At this point, you probably already know how you feel about Destiny. Developed by Bungie, makers of the world-conquering Halo series, this grindy-FPS has quickly become just as divisive as Marmite on toast. Depending on where you sit, the mere mention of Destiny will either leave you with an engram-shaped gleam in your eyes, or have you rolling them so furiously that they evaporate inside your skull.
Now, its highly anticipated sequel is only a few months away, so we sat down with a single-player build of Destiny 2 at E3 to see what’s changed. Most significantly, we wanted to find out whether Bungie could spin a decent story at the second time of asking?
HOME NOT-SO-SWEET HOME
While the original Destiny having spurned PC owners entirely, its sequel won’t be making the same mistake twice. As such we found ourselves taking on Destiny 2’s opening mission, a thrilling slice of cinematic action titled 'Homecoming', with an entirely alien controller configuration: a mouse and keyboard.
Wondering what difference this all makes? Well, it’s a total game-changer. After the slow and skulking pace of the original, experiencing Destiny’s excellent gameplay at 4K and 60 frames per second transformed the franchise into an infinitely more intense experience.
The start of the sequel's story is about the game's heroic Guardians losing everything they hold dear. For fans of the first game, this means seeing something they also consider sacred, the Tower, attacked and burned to the ground. Even if you didn't spend time in this social space, seeing it unceremoniously razed still packs quite the emotional punch. As we jumped and dodged the incoming laser fire, the faster nature of Destiny 2 meant that we found ourselves having to really concentrate to avoid a grisly death. On PC, Destiny’s combat feels more urgent and thrilling than it ever has before.
Unfortunately for console players, though, Bungie has opted to lock Destiny 2 at 30 frames outside of PC – and that includes those playing on PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X. It’s a baffling move, as after experiencing Destiny 2 as it should be, we can’t help but think that most players would sacrifice the slightly higher resolution for the intensity that comes with the much higher frame rate. Thankfully for console players then, the better PC resolution isn’t the only change players can expect from Destiny 2.
A FRESH PERSPECTIVE
Alongside making Destiny 2 play better, it feels like Bungie has made a real effort to make missions feel more connected to the game’s story. Last time around, Destiny was guilty of having incredibly samey feeling missions with each largely consisting of just shooting waves of alien foes. And the reasons for doing so? They quickly became less and less relevant. With Destiny 2, Bungie has opted to inject a bit more spectacle into proceedings.
In the opening moments of our preview, Earth's last safe city — home to our heroes and the iconic Tower — is falling fast. Trees are burning, the plaza is crumbling, and civilians are being evacuated. The most unsettling image, however, is the Traveler — the moon-like entity that granted the Guardians the Light — being shackled by the tentacled arms of an enemy craft.
Exhilaratingly, this grandiosity isn’t limited to cut scenes. As we ran around slaughtering the invading Legion troops, sometimes we’d get a little help from The Tower’s NPCs. After making some decent headway across The Tower, a hulking behemoth of an enemy ship flew at us from the foreground, ready to blow us into a thousand tiny pieces. Luckily enough, Warlock Vanguard Ikora was having none of it. Running up onto the ship at great speed she single-handedly took it down, unleashing a superhero-style punch that instantly saw the craft crash and explode into a slew of tiny pieces.
With the Destiny largely leaving you to just do the shooting, seeing NPCs really influence gameplay really added to the feeling that an actual invasion was going on. Rather than missions just being a half-hearted concoction to help players farm enemies for some sweet new loot.