By now, Destiny 2 players have likely heard plenty about how unique and exciting Forsaken’s new Gambit mode is. Billed as competitive PvE with a side of PvP, Gambit is unlike anything seen in Destiny thus far, but it’s easily one of the best additions in the entire franchise.
As part of Activision’s E3 2018 presence, Bungie brought a demo of Destiny 2: Forsaken’s Gambit mode and we were able to go hands-on at the event. And like most of the participants at the Destiny Community Summit, it was hard to walk away from Gambit.
The mode has a lot of moving parts but the basics are fairly simple. Two teams of four enter a PvE arena where enemies will constantly spawn. The particular race that the team face is decided by a coin toss at the beginning of the match, but for our demo we went up against the Cabal.
At the start, Gambit plays out like a basic PvE skirmish. Players take out enemies as they would in any other Destiny 2 activity. However, with each kill, the enemies will drop a glowing white triangle called a Mote. The team must then collect these Motes in their own personal “wallet.”
As players collect Motes they can decide when to bank them into a central tank. Moving back and forth to the bank is obviously the safest route, but continuously killing enemies has its own risk/reward. And while the player’s team is running through this cycle of killing enemies, collecting Motes, and then banking them, the enemy team is doing the exact same in its own arena.
Things get interesting if a team decides to bank a large number of Motes at one time, which sends a “Blocker” to their opponents’ arena. The appearance of a Blocker deactivates the bank for as long as it is alive, so killing the Blocker becomes a priority. Each team can send bigger/more Blockers depending on how many Motes they bank at once. 5 Motes sends a low level Blocker, 10 Motes sends a medium Blocker, and 15 sends the strongest Blocker.
To be fair, the Blocker isn’t going to cause too much trouble for the Destiny 2 team but it can be stressful if the team is walking around with a lot of Motes. And dying with Motes doesn’t simply put them on the arena; they are lost forever.
In addition to the Blocker, hitting 25 Motes in the bank will open up a portal to the other team’s arena. One player is then free to invade and wreak havoc on their opponents in a pseudo PvP environment. There’s a lot of strategy to these invasions because the invader can see how many Motes each player is carrying, which can create some instant targets. At the same time, the game broadcasts that an invasion has occurred, so the team can work together to eliminate their opponent quickly but the invader does have buffs that boost damage and give them an overshield upon invasion. At the early stages, the invader is a nuisance for the team, more so than any of the AI enemies.
Finally, things come to a head when the team has banked 75 total Motes, which summons a Primeval. Like a strike boss, the Primeval has a ton of health and requires a lot of teamwork to defeat, and whichever team defeats their Primeval first claims victory for that round (best of 3).
Separately, the elements of Gambit may not sound that appealing but together the mode is fast-paced and exciting. Invading on the other team can truly swing the tide of battle, especially once the Primeval has entered the fray. Whereas in the early game a kill forces the player to lose their motes, once the Primeval is in play a kill will heal the boss.
The mode also does well to communicate everything that is happening in the competition, from how many Motes each team has banked, how many they all have in their wallet, and when an invader has entered the arena. Coordination is huge for this mode and victory is very satisfying.
While a lot of the game’s modes build off existing frameworks, Gambit feels unique to Destiny. It’s a chance for PvE players to compete and it has a fun tug of war element that can keep matches close. But most importantly, the mode is a lot of fun to play.
Destiny 2: Forsaken releases September 4, 2018 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.