Destiny. The mere word elicits mixed – and extreme – reactions amongst the gaming community. It’s like the Marmite of FPS games. So with Destiny 2 upon the horizon, I took the plunge and decided to pre-order this mixed bag of a game franchise.
I’ve been judging me since I hit the pay button. With this purchase came early access to Destiny 2’s beta, running from the 18th July to the 23rd. On the night of the 19th, I loaded up the beta, fully expecting disappointment. If anyone remembers Destiny’s beta, it was… okay. At best. A thoroughly average test of what turned out to be a bit of a disappointment until £90 worth of DLC showed up. Being greeted by a white title screen, I immediately selected my class, and in reality, the only class anyone should ever play – Warlock. I mean, who doesn’t love a ridiculous melee range and space-magic?
I immediately selected my class, and in reality, the only class anyone should ever play – Warlock. I mean, who doesn’t love a ridiculous melee range and space-magic?
The first thing I noticed is that I didn’t get to customise my character whatsoever. This was a feature within the Destiny 1 beta, and follows a trend within this beta – it’s significantly smaller. In the beta test for Destiny 1, I got to customise my character, the opening missions, all opening missions on Earth, the first strike against Sepiks Prime, access to the Tower, access to the first mission on the Moon, and Crucible PvP. In 2014, I got a quarter of the base game to play about with. This time, once you play the opening mission, you’ve got one strike and both competitive and low-intensity PvP. Three activities. That’s it. I’m quite pleased that I’m not getting an entire base game at launch, and this feels more like a beta test than a quarter of a game.
I’m quite pleased that I’m not getting an entire base game at launch, and this feels more like a beta test than a quarter of a game.
The first mission – entitled Homecoming – sees your Guardian return to the Tower to defend it against the Cabal. The game’s sense of scale is magnified beyond anything Destiny 1 produced, and one mission has indicated this. In fact, it doesn’t feel like Destiny 1 whatsoever. It feels and looks more like Halo 3 than the franchise they’ve spent the past four years on.
The invasion of the Tower feels like a mission from Halo, the Cabal ships have that same kind of alien feel that the Covenant had. Characters are fleshed out, with characters such as Zavala, Ikora, Shaxx and Holliday each taking part in the combat, and without an over-reliance on Nathan Fillion’s Cayde-6 (This is actually a good thing. Trust me.) Your enemy, the Grunt-on-steroids – I mean, Cabal leader, Ghaul, is immediately intimidating, reeks of stuck-up-his-own-backside, and in one cutscene, Bungie has made a better villain than anything this franchise has thrown at us.
Classes and subclasses are more than just a change of grenade colour within the game and will have an effect on how you play. Each class has a skill, activated by holding or double-tapping crouch, that complements their design – Hunters receive a dodge that either reloads their gun or refills their melee charge, Titans create a directional shield, and Warlocks generate a buffing aura.
Your choices of abilities actually matter now, and everything about your super-charged ability can be customised. The smaller options – like receiving a six-shooting Golden Gun as a Hunter, or being able to use your Supercharge energy to overpower your grenades as a Warlock, make this game feel more like an RPG, which is a fantastic change to see.
Hunters receive a dodge that either reloads their gun or refills their melee charge, Titans create a directional shield, and Warlocks generate a buffing aura.
The first mission and Strike – named “The Inverted Spire” – have much more of the “Borderlands meets Halo” style that we were promised in the first iteration of the game with diverse enemies that do more than just straight-up shoot at you. Your weapons are just as customisable. In essence, character weapons and armour customisation seem as nuanced as Destiny 1 without being overcomplicated.
In essence, character weapons and armour customisation seem as nuanced as Destiny 1 without being overcomplicated.
One thing heavily noted by many players, including myself, is that you don’t seem to hit as hard as you did in Destiny 1 in PvE. In the first mission, this is most definitely a positive, as when I decided to punch a Cabal legionary in the face with space-magic, instead of it dying immediately, it went exactly as you’d expect a human punching a ten-foot, forty-stone alien to go. Overall the enemies feel slightly spongier than before, and I am concerned that this, much like Ubisoft’s The Division, will be used to pad out the game-time, if abused.
I then moved on to multiplayer, and I can’t believe I’m saying it but I actually really enjoyed the PvP. It feels incredibly balanced, and in the matches I’ve played, there seems to be no specific metagame within the multiplayer; a problem routinely faced within the first game. Provided that this PvP game has indeed been about for a few months as Bungie has noted, I’m actually quite excited for this.
I mean, I can actually get kills in it, which is a big deal. My concern again is that Destiny 2, like Destiny 1, will be balanced more towards its PvP than its PvE, and many things point to this – PvE enemies being slightly spongier, the removal of collectables in game, the omission of any in-game or outside-of-game journal, and the focus within the beta on both forms of competitive and low-intensity PvP alongside only one replayable PvE session. Should this be the case, I can imagine the fanbase would be incredibly displeased. Bungie’s forums, when you manage to sift through a fair bit of crap, is full of genuine concerns about a lack of focus on PvE gameplay in a game which is incredibly focused on PvE content.
Overall, this beta shows promise. Whatever that promise is, I’m not entirely sure yet. Will it be a better game than the original Destiny? Definitely, but that doesn’t take much. It is a much smoother experience and is far more fun. It has far more to live up to than its predecessor, however, and content of the full game needs to expand significantly. However, it feels so much like the previous game that I fear that it may be destined to repeat the same problems faced by the previous game. Trough the beta, Bungie haven’t really confirmed nor denied that for me.
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