Destiny 2 is only a few months away and I've already gotten my hands on the game, taking part in a single player mission, a strike and a new competitive mode at a special event hosted by Bungie out of the Jet Center Los Angeles. It was a packed day, so I came away with plenty of fresh details about the new game.
If I had to offer up a "grand takeaway" from my experience with Destiny 2 thus far, it would be that it's the most Destiny that Destiny has ever been. That may sound silly in black and white but, for people who have been playing the game for the past three years, I think you know what I mean.
The team at Bungie has done a lot of growing and learning over the course of the original Destiny, and our proof of that is the fact that each major expansion improved the game in rather notable ways. From more impressive story-telling to quality of life adjustments and a better understanding of what will keep players coming back for more, the original Destiny has only gotten better and better.
So what I mean by my earlier statement is that Destiny 2 has benefited in a big way from all of those lessons. There haven't been any grand, sweeping changes revealed so much as a major iteration on many things that already worked well. They just work even better now. So if what you're looking for is even more Destiny, but with a whole bag of new tricks and even more content to plow through, it's looking like you'll be in for a treat when the game arrives on Sept. 8 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.
As for what I took away from my time with the game, I've honed in on the five biggest things that stuck in my mind following the Destiny 2 event. Give them a gander and be sure to give us your thoughts or ask your questions in the comments below.
Losing all your gear is no big deal
I know this one is a sore point for many fans of the original Destiny but, seriously, losing all of your stuff in Destiny 2 is a good thing. You've had upwards of three years to enjoy some of that gear and, if you remember how excited you were when you first unlocked it, I think you'll understand why the potential for all new equipment, shaders, weapons and the like is more enticing than the ability to bring over your old gear, all of which would be outpaced by your most basic of pick-ups five minutes into the new campaign.
But now I have some experience to back up that claim. Yes, I will miss my old class abilities and go-to favorite firearms, but all of those thoughts were a mile from my mind while playing Destiny 2. Across my various play sessions, I got to try out each of the game's classes, each of which also had a different assortment of firearms available.
What's interesting about the Destiny 2 loadout is that you will now be given a Kinetic, Energy and Power weapon, which should make for some interesting combinations. In other words, you can have both a Kinetic and Energy weapon that would have traditionally gone in the "Primary" slot in the original Destiny. If you've always wanted to wield a hand cannon and a machine gun at the same time, now you can. This pushes sniper rifles and shotguns into the "Power" category, though, so it'll be interesting to see how that forces players to change up their game plans.
What's important here, though, is that there were simply too many new toys from me to choose from while running through Destiny 2. Rather than think about how much I missed Thorn, I was instead interested in seeing how the most basic of pistols handled. Again, new is much more interesting than old.
I also got to take a few of the new weapon types for a test drive. The SMG was fast and light, but the damage was low, so it's definitely more geared toward close fights or finishing the job. The rocket launcher works exactly like you would want it to, lobbing explosives at the enemy and going boom when they make contact. I also got to play around with the Sunshot, a new exotic hand canon that packs a nasty punch.
My point is, what does it matter if all of your stuff has been destroyed when Destiny 2 is going to provide you with an ocean of new stuff?
Variety is king
One of the biggest lessons Bungie learned from the original Destiny is that players wanted more variety. We saw this take the form of more engaging story missions, more creative objectives, and boss battles that were dynamic and offered more than a towering bullet sponge of a baddie.
This trend looks to be continuing in Destiny 2. Obviously, you'll have whole new class types to work through (more on those later) and more gear to pick up, but everything I played at the reveal event felt like the best type of content the original Destiny had to offer. The campaign mission, "Homecoming," was full of explosive moments, awesome cinematics and engaging shootouts. The new PVP mode, "Countdown", offered a fresh style of gameplay and a really interesting map. And then there was the spotlight thief, the Stirke.
I got to play through the "Inverted Spire" Strike a couple of times and it could basically go toe to toe with the best Strikes the original Destiny had to offer. The reason for that was its variety. There are only so many things you can do with a shooter, and the Inverted Spire crammed a lot of those things into a single mission. From shooting sections that encouraged tactics to open fields perfect for sniping and even a monster closet, we were doing a lot more than simply moving from room to room while shooting a bunch of baddies. And speaking of those baddies, there's tons more variety there, too. While some returners from the original Destiny lined up to be mowed down, several fresh breeds of Cabal came storming in. Some had flamethrowers, others had massive blades and, yep, those demon dog things were in large supply.
