Hands-on with Destiny 2
Destiny 2, Bungie’s highly anticipated sequel to its award-winning first-person action game is set to launch on September 6, 2017. To get us prepped for the next big entry, the company recently held a closed beta showcasing the story and multiplayer. I had a chance to participate and got about a week’s worth of gameplay time in. Here are my thoughts on the beta and what Bungie has in-store for us come this September!
Destiny 2’s Story
While the original Destiny proved to be a runaway success, one of the least popular elements was its weak story. Sure, the DLC improved on the storytelling (especially The Taken King) but it was never considered all that great overall. From my time with the Destiny 2 beta, Bungie has made huge improvements in this area.
Upon launching the beta, you’re immediately given the choice between three different character classes: Titan, Warlock, and Hunter. From there, you’ll dive right into the game’s opening mission and meet familiar faces like Cayde-6, Ikora, Zavala, and Shaxx. The interactions between these characters felt very natural and it’s nice to see such emphasis on dialogue early on. I also enjoyed the quality of the cutscenes, which have a much greater cinematic feel than the previous game.
The Red Legion invasion
It’s not long before trouble starts, this time in the form of Dominus Ghaul. He’s the leader of the brutal Cabal faction known as the Red Legion, and is quite an imposing figure. Ghaul and his followers launch a jaw-dropping, catastrophic assault on the Last City and the Guardians who protect it. Seeing the Tower get decimated in the opening minutes is spectacular, and a true showcase of Ghaul’s immense power.
From there you’ll need to brave through showering rain fires and crumbling buildings as you battle the Cabal. They’re tough brutes and many are bullet sponges, but thankfully you’ve got a good range of weapons at your side. These include Kinectic guns (rifles, mostly), Energy guns (mix of rifles, sidearms, and sub-machines), and devastating Power weapons.
As you battle your way through Earth’s last surviving outpost there are plenty of nifty scripted events along the path. I enjoyed the dotted interactions with your Ghost and various Vanguards, which seem to develop characters in meaningful ways. Overall, it’s a pretty bleak trip though, softened somewhat by moments of vibrant colours that punctuate the opening sequence.
Seamless story multiplayer
Perhaps the most impressive moment of the 30-minute story introduction was during a three wave enemy onslaught. I was tasked with defending a main entrance to the Tower when suddenly other Guardians started appearing in my game. There was no matchmaking screens whatsoever, but clearly it was other players given the GamerTags above their heads.
Just like that I had formed a team during a crucial battle with the Cabal. Over three waves we took out our enemies, and it was awesome to see such teamwork from complete strangers. I can only assume these players were at the exact point in the story, and the game seamlessly connected us. Following our victory, my partners promptly disappeared as elegantly as they came. If the final story features more of these drop-in/drop-in campaign moments, I think we’re in for a real treat.
Co-operative Strike mission
The Destiny 2 beta also includes a new Strike mission, and it’s pretty awesome. This time around Strikes appear to be large, multi-stage affairs that help flesh out the story more. This particular mission, called Inverted Spire, has you visit the planet Nessus to investigate a Cabal drilling site harnessing a dark force.
Being a co-operative online mission, the game will automatically pair you up with other players. As well, it seems players can join you mid-mission, as I had that happen a few times during my playthrough. During my time with the beta, all multiplayer modes had fast, seamless matchmaking, which bodes well for the final release.
Once in the Strike mission I was pleasantly surprised to find immensely varied gameplay. Sometimes you need to platform hop using your thrusters, and other times you navigate large open environments. There are also plenty of close-quarters shootouts too that can get very intense. For a single mission it had exceptionally varied terrain, too, from dusty deserts, to dark caves, to fortified enemy outposts.
The culmination of the Strike involved an epic fight with Protheon, a cybernetic Vex Minotaur. It’s a 3-stage boss fight featuring different room transitions and new threats to contend with. There are plenty of lower level minions thrown into the mix to ratchet the intensity up even more. All in all, the mission felt like a slice of gameplay normally reserved for campaigns, which again bodes well for the final release.
The Crucible competitive multiplayer
The final area in the Destiny 2 beta was the Crucible where you play competitive multiplayer games online. One of the big changes this time around is now all modes are 4-vs-4, meaning team play matters big time. I was getting real CS:GO vibes (albeit with a Sci-Fi twist) given the objective-style modes and high level of skill required.
Countdown is the exciting new Crucible mode, and it revolves around planting bombs inside a city. You take turns playing offense and defense, and all players only get one life. It is possible to revive a teammate though, if you can reach them in time. With limited lives (and time) it’s imperative to work together to protect of plant the bombs. Overall it was really fun, but a bit repetitious given there was only one map available in the beta. Hopefully the final game has a good selection of maps to choose from.
The other competitive mode in Destiny 2 was Control, which returns from the previous game. Here you need to capture zones to score point, with the first team to 500 wins. Right away I noticed a major improvement with this mode―teams now start with points A and C already captured. Before you had wait a few seconds at the beginning of matches to capture them, which was a bit annoying. Other changes I noticed included more frequent power ammo drops, and zones no longer need to be neutralized. That means you can start capturing right away, creating faster and more fluid matches. Long story short, if you’re a fan of Destiny’s Control, you’ll likely be very happen with what Bungie has done.
After spending a week with Destiny 2 I’m more excited than ever to get my hands on the final game. The improved story, Strike mission, and Crucible multiplayer signal great changes ahead for this franchise. Thankfully we won’t have to wait long, Destiny 2 drops on September 6, 2017!