The title may have caught your interest and you immediately clicked to see where we would go with this. Much to the same effect, many of those too skeptical to pre-order and get early beta access hit Xbox Live and PSN on July 21, 2017 for a sneak peek at Destiny 2. Being someone who got into the original Destiny beta (yes, I even went all in and pre-ordered) I was expecting a similar greeting party of content to be thrown my way. For instance, in the original Destiny beta you were greeted with a screen that let you pick your class (Titan, Warlock, or Hunter) but immediately after let you customize the sex, race, and even facial look of your character. For someone who loves gun-based role-playing games and those that give decent customization (Mass Effect 2 for preference) I was expecting to be able to do the exact same thing. Did I get to do that?
Well, no, I actually didn’t even get the chance to pick any of that besides my class. As soon as you pick your class, a dice roll happens, and you’re left with a random character build who’s face probably looks like it was hit by a truck. You wouldn’t know that because you didn’t get to create it. If you think I’m finished with somewhat of a rant, it doesn’t end there. It isn’t all negative, mind you, stay off your mouse and don’t click away from the tab just yet. Allow me to elaborate on some things that caught my interest while exploring this, perhaps “ham-fisted” beta.
THE CINEMATICS AND GRAPHICS
One thing that the Destiny 2 beta does right is throw you into the fire and flames with quick and upbeat action sequences. Not to spoil anything for those who may not have played, but an invasion is taking place on the Last City and its your duty as a Guardian to stop the chaos. You’ll be greeted by familiar faces from Destiny, as everyone is trying their best to survive and save anyone they can. The pre-rendered videos are sharp and integrate well between switching in and out of gameplay.
In-game graphics look very sharp and colorful, just like the last installment. I choose to play the Destiny 2 beta on the Xbox One and nothing struck me of poor quality with any of the visuals. Its a pretty slick and eye pleasing experience; particle effect and all. Going back to the cinematics for a bit, if its one thing that the original Destiny launch edition lacked, it would have to be the story. In the Destiny 2 beta it feels as if they are opening strong this time around. It leaves a lot of questions to how raids, story missions, and the like will fit into this even more desolated universe. Keeping all that in mind, the aesthetics feel very much like what you would expect from a Destiny game. The user interface and menus are sharp and intuitive. I like how you are given the instant option to turn subtitles on or off (bonus points for that Bungie)!
Alright, so back to something slightly negative and mainly for you Destiny veterans. We all remember Dinkle-bot right? There was no contesting that Peter Dinklage “phoned in” some of the lines for the protagonist’s ghost in Destiny. With this still fresh in our minds, we would have to expected top quality voice acting all around, right? Well, don’t be surprised if some voice lines sound peculiar. I was particularly let down by the lack of urgency in some of the character’s voices during the opening sequence. Everything is coming down around our heroes and I just wasn’t feeling the anxiousness or stress with a lot of their deliveries.
Its true you have such voice talents like Nathan Fillion on board, but with the voice actor strike currently going on there is no telling who was cast to voice. Most of the big names have opted out of the voice acting scene, so maybe we are hearing some of the less seasoned actors. In all fairness, a lot of the lines do sound reasonable, but if I gathered concerns right from the start then perhaps there is something there worth taking a look at. Maybe a lot of players wont care or can’t be bothered, but when you’ve heard people who can live a role true to character like Nolan North for instance, you might start to notice when lines fall flatter than usual.
Let me address the elephant in the room. Yes, I laughed when I found Savala just chilling behind a rock doing absolutely nothing to help stave off the unending enemy horde. This is a quirk that kind of jerks you right out of the moment, and it took place right in the prologue. Besides for flukes like that, you are thrust into a largely gripping and action packed scenario from the start. Everything is burning around you and civilization as you know it is gone. I thought I was playing a strict single player prologue up until I got to this point. To my surprise, I was greeted by two more titan guardians. Sure, they looked just like me and I was pretty salty that I couldn’t customize anything about my build at this point, but it was another human player!
It goes to show that the world overlapping features are still here and they work in surprising and interesting ways. All throughout the prologue mission, the level design was excellent (minus Savala taking a rain check) and enemies were placed at just the right intervals. Also, did I mention I started out at level 20? Yes, that is right and I had a good selection of weapons to try out ranging from a chain gun, to a revolver, and even a grande launcher (I played all 3 classes but enjoyed the Titan weapons more). Elemental effects for weapons and such were still present and you had a lot to try out. Browsing through the character menu, you could even switch class builds to check out what a finished build would feel like.
