There wasn’t much to do in Destiny 2’s console beta, but there’s plenty to talk about. From PVE to PVP, let’s start with the good.
The opening mission was one of the best ever
As Charlie said in his initial impressions, the opening mission, ‘Homecoming,’ quickly set up Destiny 2’s story. The Cabal are invading, we meet Gaul, and spoiler alert, we lose. Destiny 2’s plot is looking to be strong, fresh, and comprehensible.
None of that could be said about the original Destiny’s story, which only had 17 cinematics (upping to 67 after all expansions). This week at Comic Con, Bungie also announced that Destiny 2 will have over 50 cinematics.
The only downside about ‘Homecoming’ is that I couldn’t replay it without deleting a character. Come on Bungie, let me play more!
PVP is Great
I had a great time in Destiny 2’s Crucible. I wasn’t sure if I’d prefer 4V4 and longer times to kill, but the greater team focus led to more intense matches. Now that loadouts are essentially two primaries and a heavy, the overall balance in PVP is quite tight, while still allowing versatility. Though melee rushing could be an issue because of longer TTKs with guns.
This all makes Destiny 2 feel a little more skill-orientated. So, we may earn fewer kills but they’ll be more satisfying. Because of this, I’m interested in what the more hardcore modes like Iron Banner and Trials of Osiris will offer.
It looks beautiful
Destiny 2 isn’t getting a significant graphical update, but the few changes that Bungie has made are noticeable. Things like gunfire and particle effects are more vibrant, and the waves of energy on Titan bubbles provide a more mystical atmosphere.
There’s also a greater sense of scale to the environments. Whereas the original Destiny boxed you into canyons and caves, Destiny 2 felt big and open. The wide spaces where you land on the ‘Inverted Spire’ strike, along with the massive mining site, gave the impression that Nessus is big and you could explore anywhere.
But while our interaction with the environment was better than ever, it was our interactions with the enemies that led to our first problem.
PVE is less satisfying
While the ‘Homecoming’ mission was great, the weapon and ability balance in PVE let it down. On my first playthrough I switched to a handcannon only to quickly switch to a scout rifle. I liked handcannons for that precise and punchy feeling, but found that they were weaker and headshots don’t always land, even when aiming directly at critical points.
The final boss on ‘The Inverted Spire’ strike felt more bullet-spongey than ever, as we’re basically relegated to primary weapons most of the time. Even Supers felt weak, with some grenades able to out-damage them. I will say that fusion rifles are surprisingly good against bosses now. It’s a shame about everything else.
Hunters lack versatility
Warlocks can increase damage or heal, Titans can deploy barriers or use a super ‘Captain America’ shield that you can throw, melee or block with. But Hunters offer no team utility other than a reload buff, which is negated by the instant reload perk on the Titan’s barrier. Plus, the Hunter Supers are lacklustre when compared to the other two classes. Unless the Golden Gun receives a significant damage buff on bosses, there won’t be much use for Hunters in raids.
Remember the Nightstalker class, Bungie? Gee, it would be nice to have that now instead of waiting for an expansion.
Your Guardian is STILL silent
Unfortunately, your Guardian remains mute through both the campaign mission and strike. Part of a strong narrative is having the protagonist interact with other characters and making choices. I want my guardian to be a driving force in the plot, rather than a tool for Ghost and other characters to send around killing things.
Even the few lines that my Guardian had in the original game gave a sense that my actions were my choice, even if it wasn’t my voice.
Will everything be alright?
My cynical side is telling me that most missions won’t match the quality that ‘Homecoming’ reaches. And silent Guardians leaves me wondering if Bungie really has learned all its narrative lessons.
Yet despite my issues with the Destiny 2 beta, I’m cautiously optimistic for the launch. This is a beta, after all, and things will change. Some of the PVE issues have already been addressed in the latest Bungie news update, so I expect gameplay and weapon balance to be ironed out for the full game’s launch. It’d be great if these fixes come to the PC beta, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.
In the end, it’s my experience with the original Destiny that tells me to set my expectations low. Hopefully Bungie proves my nay-saying wrong. My light can’t survive another disappointing game.