Destiny 2 Beta

Destiny 2 is an online FPS-RPG, and of course the sequel to the 2014 release, Destiny. Published by Activision, and primarily developed by Bungie, Destiny 2 held an open beta period over August 29th and 30th this year. Slated to release in the first weeks of September, it will mark the first of many triple-A releases heading into the last quarter of 2018.

The beta released with a short taste of the story, a 3-player strike, a quick match player vs player map, and a competitive player vs player mode. We sat down with the beta for as much time as we could, which we will confess, was not as much time as we wanted.

The campaign is peppered with some pretty heroic cutscenes, some cheesy writing, and a very seamless multiplayer integration. I won’t go into story details, as many people will want to experience that themselves. I did want to focus on the very cool way Destiny 2 handles introducing multiple people into the same campaign mission. Essentially, you’re playing a single player game, but when it comes time for a boss battle, or particularly tough battle, a couple allies are introduced to your map. It’s not like they spawn and drop in front of you. Rather they are already present as you run around the corner and face the battlefield. They’re often already fighting the first few enemies. I’m no scientist, so I’m not sure how the coding works for this, but it felt cool. You roll up, you’ve got your orders, boom, there’s one of your allies struggling against waves of enemies – time to kick ass together.

Quick match in the beta is limited to one map and one game mode. The map is pretty close-range, and as I tend to enjoy Sniper Rifles as my Power Weapon of choice, I found that switching to the Grenade Launcher was much more…satisfying. The game mode is Control Point, which will be familiar to many FPS players – there are 3 control points, hold them to win. Pretty simple. What has changed quite a bit between Destiny 2 and its predecessor are the Abilities and Classes, of which you really get a feel for in the multiplayer mode.

Every major class, Titan, Hunter, and Warlock, got a new subclass. The Sentinel, The Arcstrider, and The Dawnblade, respectively. The newest Titan, the Sentinel drops a huge shield on the battlefield – creating a nice piece of cover. The Arcstrider – the Hunter subclass – is very similar to the Bladedancer of Destiny 1, but wields a thunder staff. The Warlock’s newest spell-slinging class is the sword-wielding, Solar Energy hurling Dawnblade. As well, each subclass has new latent abilities, which look to be customizable (but I could not change them in the Beta). The hunter has a Dash, their grenade type changes, and they have access to some cool chain abilities that trigger off melee kills, or critical point kills. It seems like there will be a lot more customization within the classes – both from the ability trees, and the mods you can use on your gear.

One thing I did notice with the game are its cooldowns. Abilities seem to take much longer to recharge, which emphasizes managing them properly and encourages more accurate shooting. This felt different from the original Destiny, though there may still be plans to include abilities or mods that shorten cooldowns in the full release. I also felt like the movement was more sluggish. I primarily played as a Hunter in Destiny, and decided to roll with the same type of character for the Beta. I fondly remember sprinting, into crouch sliding, into shotgun, and melee – and that felt good, smooth, and fast. It could be the transition from gamepad to mouse and keyboard (I’m playing on PC for Destiny 2), but my momentum was often stopped or slowed to the point that movement did not feel as fluid. It may just take some keybinding changes, or again, more gear/abilities that affect Mobility.

Overall Destiny 2 feels a lot like Destiny 1, and I think the major differences will lie in the small changes to the classes and abilities. The beta did not include a large story component, so I was not able to glean whether the core gameplay loops are as tedious as they were in the early stages of Destiny’s release. A lot of veteran Destiny players assured me the game got better as more content was released, so here’s hoping Destiny 2 is a big update to an already fun platform. I for one thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Beta, and am looking forward to exploring what the full release has to offer.

- Will