Games Review: Destiny 2: Curse of Osiris (PS4, 2017): A pile of weird decisions

There’s almost no reason for you to play Destiny 2‘s first expansion, Curse of Osiris. I’ve tried to find a nicer way to frame the expansion’s futile attempts at justifying its own existence but there’s no getting around it. In a game as massive as Destiny 2, especially one that is designed to keep players coming back, Curse of Osiris feels like scraps thrown to a starving crowd.

If you actually pony up for Curse of Osiris ($30 AUD or $50 AUD for the Expansion Pass), here’s what you get: A limp three hour campaign mission, three multiplayer maps if you’re on PS4 or two if you’re on Xbox One or Windows PC, and a miniscule new public area so uninteresting you’ll forget about it, see the icon on your map screen three days later and jet over wondering if you missed something only to be disappointed all over again. Indeed, the only part of the expansion that was of any real interest at all was the Raid Lair activity. The Raid Lair is genuinely great, full of interesting puzzles, cool challenges and the chance to farm some really high level gear, but it is the sole high point in what is otherwise a bewilderingly thin experience.

Osiris’ campaign missions take Guardians to Mercury and the new Infinite Forest area, among what feels like a hundred fetch quests to other, far more well-trodden areas of the game. The campaign offers a total of nine missions, containing the new Strikes called A Garden World and Tree of Probabilities. The Strikes, for me, were the highlight of the entire campaign, taking players into Mercury’s history when it was a much more lush and verdant world.

There’s two new bosses in the mix as well but they feel like half measures, thrown into the mix to satisfy the Boss Fight quota. Both are so trivial to defeat that even the most inexperienced Fireteam could put them down without breaking a sweat. My own Fireteam tore the first one to shreds within seconds. Such was the lack of fight this guy put up, two of my squaddies wondered openly if the game was bugged because there’s no way Bungie could have meant for that to be a boss fight. We didn’t even get to see what they did. They spawned in, they were greeted with a hail of gunfire and they died instantly. Pretty disappointing.

The expansion’s campaign closes out in similarly underwhelming fashion. You spend most of the campaign’s run time chasing down the second of the two bosses and when you finally come face-to-face with him, he also perishes moments into the fight. Talked up the whole campaign as an opponent of godlike power, all it took to bring him down was dunking an orb and then hitting him in the mummy/daddy button. That’s all you have to do, and you’ll likely only have to do it once to take him down. There was no challenge and certainly no sense of the peril that usually accompanies Destiny‘s end game boss battles.

The story peters out as well with the titular Osiris, a character that looms large in Destiny lore as the instigator of an uprising that drove a rift among the various Guardian factions, turning out to be a bit of a flake. The thing is, when you actually meet him, Osiris seems like a pretty chill bro, a kindly dude who tips his hat to you, bids you good day and then promptly buggers off back to wherever it was he came from without complaint. I’m not surprised that Bungie dropped the ball in the storytelling department — story has never been their strong suit — but they do, at least, know how to build up to a big finale. Its like they didn’t know how to wrap this thing up so they gave Osiris the Poochy ending.

Then there’s Mercury which takes being pretty but dull to new levels. I know its only a small planet IRL but Bungie seem to have taken this to heart. There’s only one public event, a single lost sector and a handful of chests. Mercury is so tiny and so boring I forgot it even existed the moment I finished it because that’s how little point there is to going back. You can tell it sucks because there’s never anyone there. You fly in, spend forty minutes picking it clean and then you never have any reason to go back. The only interesting facet of the planet is The Infinite Forest, which lets you jump into simulated histories of Mercury’s past, present and future states. The thing is, the Forest can only be opened after starting an Adventure you pick up from Brother Vance. Vance is in the lighthouse and his adventure only unlocks after you knock over the campaign.

