It has been several days since the Destiny 2 beta completed its week long run, but I find myself still thinking about it. It was both greatly satisfying and infuriating at times. Bungie made the choice to make content available in the beta that would appeal to their Destiny 1 audience, but made appealing to a new audience harder than it could have been. Let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly in the Destiny 2 beta.
Destiny 2 Beta: The Good
Guns, guns, and more guns! Who doesn’t love themselves some high-powered weaponry? Especially when the gunplay is minty-fresh and super crisp! The assortment of weapons available gave players a fair bit of insight as to what can be expected from their arsenal in Destiny 2. Even with fixed perk rolls, as the perks on weapons are static, guns felt balanced and the perk trees didn’t seem to be full of “trash perks,” which is a very good sign. There was just enough wiggle room perk-wise to get that right kind of BOOM! This is a welcome sign, as the loss of random generated perks has been a concern for some, but using the weapons and seeing the design philosophy behind them should help put some of those concerns to rest.
Good gun design invariably leads to better PvP, and it most definitely did in the Destiny 2 Beta. Crucible combat felt incredible. Gone were the two-tap headshots from the Eyesluna and Palindrome hand cannons of Destiny 1; instead, pick a weapon and go crazy! Time-to-kill was greatly increased and movement speed was reduced, resulting in a focus on teamwork and team-shooting your opponents. Killing the dudes as a team was the new meta.
The new weapon slots (Kinetic, Elemental, Power) and the new power ammo mechanics resulted in primary weapon focused combat, which was both fun and felt… just right. Combine all of this with new audio cues in Crucible and the heads-up-display giving you information for callouts and supers and it made for the most balanced PvP experience to date.
Story Mission: Homecoming
The Destiny 1 story had many issues. Let’s be real here, it was terrible! Coherency, depth, and a sense of progress were often lacking. To say that Bungie needed to create a compelling narrative in Destiny 2 is an understatement. Homecoming is the only mission available in the Destiny 2 beta, placing your guardian in the wreckage of the Tower after the Cabal attack led by the Red Legion leader, Ghaul. Read that sentence again and then compare it to Destiny 1’s, “I don’t have time to explain why I don’t have time to explain.”
Right off the bat, the player knows why they are fighting and by the end of the mission you know whose butt needs kicking. Fan favorite NPCs fight alongside you in the mission (Hooray)! The cinematics look fantastic and push the story along. This all left a very good impression for what is to come later.
Strike : The Inverted Spire
The Inverted Spire was the only playable strike in the Destiny 2 beta, and it did not disappoint. Wide, open paths gave the player lots of options for choosing how and from where they wanted to take on enemies. Want to take pot shots from up high with your scout rifle? DO IT! Want to rush with your auto rifle or that SWEET BUSINESS minigun, bringing that pain right to the enemies face? DO IT!!! The player has a great deal of agency and freedom to take on enemies how they please.
This is definitely the most vertical strike ever, as you descend into a hole dug by a gigantic Cabal drill (reminder: never go to a Cabal dentist). At the end is a boss reminiscent of Atheon from the Vault of Glass, as well as a cool damage mechanic for the boss as it changes its elemental weakness as you damage it and the floor disintegrates beneath your feet.
Destiny 2 Beta: The Bad
Ability, Grenade, and Super Recharge Rates
A neutered (or spayed) guardian is a bad Guardian. Destiny offers a super powered, space magic wielding fantasy; this is one of the allures of the franchise. In Destiny 1, grenades fly, punches are thrown, and supers decimate your enemies on the regular. You feel like you can conquer anything. In the Destiny 2 beta, you could literally grow a beard (in real life only, sadly beards are banned in the future) while you waited for your grenades to respawn or your melee charge to return. I am still waiting for my super to come back after casting it 8 days ago. You get the picture.
I know the Cabal took the Traveler and stole our light, but DAMN?! It feels bad, man. If this is the first time you played a Destiny title, you might not notice, but for old-timers like myself, this was a most unwelcome change, especially since across the board your abilities don’t do near as much damage.
