Destiny 2: Bungie 30th Anniversary Pack
Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Shooter, MMO
Platform: Xbox Series X (Also available on PlayStation, PC, and Stadia)
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 7/12/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
With Season of the Lost all but finished, it’s great to see Bungie add new content to Destiny 2 while we wait for The Witch Queen expansion. This has come in the form of Bungie’s 30th anniversary celebration, which adds not just paid content, but some free content too. Both bring a ton of interesting things to the table, with two completely new activities and accompanying loot. But what’s most surprising is the overall level quality and effort put into making all of the new additions feel special and worthwhile. But when half of it is locked behind a paywall, is paying for access worth your money? The answer? It depends.
Are You Not Entertained?!
The 30th anniversary celebration adds two new PvE activities, the first of which is Dares of Eternity. Dares of Eternity is a 6-player activity, free to all players, that sees you and your fellow guardians battle through three rounds featuring unique challenges and mechanics. This also goes for the final round which will see you face off against one of three bosses; all of whom will be familiar to any player returning from Destiny 1. On a fundamental level, it doesn’t really do much to shake up gameplay or reinvent the wheel. But having access to a new PvE mode is still good; and as far as 6-player activities go, you could spend your time playing a lot worse. I say this because not only is this mode surprisingly enjoyable, but also more rewarding and replayable than you might expect.
On one hand, it’s given the full ritual activity treatment, with its own dedicated vendor, bounties, ranking system, rewards and social space. Here, you’ll find more incentive to level up your Dares of Eternity rank, with a number of golden chests containing special loot. These are exclusive to owners of the 30th Anniversary Pack, but even without it, you can still earn some nice loot just by playing. On the other hand, players are offered interesting ways to make the mode more challenging and gain extra rewards. One example is the inclusion of a standard and legendary difficulty setting, the latter adding champions into the fray, and generally just making for a tougher experience that can net you a pinnacle reward. Another example is special bounties you can buy from the Starhorse, which reward you with paraversal hauls containing anything from legendaries to exotics. Now you’re probably wondering, what’s a Starhorse?
If you had told me at the start of this season that I would be competing in a cosmic gladiatorial game show hosted by a hooded squid man and galactic horse, I wouldn’t just not believe you, but laugh at the idea. Alas, this is exactly what Dares of Eternity is; and oh my, is it spectacular. When I say Dares of Eternity is a gameshow I mean it in every sense. Your opponents each round are randomly chosen by the spinning of a giant wheel (seriously), and Xur, in his role as co-host, makes various announcements and introductions for your competitors; who he occasionally claims have been unwillingly pulled from the “studio audience” to compete for “cash and prizes”. Oh, and the Starhorse also chimes in here and there with emotive neighs and whinnies. It sounds utterly bizarre and totally absurd, but that’s all part of this mode’s charm. It’s this charm and personality that really helps Dares of Eternity stand out from the crowd and makes it more enjoyable than it deserves to be. I still constantly find myself asking why this cosmic horse demands that I kill for sport and prizes, and why Xur addresses the studio audience? Where are they? Where are the cameras? Throw these in with Dares of Eternity’s “zany” obstacle courses, wheel spinning, and guessing games and you have easily one of Destiny 2‘s most perplexing and entertaining modes to date.
Sure, it may just be another kill fest with extra steps, but Dares of Eternity makes up for it with a ton of personality and style that we rarely see with new content add-ons; let alone free content add-ons. For this reason, you really should check out Dares of Eternity for yourself, as it really is a surreal experience that is more than it seems.
Landlubbers and Loot Caves
The last time Bungie added a new dungeon to Destiny 2 was over a year ago in the form of Prophecy, and it was so good that it still holds up today. Grasp of Avarice is no different.
Set within the Destiny 1 “loot cave”, Grasp of Avarice is a unique new dungeon (available with a purchase of the 30th Anniversary Pack) themed as some kind of sci-fi pirate adventure, as you uncover the tale of a guardian consumed by greed and burdened by riches. As such, its setting and premise are what plays into each encounter and its mechanics, which primarily revolve around gathering and depositing engrams. The engram side of this is obviously a nice nod to how the “loot cave” got its name, though the depositing side of things does make this mechanic feel a little like a certain other mode’s core mechanic. However, the familiarity of this “new” mechanic is offset by not just its thematic relevance, but also the encounters of the dungeon itself. Your journey to the final boss really feels like an epic treasure hunt, as you navigate through booby-trapped corridors; take part in some light puzzle-solving; fly into the mouth of a giant stone skull; and bombard a Fallen shield using makeshift cannonballs. This all leads to your inevitable final confrontation with Captain Avarokk and his suspiciously named crewmates; who would sooner die than see your hands touch their excessive treasure hoard. The overall style and structure of this dungeon, alongside its daring and thrilling soundtrack, make Grasp of Avarice incredibly memorable to say the least. And, dare I say send it leagues ahead of its predecessors in terms of individuality.
