Published on July 27th, 2017 | by Sean Warhurst
Destiny 2 Beta Impressions (PS4)
Summary: Whilst an enjoyable experience, I couldn’t help but feel that there hadn’t been as much of an evolution over the first game as I had expected, although the more refined Strike and campaign missions certainly bode well in terms of level design.
Fulfilling Its Destiny?
Try as I might, I could never get into Destiny. I eschewed the initial hype around its launch and subsequent DLC instalments, only finally giving in after a particularly persistent friend had pestered me enough to pick it up when I saw the base game for $7 earlier this year.
I purchased The Taken King and Rise of Iron add-ons and dove in only to discover that Destiny just wasn’t the game for me – Coming into things so late ensured that PvP multiplayer was essentially off the cards and I slogged through the uninspired original game, sometimes accompanied by the previously aforementioned friend but more and more frequently solo. There didn’t seem to be any way to effectively communicate with anyone who wasn’t already on my friend’s list and I could never figure out how to join multiple player raids, strikes or indeed anything beyond the cookie-cutter campaign levels.
The consensus is that both The Taken King and Rise of Iron content packs expand upon the initial promise of the game and rectify many of the shortcomings that hampered the game upon release but, in all honesty, I just wasn’t compelled to tackle these missions after finishing the base game despite the promises of improved experience; Destiny quickly burned me out and I accepted that I probably would never count myself among its legions of ardent fans.
Still, when the opportunity to take a look at the Destiny 2 beta arose, I decided to give the series another chance. Starting in on the ground floor would mean that, for the most part, it would be an even playing field and if I participated in the discovery and expansion of the community from day one, maybe I wouldn’t feel like a majority of the game was effectively locked off from me.
The Destiny 2 Beta offers players the opportunity to experience a mission ripped directly from the Campaign, a Co-Op strike, 3 different classes to experiment with and some PvP action for the purists, including all new mode “Countdown”.
One of the most noticeable changes right of the bat is the addition of subclasses for the Titan, Hunter and Warlock classes. Giving players enhanced special abilities they can unleash upon unsuspecting foes, utilising these devastating attacks in the heat of battle can quickly turn the tide in your favour. The Hunter uses the Bladedancer ability, which lets you cleave through enemies with an electrified staff, whilst the Warlock class can use Dawnblade, wielding a laming sword and raining down destruction on all and sundry.
Finally, and probably the most satisfying to use, there’s the Sentinel attack for the Titan; summoning a shield that can block projectiles and be used to rush enemies, the potential to chain together multiple attacks makes using Sentinel one of the most gleefully enjoyable experiences of the beta.
Upon booting up the beta players are introduced to a single player mission that serves as an introduction (Or refreshing, as will be the case for many) to the controls and mechanics as well as giving fans a glimpse at the calibre of level design, enemy variety and combat. Instantly I felt more at ease controlling my character, with smoother movement than the first title, but in all honesty the core of the gunplay didn’t seem all that removed from what had been previously established; there was a new enemy type that forced you to contend with long range combat, a welcome extra dimension, but mechanically it seems to be a case of “If it aint broke, why fix it?”
The increased focus on narrative is another welcome factor; apparently The Taken King and Rise of Iron presented a more cohesive story but I only ever experienced the incredibly disconnected storyline of the base game and briefly read a few Grimoire entries.
Here, we are given a clear directive during the opening cutscene and the reveal of the new Big Bad, Dominus Ghaul, hints at a promise of much more attention being applied to the lore and story WITHIN the actual game itself rather than requiring hours of extra reading in order to get the entire picture.
PvP is now streamlined down to 4v4, which allows for more intimate battles but doesn’t have me entirely convinced that it’s a change for the better, with some matches feeling like I was spending more time looking for opponents than actually engaging in combat. The new mode, Countdown, sees one team attempting to plant a bomb whilst the other time does their best to prevent them or, failing that, reaching and defusing the explosive before it’s too late.
I quite liked this mode as it allowed for a more considered playstyle, which suited a noob like me just fine, but could still devolve suddenly into a shitestorm as your team frantically tries to secure victory.
Aside from countdown there’s also Control, which should be familiar to fans of the first game, with the smaller teams actually seeming to play to an advantage by forcing players to stick together in order to gain as many capture points as possible.
Finally, there’s the strike on the Cabal stronghold, with a huge variety of environments for teams to plough through and an actual final boss whose pyromaniac tendencies will be sure to keep players on their toes. The difficulty is challenging enough to require a decently coordinated team but balanced enough to not feel overly unfair, and the environmental obstacles you have to deal with as well as your typical enemies make for an exhilarating and replayable mission that chewed up a fair chunk of my time with the beta.
I’m still on the fence about Destiny 2. Undeniably a technical masterclass, it still remains to be seen for the most just how Bungie has taken on board the criticisms from the first game.
Whilst an enjoyable experience, I couldn’t help but feel that there hadn’t been as much of an evolution over the first game as I had expected, although the more refined Strike and campaign missions certainly bode well in terms of level design.
I’m hopeful that this may be the game that finally gets me into the franchise but dubious, based on what I’ve seen so far, if it will hold the same longevity for me personally that the first one has for others.