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August 2018

Destiny 2

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Bungie
Release Date: Sept. 6, 2017

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.


PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Destiny 2'

by Brian Dumlao on May 20, 2017 @ 1:30 a.m. PDT

Destiny 2 is a first-person action game that takes the player on an epic journey to defend humanity from annihilation.

Pre-order Destiny 2

No matter your feelings on the game, Destiny made a dent in the gaming landscape. The online-only, MMO-style FPS hit the ground running with a huge player base on both current- and previous-generation consoles. It's been more than eight months since the last expansion for the three-year-old game, and while the numbers are nowhere near the likes of the initial launch, there's still a very healthy number of players still cracking away. Fans, both current and lapsed, are curious about the state of Destiny 2, now that it's built solely for current-generation consoles and the PC. At the worldwide premiere, we got a better idea of how things are going.

The event revealed a lot of info on what players can expect from every aspect of Destiny 2. The development team is going for a more cinematic campaign this time around. Most of the major figures you saw dwelling in the city in the first game are more active participants, since part of your campaign involves seeking them out and getting them back into fighting condition. It feels like a proper campaign that you'd see in other titles. While the story isn't groundbreaking, it addresses a major criticism about the original game: It felt like you were going from battle site to battle site without much purpose.

There are new locales to visit, but the number of planets is the same as before, even though the environments and names differ. Having said that, the places are much bigger and give you a number of things to do outside of story missions. Patrols remain a big part of roaming around the world, but you also get optional side-quests and treasure hunts, so solo players have more to do once the campaign is finished or can use it as a different way to level up for future missions.

The three main classes return with loads of new gear and weapons to collect; it's something of a peace offering for players, since they can't import more than their character name and look from the first game. The big addition to the classes is that their light powers manifest in the melee weapons. Depending on your class, you'll either get a flaming sword, a shield that you can throw like Captain America, or a bo staff. They aren't replacements for your expected ground pound or healing, but they're additions to the arsenal.

We got a chance to play the opening campaign level, and the melee weaponry is certainly better than the first title. We played as the Warlock and used the flaming sword, which is very effective. Strikes aren't staggered even though flaming projectiles are being thrown. The melee doesn't last long, though, so it's a better support weapon than something to clear a room. It meshes well with the rest of the gunplay, which feels exactly the same as its predecessor.

Although the campaign is a strong part of Destiny, most people remember it for the multiplayer. We played the Strike titled "Inverted Spire," and the good news is that it feels just like Strikes from the first game. A team of three, the ability to revive one another, and respawn restricted zones are all here. The Strike ended up being loads of fun due to a number of things. There are a number of platforming sections with boosters that throw you across the map. There's more dialogue to add humor to the game, and enemies are formidable and numerous, as you'll see more enemies engaged in battle with one another. The boss fight was also exciting and difficult, as the giant minotaur spawned in more enemies and destroyed the floor multiple times, creating a tiered arena fight.

On the Crucible side, the major change is the reduction in team size from 6v6 to 4v4. This move can go either way. On the one hand, reducing the number of players in a game just isn't done, and it feels like a change that is the opposite of what others are doing just because it can. Then again, it means that matches can go by faster, as demonstrated in Countdown, where teams alternate between placing bombs in one of two spots and disarming them. Here, matches are won if one team is completely eliminated or one bomb either goes off or is defused. Winning six of these rounds seems like it'll take a while, but in practice, the rounds went by so quickly that we barely filled our allotted time period to check out the mode.

The event touched on some other things that we didn't get a chance to check out yet. Paramount among them was Clans being built into the game instead of something that had to be formed outside of it. Many of the perks related to it are present, from rewards for participation to creating slogans and banners, but the one thing they wanted to tout was guided experiences. The idea is that clans can recruit solo players for a limited time in order to fulfill the requirements for a raid. Those being contacted can check out what the clan has posted and decide if they want in or not, giving them a better chance to see content they normally wouldn't. Whether the public decides to use this feature remains to be seen, but it's a noteworthy effort to provide the community with a way to see all of the content.

The demo stations were all PS4 Pro systems running at 1080p, since most of them were set up for direct video capture. Time has certainly been kind on the graphics, as things look sharper with better textures. The abundance of particle effects is the more immediate highlight, as we have a return to the spark overload seen when the consoles first came out. Rain is also a graphical highlight, and loads of blur is also present. We have a locked 30fps, so those transitioning from the first to second title won't have a problem. It remains to be seen if the Pro will put out 4K by the beta or final release.

The event had loads of PS4 Pro consoles, but a number of PCs were also running the game. They didn't say who was in charge of the PC port, but based on what we saw, it follows the trend of outclassing the consoles in a few areas. There's support for 4K, and while the demo rigs are often armed with the highest spec parts, it's nice to see the game running at 60fps without a cap, albeit with the Medium preset. That goes for gameplay only, as cut scenes are still at 30fps, so the transitions between gameplay and cut scenes look smoother on the console, if you take away load times from the equation. The keyboard and mouse feel natural for the game on this platform, and controller support is also provided, along with just about all of the expected options for the other settings. The real news on the PC front is that this is going to be exclusive to, making it the first non-Blizzard game on the platform. It makes sense since Blizzard and Activision are partners, but it is noteworthy since this is a major game that isn't going to be on Steam.

While the event revealed a lot of information, some stuff wasn't mentioned. Those hoping for another class are out of luck, since they're sticking with the three from the original game. The additions made to the existing class abilities are still good, but anyone hoping for a completely fresh perspective will be disappointed. There was also no mention of cross-platform play, though that's more wishful thinking than something expected. Then there's the issue of post-game content, which plagued the first year of the previous title. Treasure hunts and such sound like a solution to this, but it'll be the same situation if those elements are in short supply from the outset.

So far, Destiny 2 looks to be a much more polished game compared to the first. Longtime fans and those looking to get back into the fray will find that the changes are better for the overall experience, and newcomers won't be overwhelmed by vets who have been hoarding gear for the past three years. We saw enough to feel good about the direction that Destiny 2 is heading, but we haven't seen enough to determine if this is more of a tweak to the original formula or a bigger overhaul. Look for more coverage once the beta hits this summer.

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