Destiny 2 Beta Impressions
Three years ago around this time, the beta for the first Destiny released and to massive appraise. It was a super fun and enjoyable experience with friends offering you a look at how all the games systems work, from the hub world to open-world exploration to its online multiplayer. However two months later when the final game released, many were disappointed to see most of the content in the beta reflected the entirety of the game, and offered not much more than a few other PvP maps and an extra planet or two to explore and do missions on.
For me, I tried my hardest to enjoy the game but just couldn't and therefore the last time I played Destiny was July 2015. Having missed out on the two big expansions which supposedly fixed many of the base games issues, The Taken King and Rise of Iron, it got me interested in the idea of Destiny 2 and what Bungie had planned for the upcoming sequel.
One of the first things I noticed with the Beta is there's surprisingly less content on offer than Destiny 1's beta. You of course pick your class, either Warlock, Hunter or Titan, then begin at Level 20 with 200 Light as well as several Legendary weapons and armour. After completing the prologue mission, you are taken into orbit where you can pick one of three things - a Strike mission called The Inverted Spire, Quickplay Crucible and Competitive Crucible. While I do wish there was more in the Beta, such as the new Farm social space which was only available for an hour, it's good to see Bungie has learned from their mistakes of showing way too much all to quickly. Although for skeptics out there, it could be seen as a cause for concern if they don't have much new content to show when the game is close to five weeks away.
Gameplay wise it feels great to play despite being 30fps. Bungie know how to make great console shooters with solid gunplay mechanics. The supers for each of the new subclasses are awesome, a particular favourite of mine being the Hunter's Arc Staff, which all looked badass to wield and felt satisfying to get kills with. Interestingly they added a vaulting mechanic to the game, something I did not notice until almost missing a platforming section during the Strike mission, which can definitely be useful. There have been tons of balancing fixes to issues from the first game, most notably in regards to grenade cool-down and the damage that supers inflict. Personally I found it annoying how long it took for grenades to recharge and that my supers felt incredibly weak in PvP, so hopefully Bungie can address these and find a good middle ground for the final release
The Strike mission is a ton of fun to play with friends but ultimately I felt still suffered from the same issues as the original game, where it was you and your team spawning in, going to a certain location, fighting a wave of enemies, letting your Ghost scan an object, go somewhere else, kill more enemies, then end up in a boss fight. I loved the verticality and platforming the strike offered, where you're jumping from platform to platform, using machines to launch over to new areas and avoiding multiple levels inside a drilling platform, something I felt lacked in mission and world design with the original game.
Quickplay and Competitive Crucible are also fun, but are both modes that scream "This needs to be 60 frames per second" if the community want to take them seriously, especially on the competitive side. Competitive mode gave off vibes to games like CSGO and Overwatch, though the reason those games are so huge are due to their fast, responsive gameplay that comes from constant 60 frames per second or higher framerate. The fact that consoles can only do 30fps is a serious issue for PVP modes, especially considering games like Battlefield and Call of Duty can simultaneously look better and run at 60fps on consoles. In PVE its understandable why 60fps would be off the table, but in a small 4v4 arena I'd like to imagine with a few graphical tweaks and a downgrade in resolution could reach a manageable 60fps. Something similar to Uncharted 4, where Naughty Dog opted for 1080p30 in the single player and 900p60 in the multiplayer, which was jarring going between modes but ultimately benefited both aspects of the game.
Graphically, the game looks visually like the original Destiny in terms of art style, though you can see improvements in some areas as the game isn't being held back for last gen hardware. The enemies and environments retain the same look from the first game, but also look as if their textures and models have had an upgrade. The UI and menus for the game are almost identical to original Destiny also, but are refined and refreshed. Every new loot item you get after a strike/PVP match lists underneath it what weapon type or armour piece the item is, a small thing but is useful for letting players know what they just earned. One suggestion I'd give is in the final game, list if you already have this weapon/armour piece so when you go into your menus, you can choose to dismantle the weaker version of that gear.
One of the most enjoyable aspects for me with the first Destiny's beta, and the final game, was the ability to free-roam around each planet with your group of friends. Discovering new areas, finding hidden loot chests and old Ghosts, randomly encountering public events with other groups - that was what made me decide to purchase Destiny when it launched. Destiny 2's beta had nothing in regards to planet free-roam which sucked, and so my most enjoyable experience with the beta was actually exploiting the Strike mission, doing the infamous glitch which allowed guardians to keep their super and exploring all the other sections rather than pushing forward with the mission.
Overall, I enjoyed my experience with Destiny 2's beta, and will again when the PC beta drops in August, but the beta didn't show much to get me excited and instantly purchase day one. When the beta was live several days back, there were definitely moments where I wanted to get back into the game and replay the strike with friends or play a few rounds of PvP, but at the same time got boring quick. Destiny 2's Beta proved they've listened to feedback the original game received, but not enough to win back those who dropped it so early on.
The focus on cinematic story-telling is great and a definite must for the franchise, but ultimately it felt too familiar. The beta should have tried to showcase more of the new elements added to the game than regurgitate older ones which already got stale to players in the first game. A lot of new and interesting content is being added to Destiny 2, and while showing off all of it in the beta would have been a huge mistake on their part, they needed to show a bit more in order to get new players interested.
Did you try Destiny 2's open beta last week? Was it enough to convince you, or are you waiting on reviews of the final version first? Let us know what you thought and if you share similar opinions down in the comments.