The most bewildering part of The Infinite Forest for me is that Bungie had a ready-made excuse to get into the time travel component of Destiny lore. The Vex constantly dabble in time travel and there’s so many avenues to explore that, the Vault of Glass or any number of other interesting moments in Destiny history. What you get in its place is a lazy campaign and a trio of (admittedly pretty fun) Adventures that barely scratch the surface of the concept’s potential.

Once you put the Adventures away, the game gives you a series of Lost Prophecy verses to collect. Each Prophecy you find will net you a new weapon you can pick up from Brother Osiris but in order to actually get them you’ve still got to navigate a maddeningly obtuse dismantle system to scrape 10 Radolarian Cultures together which you can then turn in for a Concentrated version, and then you just flippin’ drink it. It’s yet another bizarre collection system to add to the hundreds of others Destiny is already known for and more than anything, it reminded me that Destiny, at its heart, is still an MMO.

Having sculled my weird potion and collected my weapons, it became apparent very quickly that I’d wrung Curse of Osiris for all the content it had to offer. Having put the meager campaign and its handful of threads to bed, I moved onto the power creep.

The new level cap is only 25. Your guess is as good as mine as to why that is. I dinged power level 315 with relative ease and was back to waiting around for the Raid Lair to kick off.  When the Lair did open though, good lord, was it worth the wait. It’s the one truly good thing that Curse of Osiris has going for it. It’s shorter than your typical raid and this is one of the things I really love about it. Some of us don’t have time to sit down and just tank it out for five hours. Trimming some of that fat for those who want it is a smart idea and I’m glad Bungie did it. The puzzles are enjoyable and its raid boss gave us hell at the end, which made up for the lazy bosses of the campaign.

For the PvPers, the Prometheus Lens glitch is going to be your biggest problem for the next little while until Bungie fixes it. It may already be fixed by the time you read this, but at the time of writing on December 12, 2017, it remains overpowered as hell, an insta-kill death ray, and every bastard’s got one because Bungie gave it to bloody Xur.

The three new PvP maps are Pacifica, Radiant Cliffs and, if you’re on PS4, Wormhaven. All three are of the usual high Bungie PvP standard with lots of flanks and solid readability. There’s also quite a bit of verticality going on here which is a bit of a departure from the launch maps and I’m very into it. Crucible, however, is in the same sorry state it was at launch. Destiny 2‘s hobbled take on the Crucible hasn’t been improved by Curse of Osiris, only worsened on the whole. Its now almost solely about man advantage — where in the original Destiny, a skilled single player could absolutely hold their own against a less skilled team under the right circumstances, here you don’t have a hope and the best plan of attack is to simply group up, form a phalanx and shoot indiscriminately at the other guys. Coming from the dev that made the Halo series, some of the greatest FPS multiplayer ever created, this is yet another baffling move.

But wait, it actually gets even more disheartening. Lets say you’ve read this review, and the countless others citing similar problems and you decide, fairly, “you know what, maybe I’ll skip this one.” That decision means you’ve just diminished the worth of your base copy of Destiny 2 because Bungie have locked the Prestige Raids and Prestige Nightfall behind the Curse of Osiris content wall. With Destiny 2‘s community numbers haemorrhaging by the day — its not even cracking on the Twitch Top 10 any more even with the launch of this new expansion, which I’m sure is worrying the Activision brass — this seems like the worst play Bungie could have made.

Curse of Osiris is an absolute clanger. The campaign is less exciting than what you had for lunch, the content that’s there isn’t much better and it does very little to address any of the community feedback since launch. There’s a handful of things to like — the Adventures, the Raid Lair — but they’re not worth the price of admission and Bungie seems to know it. A near complete disappointment on every level.

Score: 5.0 out of 10
Highlights: Raid Lair rules; Adventures are fun!
Lowlights: Campaign sucks; Mercury is boring; Crucible is still super bad
Developer: Bungie
Publisher: Activision
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows PC
Available: Now

Reviewed on PlayStation 4 Pro with a code provided by the publisher.