Destiny 2’s Gambit Mode is a Hell of a Lot of Fun

I missed the more structured multiplayer Destiny 2, and many of the biggest multiplayer games offer. Battle Royale games starting with H1Z1 pulled me away from the multiplayer games I played for years before. With the Forsaken expansion right around the corner, I thought I would put PUBG and Fortnite on the backburner, and jump back on Destiny 2. And on Saturday, dove into the new Gambit mode.

A solid blend of PvE…

The competitive/cooperative mashup multiplayer mode isn’t new. Titanfall did it. Halo 5: Guardians did it. But those games used the cooperative hook as a compliment to competitive. In Gambit, it’s the other way around. It’s the cooperative gameplay that stands out.

Gambit pits two teams of four against each other in separate instances of the same map. A cutscene pre-match determines which enemy you’ll fight. For me, it was Cabal every match but one. Hopefully, Bungie looks into that and makes sure you don’t end up fighting the same race of enemies more than a few times in a row.

After the cutscene, you and your team are warped into your instance of the match to start taking out bad guys and collecting motes. Every enemy drops motes, and the tougher ones drop several. Here is where the strategy of Gambit starts to pop up. You can bank your motes as soon as you grab them, or save them up to push Blockers enemies (at 5, 10, and 15 motes) to the other team. Blockers are tougher enemies that prevent the other team from banking motes until they are defeated.

gambit mode blocker

The end goal is to bank 75 motes, summon the Primeval, and defeat it.

While cooperative gameplay takes the spotlight, it’s not slower paced. As soon as you take out one group of enemies, another is on its way. Or there’s a group of blockers preventing you from banking motes. Or the Primeval is up and ready to be killed. I never saw a dull moment in Gambit.

And PvP

PvP plays a smaller role in Gambit, but it’s a thrilling one. Throughout each match, a portal opens letting one player ‘invade’ the opposing team. This player gets 30 seconds to wreak as much havoc as possible before dying or being pulled back to their team.

Again, here is where the strategy of Gambit shines.

The invading player’s job is to slow the enemy team down. That means killing players with motes, and pretty much just being a giant headache. Even killing players with no motes still puts them out of the fight for a handful of vital seconds.

This shifts once the other team summons their Primeval. Now, the portal opens every 20 seconds (or so). And when you kill an enemy player, you’ll heal their Primeval. So now timing your invasion is crucial. I had one match go down to the wire as one of my teammates invaded the other team and managed to pick off three players before dying. Their Primeval healed and gave us just enough time to take ours down and squeak by with a victory.

gambit mode invasion

I hated invasions at first. Mostly because I couldn’t see the other player who was sniping me. I almost wanted Bungie to add a marker for when an enemy player invaded. But that would make invading a joke as it would quickly turn into a 1v4 that isn’t winnable. After a few rounds, I got used to the map design and where the enemy player would probably come from.

Invading players aren’t a problem in the early game. But when the Primeval is up? That’s where they do their damage. You have to be on your toes during the end game. It’s already a cluster of action, but an invading player can swing the match in a hurry.

There’s nothing quite like invading near the end of the game and wiping out the entire team. Then warping back to your match and taking out the Primeval.

I was impressed with how well the mode works. There’s never a dull moment. The cooperative side lets the game’s fantastic gunplay shine. Invading gives PvP folks a thrill. Gambit shows us that leaning heavier into the cooperative side of things works too.

Why is it round-based?

That’s the one thing I wasn’t a fan of. Each Gambit round was best of three rounds. But having it round-based feels unnecessary. Rounds don’t play out differently from one to the next. The objectives are the same. Bank motes, summon the Primeval and defeat it.

If it’s going to be round-based, there has to be some other hook. Round-based objective modes usually have a clear defender/attacker dynamic. That’s not possible here, so what could Bungie do?

They could scrap the rounds and increase the mote score to make matches a little longer. Like say from 75 to 100 before you can summon the Primeval.

But let’s assume Bungie wants to keep the round-based formula. How about a time mechanic?

The time to take down the Primeval is tracked. In the second round, the losing team has to beat the first round time. You could even tie the time mechanic to invasions. Enemy player kills give extra time.

This could add whole new layers of strategy to Gambit matches. Teams could time their supers better to take down the Primeval. Invasions would be even more critical as teams raced against the clock. Even banking motes would play a more significant role as blocking the other team would be even more important.

That’s just my idea. What do you think?

Gambit is a big part of the Forsaken expansion, and Bungie gave us just a small taste of it on Saturday. When Forsaken hits on Tuesday, it will have three races to fight across four maps. It’s too early to say if Gambit is the real deal, but it sure feels like it.