Hands-on: Destiny 2’s Gambit mode gives the Forsaken expansion a uniquely thrilling experience

I’m approaching Destiny 2’s big fall expansion, Forsaken, with the skepticism it deserves. As much as I enjoyed my time with Destiny 2 at release, the game certainly hasn’t managed to win over the “hobbyist” fans due to its lackluster end game, and both the Curse of Osiris and Warmind expansions have been deeply disappointing.

But after playing a few rounds of the new “Gambit” activity during E3 this week…damn, I think I might get sucked back in. There isn’t anything else like this available. 

Play your cards right

We’ve got footage from my E3 demo below, and I’ll warn you: It’s not pretty. Bungie had us playing on a PS4 controller, and while I’m certainly no esports star even on a mouse and keyboard, my skills on a gamepad are pretty damn rusty. Still, I managed to take second place on our team—only behind the Bungie staffer playing with us. Apologies in advance for any awkward turns or blind-fire aiming though.

In any case, for those who didn’t watch Bungie’s reveal event last week: Gambit is a completely new mode for Destiny 2: Forsaken, on par with Crucible or Strikes. And it’s essentially a combination of the two. Gambit is actually a mash-up of Destiny 2’s player-versus-player and player-versus-environment capabilities.

Here’s how it works: Two teams of four are summoned by The Drifter, a new character in Destiny lore. We didn’t see much of this guy, except that he likes to flip a dogtag like it’s an old coin, and he lives in a massive ship. In Gambit, you’ll fly into this ship and briefly see the other team standing in their own waiting room. Taunts ensue. Expect lots of dance emotes.

d2 forsaken gambit 01 Bungie

The Drifter then tells you what you’ll be facing in the next match. In our two demo rounds we faced the Fallen both times, and on the same map, but Bungie says there will be four different Gambit maps at launch, each with the potential for three different enemy types. (The initial Forsaken reveal showed Taken enemies in Gambit.) Each of those enemy types is then subdivided further into three different encounter setups.

Point being: There are a lot of variations.

So your team is teleported down onto the surface of the planet, and from there it becomes a race to kill enemies. The key here is both teams are in their own arenas, at least to start. It’s purely PvE, and each enemy you kill drops “Motes”—little white triangles. You need 75 motes in order to trigger the final boss encounter.

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