Title: Destiny 2

Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC (planned)

Reviewed on: PS4

Genre: FPS, RPG

Players: Single player, Co Op, Versus 4v4

Written by Whistler 23rd July 2017

In the past recent years betas have become an interesting aspect in today’s gaming scenes, as players become more willing to buy in or preorder titles to gain a spot in early access or public tests. Granted lately everyone seems to consider betas more like demos than their intended purpose of delivering feedback for developers to do some fine tuning before release. With that in mind how is Bungie’s pseudo MMO FPS sequel shaping up as seen through the glimpse of the recent closed and open beta?

I can say that as someone who jumped into Destiny pretty late (after The Taken King’s launch), I’m pleased with what I got to try out in the Crucible though with only one strike I feel PVE is a mix of too early to tell and somewhat underwhelming. The beta does show promise for Destiny 2’s narrative, while avoiding spoilers as much as possible, the beta opens with a strong handful of scenes that made me really start to care of our heroes’ blight. The voice acting is somewhat hit and miss in areas but the sequence done an excellent job of making it feel like more than just a linear path with engagements cultivating in an objective. The villain this time around seems to be emulating Bane circa The Dark Knight Returns and I’m still not sure he really pulls off an intimidating presence but it’s a nice step up from the faceless “Darkness” in Destiny.

What’s more the threat feels more tangible this time, delivered through both cutscene and gameplay narrative. Guardians in PVE feel a fair bit more vulnerable in terms of damage they can take and the story sets up a solid underdog theme, one that always make the stakes all the more real.

While I’ll admit I never found myself all that invested in Destiny’s world outside of the gameplay, seeing familiar locales in ruin really drove home a sense of duty and heightened the actions taking place. It was especially cool that during a key moment the game will seamlessly drop you in with two others making the scene so much more epic. That being said it would have been cooler if it increased the chance of dropping you in with your friends rather than randoms.

Of course a major element to Destiny is the marriage of both PVP and PVE elements so that you can still make progress and get those sweet loot drops no matter what your prefered mode of choice is. A strong core gameplay is always necessary to help try keep this delicately balanced ship afloat, here the fine tuning has certainly excelled. Combat feels smooth, movement responsive and the guns for the most part feel solid to use. Movement however is a somewhat mixed bag, running and gunning is great if not a little rigid; jumping on the other hand feels rather cumbersome especially when compared to the mobility it granted in the previous title.

While PVE is so-so at the moment, PVP feels incredibly fine tuned but not without it’s flaws. With a greater emphasis on gunplay, matches are a blast and tactically playing with a team is highly rewarded; the fast paced action keeps matches feeling fresh however there are some issues. Through extensively playing both Crucible modes: Countdown and Control, cooldowns on abilities are fairly longer comparatively speaking and the Super Gauge takes an abysmal amount of time to fill. Even in matches where we felt we were mowing down the enemy team we still seemed to only get one super per match or at a push 2 if we managed to accrue upwards of 30 eliminations (often resulting in just a mess of supers all going off in the last minute of the match). While the assumed emphasis on teamplay can be fun, coupled with rather haphazard spawn placements in Control, it often results in team shots making up the majority of kills in a match. Far too many times would the victor in a 1v1 engagement be decided by whoever got a teammate to spawn in the area first, and losing at the last moment of a fight due to someone else landing a shot or two on you just feels cheap at times.

The playing field amongst the guns so far feels mostly balanced, I hesitate to say fusion rifles feel somewhat overpowered but some sort of tweak feels needed. On the opposite end of the spectrum though side arms feel utterly pathetic and while strong it does feel like the sniper rifle suffers from a rather heavy handed flinch and lack of aim assist (something Destiny 1 sniper rifles had). The rest of the weapon types offer plenty of viability while letting players fine tune their loadout to their prefered playstyle. The weapon types have also seen a restructuring; now loadouts consist of one kinetic and one elemental primary alongside a power weapon (replacing D1’s heavy weapons). Shotguns, fusion rifles and sniper rifles have been rerolled as Power weapons alongside rocket launchers and the newly added grenade launchers. While the new structure will seem perfectly fine to newcomers it likely has and will continue to irk veterans of the series. Bungie seems to be playing favourites for the PVP as the loadout helps keep matches fast and fluid. Though this does sadly leave PVE feeling stale and sluggish at times, especially against the bullet sponge mobs (not helped by the scarce power ammo drops before the patch).

The biggest changes seen are in the new and updated subclasses along with their flashy revamped or retweaked supers. Titan’s now have the Sentinel subclass, capable of being an effective tank for their team with the ability to erect barriers and go full on Captain America with their super. Once super is active the Sentinel can rush and shield bash targets as well as ping their shield off multiple enemies once per super. The Warlock’s Dawnblade, most likely replacing Sunsinger, can act as an almost support class with their rift ability to place a healing or empowering AOE. Their super has them dawning a fiery sword capable of nearly flying and unleashing a hail of burning waves from each swipe of their sword. Then to round it off the Hunter gets Arcstrider (also known as Bladedancer 2.0) where super allows them to dance around the battlefield with a staff of pure Arc energy pulling off some sick looking combos and a built in dodge ability.

These new classes feel awesome to play with though the returning classes feel in need of some fine tuning, namely the Gunslinger’s ridiculously short time in Golden Gun form and the Voidwalker’s stupidly slow traveling Nova Bomb.

For now I feel we’ll need to see a lot more of the PVE to determine if Destiny 2 is likely to bring back those unsatisfied with it’s predecessor or garner interest in those who’ve been reluctant to give the series a shot. Those who enjoyed D1 should feel right at home after the growing pains especially given how quickly Bungie have started tweaking elements based on player feedback. The polished visuals, improved narrative elements and intense gunskill PVP are welcome improvements but it will be down to how PVE feels in the finished product and if there’ll be enough content to keep the burn out to a minimum. Hopefully the devs can reign in the split personality D2 seems to have between PVE and PVP, but for now I’m feeling optimistic for release.

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