Destiny 2 Preview: Shifting Dynamics
Kalvin Martinez / May 22nd, 2017 No Comments
Everything in Destiny 2 is going to be bigger and more dynamic. At an event in Hawthorne, Calif., Bungie shared the first details of Destiny 2. The overarching theme was how developers plan to address issues from the first game while building upon the foundation.
Destiny 2 will have a renewed focus on a meaningful solo experience — the “Guided Games” feature will give solo players an opportunity to try out Raids and Nightfall Strikes and more robust activities to tackle in exploration — while deepening the community aspects of the game with the addition of “Clans.” New worlds, new exotics and new features make the game exciting for long-time fans, but the fresh start of a sequel also makes it a solid jumping on point for new players.
At the Destiny 2 Gameplay Reveal Livestream event, we got an opportunity to try out the opening story mission, a new strike, the brand new PVP mode, “Countdown,” and the game running on PC for the first time in series history.
What do these small slices of Destiny 2 tell us about what to expect when the game releases on Sept. 8?
Can I Borrow Some Light?
Do you have the courage to fight against impossible odds? If the worst case scenario occurs will you rise to become a hero or will you crumble under the pressure?
Honestly, it doesn’t matter. No matter what you do, the Tower will fall and you will lose both your home and the Light. The enemy is stronger and more determined than any threat Earth has faced before.
There is no bigger threat than an adversary with faith. Ghaul believes he and his Red Legion are the true inheritors of the Light. He feels the Traveler made a mistake choosing humanity (and robots and Exos) to be the Guardians. Now, he is coming to take back what he feels is rightfully his.
Ghaul and the Red Legion surprise and overwhelm the Guardians and the Tower’s defenses, making embarrassingly easy work of the last safe haven on Earth. The fight is fierce, but in the end, the Red Legion are too powerful. The Tower falls and the Traveler is captured. You will lose everything.
Destiny 2 is about how you overcome tremendous adversity and prove you are worthy. It is time to prove why you deserve the Light and why you are the Traveler’s Guardians.
“Homecoming,” Destiny 2’s first mission, is a wonderful opening salvo for what’s to come in the game’s story mode, or at least the promise of what’s to come.
Gameplay feels the same: shoot a bunch of mobs while grabbing loot and ammo as you proceed from checkpoint to check oint. While it feels very similar to what we know Destiny to be, there are subtle improvements, such as the new weapon loadout system that allows players to use two similar type guns and a power weapon. The inclusion of new ultimates, new weapons and new abilities are where the game sprinkles on cilantro and lime for freshness.
Why Homecoming is exciting is what it means for the cinematic approach to Destiny 2’s story missions. From the outset, the stakes are high. You’re the last line of defense for the Tower as the Red Legion ships and foot soldiers are laying waste to everything around you.
It is startling to see this bastion of hope and former hearth turn into a blasted-out ruin. At every turn, you encounter the familiar transformed into a desolate and flaming version of its former glory. The plaza is ablaze and empty except for the enemy foot soldiers and Zavala bravely beating back these ferocious foes.
If Destiny 2 is about a new beginning, there is no bolder statement than to start by destroying the foundation of the first game and its expansions (minus Rise of Iron). In the short opener, there are three times more dramatic and dynamic in-game moments than in the first game’s entirety. Whether it is Zavala protecting you with a barrier or Ikora Ray downing an enemy ship single-handedly, Destiny 2 is not leaving story moments to chance.
Homecoming also hedged its bets with a lot more cutscenes. While these often can feel like lazy storytelling, cutscenes are a welcome addition to the series. That’s because the main criticism with Destiny was its story felt flat. The addition of more cutscenes will help break up missions and give Destiny 2 more dramatic weight.
Mind the Drills
Much like everything else in Destiny 2, all the elements of the series are getting an overhaul. Strikes are no different. “The Inverted Spire” takes Guardians to a new environment, Nessus. Nessus is bright and covered in vibrant vegetation. It is contrasted against a cold, craggy industrial side. It makes for an eye-catching environment to explore.
“The Inverted Spire” ups the stakes in terms of environmental challenges. A big part of this comes in the form of platforming challenges. These are certainly not new to Destiny, but still could be as clunky and awkward as ever. Playing the strike on PC compounded the issue, with my unease with the WASD movement making my movements imprecise (Destiny’s platforming at its worst needs absolutely perfect movements and jumps to succeed).
The stand out environmental feature of the strike is a giant moving drill, which is not just set dressing. The drill can take out you or your teammates if you get too close. What makes the drill even more deadly is having to fight plenty of Red Legion soldiers around it, which turns a normal skirmish into something incredibly precarious.
Despite some awkwardness with the excessive platforming sections, “The Inverted Spire” is a great strike. If it is any indication of where strikes are headed in Destiny 2, there will be tougher enemies and bosses and a heavy emphasis on the environments acting as an extra challenge. Bungie has truly built further on what Destiny and its expansions established.
Set the Charge!
Destiny 2’s Crucible PVP is getting some major changes, largely to team size. No longer will it consist of two six Guardian Fire Teams facing off. Now, all Crucible matches are four-on-four. This shakes up how matches are played.
In practice, it feels fine, but for hardcore Destiny Crucible players, it might take some time to adjust.
At the event, the new Crucible mode, “Countdown,” was available to play. Countdown’s conceit is pretty simple: one team “sets the charge” and defends while another tries to defuse it. Successfully setting the charge or defusing it nets teams a point in the first to six match. Of course, wiping out the other team completely results in a point for whichever side successfully does — total domination is more important than any objective.
“Countdown” is a welcome change of pace from prior Crucible modes. It is more objective based and in many ways feels like a match in Overwatch sans a fifth man. There is a good opportunity in any given round to turn the tide and come back if your team is working well together. It gives the mode a lot of drama and dynamic flow. Much like Overwatch, it’ll be tougher to win if you’re playing with random players.
We’ll see how four-on-four matches and any other new modes help shape the new Crucible in Destiny 2, but “Countdown” is a good start.
PC Master Guardian
I played the majority of Destiny 2 on PC, which is an interesting change of pace for me. Moving from a Dualshock 4 to a mouse and keyboard is tough because I am so use to full analog movement, but the more precise aiming feels amazing. PC first-person shooter players will likely transition to the setup with ease.
Destiny 2 looks absolutely gorgeous on PC. With an unlocked frame rate, it moves much quicker than its console counterpart. This will make a huge difference in PVP and bifurcate the competitive base similar to Overwatch. The two will be a completely different class of player and experience.
The only drawback to the PC version — at least in the campaign — is the compression for the cinematics. Cutscenes looked fuzzy and lacked the eye-popping gorgeousness of the in-game graphics during my session. It feels odd considering it shouldn’t be an issue. It is an early build, so hopefully it gets straightened out before release.
Room for Hope or Hopeless?
What Bungie showed of Destiny 2 so far is very promising. Nothing radically shifts the paradigm, but it refines and evolves what people love about Destiny while addressing its shortcomings. How profound these changes will be in the final product remains to be seen.
Right now, Destiny 2 seems to be making moves in the right direction. Perhaps like the Guardians themselves, it took significant losses and a fresh start for the series to achieve its full potential.
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