Tying into the abysmally slow ability recharge rates was the great Power Ammo shortage of 2017. A black market selling this scarce resource could have developed rather quickly, as demand was high and quantities were low. It was so scarce that I have to resort to extreme sarcasm to paint the picture of how scarce it was. Okay, enough of my shenanigans. It was hard to find in PvE activities which, when combined with the sloth-like ability recharge rates, made the Strike a trudging exercise in Primary weapon usage. This was both tedious and boring, despite how good the Kinetic and Elemental weapons felt to shoot. A patch has been made to fix this issue, but when you are trying to attract new players to your game, this sort of thing doesn’t help.
Supers in the Crucible
First things first: Not having the Crucible be a sticky grenade one-hit-kill fest was awesome. Not getting your super till the last minute to 45 seconds of a match (or sometimes not at all) was not good. As I noted above, supers are part of what makes the Destiny franchise fun and different from most other shooters. The cooldown rate is just flat-out too slow. Getting a super so late in a match destroys any tactical application of it. Instead, you just feel like you have to use it right then and there before the match comes to an end and you can’t use it at all! Supers can, and should, swing a match when used tactically. That kind of strategy is not possible as things stand currently.
Destiny 2 Beta: The Ugly
Tutorial? What Tutorial?
I am extremely happy because two of my closest friends are considering jumping into Destiny 2 when it releases on September 6th. After playing the Destiny 2 beta, I had to continue to hype up the franchise in order to maintain their interest. Why, you ask? Lack of a tutorial seriously curtailed their enjoyment! Bungie is expanding the Destiny franchise’s reach to a new platform in the PC crowd. Bungie also stated that one of the main reasons for making everyone start from scratch in Destiny 2 was to both even the playing field and encourage new players to join on the next-gen consoles.
So, it was an ugly surprise when I spent an hour plus explaining all of the nuances of the game to my two friends who have never played the first title and are looking at coming on-board for Destiny 2. Destiny is like an onion; it has a lot of layers. Despite having played the game for three years, trying to describe the different abilities or how to best use them was a chore over voice chat. I was literally taking pictures with my phone and texting them to my friends to help explain some of the more nuanced portions of gameplay, gun perks, and an assortment of other issues.
I feel bad for anyone just trying out Destiny alone for the first time in the Destiny 2 beta. Where is the tutorial? Lack of a tutorial is surprising to me. If the goal is to expand and bring in new players, why not have an in-depth tutorial? Adding an optional walkthrough would have been a very good idea. It may well have alienated and scared off some potential new players.
I think not having a tutorial or walkthrough was a huge mistake. Feeling lost is not a good way to get new players to invest in this game. A beta, like it or not, is a chance for people to test whether they should use their hard-earned money to buy a game. The Destiny 2 beta was unnecessarily difficult for new players to get in and experience all it had to offer. I should not need to hype the game to get my friends to buy it. Destiny 2 should do that itself, and a more polished Destiny 2 beta would have helped with that. Getting a more up to date version of the beta to play would have been nice, because as good as Crucible felt, the other areas of the game felt lackluster.
The Destiny 2 beta was a success on several fronts. The Crucible felt great and balanced. The small assortment of weapons felt snappy and very well tuned. The game looked and sounded fantastic! Bungie has reportedly fixed the majority of issues I had with the Destiny 2 beta. Luke Smith was recently part of a Q&A on IGN.com and had this to say about changes to Destiny 2 following feedback from the beta:
As a result of the Destiny 2 beta feedback, Bungie has made necessary changes ahead of the release date. However, I did not leave my time playing the Destiny 2 beta feeling an increased sense of anticipation. I left my time feeling like something was missing, and first impressions are everything when you are trying to increase your consumer base. The Destiny 2 beta was fun, but because of some missteps and missing features, ultimately fell short of greatness.
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