The first Destiny title launched as a bit of a mess. The story had potential but was far too brief, the late game content was initially very repetitive, and loot was not handled well. Over time the game shifted and evolved with expansions and updates to become a truly great title.
I was there all along, exploiting loot caves, killing fallen over and over, and even though I got frustrated as favorite weapons became nerfed, I still enjoyed it. Now three years later Destiny 2 is around the corner and I have been playing the Beta quite a bit to see if Bungie could innovate while keeping the game feeling as good as late-gen Destiny 1 became. The answer is not that simple, as the format of the Beta really does not show us much truly new and ends up feeling like DLC to the original instead of an evolutionary new title.
SPOILER ALERT: SPOILERS BELOW FOR DESTINY 2‘S MAIN STORYLINE
The Beta starts with the intro to the full game. As has been shown at various gaming events, Destiny 2 centers on a new threat called the Red Legion attacking the Traveller and last city. The stunning intro cinematic has the heads of the Guardians, Cayde-6, Commander Zavala, and Ikora Rey Hunters facing the attack as the Tower and city crumble around them. The gameplay started with my character landing in the Tower to lend aid to the citizens and fellow Guardians. The action heated up very quickly with welcome cameos from the leaders as I battled through the tower.
The action and gameplay are very familiar in this initial mission, as you choose your Guardian, pick your super, and have a few weapon choices to cycle through. The abilities and weapons are very familiar too, so jumping into action was easy, but it felt like it lacked innovation from the first title.
As the mission ended I realized why: The story mission ends with the leader of the Red Legion, Dominus Ghaul, defeating the Traveler and draining the light (the source of their power) from all the Guardians. My character was defeated, drained, and discarded at the end of the story mission, leaving a lot of questions unanswered.
I am assuming the big changes and innovations will come with Guardians finding a new source of power, which is how Bungie can hit the reset on all the characters. Regardless, the initial moments while enjoyable were akin to another DLC mission instead of a whole new game. Have a look at this playthrough of the initial stages of the story mission.
The Multiplayer is again very familiar, except teams are now reduced to 4-on-4 affairs. Control is still a fast and fun game mode that rewards strategy as much as it does kills.
The other mode featured in the Beta is a new one called Countdown, which has an attacking side and a defending side and revolves around planting a bomb in the enemy’s base. It is a frantic mode that can be a very strategic experience if teams are evenly matched.
After dropping many hours already into the Beta I am enjoying myself yet feeling awfully underwhelmed. I know Bungie is holding a lot of the new features of Destiny 2 close to its chest, but giving us a Beta that is simply a prettier and slightly tweaked version of the original title is a double-edged sword. On the one hand it did show me that the story is definitely more cohesive and teased that there will be some major upheavals in powers and progressions. On the other, there really was no innovation aside from Countdown mode. This is not entirely bad, as the gameplay is tight and frenetic, but for people looking for a whole new experience it may leave them cold.
All in all I am still very much looking forward to the full release in September, but wish Bungie had let loose and shown us some of the new loot and game mechanics I am sure are part of the full package. Destiny 2 launches September 6 on PS4 and Xbox One and October 24 on PC via the Blizzard platform.