This weekend, gamers were treated to a sneak peek into one of the year’s most highly anticipated games with the release of The Destiny 2 public beta. While a beta version of a game is not wholly representative of what the end product will be on the date of release, betas can be informative both for developers and the lucky fans who get an early taste of their most anticipated titles. While Destiny was a financial success, it was marred by a disappointing lack of content and narrative upon release. However, a large community of ride or die fans congregated around the game as legendary developer Bungie(Halo 1, 2, & 3) successfully launched their premium expansions which brought the title closer to the experience gamers had envisioned.
Destiny 2 seeks to right the wrongs of its predecessor, but today I pose the question, who is the intended audience for this game? Is it for the die hard fans who kept the original game alive, the disappointed customers of the first game, new players who never touched the original title, or is it somewhere in between?
In the intrest of transparency, I should make my feelings about the original title known before talking about this beta. I fall into the camp of gamers who bought the game at launch and found the experience to be underwhelming. I realize the game improved with each premium expansion, but the price for the full experience was too rich for my blood(more on that later).
Destiny 2 Beta
As far as betas go, this one was quite small, especially when compared to the original game’s beta. Players got access to one story mission, one strike, two Crucible modes (4 vs. 4 multiplayer), and a whopping one hour to explore the new social space. Right after choosing a character class, the beta throws you into what I can only assume to be the very first story mission in the actual game. For new players who have never played the first game, I imagine this would have been quite jarring. Even having played Destiny, it took me a second to get adjusted to all the class abilities and weapons. With no tutorial to speak of, the game kind of leaves you to fend for yourself.
What stuck out the most to me about this story mission was the sheer cinematic scope. Just like the first game, the graphics and visual stylings are both unique and beautiful to behold. With a huge war being waged in the skies above you, mortar fire dropping in on your position, fires raging around you unabated, and the social space from the first game in a general state of ruin, that one level felt more epic than the entirety of the first game. However, due to the linear nature of the level(not much exploring to do), it felt more like a Call of Duty game than an open world to explore, although I think there’s a simple explanation for that. It seems like Bungie wanted to control the player’s experience way more than they did in the original game’s beta.
The developers also make it very clear that they are, in many ways, rebooting the story fleshed out in expansions to give new players a better jumping on point. With Destiny(vanilla), Bungie introduced many cool story ideas, but explained little to none of it. The result was a hollow sci fi/fantasy world with an attractive aesthetic, a world you WANTED to know more about. It felt like someone had carved up the game intentionally only to sell the rest to consumers at a later date for a higher profit, a practice that is becoming all too common within the gaming industry.
Eventually, Bungie would deliver the lore that their core audience had been clamoring for, but the price was steep. With the base game retailing at $60 at the time of release, two lesser expansions at $20 each, The Taken King(which added a narrative) at $40, and the Rise of Iron at $30, gamers had to pay $170 if they wanted the full Destiny experience. If you were a dumb ass like me and bought the $35 Expansion Pass(which only included the two lesser expansions), you could save a whole $5 to get the full Destiny experience($165 total). And don’t even get me started on those micro transactions they eventually added. The point is, the beta made it very clear that there will be a full story in the base game as opposed to this expansion nonsense they pulled with the first game.
Gunplay in the first Destiny felt great, but in the beta, the shooting mechanics somehow feel even tighter. Shooting in this game is some of the most satisfying I’ve ever experienced in a video game. Having shot my fair share of weapons in real life, the recoil is always something that games seem to struggle with nailing. I’m not sure how else to explain it, but the recoil in this game just felt right. There’s also a palpable weight to your weapons and their impact on your opponents. One thing I didn’t like from a gameplay aspect was how nerfed(deliberate reduction in effectiveness) your character’s class abilities felt. Abilities had a much longer cooldown period, even in the story and strike modes.
Destiny has always been doing this weird balancing act with its weapon and ability scalings as PvE modes(story/strikes/raids) and Crucible shared the same scalings. After fan complaints this weekend, Bungie hinted that they might do separate scalings for each which is probably for the best.
While Destiny 2 will probably remain more of a PvE game for the general population, its apparent Bungie is pushing for a more competitive multiplayer scene. With the nerf to abilities, games are much more reliant on team shooting and tactics as opposed to spamming abilities. Maps and team sizes have also shrunk giving competitive combat a more claustrophobic feel. If you are a new player, good luck in Crucible. Playing against players who are a full game of experience ahead of you is not exactly fun, more like rage quit frustrating.
In the end, the Destiny 2 beta felt like more Destiny. Instead of trying to get away with another $60 expansion, it feels like they decided to slap a 2 on the box and call it a sequel. If you loved the first game, it seems like this beta was marketed more toward pleasing you. There just wasn’t enough to get a new audience excited. I think if Bungie had let players explore the more open world aspects of the game and made more readily apparent changes, there might have been a better response from gamers, but as it stands, gamers seem to have given this game a luke warm response at best. It’s going to be interesting to see how the final product does once it is released.
That’s just one man’s in-depth opinion about this weekend’s Destiny 2 beta, but now I want to hear your opinion. Did you guys play the beta? What did you think? Did you play the first game? If you didn’t, does Destiny 2 catch your intrest at all? Let me know in the comments below!