Wednesday, 06 September 2017 08:20

Destiny 2 Beta Impressions

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I never played Destiny

While it seemed to check so many of the boxes I wanted in a game, unfortunately, it could only be played on a platform that I didn’t own. A Borderlands-style loot system merged with a Halo-inspired combat experience sounded like a winning combination and, in many ways, it was.

From what I understand of the reception of the first Destiny, it wasn’t the gameplay that hurt the game, it was the grind and the lack of story elements that seemed to really drag things down. But that’s another discussion entirely.

Today, we’re writing about the Destiny 2 PC beta that started earlier this week. The real hook of this beta, from a PC player’s perspective (or at least mine), was to see how it ran on PC hardware and how it felt with a mouse and keyboard.

A fun, while brief, introductory romp into the Destiny universe

The beta consisted of a campaign mission they called Homecoming, which featured an exciting ‘hold here, defend this’ sequence that showed off the title’s ability to seamlessly integrate co-op gameplay. The beta gave you a chance to get familiar with the basic mechanics of the game before forcing you to work with two other players to hold off waves of baddies. It’s about thirty minutes of the game’s campaign, and it was a fun, while brief, introductory romp into the Destiny universe.

Other than that opening campaign mission, beta players could access a Strike, which is Destiny’s version of an MMO-style dungeon, and PvP options for both unranked quickplay and a competitive game type.

The farm, an open area designed to encourage the social aspects of Destiny 2, was not available to players of the Destiny 2 PC beta.

Destiny 2’s PC port

As PC players missed out on the previous installment in the franchise, this is set to be the first time that superior overall hardware gets to run the show. That being the case, I’m sure there are at least a handful of players that are concerned with how the game has been optimized in its port to PC.

I’m happy to report that Destiny 2 seemed to be running at no less than 60 fps throughout my time with the game. Granted, I’ve got a rig that fulfills the recommended specs and then some, but it does seem like the beta has been given a polished port over to the PC platform. And, of course, the game takes on a noticeable visual upgrade from the console version when you’re able to crank up the settings, like I did.

p>It’s important to keep in mind that the game’s optimization may change during full release, but PC players should be encouraged by the way the beta performed.

A smooth shooter experience

The gunplay in Destiny 2 feels like a natural fit for the mouse and keyboard. Take away that aim-assist nonsense that controllers require and you’ve still got a smooth shooter experience.

Much like the Borderlands series, the enemies are pinatas filled with loot and damage numbers. Headshots earn you a fat yellow number that only adds to the satisfaction of this Halo-adjacent style of shooter. Using the Titan’s chaingun to build up your rate of fire and start racking up consecutive headshots is a huge boost in damage and an overall hellraiser, while standing back with the Hunter’s long-range rifle really allowed you to take a different angle on the large scale battle and pick your shots where they make the largest impact.

And then there’s the Warlock. Though I don’t think the class felt all that unique in this limited beta, it was fun to use its supercharged ability to blackhole a group of enemies into a small area and deal massive damage. It’s moment like this that show the real potential of this shooter/RPG mashup.

The one boss fight players had available to them was at the end of Inverted Spire. It wasn’t a particularly dynamic encounter — the big robot monster went through a few phases and changes in behavior — but I didn’t feel like my squad was just endlessly wailing on a bullet sponge. Whether Destiny 2 continues that trend further into the game will be seen on October 24th, when the game releases on PC.

Progression system review: N/A

Unlike many betas that occur shortly before a game’s launch, Destiny 2’s beta is truly just a sample of the gameplay. You get almost no taste for the game’s RPG and equipment progression systems, which are crucial to rounding out the game’s intended experience.

Each class is set to have multiple subclasses which allows players to define their role as they see fit. Classes felt different enough in the beta, but I would certainly hope that the addition of skill trees and a wide range of equipment bonuses will (hopefully) add another couple layers to the game’s complexity.

Optimistic, not hyped

After playing through everything the beta had to offer, I can say that I’m not nearly as worried about the console port issues that have plagued other AAA titles (looking at you, Batman). There’s always a chance that the full release isn’t as smooth, of course, but we’ll sharpen our pitchforks when there’s something for which to sharpen them.

If Destiny 2 can bring the kind of polish and attention to detail that PC players appreciate, Destiny 2 could turn into a lootin’, shootin’ success on the platform. Being included in Blizzard’s desktop app will put the game in front of a huge number of potential buyers. Season passes and future DLC have been a turnoff to hardcore PC gamers, but this is an audience which will accept quality content at a reasonable price; there were some clear signs of quality in the Destiny 2 PC beta, and I certainly hope that is maintained when the game is launched on October 24th.

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Adam Wheeler

Adam Wheeler loves his computer, his cat, and his work-from-home lifestyle. When he feels the motivation to put on pants, he tells jokes on stage. With no real distractions in his life (friends, relationships, a reason to go outdoors, etc.), he is able to provide in-depth analysis of games and the culture that surrounds them. Adam almost never has anything better to do.