Destiny players were attached at the hip to their trusty Sparrows, the jet-fueled hovercraft that allowed Guardians to zoom across the game’s planets and moons. But while the patrol areas of Destiny 2’s worlds are generally comparable in size to those in the original game, it’s going to take way longer to traverse them, because you won’t have a vehicle for a while.
Yes, Sparrows do exist in Destiny 2. But they’re not readily available; there’s no easy way to go out and get one at first. In the original Destiny, Guardians received a Sparrow as a matter of course: A basic one was given to the player during “The Warmind,” the game’s fourth campaign mission. Hell, Bungie eventually added an entire mode to the game just for Sparrow racing.
Yet after spending nearly 20 hours playing Destiny 2 — during which I completed its first dozen or so story missions; tried a variety of open-world activities like Public Events, Adventures and Lost Sectors; and played a number of Crucible matches — I still didn’t have a single Sparrow to my name. One never dropped for me as a reward for, say, finishing a mission or defeating a boss. Amanda Holliday, who sold Sparrows and other vessels as the shipwright in Destiny’s Tower, is nowhere to be found in the Farm, Destiny 2’s social space. In fact, it’s impossible to buy one because nobody sells them (at least not in what we’ve played).
Instead, you have to rely on luck. Sparrows are possible rewards from bright engrams, the new high-level loot containers that you must bring to Tess Everis for decryption. Sadly, none of the three bright engrams I took to her turned into a Sparrow.
As minor an issue as it may seem, this was one of the most annoying aspects of my time with Destiny 2 during a preview event last month. Sure, I was initially content to explore Earth, Titan, Nessus and Io on foot. Each place was a gorgeous new playground to gawk at, and was full of potential: What would I find if I strayed from the beaten path?
Yet I quickly tired of sprinting everywhere; the scenic jogging route wasn’t fast enough for my liking. You might think that the presence of fast travel in Destiny 2 mitigates the Sparrow issue, but that’s less true until later in the game, since you unlock fast travel points on each destination as you progress. Without them, I was forced to run from place to place — or search for a spot where enemies on Pikes, Destiny’s armored hovercraft, were hanging out.
I asked Bungie why Sparrows are so scarce in Destiny 2. The studio said that the design decision was a conscious choice, made in light of the fact that the game’s destinations offer much more to do than the comparatively barren worlds of its predecessor.
“There’s a lot of content now that we place in these worlds — there’s a lot of little offshoots and bits of history — and we don’t want people just blasting past it,” Jason Sussman, senior environment artist at Bungie, told me.
“And it was finding that right balance of when [to give players a Sparrow], right, and how much we wanted you to walk those destinations,” Sussman continued. “But it was intentional.”
It’s true that Destiny 2 players might miss important areas or activities if they’re just speeding from one waypoint to the next. For instance, the white graffiti that marks the location of a Lost Sector is obvious, but it’s much closer in size to the Mona Lisa than to a mural. Yet even if Bungie needs to encourage players to stop and smell the roses every so often, there has to be a better way to do it than initially depriving them of the (expected) ability to get around quickly.
Being grounded became a glaring issue once I started doing open-world activities with other people in a fireteam. As it turned out, both of my squadmates had been lucky enough to have Sparrows drop for them. I felt bad asking them to wait around for me, so they zoomed ahead to a Public Event while I followed on foot. By the time I caught up, they had almost taken down the boss. When they sped off to a faraway locale that wasn’t near a fast-travel point, I actually decided to leave the fireteam and rejoin it once they had reached their destination, because I knew the game would drop me near them.
All along, Bungie has been saying that its guiding philosophy in designing Destiny 2 is “finding the fun,” and finding it directly in the game. But the Sparrow issue is the opposite of fun, and it’s an unforced error on Bungie’s part. The situation is even more frustrating because players have no recourse except to hope that a Sparrow drops for them at some point. At least they have plenty of experience with praying to RNGesus by now.
Update (Sept. 6): Now that Destiny 2 has launched, players are discovering that there is indeed a guaranteed way to obtain a Sparrow. You have to finish the campaign first, though.
[Warning: The following contains some minor story spoilers for Destiny 2.]
Completing the campaign will unlock at least one new vendor: Amanda Holliday, the shipwright from the original Destiny. At that point, you can simply buy a Sparrow from her. You also receive one for free when you finish the story, if you don’t want to spend any money on a mount. But until then, you’re stuck hoping that a Sparrow drops for you out of a bright engram.