But it does have its downsides. While the loot it offers can be pretty good, it feels rather unremarkable in comparison to previous dungeons. Currently, you can only attain four weapons and one armour set, which is a deal less than the offerings in Prophecy. But the main issue is how the loot drops work. Certain weapons can only be earned from certain encounters, the best of which come from completing the final boss fight; where the loot pool is at its largest. Destiny has always been a bit of a grind, but with Grasp of Avarice, the pursuit of loot is made all the more grindy because of how little loot there is and how unevenly spread out that loot is across encounters. As good as the dungeon may be, I keep finding myself joining fireteams running just the final boss encounter because of this, as the loot drops in previous encounters won’t give me anything I’ll likely want to use. Though even doing this still hasn’t netted me the one weapon I want, even after running it several times on all three characters. This ultimately comes at the detriment of the entire dungeon, which becomes pointless to play through in its entirety. The ability to play the dungeon on master difficulty does counteract this aspect somewhat. Completing this more challenging version can earn you the game’s first-ever “artifice armour”, which is essentially the armour equivalent of adept weapons. Additionally, Bungie recently enabled you to repeatedly farm the Grasp of Avarice dungeon even after your first completion of the week. Although you will only be able to get items you have already earned.
So while Grasp of Avarice is a delightful and incredibly distinct dungeon, it really is let down by the scarcity of loot and how spread out that loot is across encounters; which for a dungeon set within a loot cave, doesn’t really feel right. In future, it would be great to see Bungie add more weapons to the Grasp of Avarice loot pool, but until that time, it all feels a little underwhelming after your first few runs.
Of course, you can’t talk Destiny without talking about new loot; and with the 30th anniversary content, you’re getting quite a few good pieces to add to your collection.
Owners of the 30th Anniversary Pack will gain access to three new armour sets for example. The streetwear set comes pre-packaged and available for use as soon as you log on, with pieces paying homage to Bungie’s gaming history. The same can be said for the Marathon armour, which becomes earnable the more you level up your Dares of Eternity rank, which is a nice reward for playing the free activity. The final, and my personal favourite, armour set you can earn is the thorn inspired armour set, with all the jagged edges and spiky malevolence of the iconic hand cannon it’s based on. With transmog now available in Destiny 2, you can use any of these sets no matter what armour piece you have equipped; making the addition of all this armour more enticing for those guardians that care about their wardrobe as much as their armoury.
But of course it’s not just new armour you’ll be earning but new weapons too. Any fan of Halo will be pleased to know that most of the new weapons free to everyone are Halo-themed. Some examples include two Halo energy sword themed swords, that can drop with a new lunge enhancing perk, and Destiny 2‘s first-ever legendary trace rifle, that not only offers a different and relatively strong special ammo option to your loadout, but wouldn’t look out of place in the Covenant’s armoury. Although, it’s the BxR-55 Battler pulse rifle that steals the show. This weapon is quite literally the original Halo battle rifle, that comes with its own unique trait to make it more viable as a hip-fire weapon. It even has a similar look to its old one; even if Bungie couldn’t copy it exactly. Players can also earn a shotgun and special ammo grenade launcher for the kinetic slot through Dares of Eternity, but to be honest the Halo Weapons are the highlight. In terms of performance they aren’t exactly meta changing, but the BxR-55 Battler has been doing the rounds in PvP with some solid perk options to choose from. Overall, these free weapons at your disposal aren’t bad choices to use in your loadout in both PvE and PvP, and can be farmed pretty easily through Dares of Eternity.
But the free weapons aren’t the only old friends you’ll be getting reacquainted with. Grasp of Avarice brings back three weapons from Destiny 1 and a cool looking legendary sword. These weapons include the Matador 64 shotgun, the 1000-Yard Stare sniper rifle, and the one most people are hyped about, the Eyasluna handcannon. Both the 1000-Yard Stare and Eyasluna are ones you’ll want to get, with both offering some great perk rolls for PvP, and by all accounts feeling just as good to use as they did all those years ago. Obtaining these weapons will be more of a struggle than those found in Dares of Eternity, but when you do get that godly roll of Eyasluna, it’ll all feel worth the grind.
New perks, such as perpetual motion and blunt execution rounds, are also exceptional additions to some of these weapons’ perk pools, by helping broaden the scope for potential God rolls. Overall, there’s some pretty sweet loot you can get your hands on with the 30th Anniversary Pack and additional free content; especially with the new perks that I really hope we’ll see more of in future. But it’s not just legendaries you’ll be grabbing.