If anything, this was one thing the Destiny 2 beta did that instantly rewarded the player and gave insight to what they could achieve. On the flip side, there is no true feeling of having earned anything where-as in the original Destiny beta, you started at level 1 with crappy gear and worked up. You only get that feeling when you finish the one singular PVE story mission and get the loot for doing so. Also take note, it is just that ONE mission and you’ll take on minions and a boss that feels very much that same as what the original Destiny offered.
I hate to have to resort to comparing each beta to one another but Activision, stick with me here. When people pre-order a game to play a beta, shouldn’t the beta be all it can be to wow the player? They can cancel at any time if they pre-ordered at a brick and mortar retailer. Just a thought. I remember with the original Destiny beta how we had a nice expansive hub world we could explore, in-depth customization options, vehicles, weapon vendors, and even more locations to explore. Sure it wasn’t open world as we had all thought but at least we were given a lot of content for what we though was just a “testing of network” beta. The beta this time around barely is a shadow of anything that the first game’s beta gave us.
Sure, the combat feels good and the levels we do see are okay, but it feels like a skeleton of itself. You have to question who they are really trying to market to. The veteran players may let it slide but newcomers I feel will pick up the beta and cancel the following day. Sure, the original Destiny had a beta on the lines of a demo and maybe that has spoiled us. If you look at the beta test as what most beta tests are (last minute bug fixes, and network tests) then sure, its nothing too heinous. I just wish that developers would stick to the bar they set or that the publishing companies would let them do so. Maybe the story has a lot to do with it, and we just aren’t ready to see what awaits us. One thing I know we can look forward to minus all the things we can’t see now is a brand new social hub for Destiny 2 players. I wish we could have seen it before the beta ends, but as I understand it, they have no plans to show that to us besides the one solitary day it was active.
If you’ve played some of Bungie’s earlier Halo games or even Destiny, you will know what to expect of this mode. The current gameplay modes that comes with the Destiny 2 beta are Control and Countdown. In Control, teams of 4 on 4 clash in an epic battle to control 3 distinct points on the featured map. Each team starts off holding one point unlike the first game so firefights usually start pretty hot on control point B. Veterans of Destiny will remember this mode pretty well but I did pick up some changes that make it overall better than before. For instance, match times are shorter. This makes The Crucible much more of a desirable mode as I can personally drop in and out of matches fairly quick and still get stuff done in the real world.
The in-game HUD now makes you more self aware to what is going on. You will be able to now see who gathered the power ammo and from which location. Its little details like this that really make the multiplayer experience better, in my personal opinion. Moving on to our next game mode, we have Countdown. Most people can attribute this to something out of Counter-Strike or perhaps a Call of Duty “Search and Destroy” mode. One team will try to plant the bomb and the other has to stop them from planting or defuse the bomb if they manage to get there. Its truly insane and chaotic fun. Teamwork is no stranger to victory in this game, just like previous Bungie games. You try and lone wolf it and odds are you will be seeing the respawn screen more often than not. All in all, its a lot of the same but the new modes do help add some freshness to the beta. Guns and builds carry over from PVE and if you’ve sank tons of hours into Destiny’s Crucible then you wont miss much of a beat in Destiny 2’s beta.
The beta has a lot of shine for what it does have, which albeit may not be that much. Destiny set the bar really high with its beta back several years ago. From what I’ve been able to tell, I’m not alone in my opinion that the beta for Destiny 2 is only lightly above average at best. It’s almost as if we are playing a shareware version of something that could have been let off its chain a little more. Sure, we can’t expect a full retail experience for free, but I guess what a lot of people are wanting and were hoping for was some level of quality consistency.
Perhaps we just aren’t worthy enough to see the surprises that the full game will bring. Still, it leaves a lot of us salty to be expecting so much and receive so little. If anything, let this be a lesson to others that perhaps betas shouldn’t just be the bare minimum of what you have to show off but maybe a taste of the full experience. Oh and one last thing, forget that turbine. I died more to that than I did in Bloodborne and Dark Souls combined.
Destiny can be pre-ordered right now for the following prices:
- Destiny 2: $59.99 MSRP
- Destiny 2 – Limited Edition: $99.99 MSRP
- Destiny 2 – Collector’s Edition: $249.99 MSRP