The next chapter of Bungie’s sweeping science-fiction epic launches September 6 on PS4. To keep all the clamoring Guardians at bay, Bungie released a beta earlier this week starting with early access on July 18.
With the Last City in peril and plenty of Crucible matches to join, our team diligently played video games at the office to provide our thoughts on the Destiny 2 Beta, and how Dominus Ghaul seems like a truly unpleasant fellow.
The opening act of Destiny 2 is spectacular and catastrophic. The highly disciplined Cabal force known as the Red Legion batter the Last City, sending Guardians and civilians alike into chaos. Red Legion leader Dominus Ghaul plans to seize the light of the Traveler as his own — and seems largely successful, if the explosion-riddled first scenes are any indication.
This fleeting glimpse into the Destiny 2 campaign highlights Bungie’s desire to push storytelling into new heights, with an emphasis on the many heroes that fight at your side. The Vanguard anchor the action and represent the conflicting desires of the Guardian forces: Zavala prioritizes civilian evacuation above all else, Ikora Rey is desperate to save the Traveler, and Cayde-6… wants revenge, mostly.
Bungie’s prowess with environmental design comes to the fore here, with lashing gouts of rain, skylines peppered with fire, and familiar scenes ravaged by Ghaul’s forces. Stepping out into the main Tower courtyard to see everything in ruin truly is a gut-wrenching affair, given how many of us spent our time there planning the next mission and dancing our hearts out.
Needless to say, the final moment of the opening act will leave any Guardian hungry to push ahead come September. Myself included.
I’m not nearly the Destiny expert that Justin or Ryan are, but I do know a good game when I play it. And based on my beta experiences, Destiny 2 is demonstrating some serious refinements that will appeal to veterans and newcomers alike.
Above all, Bungie seems determined to shake up convention — but wisely, doesn’t try to fix what isn’t broken. The Inverted Spire Strike provides a tantalizing glimpse of what is (hopefully) to come in the full game this September.
Bungie’s decision to tilt Strikes a step or two closer to the Raid format yields a more dynamic, interesting set of activities. In the Inverted Spire Strike, an extended platforming sequence led to a perilous action set piece amidst the grinding drills of an oversized mining machine. It’s a big step up from D1’s reliance on wave-based shootouts.
Then came the big finale against the hulking Protheon in a boss battle that spanned three phases and multiple room configurations. I was impressed; the Inverted Spire brought equal doses spectacle and strategy, and consistently kept me on my toes.
On a side note, I’m greatly appreciating the punchier feel of Destiny 2’s reworked arsenal. The hand cannons and auto rifles seem to pack a bigger punch overall, and I’m pleased to see sniper rifles and fusion rifles graduating to the Power weapon class.
All in all, an auspicious start. Bring on the full game!
Destiny 2’s Crucible has undergone some pretty sweeping changes — the switch to smaller, more intimate 4v4 matches chief among them. Based on the three to four hours I’ve put into the Beta’s Control and Countdown modes, this change makes PvP in Destiny 2 feel more team-oriented… and ultimately more exciting. Countdown specifically feels much more akin to D1’s Trials of Osiris — the ultimate end-game PvP mode that rewarded intense focus and synchronized team play — but without going quite that far.
Control is similar to its original implementation, but with much smaller, tighter maps and a few quality-of-life upgrades. For instance, when you first start a match the A and C points are already captured on behalf of their respective teams. This is a welcome change from D1, where every match began with a team standing on a point for 10 seconds before getting to the good stuff (the shootin’). In the Destiny 2 Beta, these matches have tended to kick off with players immediately either bee-lining to the B point or wrapping around to try and steal the opposing team’s home point, getting to the action right from the get-go.
Other welcome changes I noticed in my time with the Destiny 2 Beta’s Crucible thus far:
- Power ammo spawns fairly frequently, but it’s now a drop point on a wall rather than a crate on the ground. It only goes to the player who pulls it, rather than everyone standing nearby — this adds a new strategic element to matches as they play out.
- Control points no longer need to be neutralized before capturing them. If you stand on an enemy-controlled point it will now simply cede control to your team, rather than going neutral then making you capture it.
- Points don’t cap faster if multiple Guardians stand on them. This means teams can be much smarter about the way they send players to capture points, rather than everybody crowding on one and standing around.
- If you get shot while reviving a fellow Guardian, it resets the revive timer. Again, this will make players think twice about whether it’s really safe to dash out and get that res, adding another layer of strategy to matches. I’m beginning to sense a theme…
- There’s no more Alpha / Bravo team. When you enter a match, the team intro screen now simply reads “Your Team” — a simple change, but I like it.
- Sniper rifles are de-emphasized, since they’re now categorized as “Power” weapons. This means they can only be used by a player who manages to grab one of those limited Power ammo drops. I think it will lead to snipers being seen as but one option for advanced players, rather than a requirement for high-level play.
- Callouts are built in now, right under your radar. In Destiny high-level competitive play, players agreed on names for specific places in each map, so they could quickly feed info to their teammates about where they see enemies and what their status is. These location names are now official, and made immediately available to everyone at all times.
I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch here, but I’ll find more as I continue to dig into the Beta’s two available PvP modes more. Notice any more upgrades or changes? Let us know in the comments!