Last week, Game Rant had the opportunity to explore Destiny 2’s new European Dead Zone and learn more about Bungie’s upcoming sequel. Not everything that was learned can be shared today, but that’s a good thing, because there is a lot to cover.

For those that might not be familiar, the European Dead Zone is one of the new patrol areas for Destiny 2. It’s set on Earth and is close by the fallen Traveler shard seen in some of the promo images for the highly anticipated game. It’s also going to be players’ first opportunity to see how Bungie has changed its core gameplay loops to keep them in the action and consistently engaged.

Designing the European Dead Zone

Although it still has a very Earth-like feel, the EDZ has a lot more going on for it than any of the previous D1 destinations on Earth. The environment is more detailed, diverse, and expansive, with tons of nooks and crannies to explore. The term hollow comes to mind when thinking of the early Destiny patrol areas, but the EDZ gives the complete opposite sense. It’s almost overwhelming how much can be explored in the area.

Lost Sectors play a big part of that, but they are not all the EDZ has to offer explorers. If there is one word to describe the European Dead Zone, though, it’s dense.

destiny 2 - traveler shard edz

This is a destination that has a lot more in common with a Strike or a Crucible map than a patrol area, in that the structures and design feel lived in. Compared to Old Russia in Destiny 1, which felt open and empty, the EDZ in Destiny 2 shows a more believable interpretation of Earth following decades of battle. It’s the type of environment that players will want to walk through and explore, rather than zoom by in their sparrow…at least at first.

The visuals of the area are certainly a highlight, but the sounds are just as important. Music has always been a personal highlight in Destiny, and the themes included in the European Dead Zone are no exception. The various music pieces triggered in the area successfully evoke feelings of loss and despair, which fit perfectly with the war-torn environment.

Exploration in the EDZ

While patrols in the first game offered plenty to do, Destiny 2 outpaces those environments with a European Dead Zone that has a laundry list of tasks. There are materials to collect and treasure chests to seek out, or players can simply take on enemies from all the major Destiny races. It may not be an exotic planet or a moon of Saturn, but the European Dead Zone still offers a lot of intriguing elements, and for a first encounter it was hard not to get lost.

But eventually, the EDZ will become familiar, and luckily Bungie has made smart changes that make traveling through the environment easier and offer players plenty of reasons to come back.

Landing Zones

destiny 2 landing zone in edz

Perhaps the biggest change for destinations is the introduction of Landing Zones. Rather than land in a specific area and then travel to a given zone, players can target a Landing Zone and start their exploration of the EDZ from there. Moreover, if a player wants to move to a new zone, they can simply fast travel to any Landing Zone on the map.

Granted, the introduction of the map makes navigating the European Dead Zone much easier, but the Landing Zones are still a much-needed touch. They also come in handy when a player sees a Public Event starting and they want to get there as fast as possible.

High Value Targets

Random boss spawns were a small part of Destiny 1, but in Destiny 2 they are more frequent and well worth seeking out. On the feed, the game will tell players that a High Value Target has appeared, and it is up to any nearby Guardians to take it out. Should they prove successful, the High Value Target will drop its “plunder,” which is a loot chest filled with a few goodies.

Devrim Kay

For the first time in a Destiny game, a patrol area has an NPC/quest giver. In the European Dead Zone that is Devrim Kay, a grizzled sniper that resides in the rooftops of an abandoned church. Kay’s presence in the EDZ is meant to highlight that this environment isn’t completely abandoned, like most of the patrol areas on Earth were.

Kay also serves a few other roles in the EDZ, but those details are best saved for release next month. All we will say is that the character’s addition goes a long way to emphasize the diversity of experience that Destiny 2 hopes to offer, both in terms of how players interact with the world and how they progress in individual skill.

destiny 2 - devrim kay npc

Although the EDZ is only a small piece of the Destiny 2 puzzle, our experience with it was enough to prove that Bungie has learned a lot of lessons from Destiny 1. Smart changes, no matter how little or big, should give players a sense that this is more of a dynamic space than anything in the first game, and will hopefully have them coming back again and again. We spent plenty of time in the European Dead Zone and still feel like we barely scratched the surface.

Check Out Game Rant’s Destiny 2 Coverage:

Destiny 2 releases September 6, 2017 for PS4 and Xbox One, and October 24 for PC. Game Rant was provided travel and lodging for this preview event.