If you love playing Destiny 2, but also appreciate playing other games every once in a while, then welcome: You’re in the right place. And if you actually don’t like playing Destiny 2, but wish you had something similar too get lost in, then you’re in the right place, too.
Amid its longest season ever, Bungie’s sci-fi MMO is currently on a temporary break, making this the perfect time to spin up one of the many other quality loot shooters vying for your attention. I’ve compiled this list of Destiny 2 alternatives based on a combination of completely subjective criteria, including: Is the shooting good? Is the looting fun? And (importantly) do I think the game is cool?
Gearbox’s latest, goofy interplanetary escapade is the most obvious Destiny 2 substitute. Enemies explode like piñatas, doling out party favours in the form of colourful guns with all manner of randomised bonuses. A varied set of classes and skill trees to mess around with keep the looting feeling fresh, and if you really catch the Borderlands bug bad, there’s a meaty endgame to grind through. Overall, Borderlands 3 isn’t as good as 2, but its planet hopping leads to much prettier and diverse backdrops in which to shoot stuff. And it’s easy enough to play with the sound off so you can listen to your favourite podcast or the new Chvrches album instead of letting the cringy banter melt your brain.
Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC
Outriders came out this year. It did! Can you believe that? Despite continual efforts by the developers at People Can Fly to undermine their game in post-launch meta-balancing updates, Outriders remains a totally fine third-person shooter and a more than decent Diablo-style loot game. What it lacks in satisfying gun-feel it makes up for with gruesome mutant powers like impaling enemies on spikes and shooting energy beams out of your hands. The campaign lags in the second half and the story doesn’t stick the landing at all, but as you would expect from the studio behind Bulletstorm, the moment-to-moment action is very good, the open arena fights tend to be thrilling, and there’s just enough character build to customise without feeling completely overwhelmed. The game’s online has also improved since launch. Many of the bugs have been squashed, which is a big plus.
Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, Stadia
Risk of Rain 2
We’re making our way into roguelike territory with this one, but Risk of Rain 2 deserves your attention even if random dungeon runs aren’t your normal cup of tea. This 3D sequel to the original 2D sleeper hit sees you slice and shoot your way through level after randomly generated level of alien hordes while collecting new weapons and power-ups along the way. Its colourful but simple polygonal trappings belie a robust and intricate system of trade-offs as you swap in new gear based on both survival considerations and your preferred playstyle. You can play through this loot roulette on your own, but it’s much better with company. And unlike Destiny 2, you won’t feel compelled to treat it like a job. Instead, you can experience the full loot-based progression cycle in a one-hour run. What a concept!
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, Stadia
Warframe’s been around forever and a day, but it’s more lively than ever. Digital Extremes’ sci-fi epic is more Terry Gilliam than Steven Spielberg, and is also free-to-play. While there’s no barrier to entry it’s very much on the grindy side with a sea of resources, currencies, and microtransactions to drown in. Take some time to overcome the accessibility curve, though, and you’ll be rewarded with a lot of customisation that lets you pick goals, work toward them, and then reap the rewards. The shooting isn’t nearly as good as Destiny 2’s, but the wide array of melee weapons you can cause chaos with almost makes up for it. Plus there are amazing moments like the “We All Lift Together” class-struggle singalong.
Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch, PC
Deep Rock Galactic
Imagine if you took Minecraft’s resource harvesting and corrupted it with the frenzied horde mode action of Left 4 Dead. 0 T’s basically Deep Rock Galactic, a first-person co-op shooter about space dwarfs mining space minerals, in a nutshell. There’s no conventional loot system, and the array of new guns and upgrades each of the game’s four classes are a bit on the limited side. But the procedurally generated missions themselves more than make up for it. If you like grinding toward a progression reset, but Destiny 2’s missions have grown stale after doing them literally hundreds of times, Deep Rock Galactic’s PvE action is a perfect antidote. The game’s largest new content drop to date is also just around the corner, so this live-service game’s best days are still ahead of it.
Platforms: Xbox One, PC
The Division 2
I can’t necessarily say the same for Ubisoft’s noted Destiny clone. Yes, the game’s getting a new season, mode, and other content in February, but for all intents and purposes, The Division 2 is winding down. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth picking up, however. Unlike Destiny 2, The Division 2 still features a more-or-less complete open world and accompanying story campaign. Its shooting is more tactical, and there’s a whole mini-game around upgrading your home base. Ubisoft has also worked out most of the kinks in the loot system, so you can sail through the mid and late games that tortured players back when The Division 2 first came out. I feel like this game gets a bad rep, but it’s more than adequate when it comes to delivering the dopamine drip-feed of filling up progress bars and building up your arsenal.
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Stadia
Necromunda: Hired Gun
This one is tough to recommend, but I’m going to do so anyway. Necromunda is buggy, the gunplay is subpar, and the enemies are not very fun to shoot. There are a hundred other things to complain about with this game as well, and yet it still scratches a certain itch, especially when it comes to the extremely grim Warhammer 40K scenery. “Necromunda is like a million Mos Eisleys crammed together and left under a lamp, a noisy, filthy, and impossibly vast industrial hellscape,” PC Gamer wrote in its review. Necromunda is never going to be your go-to fill-in for Destiny 2, at least in its current state, but it’s worth the occasional day-trip if the “futuristic fascist trash-heap” aesthetic intrigues you, and there are more than enough loot drops to get you from point A to point B.
Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC
Shadow Warrior 2
An oldie but a goodie. Shadow Warrior 2 used to be very pretty, is still very fast, and admirably organised like a first-person Diablo. “It is a fun video game,” wrote former Kotaku editor Kirk Hamilton back in 2016, and sometimes that’s all you need. The levels are procedurally generated and full of randomised loot. But more importantly, the game has a pretty detailed enemy decapitation system, which sounds morose (and it is) but helps make combat satisfying in the same way Destiny 2’s headshots remain second-to-none. There’s a story if you want it, and a Shadow Warrior 3 on the horizon, but it also stands on its own whether you fall deep down the well or just want some good multiplayer arcade action for a Friday night.
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Warhammer: Vermintide 2
Strictly speaking, this one is not a loot shooter. But there is a lot of loot and you do occasionally shoot stuff. If “visceral” weren’t a meaningless made-up marketing buzzword to sell Call of Duty I would say that Vermintide 2 is one of the most visceral first-person action games I’ve ever played. Instead I’ll simply say that Fatshark made slaughtering human-sized rats, zombies, and other fiends feel exceptionally good. And one of the best things about Vermintide 2 is that you can get right in on the action without learning a bunch of arcane RPG systems. Just matchmake, get dropped into a dazzlingly grim Warhammer world, kill a bunch of stuff, and watch a treasure chest open with a satisfying thud at the end. If it’s not officially a loot shooter it’s the next best thing.
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC
Escape From Tarkov
Destiny 2’s raids are elaborate mazes with big, beautiful bosses at the end, but Escape From Tarkov’s raids pit you against other people, and are the game’s sole focus. Probably the most intimidating entry on this list it’s nonetheless a nice change of pace from the perhaps overly smoothed, ironed-out ride most other modern shooters provide. Inspired by the hyper-realistic tactical mod ARMA but with elements of the modern battle royale, Escape From Tarkov is about looting dead zones and then escaping alive. When you die, whatever you drop is gone. These brutal conditions are balanced with flea markets and trader loyalty quests you manage outside of combat to unlock better gear. Battlestate Games’ grim paramilitary backdrop does less than nothing for me, but its combination of mechanics and trade-offs is a fascinating experiment between The Division and PUBG.
You probably haven’t heard of this one, in part because it’s still in Early Access, but Gunfire Reborn is a colourful roguelike FPS RPG in which furry animals shoot up dungeons. It’s a blast, and requires extremely little time investment. You can play solo or in a group, fighting through dungeons, gaining random power-ups, and accruing currency you can use to upgrade your character between runs. Being an Early Access game it’s not quite complete yet, but still has plenty to offer for its $US20 ($AU27) asking price. It’s a bit more approachable than Risk of Rain 2, while still making use of an enemy weak-point system that encourages thought more so than just spraying and praying. I’m extremely pumped for Gunfire Reborn’s full release, which should be any day now.
Don’t laugh. Don’t judge. I decided to add Anthem to this list at the last minute because of two things: flying around shooting monsters like Iron Man is still a ton of fun, and the game is like $5 now. It’s an unqualified disaster that EA officially closed the books on earlier this year, but also a very pretty third-person sci-fi action game that basically lets you roam Middle-earth-esque landscapes as a Marvel superhero. The loot system is disappointing and broken, but still more than rewarding enough to get you through the opening hours. And while the game’s story and main campaign remain incomplete and a snooze, I can honestly say with a straight face that you can go out and buy Anthem for the price of a Big Mac and have a fun few nights with your buddies or whatever other poor souls are still queuing for its multiplayer missions.
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Destiny (…the first one)
Wait. Don’t leave. Please come back. I swear this isn’t the Cryptarch’s version of trying to Rickroll you. Destiny 2 completely supplanted the first game when it came out, and for good reason. Why spend any more time toiling in a game-as-a-service that wasn’t going to get any more service? Well, after spending years with Destiny 2, the answer is that a lot of the stuff in the first Destiny is still really damn good, and the majority of it still hasn’t made it to the new one. You know how sometimes you and your childhood friends have an irrational desire to walk back down the main strip of your hometown and pretend it was five, 10, 20 years ago? Well you can do the video game version of that with Destiny. Loading back into the original Destiny version of The Tower is like coming home again, and I’m sure there’s still plenty on your bucket list from the first game you never got to. Go ahead. No judging here.
Platforms: PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC
That’s my list. Did your favourite make it? I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention a few other recent looter-slashers. While Godfall was underwhelming as a PS5 launch game it’s a perfectly fulfilling way to spend several hours slicing through foes in lovely, iridescent locales and earning some diverse loot for your troubles. Minecraft Dungeons, meanwhile, is a simple isometric dungeon crawler that’s easy to keep going back to, thanks in large part to its myriad of overpowered builds that aren’t too hard to obtain. And of course you can never go wrong with Diablo 3, but you probably already knew that.