Home Previews Destiny 2 Hands-on Preview: The quick and the dead

Destiny 2 Hands-on Preview: The quick and the dead


I have spent a disgusting amount of time playing Destiny. This is a fact that I’m proud of in some circles… and also, something I won’t mention in certain company. There’s a stigma that follows the first game, and rightly so — especially considering the mess of a launch it had. Thankfully, the stigma is slowly fading; in the last three years Destiny has improved by leaps and bounds and Bungie has proven it is listening to its community. Destiny 2 is going to have to be amazing out of the gate to silence the hordes of people disappointed with the first release. So far, things are looking promising — but what has actually changed?

The first thing I noticed when sitting down to play Destiny 2 was how crisp and clean its menus are in 4k. I’m sure it sounds silly, but after spending so much time looking at the UI in the original, everything looked incredible. Thankfully, this experience isn’t limited to the UI — every model looked super sharp. It was as if I’d desperately needed glasses for the last three years and they were finally ready for my hands-on opportunity.

Although most of what I could see that looked like a visual upgrade seemed to be a product of the higher resolution, there were other, subtle improvements that I noticed in the build. There was a closer attention to detail in weapons and armour, with smaller accent pieces than seen previously alongside improved textures in the world. Its nice to see some visual improvements but by far the most important thing is gameplay. This is the only reason Destiny stayed around for three years after players felt unhappy with the content: its gameplay is world-class.

I’ll be honest, I couldn’t decide if I wanted big sweeping changes for this sequel or for it to merely be an extension of what I already love. There are some major sandbox changes but ultimately, they don’t change the overall feel of gameplay too dramatically. I was skeptical of the reworked weapon slots before playing — basically, you can now equip two primary and one reworked special/heavy weapon — but now, I’m sold on the change. Pairing two primary weapons together to cover enemies at different ranges feels intuitive and purposeful.

I started with a scout rifle for medium to long range engagements, paired with a hand cannon for enemies a little closer. I then changed to a pulse rifle and SMG combo with much the same idea. Both setups worked equally well; the idea that I had the freedom to set myself up the way I wanted brought with it a sense of customisation missing from Destiny.

The most noticeable difference in the Crucible is the focus on skill. A combination of both a longer time to kill when using weapons and longer cooldowns on abilities feels like it really rewards accomplished players. This means there will be fewer trades in 1v1 firefights and even less ability spamming. Bungie has said it wants to focus on PvP becoming learnable and the switch to smaller 4v4 matches supports this. I’ll miss the free-for-all nature of 6v6 modes but shrinking that team down makes it more likely that people will actually want to use in-game chat. This will hopefully mean more conversation between players and actual strategies in matchmade activities.

During my time in the Crucible I was using the new Arcstrider (or Pole Dancer) Hunter. For the most part the class feels like a reskinned Bladedancer; that is, until using its new super. Closing the gap on an opponent feels a little less certain in two ways. Sometimes you don’t quite have the range with an attack, sometimes you do — there are different attacks during the super with vastly different ranges. It’s also not as easy to hit the target — there is less of a lock-on mechanic. Just because an enemy is in range that doesn’t mean you will automatically hit them if you’re wildly spamming your super.

Outside of the Hunter’s super, the class feels quicker and its jump more powerful. There is much more of a boost when jumping and the sound effects makes the jump feel stronger and more controlled. It looks like the roles between classes will be much more defined this time, with the Hunter focused on agility and DPS. This is a welcome change, further differentiating the classes rather than having the main differences be sub-classes alone. This will push for some continuity while switching sub-classes.

Destiny 2 heads to Xbox One and PS4 from 6 September, and October 24 on PC. Console versions will get a closed, then open, beta in July.