and sounds better than it ever has, and this isn’t an accomplishment that shouldn’t be overlooked, despite the other outstanding issues I might have with the expansion.

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You know that jerk online that relentlessly trash talks you after every kill? That guy was probably Travis "Tie Guy" Northup. Competitive, snarky, and constantly wearing a tie, Travis has been writing his opinions about electronic media since he was a teenager, and is pretty much the only person to hold his opinions in high regard.



Destiny 2 - Curse of Osiris

Review Guidelines

Destiny 2: Curse of Osiris has an excellent new raid and an interesting campaign, but is severely lacking in meaningful content and plagued by a host of larger issues that have yet to be addressed.

Travis Northup

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