Looks pretty bright, considering we lost our light…
Available for those who initially pre-ordered the game, the Destiny 2 closed beta went live on Tuesday this week for the PlayStation 4. With the beta opening up to the public today and having played through all of the content on offer across all three classes, I’ll be discussing how the beta stacks up to the hype surrounding Destiny 2, and whether or not it has influenced me to keep my pre-order active or cancel it.
Destiny was a game that divided the console population upon its release; some people liked the idea of a fresh IP alongside the Halo-esque gameplay that developer Bungie has perfected over the years, where others loathed the complete lack of a story and repetitive content that the game had to offer in its initial end game. Thankfully, as it currently stands Destiny is a pretty feature complete and content packed game (even if it is only after 4 paid expansions) and with the core changes to the light level system being an average of the stats of all your gear, the game is a lot more accessible to new and returning players than it was during year one. As a result Destiny 2 has a lot of hype to live up to and with the open beta ending on the 23rd, the following weeks are going to be very interesting publicity-wise leading up to the game’s release on September 6th.
The first thing you notice when you load up the Destiny 2 Beta is the change of colour palette, with the dull grey and black colour scheme of the original Destiny having been replaced with a bright black and white one (rather ironic seeing as we’ve lost our light this time around). What follows is the usual class selection screen, with a clear description as to what the individual classes offer this time around; Titans being capable of taking and dishing out more damage, Hunters swift, agile and quick on the draw and Warlocks being the same old reliable ‘in-between’ space wizard class that it was in the original Destiny. All classes boast a new subclass, alongside one of the existing subclasses which has been refined and improved upon for the current iteration. I decided to run as a Hunter the first time around based on my rather lengthy stretch as one in the original. Alongside the more fluid movement that the class offers is the new Arcstrider subclass, which is the biggest draw to play as a Hunter this time around. The mash up of skills between classes is definitely one of the more interesting features from Destiny 2, with the most obvious example being the Arcstrider super ‘Arc Staff’, which has an ability that is very similar to Fist of Havoc from the original game; this level of mixing up skills is something that keeps the gameplay fresh, and works pretty well for the most part.
#HunterMasterRace: The new Arcstrider class is insanely fun to play with.
The mission on offer titled ‘Homecoming’ is the same one that we saw in the gameplay trailer back in May; at around 20 minutes long it showcases a familiar environment being torn away from us, with the most notable difference being the level of storytelling that is present throughout the experience. The inclusion of interactive cutscenes and solid looking set pieces result in a tight, focused narrative with clear direction, something that was missing in the original Destiny, indicating that Bungie have made it their top priority this time around. There’s a section during the mission where the game’s classic ‘drop-in drop-out’ multiplayer comes into play, with yourself, Commander Zavala and any other players (at the same stage) all assisting each other in fighting off waves of the Red Legion; although this was a staple in the original Destiny, this time around it adds into making the world feel alive (and not just by seeing other players farming headshots in the Cosmodrome). The mission comes to a close with none other than Gary himself, giving you one final taunt before he pushes you off a ledge to your presumed death (good thing we know a shard of the traveller is waiting for us eh?).
On top of the stellar new story structure is the improved strike mechanics, which have been scaled up to be multi-layered and act as ‘mini raids’. The Inverted Spire strike features a new planet called Nessus, which is a converted Vex machine world with some lingering remnants of its long forgotten biosphere. The strike plays a lot like Vault of Glass, with platforming sections spliced in with mini bosses and a complex, multi-layered final boss called Pantheon (who is clearly Atheon’s pissed off older brother). In one challenging section you find yourself avoiding a rotating drill while having to fight off enemies simultaneously as you make your way through the area; this kind of complexity is something that wasn’t present within the Strikes of Destiny, being a strong indicator that Bungie have definitely taken their community’s feedback on board.
Sweet Business: One of Destiny 2’s new exotics, it also happens to be one of the most fun too.
The story and strikes aren’t the only areas of the game that have had a complete reshuffle, with the weapon system being given the remaster treatment too. No longer do we have Primary, Secondary and Heavy weapons, as they have been replaced with Kinetic, Energy and Power weapons. What was mainly primary weapons in Destiny, are now spread across the Kinetic and Energy slots in Destiny 2; the same goes for Secondary weapons from the original, as these are now considered ‘Heavy’ weapons and occupy the power weapon slot. The new open-ended nature of load-outs this time around allows players to create more specialised builds on the fly, depending on the situation they find themselves in; you want to be a nut job that rolls with nothing but Hand Cannons and a Shotgun? knock yourself out!
Alongside the change in layout are the weapons themselves, with several new types being added to the already impressive arsenal that was present in Destiny. The new line-up includes new weapon types such as grenade launchers and submachine guns that offer different variations of gameplay depending on how they are used. Also present in the Beta are three distinct exotics that the player can acquire by playing through the story mission as the three different classes; Sunshot: a Solar Hand Cannon that highlights enemies and makes them explode in solar energy upon death, Sweet Business: a Gatling Auto Rifle with a large magazine that gets faster and more accurate downrange the longer it is fired and Riskrunner, an Arc Submachine Gun that has a chance to chain lightning on enemies and return ammo to the magazine. Out of the three Sweet Business takes the trophy of being the most fun to play with while you mow down the mobs with relative ease.
The Crucible: 4×4 (alongside other changes) sees the PvP in Destiny 2 being a lot tighter and team focused.
The crucible has also undergone significant changes, with the main inclusion being all forms of the mode being limited to 4×4 as opposed to 6×6 or 3×3. Overall the combat feels a lot tighter, with very few options offering a cheap one hit kill like in the current meta of Destiny (not including supers or power ammo). Alongside the kill feed are notifications of enemy players popping their suppers or picking up power ammo, giving you the information you need to re-evaluate your tactics. The modes on offer are Control (set within a map called the Endless Vale), and a new tactical, team focused mode called Countdown, that features teams planting bombs and defending them, or preventing the opposing team from doing so (taking place on a map called Midtown). Overall the changes to PvP are positive ones, focusing more on primary weapons and skill opposed to sticky grenades and shoulder barges, making it a more challenging but rewarding environment (even if the supers and abilities take forever to recharge).
The Destiny 2 Open Beta went live at 6pm (UK time) today, so a lot of what I’m discussing here you’ll be able to experience yourself if you haven’t already. The beta itself modifies a lot of things within the core Destiny experience, and while it can feel a bit similar at times, the vast majority of changes are definitely for the better.