Date: September 17, 2017
Author(s): Rob Williams
At a time when PC gamers are eagerly awaiting Destiny 2 for their platform of choice, the game has now been available for Sony and Microsoft consoles for just under two weeks. We’ve been playing it, doing everything short of the raid, so read on to see what we think about Bungie’s seriously hyped sequel, and what you have to look forward to if you’re waiting on the PC version.
Destiny 2 is a game that doesn’t need much of an introduction – even to those who’ve never played the series before. The original release became a hit on four different platforms, offering an online sci-fi action RPG for the masses – easy to get into, hard to escape.
As of the time of writing, only the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of Destiny 2 are available, and while Techgage generally ignores most console happenings, this is a special enough game (to me, at least), to warrant talking about it here. Well, there’s also the little fact that in just over a month, Destiny 2 will launch for its third platform, PC.
With its higher resolutions, higher frame rates, higher detail levels, and improved control through the support of a mouse and keyboard, it’s hard to argue that the PC is going to be the de facto version of Destiny 2 as soon as it releases. To date, I’ve met four types of Destiny 2 fans: those who refuse to leave their console platform due to loyalty, those purchasing both a console and PC version (like me), those skipping the console version in anticipation of the PC version, and finally, those who’d like to play the PC version, but don’t own a gaming PC.
If you happen to fall into the latter camp, but you have the funds to pursue a build, you’ll want to check out my benchmarking article from a couple of weeks ago, based on the beta. Performance could change a bit between the beta and final build, but I’d wager the GPUs will ultimately scale similarly. The nice thing? You don’t need to spend a ton of money to get 1080p/60 performance with top detail (a $150 GTX 1050 Ti can do it).
That’s enough about the PC version, though, because anyone reading this and wanting the game now will have to be a console player. For those anticipating the PC version, this article can let you know what’s right and wrong about the game, in advance. Since the game isn’t out yet for PC, you can fool all of your friends by pretending to predict the future!
Destiny 2 is a Halo-esque sci-fi action RPG first-person shooter. It’s similar enough to an MMO, but without the typical complexity of an MMO. It’s suitable for those looking for a rewarding game that can be enjoyed a few hours a week, or many. In the original Destiny, I put over 350 hours into my main character, a Warlock. And, as Destiny is a series that encourages one person to play all three classes to maximize gains, you’re not going to have a problem putting good time in.
Each of the three classes have unique abilities, as you’d expect, although for most content, it doesn’t truly matter which classes you choose. That will change with Nightfalls and raids, which can be made much easier when you run with the perfect blend of classes.
Which class you should go with first depends on what kind of play style you’re after. A Hunter is nimble, and quick. It offers you the ability to one-hit kill in PvP with the Golden Gun, and debuff an enemy with a Tether (or “Bungie cord”, as punsters will appreciate). The problem with Hunters is that they are squishier, a problem Titans don’t really have. Titans can use their Super to slam the ground and obliterate anyone close, or pop a bubble to protect themselves, and their team mates. The third (and best, per my bias) class is Warlock, a more magical kind of being that can tear through enemies with debilitating lightning, or create a pool of healing that, well… it’s self-explanatory.
Throughout the game, you’ll be able to tackle many PvE and PvP modes, including campaign missions, Strikes and Nightfalls (3-man missions), kill other players in the Crucible (which includes the special Trials of Osiris and Iron Banner events), relax to some Patrols (exploring the landmass) with up to 2 friends, and of course, conquer the raids. You can do much of this stuff at varying difficulty levels, so once you master a default version, you can test your patience and will by taking on the “Prestige” variant. In case I haven’t said it enough already, there’s a lot to do in Destiny 2.
Depending on your perspective, it may be a good or bad thing that Destiny 2 is a lot like the original. The engine feels exactly the same, only with some minor tweaks. I can’t really tell at quick glance if the graphics in Destiny 2 are better than the original; the game is still targeting the same console hardware, after all. The effects quality has seen an obvious improvement, though. Overall, the game looks great for the platforms it’s currently available on.
Because players weren’t exactly thrilled with losing everything from the original game for this sequel, we can at least be thankful that Bungie was kind enough to make level progression very quick at the beginning. You can hit the max level of 20 about 10 hours into the game, although that’s only when the fun truly begins. As with the original, there’s a secondary level system that matters more than the primary one. In the original, it was called Light Level, whereas in the sequel, it’s an even less interesting Power Level. Currently, the best players sit at around Power Level 300 (I am 277 at about 35-40 hours in, and it’d probably take another 40-60 to hit 300).