Blasts From the Past
Two new exotic weapons have also been added as part of the 30th anniversary celebration, and much like the legendary weapons, they’re two very old friends. The first, and perhaps soon to be meta, exotic weapon reintroduced is the infamous Gjallarhorn rocket launcher. There was great speculation around whether or not this iconic weapon from Destiny 1 would still be as good within Destiny 2. But I can report that it isn’t just as good as it used to be, but maybe even better. Gjallarhorn’s exotic perk causes your rockets to spawn smaller rockets called “wolfpack rounds” on detonation, sending its potential DPS through the roof. Additionally, these wolfpack rounds can be granted to other allies as part of the weapon’s other perk, which is great for boosting the DPS of an entire fireteam or raid team in the instance where not everyone has a Gjallarhorn at their disposal. This may be more common than expected too, as Gjallarhorn is only accessible to those who own the 30th Anniversary Pack. But thanks to this perk, there will hopefully be less exclusion from fireteams as you really only need one person with Gjallarhorn to make everyone else’s rocket launchers hit so much harder. Grabbing the weapon’s exotic catalyst also makes it even more of a beast, allowing you to shoot two rockets before reloading and causing kills to spawn more wolfpack rounds. It’s not only great to see this old exotic get a new lease on life, but also to see it performing so well in endgame content, especially alongside the likes of Sleeper Simulant and other currently meta PvE options.
The other exotic, which is available to all players, is one you might not have expected; I certainly didn’t. What is so special about this weapon isn’t just how it works or what it does, but also how it is both a brand new addition to the Destiny universe and a returning favourite. That might seem contradictory, but it’s true because while it’s new to Destiny, Halo had it for years. That’s right, the Forerunner exotic sidearm is the original Halo magnum pistol; you know, the one that could kill a hunter in two shots in Combat Evolved. In keeping with its iconic stopping power, it is the first sidearm in the game to use special ammo and comes with an exotic perk that gives it a significant boost to damage on precision hits. This makes it capable of dealing with minor and major targets with ease, which feels only right for this staple piece of gaming history. That stopping power also translates into the Crucible where it easily competes against most other weapons with a high time-to-kill (TTK) and near infinite range. Grabbing its exotic perk even allows you to use the classic Halo frag grenade; which despite being more of a gimmick than a valuable asset, is still a nice touch that is bound to put a smile on any Halo fan’s face. So while it may not blow other exotic weapon choices out of the water, it is still an incredibly unique and surprisingly powerful addition to your arsenal and one you should really go and get right now.
Destiny 2‘s new content celebrating 30 years of Bungie seriously feels like a walk down memory lane. Every new addition is rooted in strong nostalgic ground; whether that be us guardians returning to our former loot farming spot, or in the new and returning weapons added to the game. As someone who plays Destiny 2 on a regular basis, I can also say my experience with all of the new content has been great; for the most part. Dares of Eternity is unlike any other activity I’ve played in D2, and one that is so good, that I really do hope they make it a permanent addition with frequent updates; that is unless it ends up like Gambit, which remains firmly drowning under months of neglect. There’s also something about all of the newly added weapons that is incredibly heart-warming thanks to the abundance of call-backs not just to Destiny’s history, but Bungie’s history as well.
However, the most disappointing part of all this new content is the fact some of it is locked behind the new 30th Anniversary Pack. Its biggest selling point is the new Grasp of Avarice dungeon, which feels like it should offer so much more than it currently does; despite how incredible it actually is. It’s something Bungie should consider adding more loot to in the coming months, but if what it is and offers now is all there will be, then I don’t even think it’s worth getting. This is where I’ve become sceptical about the worth of the 30th Anniversary Pack. The majority of what it’s giving you is purely cosmetic, and in comparison to the free content like Dares of Eternity and its loot pool, you’re actually getting less content than you’d expect. It’s also a shame that you have to spend nearly £20 to get what is now one of the best guns in the game. That being said, I would still recommend any dedicated Destiny 2 players get this pack. The new dungeon, as disappointing as it may be, is still pretty fun to play with loot that is worth getting. Additionally, you’ll be provided with a lot of things to do which should keep you going just a little bit longer while we wait for Witch Queen to release. But for those players looking for a reason to come back and play again, the free content will be more than enough for you to sink your teeth into; which if you like and want more, then the 30th Anniversary Pack will be there to give you just that.
Overall, there is a lot here for casual and hardcore fans of the Destiny franchise and beyond, but unless you play Destiny 2 on a weekly or daily basis, the 30th Anniversary Pack just isn’t worth the price it’s asking.
Rapid Reviews Rating
3 out of 5
You can buy the Destiny 2: Bungie 30th Anniversary Pack on the Microsoft store, Steam, and PlayStation now.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.