Destiny 2 First Hands-On Preview

Ned Jordan
In Short
Hands-on time with Destiny 2's opening single player mission, Countdown Crucible mode, and Inverted Spire Strike.

After Bungie gave the world its first look at some of the gameplay in Destiny 2, those of us lucky enough to be in attendance at the event were given the opportunity to get some hands-on time with the game. Game stations were available to play the opening level of the game's campaign, the Inverted Spire strike, and Crucible matches in the new Countdown mode ' the first two playable on both PC and PS4, the latter on PS4 only.

If you've seen the gameplay video that debuted at the event, then you've already been given a peek at the game's opening mission.

The mission begins after Ghaul's fleet has breached The Last City's defenses. Cabal troops are assaulting The Tower and the social safe space that you are intimately familiar with if you're a Destiny player is a mess of rubble and flames. You'll fight side-by-side with Zavala in the Tower Watch on the steps that once led to Lord Saladin's post in the pre-Rise of Iron days. It will be up to you to fight off the attacking Cabal forces, but Zavala will be there to provide Ward of Dawn protection when the heavy artillery comes in. The Cabal have some new warriors to bring to the fight, including a flame trooper with an enormous tank strapped to its back which tends to explode when the trooper is defeated and a dual cleaver-wielding berserker looking to slice up a few Guardians. From there the action moves to the Tower North area where Ikora Rey will even the odds for you a bit as you clear out more Cabal. You'll need to then fight your way to an extraction point where Amanda Holliday will pick you up and give you a ride to the Cabal flagship. You'll fight your way deep into the ship where you'll eventually reach a dark chamber in which an enormous and ominous figure emerges from the shadows and ' the demo ends. I guess we'll have to wait until the game's release to see what happens next at that point.

The demo was pretty easy to complete, but it was probably balanced to get as many people through it as possible during the event rather than giving players a challenge. A stock level 20 character was provided for the mission with a straight 200 light level, but I would imagine that players will start out at level 1 in the actual game. I was able to learn a few things about Destiny while playing the demo, though. First of all, the character screen will look familiar to Destiny players at first glance, but there's something different on the weapons side of the screen. The former weapons slots of primary, secondary, and heavy have been replaced by kinetic, energy, and power weapon slots. The demo provided a few weapons in each slot and there weren't any drops during the gameplay, so I have to use those weapons to hazard a guess as to the slots' purposes. Kinetic weapons look a lot like the primary weapons in Destiny, auto rifles, hand cannons, etc. The energy weapons are similar, but include an elemental charge. This means that you can conceivably carry two similar weapons in these first two slots, using the energy weapons to deal with enemy shields and then switching back to the kinetic weapons to finish them off. Power weapons are all of the specialty weapons, and this is where you will slot your shotgun, sniper rifle, rocket launcher, or one of the game's new grenade launcher weapons.

The subclass screen has been completely changed from the one in Destiny. The screen is a lot simpler in Destiny 2, with far fewer traits and abilities than in the original that are grouped together by class ' e.g. the boost abilities are grouped in a single cluster. You'll find a new latent ability for each class here as well which can be activated by holding down the Circle button on PS4. For the Titan Striker subclass this power generates an energy wall that can be used for cover from enemy fire. The Warlock Dawnblade creates a sphere of light that provides either healing powers or an attack boost. The Hunter Gunslinger can perform a dodge maneuver that will automatically reload weapons as well. These abilities have a charge meter similar to that for grenade charges.

After giving the single player gameplay a try I moved on to a couple of Crucible matches of Countdown. Countdown is a new mode that features two four-player teams ' all Crucible modes in Destiny 2 will be 4v4 ' that alternate playing as the attacking and defending team during each round of the match. The attacking team is challenged with planting a charge on one of two locations on the map while the defending team must prevent them from doing so or must defuse any set charges before they go off. When players are killed they won't automatically respawn and will need to be revived by a teammate, so either team can also win a round by eliminating all of the opposing players. The first team to win six rounds wins the match. The matches at the event were played on the Midtown map, an intimate urban location with narrow labyrinthine streets and small interior locations.

Rounds in Countdown play out quite quickly, and even tightly contested matches will reach their conclusion within ten minutes. The charge locations are relatively close to each other and not that far from the starting areas, so you'll quickly find yourself in the thick of things. There are plenty of strategic options available to both the attacking and defending sides, and teams that coordinate well with each other will be at a decided advantage. I enjoyed the few matches that I was able to play, the tight quarters and fast-paced nature of this mode made for some tense and enjoyable PvP action.

The last playable demo available was the Inverted Spire strike that's set on the Vex-dominated world of Nessus. The look of the strike will be familiar to anyone who's spent time in Vex zones in Destiny ' large open areas filled with giant cubic structures that stand in contrast to the deep caverns that the Vex bosses seem to prefer to lurk in. The Inverted Spire starts in one of those large outdoor areas, but you can probably guess from the name that you'll be headed down below before too long. You'll need to fight your way to a mining operation that employs massive drills with huge rotating blades to cut into the ground. Once you reach the mining operation you'll have to push your way through a battle between the Vex and the native fauna, and then make your way down one of the excavations as a massive drill continues to tear into the walls of the hole. You'll have to dodge the massive blades as they make their way around the hole, which is quite a challenging task. Midway down the hole you'll find a cave entrance that will lead you to the strike's boss, Protheon Modular Mind. The battle will be a multi-stage fight, and between each stage the floor will literally drop out from under you and you'll fall down to a new (and smaller) battleground to continue the fight. At the end you'll find yourself literally playing the 'floor is lava' game as the boss briefly turns different sections of the ground molten while you're battling it on a small island on a metallic lake. It's a fun strike to play and the end battle is certainly challenging, but it's not a departure from the strikes available in Destiny.

As a final note, I should mention what it's like playing the game on a PC. The systems at the event were obviously high-end, as the game looked noticeably better on the PC. I am in no way knocking the game's appearance on PS4, it looks great on console, but the resolution, lighting, reflections, and effects on the PC were very impressive. I played on the PC using the keyboard and mouse, and while the keyboard layout took me a little time to get used to the response and precision of using the mouse to aim and fire weapons was excellent. With the move to 4v4 only Crucible matches and PC performance like this, I can only wonder if Bungie is planning on taking Destiny 2 into the world of eSports. Also worth noting about the PC version is that it will be integrated into Blizzard's service. You'll have a single updater/launcher for Destiny 2 and any other Blizzard games you own, with full friend list support and cross-game chat. It's hard not to speculate that Destiny-themed card backs for Hearthstone and Destiny universe pets for World of Warcraft will appear sometime in the future.

That's it from my time at the Jet Center in Hawthorne, CA. We'll bring you more on Destiny 2 as we make our way towards its September 8th launch date.

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Transmitted: 8/7/2022 7:02:07 PM