That right there tells you that Destiny 2 is going to give you a lot of value for your money. Some single-player games can be over in 10 hours, but Bungie knows how to keep players hooked. I put 700 hours into the original Destiny, and I’m confident I am going to hit about the same for its sequel. From a value perspective, I consider there to be a ton on offer for the buck from Destiny.
If you like FPSes, and aRPGs, then you’re going to enjoy Destiny 2. It’s similar to what Borderlands would be like if it were a truly online game, although the loot system in Destiny is nowhere near as complex.
If you hate the thought of having to manage minutiae revolving around gear, you don’t really have to worry in Destiny. Compared to any MMO, the loot system here is dead simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s not interesting. There are a ton of weapons and armor already available in the game, and more will be added as more content rolls out over the game’s lifetime. We’re talking many different versions of Hand Cannons, Shotguns, Linear Fusion Rifles, Sidearms, Snipers, Fusion Rifles, Rocket Launchers, Grenade Launchers, Swords, Pulse Rifles, SMGs, and Pulse Rifles. Not to mention your fists of doom!!!
In the original, XP earned doing certain faction activities would help rank you up, where each time you ranked up, you’d be rewarded with a legendary item. In the new game, that automatically-applied XP has converted to turn-in XP tokens earned through regular play. This is actually a much improved design, because it allows you to better strategize how you will spend your tokens, rather than be forced to accept a reward as soon as you’ve earned it.
Also nice is the fact that Bungie simplified gear infusion, which lets you absorb an item’s higher Power Level into the one you actually want to use. This comes with a caveat in this sequel, which is that you can’t infuse from a dissimilar item. A Hand Cannon needs another Hand Cannon, for example. On the upside, there are no more Exotic Shards, only Legendary Shards, which effectively replace Legendary Marks. You also no longer need armor or weapon pieces to infuse; instead, the weapon pieces (Gunsmith Materials) help you rank up through the Gunsmith.
At launch, fans showed much ire towards the design change that saw gear Shaders turned from permanent items into consumable ones. I joined in this ire, because if I earn something, I want to be able to retain it. After playing the game more, though, I’ve softened on that hate, because while Shaders are now consumable, they can now apply to each individual piece of armor, your weapons, and even your transportation vessels.
Bungie’s logic behind this decision is that it will encourage players to stop avoiding certain content. If you want a certain Shader, you’re going to have to do a certain activity. That’s going to really suck when you need 5 of one Shader and only have 3. There’s good and bad to this implementation, but at this point, I’ve enjoyed the new ability to apply Shaders to other equipment too much to even care.
Also new in Destiny 2 are mods which can be applied to both armor and weapons. These are available in both rare and legendary likenesses, and can affect things such as changing the element or reducing the recoil. Whereas the original didn’t have Exotic sparrows or ships, Destiny 2 does. Ditto for emotes. Gotta collect ’em all!
While I didn’t touch it at all, I do want to say that I think Bungie has done well by including a “Guided Games” feature in Destiny 2. This will allow those usually too timid to join a clan or seek out others for bigger activities to actually take advantage, aided by those who are willing to be patient. This is available for both raids and Nightfalls, and really would have been useful to have in the original.
I also have to give a shout out to the ability to go straight to an activity from wherever you are in the game. Across the number of hours I put into the original, I can guarantee you that at least 10 hours were wasted waiting the extra minute because I had to go to orbit first.
I haven’t commented on the bulk of the content yet, and really, it’s because it’s good… and was expected to be good. If you enjoyed the original, you probably already own this sequel, because like any good online game, Destiny just has that pull. There’s lots of story to be had, many PvP maps to slay in, six Strikes for co-op adventuring, and a massive first raid (which I’ve yet to attempt). Again, if you dig the idea of a sci-fi FPS aRPG, you’re not going to go wrong with Destiny 2.
That doesn’t meant that the game is faultless, which is good, because it’s far from being that. Ultimately, though, the good dramatically overshadows the bad. That said, it’s good to be aware of the bad, so let’s get to it:
If you’re going to only be playing the PC version of the game, I wouldn’t take anything said here as gospel, because there are sure to be many bug stomps over the course of the next month. I just hope that those bug stomps carry over to the PC version in time for its launch. If you jump in today, this ranting applies. As of the time of writing, Bungie has not mentioned that anything here is being looked at, although that doesn’t mean that it’s not. Bungie is a mysterious company sometimes, refusing to utter a couple of simple words that would fill in an entire community.
