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May 19, 2017

Destiny 2 preview: Hands-on with PS4 and PC campaign, strike and PVP modes

by John_A

Destiny 2 was officially unveiled a month or so ago, along with its 8 September 2017 release date and that, as well as support PlayStation 4 and Xbox One again, a PC version will be available for the first time.

We’ve played different modes on both PS4 and PC, during the Destiny 2 Gameplay Premiere event in Los Angeles, and we can confirm one thing; it’s Destiny through and through. Fans will freak over it.

However, we also found it much easier to get to grips with – newcomers have been firmly at the front of Bungie’s collective mind during development. You don’t need to have played Destiny to death to enjoy the sequel. Nor will you feel intimidated.

We’ve been playing different gameplay types on the two different machines, so have had a good taste of what’s on offer, which we detail below. Hopefully, they’ll give you an idea of what to expect when you finally get to try it for yourself. A public beta is expected in the summer, so that might be sooner than you think.

Destiny 2 preview: PS4 Strike

All our PS4 play sessions were using PS4 Pro machines, so sharper than you can probably expect on standard PS4. We don’t know for sure, but suspect they use checkerboard 4K upscaling rather than run natively, but at least that kept the frame rate up.

Bungie / Activision

Again, it didn’t seem to be running at 60fps, but it was certainly holding a stable 30fps – not bad considering it looks absolutely stunning.

The Strike mission we played was The Inverted Spire in the Arcadian Valley on one of the new planets, Nessus. That planet was structured by the Vex, so you can guess what type of enemies we faced.

We won’t spoil it too much, as you’ll no doubt get to play the mission yourself at some point, but a vast majority of it is platform based and there is an incredible section with giant drill bits swooping above and below you as you try to traverse the landscape.

We played in a three-person Fire Team and, luckily, the other two players were talented. We required reviving during the drill bit sequence a lot. A. Lot.

The mission seemed to be over fairly quickly – something needed for a busy event where the turnover is rapid. However, we thoroughly enjoyed it (playing a Warlock). Not sure how different it is to the original, but fun nonetheless.

Bungie / Activision

Destiny 2 preview: PC PVP

Next up on our schedule was some PVP action on the new PC version.

We’ll be quite honest here, The Crucible was never our favourite destination on the first Destiny. It dented our pride far too often in the game’s early days. But steps have been made to make the player vs player modes more accessible to people at different skills levels.

For a start, restricting all competitive multiplayer to four vs four matches means that there’s less scope for the chaotic six vs six battles of Destiny 1. There are also on screen systems to help keep track of teammates and rivals in better fashion. You still require a modicum of skill to enjoy the mode, but you shouldn’t feel as inadequate.

We got to play the new PVP mode, Countdown. Basically, one team defends two points on a map, the other has to blow them up. Teams can also win by killing everybody on the other side, much like the current Elimination mode.

As a gaming experience, Countdown is great fun. However, playing it on PC for the first time, without having familiarised ourselves with the key set completely beforehand just made it all quite baffling. And it was over before we ever really, literally got to grips with it.

One thing we can say though is that the PC version is utterly incredible in looks: native 4K and running at a perfect 60fps. Yum.

Bungie / Activision

Destiny 2 preview: PS4 and PC Campaign

Possibly the mode we most wanted to play was Campaign, to experience the new story. And it lived up to expectations.

There’s not really much to talk about as we played the exact same opening story, Homecoming, as shown in its entirety during the Destiny 2 Gameplay Premiere keynote so you can view it online yourself here.

We can say that the amount and length of cinematic events at the beginning and about halfway through make it feel a bit Call of Duty-esque – spectacular and perhaps a little invasive at times. However, the Destiny gameplay feel is still there. And we suspect that the demo purposes ramped up the amount of time we could achieve Super Charged status in order to try out the Dawnblade power multiple times.

It proved how more enjoyable Destiny 2 will be for solo players. We played entirely alone and the game didn’t punish us for it. And with side missions and so much more to do this time around, plus a far bigger story, it’s definitely shaping up as a title for plenty of new gamers, no just Destiny-holics.

We’d like to play a lot more of the campaign before casting a proper judgement, as there will be plenty of twists and turns to come, but Destiny 2 seems to be less po-faced than the original. And we approve.

We played the PC Campaign mode as well as the PS4 version and it must be said that the difference of the PC’s 4K 60fps presentation is like night and day in comparison. The PS4 Pro version looked great, the PC graphics are simple jaw-dropping – crisp, colourful and a real visual treat.

Time to invest in a decent graphics card then.

First Impressions

It seems that Bungie is, based on our play sessions with Destiny 2 at this early stage, affirming its safe pair of hands. It has been making triple-A games for many years now and it shows.

We can’t tell at this stage how the apocalyptic storyline will play out, or be received, but we like the destruction of the Tower and the resulting fallout. At least it sets a different tone to proceedings.

Destiny 2 will be available for PS4, Xbox One and PC from 8 September 2017. The PC version will be exclusive to Blizzard’s BattleNet online service.

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