Today, Destiny 2 was revealed at an event in Los Angeles (Bungie and Activision flew Post Arcade to the event). Here are our impressions of the game from the show floor:
There were three activities on available: the game’s first campaign mission (about 20 mins), a co-operative strike mission (about 35 mins) and PvP Competitive (a 10 minute match). In the video above, you can see Daniel Kaszor’s complete play through of the co-operative strike mission. Below, you can see his impressions of all three experiences, and the differences between the PC and PS4 Pro versions of the game.
Taking place at the start of the game, the opening mission shows the destruction of The Tower (the hub area from Destiny 1). Lots of fun Easter Eggs here for players of the first game (such as the robot who was always sweeping the same spot in the tower continuing to do so as the tower falls).
There are three really big tweaks compared to how the game worked the first time around. Firstly, the game allows for much more in the way of cinematic presentation. Not only do cutscenes pop up throughout the mission, but friendly non-player characters often jump in to lend a hand. For example, Commander Zavala (Lance Reddick) aids you at one point by putting up a force bubble to protect you from missile strikes. Later, Ikora Rey (Gina Torres) blasts a spaceship right in front of you.
PC versus PS4 Pro
The PC version of the game looked absolutely amazing running at 60 frames-per-second solidly at 4K. However, it’s unclear what kind of machine you’d need to get that same result. We couldn’t tell what kind of computer was being used in the demo, but I would not be surprised if each one had a Nvidia 1080 Ti graphics card (or maybe two). Also, the Gsync monitors they had on each rig surely cost a couple thousand dollars each.
The game works just fine with mouse-and-keyboard, though the default placement of a lot of the game’s powers and abilities is somewhat awkward. I’m guessing that most people will bind the power abilities to secondary mouse buttons.
On the PS4 Pro side, the game looked very good on 4K monitors (it was unclear if it was running at 1440p or 1800p) and was locked at 30 frames per second. Beyond the frame-rate, the two versions looked very close to identical.
(There were no vanilla PS4 or Xbox One stations)
The second big tweak is how abilities work. In the past, you had two minor abilities (grenades and melee) and a third super ability. Now, you have three abilities. Grenades, secondary ability (a healing aura for the warlock character) and a movement ability in addition to your super.
The third tweak is that more weapons are now tied to the “heavy” weapon slot and use rarer purple ammo. All other weapons can go in either of the other weapon slots. If you put a gun in your primary slot, it uses plentiful primary ammo. If it goes in the secondary slot, it uses moderately rarer secondary ammo, but has elemental damage.
Other than that, it played surprisingly similarly to missions in Destiny 1, but in a good way. It almost felt like the big-budget movie version of a Destiny 1 mission.
The strike mission felt somewhere between the strikes in Destiny 1 and the more complex Raid activities.
While the mission wasn’t too complex, there were absolutely areas where I wished my teammates didn’t speak Spanish and German respectively. You can sort of see this in the video when we’re fighting the last boss and I realize that I’m going to need to kill the “adds” (pest-like sub enemies) because my team mates weren’t doing so.
If it sounds like I’m down on this, it’s quite the opposite, it was an exciting mission that showed that there can be a bit of complexity in these types of co-op missions and have them still work. I’m still a little bit unsure if it will work perfectly with three strangers who don’t have voice chat though (especially since the mission was set to 150 light level, and our characters were at the much higher 200 light level).
Sadly, my team of randomly chosen teammates got stomped pretty hard by the team of pro-gamer cyborgs on the other team. However, even in the quick time I had with the game in PvP, some of the changes they made to the game became very apparent. The switch to make sniper rifles and shotguns “heavy” weapons meant that the game no longer became exclusively about controlling those weapons.
Beyond the scope of the games that I played, Bungie’s Luke Smith explained to me that one of the goals with PvP in Destiny 2 was to make the “deep game” of tactics and strategy more apparent in multiplayer without making that deep game easier. Basically what this means is they want to give players more tools to understand where other players are on the map and what they are doing to control the map space. One of the ways they are doing this is by having ammo pickups announced to all players — including where that ammo was picked up.
In general, the stuff they showed us in LA was very good Destiny style missions, but not a sea-change in any way from Destiny 1. At the event and in interviews the developers said that the big changes in the game will have to do with how players interact with the world and what kinds of activities they do there. Today seemed to be a day for Destiny fans, while most of the changes to the formula will be to retain a larger audience. The core shooter at the heart of Destiny was never really a problem, so it will be interesting to see exactly how the new systems — which weren’t shown today — help fix some of the overarching problems with the game such as painful progression because of a death of content.
Next week we will have a feature story on Destiny 2 including interviews with Destiny 2 lead Luke Smith and Destiny 2 social lead M.E. Chung.