Destiny 2 Open Beta: Review

Whether you’re a Herculean warrior or light-infused initiate, console users took to orbit this past week and immersed themselves in the Destiny 2 Open Beta.

While it may not have been as explosive as we had hoped – juggling between three games types, repeatedly, has its expiry point – but it did succeed in planting that infectious MMO seed which will only continue to grow and seek replenishment leading up to the full title’s release on September 6th.

Bungie has scaled the beta’s content way back this year – a story mission, a Strike, and the two very different Crucible match types were all that was on offer. When playing with friends, Destiny 2 was absorbing as its predecessor, even if it was in short supply, but it is frustrating to see that the same content has been shovelled out countlessly beforehand.

The strike, Inverted Spire, has appeared at various gaming events and YouTube channels over the past six months – possibly why so many fans are so disgruntled towards the beta, christening it “Destiny 1.5.”

Bungie, however, said that the beta is “based off a build of the game that is now months old,” so there’s a chance that the studio has already addressed our criticisms, or will do so by the time Destiny 2 launches.

The Story – Homecoming

 – Jenny Murphy Byrne

Homecoming is both spectacular and catastrophic. The Cabal has returned and is clearly upset by their lack of involvement in the previous game. So instead, they’ve taken it amongst themselves to become the opposing force of Destiny 2. The Red Legion leader Dominus Ghaul plans to seize the light of the Traveler as his own, sapping us of our powers entirely – which is, rather stinging for those level 400 players.  

This fleeting glimpse into Destiny 2’s campaign clearly echoes Bungie desire in emphasising the studio’s storytelling capabilities.  It seems the studio has returned to their classic Halo approach in designing stirring cinematic set pieces, with key characters given a brief moment to showcase their devastating skills.

Our superiors fight among us, representing the divergence that rests within the Guardian ranks: Zavala prioritises civilian evacuation, Ikora Rey is desperate to save the Traveler, and Cayde-6… well, he just wants to shoot some Cabal.

As you scramble through your former home, now ravaged by Ghaul’s forces, Bungie illustrates just how restricted it was when developing the original game. Now, the studio can truly demonstrate its prowess with environmental design: gouts of rain crashing against your screen, the skylines peppered with fire, as our hub of activity is reduced to ruins.

Stepping out into the main Tower courtyard elicits quite a strange response. On the one hand, you’re quietly cheering this epic, phwoar-evoking battle. On the other, however, you’re remembering the times spent galloping around with friends, accepting quests, dismantling needless gear, and of course, dancing our little Guardian butts off.

This conflicting mix of emotions acuminates into an utterly thrilling, bittersweet conclusion. Suffice to say, as Ghaul boots your lightless body to the depths below, the opening act will leave any Guardian itching to push forward come September.

The Strike – The Inverted Spire

Jesse Melia

If Raids are the province of the hardcore fans, and the story is fodder for the casual gamers, then Destiny’s Strike mode skirts the middle ground between the two extremes.

Destiny’s best Strikes have always been well structured.  Chances are a lot of players will be replaying these missions in triple digit figures, so the level designs need to be diverse and dynamic to keep the experience reasonably fresh.

The Strike that came with the recently released Destiny 2 beta, the Inverted Spire, certainly comes close to achieving the ideal format.

The level itself is sprawling and varied. It moves between prancing ledge battles, to claustrophobic (Cabal) dog fights, to large scale battlefield encounters. The scope of the battles is impressive, with one particular skirmish taking place on an unprecedented scale never seen previously in a Strike.

The enemy types are varied too: the old reliable Vex kill-bots intermingle with the Cabal’s new additions (War Beasts, snarling Cabal blood-hounds, and Gladiators, hulking cleaver wielding adversaries).

Existing Cabal enemies are souped-up too, with the Phalanx troop’s shields now capable of covering a large area of ground, and the Psions displaying an aggressive and slick new move-set.

The level flows well, no two areas are alike, and the fields of combat switch and shift in perspective as the level progresses. Aside from the previously mentioned large scale battle, there’s also a massive drill at the centre of the level. Guardians must duck and weave to evade the drill as it churns through the level.

Leading up to the release of the beta, there was a lot of chatter online saying that the Strike had Raid-like features, which is something of an overstatement. The drills and podiums are a nice wrinkle to the level structure, but they don’t require squad cohesion to overcome, and they aren’t challenging, two things essential to a Raid.

The boss battle against hulking Vex Protheon was encouraging. While Destiny, especially in its infancy, was criticised for its boss battles that devolved into mind-gnawing pot shot grinds, this latest boss offering tries to keep it fresh.

While at its core it isn’t much different from a classic Destiny boss battle – ping the face off a large foe, while also suppressing the enemy reinforcements – it has some new tweaks that will intrigue veteran Guardians.

The battle goes through three distinct phases, with the level design shifting, and enemy assault intensifying as the battle progresses. This keeps the fight engaging and is an encouraging sign for the Strikes to come.

Bungie has clearly listened to fans’ criticisms and has made subtle strides forward in level design and structure.

The Crucible – Endless Veil (Control) and Midtown (Countdown)

– Nick Moloney

Destiny 2’s Beta has come and gone. With hindsight being 20/20 vision, let’s jump into what we thought of the multiplayer.

We could see the two options offered in the Crucible that Bungie was given some leash and Activision has returned the same favour. Both maps, Endless Vale and Midtown showcased the diversity in style between the two studios.Each mode changed the way the game felt, but overall the beta really did feel like an add on to the first game; this was to be expected and to some degree welcomed. The few changes we did notice, were small and somewhat annoying.

The shotguns are now classed as heavy weapons and ammo is scarce, only popping up at timed intervals. This was as upsetting as the loss of shotguns after Modern warfare 2. Why give us a taste and then take them away?

 

Secondly, and even more annoying, was that when you used your super power, you were no longer protected and could be easily mowed down via energy weapons, which in our opinion was more frustrating than being killed by an overpowered, hovering Warlock.

Control:

The popular game mode Control returned on the ultra-vibrant and whimsical Endless Vale. This map seemed to pay homage to Bungie’s Halo roots. It’s small and action-packed, with all avenues leading you to the centre of the map.

With the matches being so busy, it seemed the emphasis was set purely on the player’s individual skill, rather than relying on rank advantages or a fully-upgraded class.

Countdown:

This highly-strategic game type was the newest addition to Destiny’s crucible. A round-based, attack-and-defend game where you can only be revived a set amount of times by your teammates.

Midtown channels Call of Duty’s Search and Destroy, whereas Endless Vale forces the player think more about the environment. Its labyrinth of lanes and alleys wreaked frustration on late comers to the beta.

The map, like some Call of Duty maps, made you think a lot more about what route to take, what cover is available, which corners to rush and to not rush. The bombs were placed in easy-to-defend areas and communication was an essential tool when on the offence.

The game mode was fun and we look forward to seeing it expanded upon on launch day.

The Farm

Of course, before we hop into our little space pods and jet off, we must mention the surprise unveiling of a new social area. Players were allowed to frolic on The Farm for at least an hour, exploring and probing at its hidden secrets. This abandoned and overgrown terrain is a major departure from our beloved Tower – humanity has been forced to live here after being kicked out the Last City by the Cabal. The entire area feels more organic, and oddly, quite foreign, with a significant lack of alien tech which set The Reef and Tower apart.

While at first glance, the Farm may look and feel different, but it seems it will offer a fairly similar experience – mischievously climbing every object with a lip on it, while also tormenting your friends with your ridiculous antics.

One can only speculate, but the Farm will, most likely, be one of the several hubs that will be available in Destiny 2, and possibly the first you’ll encounter narratively.