Destiny 2 Beta Impressions and What We Learned

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Destiny 2 Beta

Right as the Destiny 2 beta started, I entered the menu screen only to deal with error messages a couple of times before it let me choose my character and begin playing. Changes were visible right from the start — I chose my character from the white colored menu, unlike the menu screen from Destiny 1. Right after, I was introduced to Destiny 2 with a cut scene showing the Red Legion, a faction of the Cabal, attack the Last City and take away the traveler’s light. With the tower being destroyed, we lose our previous weapons, forcing us to use new guns and armor starting at level 20.

Character:

The character screen is noticeably different. There are no intelligence, discipline, and strength categories. They are now replaced by resilience, mobility, and recovery. One change in Destiny 2 that took a bit of getting used to was the weapon slots. We’re used to calling them as primary, special, and heavy weapons. The primary slot is called kinetic, the special slot is Energy, and the heavy slot is called power. The confusing part about this was that my shotgun was in the power slot, my hand cannon was in energy slot, and my sidearm was in my kinetic slot. It wasn’t in the same order as it used it to and it threw me off a couple of times. However, this arrangement actually benefits players because it allows us to be more variant with the guns we want to use. Another way to personalize your character is by adding mods. This feature allows the player to change the appearance of weapons and ship.

As for the supers, the part I was most excited about, I absolutely fell in love with the Fist of Havoc. Not only can I run around with my super after I slam, but I can shoulder charge and slam again! The Sentinel Shield was not as exciting, but at least the Titan has more to do than have a bubble now. Golden Gun on the hunter was definitely satisfying because three bullets never felt enough, but with six bullets there is more damage to be done. The Arc Staff is like the new Arc Blade, except it’s less up close and personal because of the increased range, but it’s more powerful. Nova Bomb felt largely the same, except the animation is different and it travels a bit slower. That is probably because the Warlock gets the Dawnblade — a solar sword that throws solar energy at the enemies. It’s the most entertaining super out of all the ones I’ve experienced in this beta.

Along with melee and grenade recharges, we also have defensive mechanics. I hold circle on my PS4 controller which generates a mini shield to protect me from enemies in front of me. The mini shield is only for the titan, the hunter has the ability to dodge attacks, while the Warlock creates rifts that either empowers weapons or heals guardians.

Main Story: Homecoming

After the cut scene ends, we are directly put into the combat zone, our beloved Tower. I fight with a few Legionaries and meet up with the bad ass Cayde, who uses his Golden Gun against some enemies. Next we are directed to meet Zavala, but before that, Lord Shaxx opens up a door to his armory with a few weapons stored safely. Here we get our first exotic weapon.

I began my first run at the beta with my Titan and I got the exotic kinetic auto rifle called “Sweet Business”. It takes a lot of effort for the gun to kill an enemy, but hopefully I can find a better use for it when Destiny 2 releases. For my Hunter I received the exotic solar energy hand cannon “Sunshot” — one of my favorite guns from the beta. Generally, hand cannons feel weaker in the beta, but Sunshot gets work done. Lastly, my Warlock got the arc energy submachine gun “Riskrunner” that I wasn’t really a fan of at first because it felt like any other machine gun. After fighting against some Cabal, the Riskrunner absorbed energy from their arc weapons and built an arc chain that damaged the enemies as I shot them.

One by one, I met with Cayde, Zavala and Ikora. Eventually Amanda Holliday picked me up and dropped me off on one of the ships of the Red Legion. By the end, we have another cut scene where we meet Ghaul, the one behind this chaos. This mission was a lengthy one, which felt satisfying. For a first mission, it set the bar high for whatever mission comes after. It was challenging enough to keep me on my toes and the destruction of the tower added immediacy to my reactions. The setting added to the fast paced action and the intense beginning to Destiny 2.

Strike: The Inverted Spire

We land on Nessus, a minor planet which is a new location in Destiny 2. This planet, much like Venus from Destiny 1, has geometric architecture, portals, and a brightly colored landscape with beautiful plants. The influence of the Vex on this planet is very visible. My fireteam intervened in the ongoing fight between the Red Legion and the Vex.

Shields on majors and larger enemies protects them quite well which makes it more challenging. Other than that, the Vex enemies respond the same way to guardians as they did before. The Vex haven’t gone through any drastic modifications like the Cabal.

We passed through each different section, killing enemies, which always kept me engaged. Often times in previous strikes, we’ve seen long battle become stale simply because it becomes tiring. Players would even skip past enemies they don’t need to kill in order to progress in the strike. The Inverted Spire wasn’t like that and the battles are the appropriate length which keeps up the momentum. The enemies were obstacles that we had to conquer before we can go any farther.

The highlight of the strike was going against Protheon, the Modular Mind, at the end. Protheon is the main target in the The Inverted Spire and was definitely my favorite part. This part of the strike encouraged my fireteam to use different tactics and cooperation when entering different stages of the boss fight.

The strike overall was exhilarating, but it still felt too similar to strikes we have been playing for the past few years. In year three Destiny, a score system was added to strikes. In the beta, I noticed that the score was not popping up on my screen. If Destiny 2 has still has a Heroic Strikes playlist then perhaps we will see the score system there.

Crucible:

There are two playlists for crucible: Countdown and Quickplay. Each playlist, for the beta, has one Crucible mode to play. In the Competitive Playlist I played Countdown, which seems like a mix of Elimination, Salvage, and Rift. Communication and strategy is key here. The map available for this mode is called Midtown, which happens to be in our very own The Last City. Countdown is thrilling. There are two charges that you must set or dismantle and this alternates for the six rounds in one match.

The other playlist is called Quickplay which had a familiar Crucible mode, Control. The map was Endless Vale on Nessus, but it isn’t so endless because it’s quite small with only a few pathways to reach the other zones. The majority of the fighting takes place at Zone B. The reason being that Zone A and Zone C are already captured when your team lands by one of those zones, so everyone rushes towards Zone B. This was kind of already the format for Destiny 1 Control, but Destiny 2 takes out the unnecessary actions and makes Control more straight to the point.

All of Crucible is now 4v4, which is so much better than playing 6v6. It’s really about team effort and cooperation. Damage is not as powerful so fighting takes a longer time. This is a plus because you can’t repeatedly shoot and run as easily as before. Also, ammo crates are non-existent. If you need Power ammo, then you better be the first one to get there since only one person can grab ammo.

Visually, the most prominent change is the display of subclasses on the top which allows you to keep track of yours and your enemies supers. I pretty much ignored the display. When Destiny 2 is released, I will be hooked on Countdown. I’m all about Crucible and Countdown is based on tactic and skill which will be great with a fireteam of friends. I’m happy to see that Control is different and I’m excited to see if Clash will have any changes from Destiny 1.

The beta revealed enough about Destiny 2 to players. I experienced the main story, a strike and both Crucible playlists, which added to my hype. Even the small changes in the game shows that Bungie gave attention to the smallest detail to make Destiny 2 different from Destiny 1 as much as possible. The way the characters sit, the way we land on planets, the sounds of jumps and weapons, the way the supers and grenades go off, and even travelling through orbit is mesmerizingly beautiful. The gameplay feels more animated and the emphasis on the aesthetics is apparent. These changes made me pretty hyped to see what else awaits in Destiny 2.