Gambit is the new marquee PvP mode coming to Destiny 2 with its Forsaken expansion. It’s a synthesis of PvP and PvE wherein two teams of four guardians compete head to head in their efforts to summon a boss-level enemy and be the first to defeat it. It sounds great in theory, but fun theory doesn’t always translate into fun practice. After spending some time with the new mode courtesy of Activision and Bungie, we can confirm that the developer has successfully made the idea of Gambit into a highly enjoyable and perhaps even addictive new game mode.
The basic foundation of Gambit is simple: kill enemies, collect and bank the “Motes of Light” they drop, summon a boss after collecting enough, and kill it before the other team kills theirs. This could be fun in and of itself, but it wouldn’t really make for a compelling game mode. Thus, there are a few additional layers to Gambit. For every ten motes a team banks, a mini-boss type enemy called a “Blocker” is loosed upon the opposition. Its job is to slow them down and prevent them from banking their own motes. If they want to proceed, they’re going to have to find a way to eliminate it. For every 25 motes banked, a portal to the other team’s space opens up; this enables one guardian to invade and disrupt the competition as much as they can. It’s all these extra wrinkles working together that make Gambit the pulse-pounding mode that it is.
Despite being built on a foundation of shooting enemies, playing Gambit feels more like a race than anything else. In strictly Destiny terms, it feels much closer to a round of SRL than a Trials match. While playing, I consistently found myself concerned much less with defeating enemies than I was with the rate at which my team was chewing through them. Mote collecting phases were always a mad scramble to get in there, get the drops, and get over to the bank as quickly as possible. The arrival of a Blocker always felt imminent, and my desire to cross over and directly engage my competition was always at the forefront of my mind. Racing through enemies is all well and good, but it’s no substitute for the direct approach.
During my time with the mode, invading the other team was always the most exciting part of the game. Teams don’t immediately know where the invader is, so the enemy gets a few precious seconds to set up their attack and pounce on their unknowing prey. Crossing-over and just shooting the place up was all well and good when one just wants to buy a few seconds. However, invading with a super at the was the best. The nature of invading means almost always having the element of surprise, so running over with an activated super nearly guarantees some hilarious reactions. After all, the last thing anyone wants to see while taking on several powerful enemies is an super-charged guardian running their way.
Whomever it was that gave Gambit its name was right on the money. Every round carries the same sort of tense and frantic feeling one gets when taking on risk. It’s filled with risk vs. reward decisions sees both in normal Crucible play and high-end PvE activities, and it just doesn’t allow a team to play it safe. This mode is all about doing risky things for the promise of massive rewards; all playing it safe amounts to is setting oneself up for a big fat “L” when everything is said and done.
Destiny 2: Forsaken launches on September 4 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.