The Destiny 2 Beta launched yesterday, for those of us who play on PS4 (Xbox One’s Beta launches today and PC’s will be sometime in August). I spent about a good 6 hours playing Bungie’s next entry into the iconic franchise Destiny and I’ve got to say, overall I was pretty happy with what I found. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed Bungie games and I feel like they made some subtle and some not so subtle improvements to the game. While not everything was a step in the right direction, the story telling of the game seems to have markedly improved, so let’s begin there.
Destiny 2 Story and Setting vs. Destiny 1
Without getting into too many spoilers, which is an extremely hard feat, the Destiny 2 beta begins with an outstanding opening cinematic full of humor, action and outstanding voice acting. If Destiny 2 has improved in anything over its predecessor, it’s surely here. Once again you play a Guardian who uses the Light of the Traveler to protect your people from threats beyond. Destiny 2 is markedly darker than Destiny 1, and it all has a very Empire Strikes Back mood. You really feel like you’re in for the fight of your life, and things look beyond bleak. Knowing that it is a game, and that you are a Guardian is some comfort in the dark, but will it be enough…?
If we’re all completely honest, Destiny’s story has never been very compelling and has been mildly interesting at the best of times, but something here had my hairs raise and I felt more immersed in the Destiny universe than ever before. As I pushed through, the set pieces and score all had me on the edge of my seat and I felt that I was really a part of a resistance push. It’s very early, and we’ve yet to see a whole lot of the game, but I’m extremely optimistic about this aspect in particular. I really hope there are more interesting characters and we don’t spend more time outside of the game researching the lore than within.
Destiny 2 Gameplay vs. Destiny 1
The gameplay of Destiny 2 is very similar to Destiny 1, which was definitely expected by most, myself included. There are, however, subtle changes within each Class’s subclass, as well as some changes to the way Crucible works. For starters the Super abilities of each Class are somewhat different than the previous installment. Although some are the same ability, they have new aspects that make them behave differently and it is very clear that Bungie wanted to change this facet, but not so much as to piss people off. For instance the Golden Gun of the Hunter can fire up to 6 times, but is active for a drastically shorter time making you more likely to get a kill, but less likely to get many kills. Also, in Crucible, you only get about 1 Super a game now, instead of 2 or sometimes 3, and generally everyone’s Super is ready at about the same time, which turns the map into a shit show for about 15 seconds.
The next element Bungie tweaked is the handling of the weapon categories: Primary, Special and Heavy. They were broken down as follows:
Primary Weapons (white ammo)
Special Weapons (green ammo)
Heavy Weapons (purple ammo)
You can see from these changes in the Destiny 2 beta that now you can have 1 Kinetic Weapon and 1 Energy Weapon equipped, even if they are the same type. Shotguns, Fusion Rifles and Sniper Rifles are now lumped in with the Rocket Launcher and more powerful weapons, effectively removing them from more regular use. I feel this was a step in the wrong direction for the game, and I really hope it’s one that changes before launch. Because of the lowered frequency at which you gain Super, what this means is that you will have even less varied combat unless the drop rate for purple ammo is much higher (currently in Crucible you get an extremely low amount). This certainly makes for more balanced combat, but it also makes for more repetitive combat as well.
During my time in the Crucible I found that some weapons seemed more powerful than others. For example, in the right hands, the Submachine Gun you are given will out perform nearly any other weapon in a straight up 1v1 scenario. Hand Cannons are second to these, and in the right hands are deadly, which has been the case in Destiny for some time. Next is the Pulse Rifle which is eerily similar to the Battle Rifle in Halo 2 and gives me that nostalgic feeling whenever I use it. Behind that is the Auto Rifle, which is still very good, but because the range seems shorter and players seem to move faster it isn’t as powerful as it was in Destiny 1. Finally, the Scout Rifle and Sidearm are both just equally ineffective.
There is also a new game type called Countdown in Destiny 2, that feels a bit like Counter-Strike or Call of Duty, and is an attack and defend variety of gameplay. Players only have one life per round, however they can be revived after some seconds, and they must arm or defuse a bomb. These rounds are extremely fast and frankly I’m not sure it fits the type of combat in this game. I’m sure that some players will find it a breath of fresh air, while I found the load time between rounds nearly as long as the rounds themselves. It’s definitely not my favorite, but then again, it’s hard to complain about options.
To get an even better idea of the PvP in action, check out this gameplay montage, fresh from my time in the Destiny 2 Beta:
From the hours I have spent playing Destiny 2 Beta, I believe that any fan with the series will be mostly happy with what they are getting in Destiny 2. Polished graphics, an intriguing story, great world design and intense PvP all at first play are as good or better than Destiny 1. In fairness though, I was pumped for Destiny 1 after the Beta and the game severely let me down, as well as many other players. By all accounts however, The Taken King really improved the game and with the same team that led that expansion’s development leading the way in the sequel, there is reason to be optimistic.
I won’t go as far as to tell players to pre-order based on what I have seen so far, but I would say if you’re a fan of Destiny and you have yet to tire from the intense fast-paced gameplay Bungie has been putting out for years then I have no doubt you will enjoy Destiny 2. It’s hard to say if the sequel will bring any players who lost interest in Destiny back on board. Burn out is a factor, and although Destiny 2 is fun, I haven’t seen anything yet that will address that and keep me engaged long term. We all know the gameplay is going to be tight. What remains to be seen are the regular activities and new content planned and how Bungie intends on cycling all of that to keep the game feeling fresh for players.
Playing the Destiny 2 beta? What are your thoughts on the game so far? Don’t be shy, share your opinions in the comments!
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