D2 BETA First Impressions

We’ve gotten a chance to play through the opening mission, Strike and sample Control and Countdown. I’ve had the chance to get some solid playtime with all six of the available subclasses, and what follows are my initial impressions after a day of playing.

Gameplay

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the gameplay feels polished and controls like a dream. Bungie knows what they’re doing when it comes to developing FPS engines and that hasn’t changed with Destiny 2. With that said, the game feels similar to the original while being quite different all at the same time.

Some aspects feel noticeably more slow paced this time around, particular when it comes to PvP. It definitely feels like a more tactical experience compared to Destiny 1, as positioning and teamwork play a much greater role in being successful. Even if you are a skilled player, if you find yourself in a 1v2 situation in Destiny 2, the odds are hugely stacked against you. In my opinion, it plays pretty much like one of the older Halo games. There’s more emphasis on primary weapon skill for sure.

The recharge rate on abilities and your Super is something I feel that Bungie needs to take a closer look at. I can understand that they don’t want as much ability spam as in D1, but right now it feels like they take far too long to recharge. I’ve seen some PvP matches finish before a handful of players even get their Super charged. In a game where your class Super is so important to defining class fantasy, that’s just not fun. This is especially noticeable when joining games in progress, where you know immediately there’s no chance of getting to use your defining class move before the game ends.

Then again, this is still just a beta and a lot of that could be alleviated by gear options we get in the main game. Perks like increased grenade recharge time and grenade damage speeding up melee recharge could make a return and play a more important role this time around with INT/DIS/STR being no more.

Other than that, the game feels good. The improved graphics engine is definitely nice, especially the particle and lighting effects. Getting a kill with a fusion rifle or the new Sunshot weapon results in a satisfying display of disintegration. The overall aesthetic is still very much Destiny, just with a shinier coat of paint. The sound effects are fantastic as well, with weapons in particular sounding extremely potent. For those of you who were looking for more of what you liked about the first game, you’ll find a lot to like here.

Homecoming

There’s quite a bit more content in this level than what was initially revealed. I had a blast playing through this mission, and it was awesome finally getting to fight alongside the Vanguard members after seeing them stand around a table for three years. It was great running into Shaxx as well and getting to pick an Exotic weapon from his vault. Each class will get their own specific weapon when playing through the level. Titans receive the Sweet Business kinetic auto rifle, Hunters get the solar hand cannon Sunshot, while Warlocks will receive the Riskrunner, an arc damage SMG.

As we’ve seen from previews, you’ll battle your way across the Tower before being dropped off by Amanda Holliday on an invading Cabal warship. You’ll be able to swap subclasses at will as you play through the mission, which is a nice touch. At the conclusion of the level, you’ll come face to face with Ghaul, the primary antagonist of the game. If the rest of the game is anything like this opening level as far as storytelling goes, we should be in for quite a treat. The level definitely served it’s purpose in getting me invested in seeing what happens next with the storyline.

The Inverted Spire

The Strike is the same as we’ve seen several times over already. That being said, it was still a blast to play through. Just like I mentioned with ability recharge rates though, it feels like another pass needs to be made here to do some fine tuning. The end boss of the Strike felt a little bit too much like a bullet sponge, much like the bosses from the initial co-op activities in Destiny. Other than that, the boss fight was fun. The mechanics weren’t overly complex, yet they still required you to pay attention to everything going on around you.

I’m looking forward to playing through it again in the full game, only with the benefit of more story background knowledge going in that will come along with it being a part of the full campaign.

PvP

As I mentioned above in the gameplay section, some parts of our limited Crucible experience feel slower paced and more tactical. Sticking together with your team is of the utmost importance, as TTK when team shooting is hugely improved.

It feels more reliant on player skill this time around. Often in Destiny 1, if you had your abilities up and the other person didn’t, you’d usually come out ahead. That’s not so much the case this time around. While I still wish ability recharge rates were sped up a bit, it’s kind of nice having to be selective of when and where to use them.

The changes to Control are a nice quality of life improvement as well. Not having to capture each node twice like before is great for improving the flow of games, along with starting each game with ‘A’ and ‘C’ already captured. It’s just as enjoyable a game type as it always was.

The new Countdown mode definitely takes full advantage of the slower pace of PvP in Destiny 2. With each player only having one life along with one available revive, it adds quite a bit of tension to each firefight. This game type fits Destiny perfectly, but my only concern lies with players who leave the game early. This is a negative in every game mode but is especially true here. Quite a few rounds I’ve played so far in the beta have quickly turned into 4v2 or 4v1 situations after the first round or two. Hopefully Bungie has a solid plan in place in anticipation of this for the full game.

Subclasses

We’re going to be taking an in depth look at each of the available subclasses and all of their abilities in the beta within the next day or so, but for now the only thing I’m going to say is that the new Sentinel class is seriously making me consider swapping away from maining Warlock in Destiny 2.

All three classes seem equally represented as well, as I’ve seen a nice mix in pretty much every game. It doesn’t appear like any one class is far more popular than the others at this point in time. This could just be due to players testing them all out as well though. It will be interesting to see when the dust settles in a few days and the beta opens up for everyone if this remains the same.

Oh, and one other interesting tidbit: when you go into your character inventory screen, the flame in their hand changes color three times. It goes from void, to arc, to solar. One flame color for each subclass type. Could this be a hint for incoming third subclasses? Lets hope!

Conclusion

Overall, I’m having fun with the beta. Opinions are somewhat mixed thus far, but that’s to be expected in a game franchise as beloved as Destiny is. When you have a player base where many, many players have sunk hundreds of hours into your game, any and all changes will be heavily scrutinized.

I hope everyone is enjoying their time in the beta so far, and if you haven’t managed to play it yet, fret not. It’s only a couple more days until it opens up for everyone on console. See you all in the Inverted Spire or on the Crucible battlefield!

Kyle David
A PS4 player and member of the Warlock master race, Kyle enjoys writing about all things Destiny as much as he does playing it.