Bungie's multi-platform sci-fi shooter is getting a sequel. Brian and Allen get a peek into the progress of the game through its limited beta. Is it more of the same? Has Bungie addressed criticisms and flaws of the first game's narrative? Can you shoot other players in low gravity, alien ruins on Venus? Read on for our staff impressions of Bungie's Destiny 2 .
Chance to Surpass the Original
It should be of very little surprise to anyone that Destiny 2 feels like more Destiny. While the beta only provided a brief taste of what Bungie is planning for the numbered sequel, there’s enough of the familiar left over that veteran players should feel right at home, but
there are also some pretty significant changes in terms of story that I think will go along way in not only bringing in new players but also giving those veterans a reason to stick around.
After choosing a class, the beta throws you headfirst into the introductory mission, a full on defense of the Tower from the Red Legion, a buffed version of the Cabal that looking to remove not only the guardians, but the source of their power, The Traveler, from the equation completely. There’s more story packed into this mission the probably the entirety of Destiny pre-Taken King, complete with jump ins from NPCs.
What I found the most impressive though, was a mid mission mode that phased into a small multiplayer event, drawing two other guardians in to defend Zavala and the Tower courtyard. It was seamless, with no loads between running out into the courtyard where the battle was already in progress, and running out again once that portion of the mission had completed. It also felt dynamic, using the environment and the actual event itself to compliment the story, rather than relying on info dumps from Ghost.
Outside of the intro mission, the beta includes some multiplayer, which remains mostly the same except for some changes to team size, and a strike. I think they were smart to not include as much as they did for the Destiny beta, as that helped contribute to the sour feeling I had going into its release.
Gameplay wise, Destiny 2 looks to keep the excellent shooting from the first game intact, adding in a few extra details to help smooth character development along. The skill screen has been revamped to better display your character’s abilities. An extra skill has been added aside from grenades and melee attacks, helping to better define character roles and hopefully add a bit more choice. Some will see wide use, like the portable cover available to the Titan class, while others, namely the quick dodge ability of the Hunters, feels lame, especially with the cooldown it currently has applied. Of course, this is still beta, and everything is subject to change.
Overall, this beta has me looking forward to the release of Destiny 2. It looks like Bungie has taken a lot of the criticism it received for Destiny’s release state to heart. Hopefully, the sequel can surpass the original.
A Hard Pass
I really wanted to like Destiny. With Bungie free from Microsoft’s contract and capable of doing whatever they want, what was the Halo studio going to do next? As it turns out, an online Borderlands clone with absolutely no personality. I made two attempts to get into Destiny--or, more accurately “get” Destiny--and not even the streamlined nature of The Taken King was enough to get me interested in what felt like a console MMO with, admittedly, some pretty good shooting. I had hopes for Destiny 2, though! By their nature, sequels are an opportunity to tweak, fix, and improve on the concepts, mechanics, and gameplay of the original. And with Bungie mentioning their plans to improve on Destiny (especially its dreadful storytelling and writing), I hoped that Destiny 2 would find the time to explain what they didn’t have time to explain. Sadly, it wasn’t so much the end result I wanted.
Destiny 2's problem, for me, is that it's just more Destiny. I found the PvE experience, the actual practice of fighting AI targets, just as uninteresting as it was in the original game. The practice of shooting enemies with future guns is still pretty great but there’s nothing particularly fun surrounding that mechanic. The beta is limited to pre-made characters in each class: Hunter, Titan, and Warlock. I chose the Titan because I liked its shielding abilities and it seemed like a fun tank role to play. The beta offers a glimpse into Bungie’s revised storytelling through a mission called Homecoming, in which the player character and his (insufferable) Ghost return to the last free city as it is attacked by a faction within the Cabal, a sort of
Romanesque Red Legion attacks the last human city on Earth to ensnare or corrupt the Traveler, or something (what I found really weird in this mission was the overlong cinematics--like unnecessarily long). Already, this one mission is better than the larger whole of Destiny because it manages to put a proper face to its antagonist. Furthermore, you get to fight alongside main NPCs as explosions cause violent environmental destruction to the previous game’s main social hub. Whether or not the full game sticks to this is unknown but it’s certainly a better start.
Even with this narrative improvements, I still didn’t care for the practice of playing Destiny 2. Everything I disliked in Destiny is still here: movement doesn’t feel quick enough, enemies are bullet sponges, boss battles are too long, and a general lack of excitement in every regard. The included Strike mission does something interesting with its boss battle by making it a multi-stage fight involving an arena designed to keep players on their toes. How the stage changes are pretty neat but that excitement wears thin as you unload clip, after clip, after clip, after clip into a boss whose health meter slooooooowly trickles down. It made me feel like a gnat trying to kill an elephant, which brings me to my next point: I never really felt "awesome" doing the things I'm asked to do. The special abilities do a good job of that (I really liked the Titan’s Captain America inspired shield attack) but the time between is mired by waiting out cooldowns and hiding behind cover.
As to be expected, the Crucible--Destiny 2’s PvP joint--is pretty good. Then again, this is Bungie we’re talking about. They pioneered multiplayer on the console so it should not come to any surprise that this is where the action is going to be. I didn’t spot too many glaring differences between the beta and the original game though I feel like they didn’t need to tweak all that much. As bad as I was against other season players, it still managed to be considerably more exciting than the PvE game.
I came away from the beta unimpressed with the direction of Destiny 2. I had hoped that despite its early announcement that it would be a more fun to play but the result so far is mostly “more of the same.” At the very least, it’s good to see that Bungie kept the PvE criticisms in mind by creating a much more dynamic story mission and one would hope that it’ll carry through the rest of the finished product. In the end though, I feel comfortable giving this game a hard “pass.”
PS. The player’s Ghost needs a mute button. His quips and one liners during the Strike were really lame. Is it too late to get Peter Dinklage back?
Teen Services Librarian by day, Darkstation review editor by night. I've been playing video games since the days of the Commodore 64 and I have no interest in stopping now that I've made it this far.