PC will likely be the best home for Bungie’s online-only multiplayer shooter.
If you’re a console Destiny player, Destiny 2’s performance on PC will amaze you. Trust me; I’ve played over 700 hours of Bungie’s shared multiplayer shooter in the last three years, but none of that experience prepared me for the PC’s unbelievably high resolution and snappy 60 frames-per-second performance. If teraflops and raw processing power are your thing, the demo I played points to an absurdly bright future and a great new home for a game that was practically built for the PC anyway. But outside of these bells and whistles, what does Destiny 2 feel like from the perspective of a grizzled veteran like myself?
The E3 2017 demo is the opening mission of the campaign, called Homecoming, and it’s a reminder of all of the lessons Bungie learned in lead up to this sequel. When Destiny launched on consoles in 2014, it spelled out its villains and story sequences in broad strokes. The Darkness was the name of the enemy, but it didn’t have a consistent face. The Guardians had three key leaders named Cayde-6, Ikora, and Zavala, but none of these heroes were given actual screen time to give you an idea of who they were. The hodgepodge of storytelling delivered an underwhelming story and few standout heroes or moments.
Destiny 2 is so much better at storytelling and right from the beginning, it all makes sense. The demo introduces the Guardian leaders and lingers on their unique personalities moments before a vicious attack. The Tower, the last bastion of humanity in this universe, is under assault by the Red Legion, and this new foe wants to capture the Traveler’s Light, the source of the Guardian’s powers. The storytelling effort here is notable and on par with the work Bungie did on The Taken King, one of the more notable expansions of the original game.
The lead-in to Destiny’s first campaign mission sets up an epic moment, one that destroys the Guardians’ home in the process, but the first rain-soaked encounter kicks off with an inside joke. The mission objective on screen reads to “Defend the Tower from three assaults.” If you’ve played as much Destiny as I have, this specific type of encounter overstayed its welcome during Year One. Jokes aside, it’s the start of a great roller coaster ride that looks and plays wonderfully on PC, and a great opportunity to use some of the new abilities coming in the sequel.
Perhaps the coolest part of my demo was the chance to unleash the Dawnblade, a new Warlock specific subclass that replaces the Sunsinger. Once activated, it gives the Warlock a sword that fires solar blasts at enemies. Super Abilities and subclasses are going through some changes in Bungie’s sequel. Each subclass has a unique global ability. Warlocks can heal or buff players, Hunter’s have a dodge ability that can reload their weapon, and Titans can build temporary cover. It further diversifies the three classes and gives them valuable support, offense, and defensive options.
The Homecoming mission took me up to the Red Legion’s command ship for a confrontation with Dominus Gaul, the leader of the group, but it cut me off before the conclusion (but you can see part of it in one of the more recent trailers).
Destiny 2’s opening campaign mission is a great jumping off point for a new campaign, one that at least from the sound of things strips Guardians of their powers. It’s bombastic and full of great gunplay and flashy graphics and effect, but I can’t help but dwell on what Bungie isn’t showing yet. Destiny is much more than just a campaign experience, it’s a game with hard-to-earn gear and weapons. And it’s an experience that’s best played by a group versus going alone. Sadly, the E3 demo only focused on spectacle and none of the things that excite me about the series. But that’s what you have to bring to a trade show like E3, I suppose.
Still, I was satisfied with my Destiny 2 PC experience, but I’ll be waiting for it on a console. The PC version looks fantastic, but I’m a console guy and I wouldn’t want to experience it without my friends (sidenote: We’ve been playing together since the Taken King, and I don’t want to see that end). Homecoming is a great opening mission that sets up the narrative nicely, and it has the same great gunplay I loved about Destiny from the beginning, only faster since mouse and keyboard aiming is vastly superior to shooting with thumbsticks. PC players have to wait a bit longer, but Destiny 2 looks and plays amazingly on the platform.