This weekend new and returning fans of the Destiny franchise experienced the upcoming Destiny 2 through a public beta. While it did rekindle the excitement for a new game, some of the gameplay and content fell a little short.
My first experience in the original Destiny was sitting through an hours long installation. I should not have been surprised then when the Destiny 2 beta dropped a suspiciously small 390 MB install that turned into an 11 GB install on first play.
The story mission that players battle through to reach the rest of the beta content treads over themes seen numerous times in media, turning into a paint-by-numbers model of emotional engagement. The home base from the first Destiny is in shambles and careful cameos of main characters trickle by one at a time. Even a single maintenance bot appears in a simultaneous attempt at drama and humor.
The conclusion of the mission has the iconic Traveler sealed away by the invading Cabal forces. The implication is that the Guardians lose their powers as a result, including their ability to resurrect. This seems to be pushed aside as resurrection works as it did in the original game with the other content in the beta. Perhaps it’s explained in a following mission but the conclusion of the story mission left me with a feeling of unsatisfying confusion.
The cooperative strike mission is a trek through Vex territory to approach a Cabal drilling site. The mission itself is lively enough, but the strike boss itself is when I noticed how this game may be diverging from the original in some negative ways. Maybe it’s just from playing at high levels and optimum gear in the original Destiny, but this boss felt overly stacked with health. The encounter itself seemed sluggish as well, with a few waves of enemies breaking up the tedium of slowly chipping away his health. The only gimmick in the battle is the floor dropping to open up new arenas, but they’re similar enough in shape that the effect is essentially meaningless.
More issues with gameplay became apparent in the two multiplayer missions. While not easily put into words, the movement and combat of the beta seemed off from the original game. While it could be attributed to weak gear and a low level for the beta, moving felt sticky in ways that the early game of Destiny did not. Special attacks and grenades also take a significant time to recharge, the latter being especially notable. Grenades never seemed to be available and also seemed to be much weaker, even unable to kill some basic enemies when stuck.
All of these problems can be explained by Bungie’s explanation that this is an early stable build of the game and balance is not fine tuned. Even so, that doesn’t change the fact that this experience turned out to be underwhelming and not an excellent sales pitch to pre-order the full title which releases Sept. 6.
Overall the beta attempted to scratch a lot of Destiny itches but did so in ways that failed to capture the original. Released as it is in the beta, Destiny 2 would look to be a near but not perfect clone of the original. Considering the original game’s debacle with releasing DLC and the full game together, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to wait out the storm and see how the game reviews. I’ll personally be waiting for the Destiny 2 version of The Taken King, which to me made the original a game worthy of a solid time investment.