Destiny 2 Beta Impressions From a Destiny Newbie: Part 1

I have a confession to make: I never played Destiny.

I intended to! The idea of a huge universe to explore, characters to upgrade, relationships to forge with other players, all of that was appealing to me. I just never got around to it — and maybe it was for the best. I avoided disappointment, at least in the early days, as the game didn’t quite live up to its hype.

However, I also know that Bungie kept right on working, bringing expansions that fixed what was broken and improved even what was working. Destiny 2, then, is Bungie at its lesson-learning best.

My perspective is going to differ from most other Destiny 2 Beta impressions you’ll read online. I don’t think of that as a detriment, though. If Bungie wants to grow the Destiny community, they’ll have to start bringing in new players. I’m one of them. So while I won’t be able to give you in-depth comparisons of how primary weapons are handled in 2 vs. 1, or have much to say about how the new subclasses stack up against the original’s, what I will give you instead is a fresh set of eyes and thumbs, and, hopefully, an interesting perspective.

From my extensive reading about the original Destiny, I came to understand that story was something the game lacked. Whether it was the memeification of Peter Dinklage’s original, phoned-in performance or stories about how dull and stripped down the overall story was, it was clear that, at least pre-expansions, Destiny was not a story lover’s dream. Color me pleasantly surprised, then, to find the opening story mission so compelling. Full of characters I don’t know, sure, but voiced by some excellent actors (including video game icon Nolan North and general nerd icon Nathan Fillion). The premise this mission sets up is one we’ve seen in games and movies before, but it could lead in some interesting directions. A huge armada of Cabal warships is attacking the Tower, the symbol for humanity’s future, and the Guardians are called into action to put a stop to it. The Traveler — the orb that has been at the center of the Destiny story from the beginning — seems to be under assault, as well.

I’m dropped straight into the action. The headquarters is on fire, and waves of Cabal warriors descend on me. I’m told these creatures resemble bipedal rhinos, and maybe they do, but I’ve never gotten close enough to form that opinion for myself. From a distance, they look like humanoid hamsters. This opinion has certainly made me the enemy of many hardcore Destiny players, and I welcome your anger.

The combat is fast and tight. Everything controls just as I expect, with the exception that the jumps feel a little floaty. Low gravity, I expect. It plays out quite well in battle, however, as I find myself careening around large rooms, firing at Cabal soldiers. When my Super is charged, first I fumble around in the menu, not sure what a “Super” is or how to use it, but thinking, hey, that sounds pretty good. Then I activate it, and wow. The camera pulls back to a third-person view while I go nuts on everything around me with a charged-up staff. I wasn’t expecting the shift in perspective, but it’s very, very cool. I’ve played a lot of first-person shooters, and I’ve even been pretty good at some of them. This game, compared to even the best I’ve played, controls like a dream.

I should point out the handful of connectivity issues I’ve had. Once, I had to abandon the opening story mission halfway through, as my connection dropped for some reason. Servers unprepared, perhaps. The second oopsie I had involved me missing a flag that would trigger the next event, and I found myself stuck in a city plaza, unable to proceed. I’m not disappointed, though. This is a beta, after all. Hopefully, my attempts today will be a bit more fruitful.

Check back for the next part, as I delve into the Strike portion of the beta, to see how many different ways I can die and embarrass myself.

I’m having fun, and if the game that ships in September is as tight and enjoyable as this beta, I just might be in it for the long haul.