This past weekend the Destiny 2 public beta was available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. I unfortunately had to work that weekend, so I didn’t get in anywhere near as much time with the beta as I would have liked, but I did play enough to give a basic report on it and some thoughts on my experience. Enjoy.
At the start of the Destiny 2 beta you select one of the game’s three character classes (more on those classes in a minute) and then you play through an early campaign mission as that class. The mission sets up game’s overarching story and gives you a character that is automatically set at level 20 with good abilities and equipment. This head start allows you to do some experimenting to see what playstyle you like the most, though if you’ve played Destiny you probably already know what you like since the gameplay in Destiny 2 is very similar to the first game. Destiny 2’s story picks up an unstated amount of time after the end of the events in Destiny, and starts with your city coming under attack by the Red Legion—an elite faction of the alien Cabal Empire, whose leader thinks the Traveler should have blessed the Cabal with its powers rather than humanity. It’s a very fun mission full of epic moments and I’m hoping that the rest of Destiny 2’s story campaign is as enjoyable. My one major gripe about the story mission in the beta was that I couldn’t replay it with the same character and instead had to exit out and create a new one to do so.
Story Mission (Titan Class)
After completing the story mission you are taken to the beta’s main menu where you have the option to partake in either 4v4 multiplayer matches or a co-op Strike where three players work together to fight through a long gauntlet of enemies. Being more of a singleplayer and co-op kind of gamer, I didn’t put much time into the two multiplayer modes available in the beta, though they seemed good enough from what little I played of them. The Strike, on the other hand, I played through several times and enjoyed quite a bit. Titled the Inverted Spire, it takes place on the planetoid Nessus, which is a new locale for Destiny 2. The Red Legion are running a mining operation on Nessus and it’s up to you and two other players to find out what they are searching for and shut down whatever nefarious scheme they have going. As it turns out, the Red Legion are trying to get their hands on Vex weaponry. You fight your way through the Red Legion’s mining area and towards the end of the strike you descend into a cave where you take on a Vex boss and its minions. Interestingly, at the start of the Strike there are large open areas off to the side that have a few enemies but no apparent secrets (that I found). I wonder if there will be something there in the final version of the game. Also notable is that you can find some Fallen wandering around, meaning that three out of the four enemy alien races from Destiny are in the Destiny 2 beta. The only one missing is the Hive, which was my least favorite alien race in Destiny so I’m ok if they don’t appear in Destiny 2.
Playing through the story mission and the strike multiple times, I was able to try out each of the three classes and get a general feel for them. Each class in the beta had two subclasses available—one new and one from the previous game, though the returning subclasses had some slight tweaks so they weren’t entirely identical to their design in Destiny. Below are some notes I took after my play session, with an emphasis on the newer parts of each class.
This was my primary class in the first Destiny and was the first class I tried out in the beta. I quickly became a fan of the new Dawnblade subclass whose super ability is to create a burning sword that can either melee enemies or hurl fireballs at them. It’s very fun to activate the super, use the Warlock’s glide ability and then rain death from above. The other big changeup to the Warlock is that, regardless of subclass, the Warlock can create a small field around it that buffs either healing or weapon damage of players within the field. When playing the co-op Strike I usually picked the healing field and tried to lay it down in places that would be most helpful for my teammates. This buffing ability would seem to incline the Warlock to the role of a support class, and I’m fine with that since I tend to play support anyways in other games. Lord Shaxx’s gift to the Warlock in the story mission is an exotic submachine gun that’s good at close range but not useful beyond that.
I never used the Hunter class in Destiny, so playing it the beta was my first time being a Hunter. The new subclass is the Arcstrider (or as the Destiny community has nicknamed it, the Pole Dancer) which can use its super ability to form a staff of arc energy and then acrobatically melee enemies. The Hunter’s new ability common to all subclasses is a dodge that can either reload your gun or recharge your melee strike. Overall I think the Hunter was my least favorite of the three classes partly because its playstyle tends to focus on mobility while I normally like to focus on resiliency and recovery, partly because its grenades seemed to take forever to recharge, and partly because I found the returning Gunsligher subclass to have a very underpowered super ability. The Golden Gun summoned by the Gunslinger simply doesn’t do enough damage. An exotic hand cannon is received by the Hunter from Lord Shaxx, which has a low rate of fire but does a lot of damage with each individual bullet. Given how terrible my aim is I’m not the best suited for this sort of weapon, but I can see it being very effective in the hands of a skilled player.
In Destiny the Titan was my secondary class that I used on rare occasion, but I could see myself using it a lot more in Destiny 2. The Titan’s Sentinel subclass makes its debut in the Destiny 2 beta, and can either create a round shield for your Titan to deflect attacks and melee enemies with, or a large bubble shield that you and other players can take cover in. Of the two, I favored the melee shield since the bubble shield keeps you safe but you have to exit it to shoot enemies outside of the shield. The melee shield can also be thrown, Captain America-style, which is fun to do. The focus on shields extends to the Titan’s secondary ability, which is either to create a large barrier that will completely protect you from fire in one direction, or a smaller barrier that you can hide behind while crouching but when you stand up you can shoot over it. Much like the Sentinel’s super ability, I preferred the smaller, barricade-style barrier since it gave me the flexibility to both take cover and engage enemies, and because it very conveniently reloads your weapon when you crouch behind it. Fittingly for a class that’s all about being a tank, Lord Shaxx gifts the Titan an auto rifle that’s more like a minigun. It takes a second or two for its barrels to spin up to full speed, but once it’s there you can spew bullets like no one’s business.
As long as we’re talking about guns I should also mention the changes to weapon sorting in Destiny 2. The fusion rifle, shotgun, sniper rifle, and the new grenade launcher are all placed in the Power Weapons slot, formerly known as the Heavy Weapons slot. I’ll withhold judgment until I play the final version of Destiny 2, but I’m little concerned that placing all of these types of weapons in the Power Weapons slot will mean that I’ll have to make choices I don’t want to make, like having to pick between one of the aforementioned guns and a rocket launcher or a LMG. The original Destiny’s weapons slot arrangement had fusion rifles, shotguns, and sniper rifles in the Secondary Weapon slot, so you could hold one of them and then place a rocket launcher, LMG, or sword in the Heavy Weapons slot. That said, maybe I’ll be willing to accept the changes to the weapon slots since I’ll have much more flexibility with the weapons I can carry in the Kinetic and Energy slots (formerly the Primary and Secondary slots, respectively). With the new slot system I could theoretically carry two assault rifles, or a scout rifle and a SMG, or a hand cannon and a pulse rifle, or many other arrangements that weren’t possible in the first Destiny.
Trying out the Strike (Warlock Class)
To wrap up this Destiny 2 beta discussion I’d like to make some quick comments on the game’s visuals and performance. I played the beta on a standard PS4 connected to a 1080p TV, and even though players with 4K TVs will have the ultimate Destiny 2 visual experience I gotta say that Destiny 2 looked pretty good on my TV and had a noticeable visual upgrade from the first Destiny. Everything ran smoothly at a constant 30fps with almost no pop-in, and the only notable glitch I came across being that on rare occasion dead enemies would be frozen in midair. This glitch only happened twice, however, and thus was more humorous than annoying.
Destiny 2 launches on PlayStation and Xbox on September 6. I’m really looking forward to this game, however I’m not going to play it until sometime after I get back from my trip to Asia. Hopefully by then any major bugs in the game will have been discovered by the Destiny community and fixed by developer Bungie. Whenever I do get around to playing Destiny 2 you can expect a full discussion from me on it.