Here We Go Again- Destiny 2 Beta First Impressions

I’ve been very eager to take another crack at this series, especially after the rough start it got off too. If you pre-ordered the game, you received early access to the beta starting July 18th, 10 AM PT/1 PM ET. If not, the open beta starts on July 21st. With that being said, let’s get right into my impressions on Destiny 2‘s beta.

Campaign

One of Destiny 1′s lowest points was it’s campaign. You’ve all heard by now the game barely had any, and whatever story was available had to be accessed through online sources.

Bungie has been promising a lot of story in the follow up; so much that cinematic lead Matthew Ward said, “I hope people complain about how much story we have,”. Unfortunately the beta gives access to only one story campaign, which is the one demonstrated for their worldwide gameplay reveal, Homecoming.

This mission is the first activity you participate in after choosing your class. One thing I immediately noticed was the cinematic feel Bungie is trying to capture. The cutscenes look really well done; YouTube videos don’t do it justice. Once I gained control of my Guardian, I immediately noticed how stunning the game looked; rain hits your screen, explosions come from left and right, your elemental bullets leave a noticeable trail when you shoot your weapons. It looks really good.

This mission is executed a lot better than anything Bungie did in the previous entry. Even if Destiny 2 doesn’t have as much story as promised, at least the campaign might be more memorable than Dinklebot’s “We’ve woken the Hive“.

Gunplay and Gameplay

One of the things that stuck out in the reveal is the way Bungie revamped the weapon slots. Now, you can have an assault rifle as your secondary, a new submachine gun class for a primary, and be a complete jerk with a shotgun for your heavy weapon. It sounds confusing, but it offers what seems like a level of flexibility when it comes to weapon load outs. It’s also cool that the weapons that weren’t in the secondary slot in Destiny 1 (assault rifles for example), have elemental attributes. It’s the little things in life that make me happy.

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Now for the new subclasses. In the beta, each class has two subclasses; the Titan has Striker and Sentinel, the Warlock has Dawnblade and Voidwalker, and the Hunter has Arcstriker and Gunslinger. I’m a Titan main and so far the Sentinel class has been okay. You can still pop a Ward of Dawn which is a cool feature. You throw your shield with the left trigger (L1) and shield bash with the right (R1). However, your shield throw has a cool down which means you can really only throw it once before your super fizzles out. One thing I did notice is that it takes a long time for your super and grenades to recharge, even when you’re killing enemies it still takes quick a long time. This might be because we don’t have armor that enables a faster recharge, but it still seemed like it took too long. The grenades for the new Sentinel subclass are the same as the basic Defender Titan with the addition of the voidwall grenade from the Nightstalker class.

Each character comes with a unique O/B ability with two different abilities. For the Titan, they can either pop a big shield that blocks all incoming damage or a smaller shield they can take cover behind. The cool thing about the smaller shield is that when you’re behind it, holding the aim button will let you lean over and shoot. When you release, you hide behind cover and your gun instantly reloads. It’s a nice little addition that gives each character more significant abilities that aid in combat, except for the Hunter’s roll technique (why did they do that to the Hunters?)

Inverted Spire

The only strike available to us in the beta is The Inverted Spire. Oddly enough, there was no mission brief as you loaded the level, so that silence was a tad awkward.

When you finally start the mission, the locale is the most noticeable thing. The world gave me a vibe reminiscent of No Man’s Sky, but hopefully this game won’t be as disappointing as that one (shots fired!). The planet has a beautiful greenish aura to it, while the red grass gives it a weird but subtle contrast (I don’t even know what that sentence means). Again, it looks really good, and those of you getting an Xbox One X, or who have a PS4 Pro, or have a damn good computer, you’re getting your money’s worth visually with this title.

The strike layout has a format similar to the Vault of Glass, as you venture deep into the Vex’s chambers to defeat an Atheon clone. The boss fight was good, and didn’t feel like I was shooting at a giant bullet sponge. One of the highlights is when you venture into the dirt grinder pit and have to navigate around said grinders while fighting off Cabal troops and hounds. The strike felt like a decent length too, hopefully Bungie has more than four strikes when the game launches in September.

Conclusion

I don’t dabble too much in the Crucible, but to be honest. A 4v4 setting doesn’t intrigue me. It’s hard enough to win a Control match with a 6 man squad of randoms, so why would I try to play a squad of 4? (No offense to anybody I’ve ever played with).

So far, it’s been a solid experience. I hope there’s more content come launch, and maybe they’ll do some tuning to the recharge rates.

Let me know what your thoughts on the beta! Is it gonna be the year of Destiny or did Bungie burn you too hard with the previous entry?

Updated Thoughts

I actually came back and decided to add more thoughts to this piece after originally writing this piece on the launch day of the beta.

As much as I enjoyed my playthrough of the beta, once you complete the strike, that’s all there is to it. It’s noticeably smaller since there’s no open world to explore like in Destiny 1‘s beta.

Let’s backtrack to the gameplay for a second. There are a number of noticeable changes to the game that I’ve acknowledged, but after reading a few articles on Reddit, I’ve noticed a lot more. I guess this is intentionally done to balance the Crucible. I don’t like this idea because it’s bleeding over to the PvE experience.

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I feel like there’s an “easy” solution to this, and I use the term “easy” lightly because I’m not a developer so I have no idea how easy it is to implement my suggested solution. What should be done is split PvP into two sub playlists; Competitive PvP and Quick Match PvP (for a lack of a better term). In Competitive, Bungie could keep all the current changes they’ve made such as the slower movements/recharge rates. In the Quick Match playlist, Crucible players get the experience we were used to with the original Destiny; normal recharge rates, ammo drops, original weapon slots, etc. I know that if I have to play the Crucible, I somewhat prefer it in it’s hectic form similar to Destiny 1. Maybe this isn’t the perfect solution, but the changes Bungie have made to the formula are killing PvE, especially when I know a number of gamers don’t turn to this game for a PvP experience.

I guess you either love or hate the beta. As of today, I’m on the fence. PC Gamer put out a good article that kind of explains my newly formed opinion better and in more detail. My first playthrough gave me hope for the sequel, but when you run through the beta again with another character, you start to realize it’s flaws. I realize that it’s too late to change fundamental things such as the weapon slots, but Bungie has to find some sort of middle ground or this could get ugly.


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