There was plenty of platforming in this Strike, too, requiring my team to traverse some tricky jumping sections before heading into a massive hole that was being actively drilled. We didn't see many major environmental hazards like these massive drill pits in the original Destiny, forcing the team to keep an eye on their movements while simultaneously taking out enemies.
Finally, the boss fight saw us taking on a massive Vex who kept making the floor disappear beneath us. Each of the three floors boasted a different layout, different abilities from the Vex boss, and different environmental hazards or enemy types. So while the main target still took a lot of damage, we weren't being asked to fight through the same conditions for 20 minutes.
My fingers are crossed that this kind of variety permeates through the entire game.
Those class abilities are pretty rad
While I'm not too bummed about losing my gear between Destiny and Destiny 2, I'm a little more attached to my class loadout. I've found settings that fit my play style nicely at this point, so I wasn't sure how I'd take to the new class options in the new game.
Thankfully, the options available had me wanting to explore all three classes more, so maybe I'll find a new way to enjoy Destiny 2 rather than rely on old tricks.
The Warlock had easily the flashiest ability on display, sprouting flaming wings and whipping out a super destructive Dawnblade to hurl time and again at their enemies. I've always kind of thought that the Warlock deserved the most damaging Super abilities since they're basically using space magic, and it looks like the Dawnblade is delivering exactly that.
Similarly, the Titan's new class, Sentinel, puts them into the fitting role of crowd control. They whip out a rad shield than can be used as a super powerful protective barrier, or they can hurl the thing around like Captain America to take out a bunch of smaller enemies at once.
The Hunter can become an Arcstrier, equipped with a lightning lance they can wield to great effect. Sadly, that ability was not up for grabs during my hands-on time. Instead, I got to use the upgraded Gunslinger, who fires six explosive Super rounds as quickly as I could pull the trigger. Also of note was the fact that throwing knives now explode, showing that even familiar abilities will be getting tweaked in Destiny 2.
Each type of Guardian will now get a class ability, too, which apparently remains the same no matter which class archetype you're using. The warlock creates a well of energy that boosts stats and heals allies, further emphasizing their support role. The titan can create a low wall, perfect for ducking behind in a tricky shootout. The hunter, who relies on speed, can perform a spiffy dodge that also reloads whatever weapon they have equipped.
PvP is more focused
During my time at the Destiny 2 event, I had the opportunity to speak with PvP Lead Lars Bakken. One of the things we discussed was how the team wanted the PvP in Destiny 2 to be more focused.
In the original game, matches could go as high as 6v6. After three years of content got added in, that made for some pretty hectic PvP matches. That led to matches frequently feeling more like one insane explosion of activity after the next, with less emphasis on working as a team or trying to strategize against so many variables.
To that end, Destiny 2 will be capped at 4v4. Along with creating a more manageable set of variables for players to juggle, that has an added benefit in development. The team knows that there will never be more than eight players on a map, so they've been able to build everything with that number in mind. From the layout to the overall size of the battlegrounds, they've been able to focus on keeping combat tight within a non-varied set of perameters.
The PvP mode available during the Destiny 2 event was called "Countdown," a zone defense outing that has one team trying to arm and guard a bomb while the other team tries to disarm it. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure my team got pitted against a group of streamers who all play together regularly, so to say we got steamrolled would be putting it lightly.
Bakken has confirmed that additional modes will be added to the Destiny universe in the upcoming game but details on those, as well as more info on maps, will be coming at a later date.
For starters, the game looked and ran great on PC, outpacing even the PlayStation 4 Pro. As for the button layout, everything was in hand's reach and seemed to be put in the most natural locations, making for a comfortable gaming experience once I got the hang of things.
If there's one thing I remember about my days of PC gaming, it is that the platform was always faster and more precise than console gaming. That seemed to ring true for Destiny 2. Things were almost too spot-on at first, forcing me to finagle the controls until I could get it to fall more in line with my console mindset. I'm still sticking with consoles, but I'm happy to report that Bungie seems to have done a bang-up job with Destiny 2 on PC, which should open up the universe to a whole new community of players.