Friday, September 1, 2017

Destiny 2 PC Beta Impressions

The Destiny 2 PC Beta was available from August 28th to the 31st and I got quite a bit of playtime in. Compared to the original Destiny’s Beta, Destiny 2’s Beta was much smaller, but there was some good stuff in it. They had a story mission, a strike, and 2 competitive multiplayer modes available. The social hub, “The Farm”, was also available for a few hours, but I totally forgot about it and missed it. I spent the most time playing the strike and the story mission.

The story mission is the same one they showed at the reveal of the game, “Homecoming”. The Tower is under attack by the Cabal and you play through while the whole thing burns down. As you go through the mission, you see the Cabal attacking civilians and familiar NPCs fighting the Cabal. This mission plays a little bit like a tutorial, but it doesn’t beat you over the head with prompts and 4th wall breaking instructions from NPCs. You’ll have to figure out how to interact with things in the environment, how to duck, how to use your special jump ability, and of course, how to fight.

The story in Homecoming is kind of like the sacking of Coruscant from Star Wars: The Old Republic. The new villain, Ghaul, even looks like a Cabal version of Darth Malgus. The Cabal hits the Tower with a surprise attack and destroys everything. The mission is there to set up a new starting point for Destiny 2. The Tower was the Tristram/Orgrimmar of Destiny 1 and now it’s in ruins. In Destiny 1, you raised your levels past the level 20 cap by gaining “Light” with new gear, and now Ghaul has taken it all, resetting everyone’s levels back to 20. I think it’s a pretty cool way to tie the story into the gameplay.

Homecoming also serves as a graphical benchmark. There’s tons of effects going on, like rain, wind, and fire. There’s open areas with a lot of enemies attacking, corridors with a lot of NPCs around, and lots of awesome lighting. You can turn on the built-in FPS counter and test out how your machine performs with different settings, in different situations. I haven’t upgraded my rig in a couple of years, and I was able to get 60FPS at 1080p in most situations, with only a few settings turned down. My game only went down to around 30FPS when there were a lot of enemies around, which doesn’t happen often. Overall, I’m pretty happy with the performance.

So far so good as far as the story missions go. I wouldn’t say Homecoming is better than missions in Bungie’s Halo games, but it’s definitely better than anything in Destiny 1. Hopefully, this is just a taste of what’s in store for us in the campaign.

The strike available was “The Inverted Spire”. If you’re not familiar with what a strike is, in RPG terms, it’s a dungeon. It’s like a 3 player co-op Halo level with World of Warcraft bosses and loot. This strike takes place in a mountainous area in the wilderness, where the Cabal and Vex are fighting over something the Cabal dug up. In Destiny 1, you didn’t get any challenging obstacles, platforming, or bosses with interesting mechanics until the raids, but the Inverted Spire has all those things. There are many types of Vex and Cabal to fight, a lot of platforming, a giant spinning drill thing you have to maneuver around in the middle of the zone, and a boss with a flaming floor mechanic, and of course, adds. Lots and lots of adds. I thought this was a pretty cool introductory strike. It teaches people how to use their special class jump abilities for platforming and how to deal with a boss that’s more than just a bullet sponge with a ton of adds.

The multiplayer modes available were Control in the Javelin-4 Map and Countdown in the Midtown map. Control is a mode in which you capture one of 3 small areas on the map to gain points to win. It’s similar to Arathi Basin in World of Warcraft or Splatzones in Splatoon 2. Countdown is a mode in which you activate a bomb and defend it until it explodes to win or keep the enemy team from winning by diffusing their bombs. Each team takes turns activating or diffusing bombs. I never got into Destiny’s competitive multiplayer, but these modes were pretty fun.

I played a Hunter in Destiny 1, so I spent the most time playing a Hunter here. If you’re unfamiliar with how talent trees work in Destiny, it takes all those different abilities you get from pickups in games like Halo and makes talent trees out of them. For example, your can pick what type of grenades you use with a talent. You can play with sticky grenades, incendiary grenades, or tripmine grenades. I tried out different talents and was able to make a spec that played how I played in Destiny 1. I got a triple jump, sticky grenades, and a special dodge move that refills my special melee attack. Equipment talent trees were in the Beta, but there wasn’t a lot of loot and the loot that was there didn’t have a lot of talent choices available.

I had a lot of fun playing the Beta and I can’t wait until the game releases on Oct 24th. It’s going to suck seeing everyone on PS4 and XBO get the game almost 2 months ahead, but hey, you can’t buy it on PS4 and XBO with World of Warcraft gold.