Growing up, you might have learned that “Never Eat Shredded Wheat” is how you know where the NESW belongs on a compass. In Bungie’s world, knowing where the letters go is a cinch, because there aren’t any. No, not even a North, which makes for some frustrating tracking down of objects, even when referencing the (new to Destiny) in-game map.
I am bad at PvP, but not as horrible as Destiny 2‘s matchmaking algorithms. Currently, there is a Quick Play and Competitive option for Crucible in Destiny 2, and it’s been common to see people get their asses handed to them much quicker in the latter more than the former. Bungie confirmed that something was amiss, and has begun rolling out a fix (although it’s not clear if it’s actually live right now).
After playing the premier Destiny PvP mode Trials of Osiris for the first time last night, I was led to believe that matchmaking is downright broke in certain playlists right now. I’m bad at PvP, as mentioned, lucky to hit 1:1 K/D sometimes. But I am not bad to the point of hitting 0.3 K/D each round; the same going for three friends.
De facto proof of something being amiss struck me when my pals and I entered a new round against a team full of obvious ToO badasses. One wore an emblem that showed he hit Flawless three times over. For the uninitiated, that means no match losses across 7 matches of at least 6 rounds each. Three times over. For a game mode which launched the very same day. Later, our same group was pit against a team that performed so poorly, I genuinely felt bad in the end (but I was pleased to get the achievement).
The UI has been overhauled quite significantly in Destiny 2, but not for the better, in my opinion. Before, everything used to be grouped into the Start menu; inventory, quests, settings, et cetera. Now, quests have become “Milestones”, and sit in an overlay that slides out from the left of the Director screen. Depending on where you are in the menu, this could mean that you need to hit more buttons to see the information you want.
Further, the quest screen used to show a decent amount of information about your objective, but the Milestones overlay shows extremely basic information. It makes quest tracking uninteresting, or at least clunky.
Similarly, Bungie decided to place the Clan screen inside of the Start menu, while keeping the Roster on the Director screen. I can’t fathom why this design exists; everything should be together, for the sake of ease. I can definitely understand why the Clan and Roster screens are kept separate, but they should at least be beside each other.
Speaking of clans, that leads me to talk about one of my biggest complaints: the fact that big clans will reach their goals quicker. In this case, those goals mean certain buffs that will apply to every clan member when enough Clan XP is earned. The premise is good; what’s not is the fact that Destiny is chock-full of small clans, and it’s big clans that reap the rewards here. After launch, I heard of people leaving their smaller clans just because they wanted the rewards bad enough. This kind of thing shouldn’t happen. Clans meant almost nothing in the original game, acting more like a glorified friend’s list. Because of that, small clans flourished. Now, big clans do, and it’s making for some sour mood among some clans.
I am not going to tackle every single complaint I have about Destiny 2 here, because that’d make me look like a supreme whiner, and exceed the database space on our server (OK, I’m kidding). But one thing I can say is that while Bungie has made many QoL (quality-of-life) improvements with Destiny 2, it seems to have come at the expense of mind-boggling aspects of the game, like the fact that there is no way to know which way is North on your radar, and the Clans and Roster screens being in different spots.
Another issue is that you can’t see your Fireteam members on the map. That’s no problem if you’re right beside each other, but if one portals to another area on the map, the other person won’t know where until they’re told. Then there’s the fact that PvP is 4v4, but somehow, Patrol isn’t. So if you wrap up Trials of Osiris and want to go do some Patrol activity with the same group, someone has to leave – frustrating when 6 players can be present in any given combat area.
Again, I am not going to exhaust all of the things I dislike about Destiny 2, and really, it wouldn’t even be worth it. This game just launched, so it’s clearly going to have some issues; and if we’re lucky, some of those issues will get fixed. The unfortunate thing is that Bungie doesn’t make an effort to acknowledge some of these issues, so we’re left to wonder if the company even cares.
Still, as said before, despite the issues, Destiny 2 is still a game that will hook you quick. As someone who will be playing the game for two platforms, I can truly attest to that.
What in the heck is a picture of a kitten doing at the end of a Destiny 2 look? Well, you see, this little stray showed up at doorstep last week, meowing her face off for attention. The next night, five hours before Destiny 2 launched, she won me over. Given the timing, Eris, as in Destiny 1’s Eris Morn, seemed apropros, and really, the two don’t look too different.
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