Destiny 2 - Our Thoughts of Everything So Far (Gameplay Reveal Related)by Kirby Yablonski
A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend the Gameplay Reveal for Destiny 2. The good folks at Activision invited me to join others to see the first gameplay footage, as well as get a chance to play some of what was shown. Now, I know that there have been many articles written about the event, and some of you are going to be asking "Why are you just writing now?". Well, the answer to that is somewhat strange, and I will admit I had mixed emotions after attending the event. I was lost in a sea of information, as well as an ocean of thoughts, and it literally took me this long to start putting my views onto virtual paper. This article is going to be a somewhat a summary of what I saw, or played, but it will also be a personal introspective of what I thought of the things I experienced, and what I got from talking to others who were hanging out.
First off, there is not much reason I should get too in depth about the story, as that has been done. But what I will sum up is that the fact that the Cabal get a starring role in the Destiny 2 narrative is welcome. This time around Dominus Ghaul, a Cabal Warlord, and his army of specialized Cabal warriors attack the Last City and take the light from the Traveler. It is Dominus's opinion that he should be given the light as giving it to humans was a mistake. Destiny 2 has you trying to reclaim your light while also working with, and learning more about, the Vanguards all Destiny fans have come to like, Zavala, Cayde and Ikora.
Given how much time I have spent playing Destiny (Xbox Live says I have played for 2225 hours) I have become tired of the same areas that we have been given to explore. Even the last expansion, with the Plaguelands and the various areas associated with it, grew wearisome quicker than I had thought it would. So, I am really excited to know that we are getting four new planets to explore. Information given at the event was scarce, but what we do know is that we will get the following:
- European Deadzone - looks to be the central hub of Destiny 2 as this is where humanity has taken refuge after the attack on the Last City.
- Nessus - If I had any comparison to give, this planet looks like Venus as it is where the Vex have conquered the land and made it where they want to be. It is here that you'll find Cayde, and during the Gameplay Reveal, it is here that the strike that was demoed, Inverted Spire, takes place.
- Titan - This oceanic planet, which orbits Saturn, is very unique in that it is always brimming with storms and high waves and you'll be checking out many of the ‘man-made' structures that were placed upon it. It is here that you'll find Zavala as he made his way to Titan after the events that occured at the Lost City.
- IO - This yellowish moon orbits Jupiter. What makes this setting so important is that the Traveler had ‘enpowered' it prior to heading to earth, so the light is strong here and you might be finding your time here even more important. Rumours on the event floor was that you might just learn more about the Traveler here given the role that he/she played. It is also here that you'll find the Warlock Vanguard Ikora Rey as she made her way to IO to learn more about the Traveler given it was the last spot he/she bestowed the light upon.
Destiny 2 looks to be more story driven, which is about time. When The Taken King expansion was released, although it wasn't particularly long, it had the presentation of something more epic then the core game itself, and this seems to be what Bungie is aiming for. As I am more of a single player/PvE type gamer, this truly excites me at the possibilities of what the game will bring. With that in mind, I sure hope we find out a lot more about the Traveler, as well as the worlds that we'll be exploring. If done right, and taking cures from The Taken King, this could be what Destiny fans have been waiting for in terms of the story aspect of the game. At this juncture, I have more hope than I have had before regarding this area, and my fingers are crossed for something heroic and impressive this time around.
As I am a real PvE fan, something that caught my ear, and eye, was how they were trying to expand the game outside of the main story. Bungie was not too disclosive, but there were some things that they touched on, especially in terms of out of the story mode and/or end game, like a continued need to do patrols, but they would not be so mundane and sterile. They also touched on the need to explore, as this would open secret areas that would provide you with greater rewards too. Of course public events will take place, but Bungie mentioned that guardians would know when they are coming and that they wouldn't be hit and miss so to speak (I hope there is no need for 3rd party apps to figure out when they are going to drop). It's clear that they are trying to improve players experiences in this area; however, they were not as open as they could be as to what would be fully offered here, most likely to not give everything away to soon. Oh, and one thing that really makes me happy, you won't have to go to orbit to change your location, as you just hit your map button, find your destination, and boom, you are transported there.
There are no new classes of guardians being added, and that the type of subclass energy is the same. So, you'll find that your supers and/or abilities will still be based on arc, void, and solar energy. What is new however is that there are a few new subclasses (abilities) within each guardian, and these new abilities will add new strategy to your game. As I played, and watched, there were a couple new Supers in play that caught my attention. For a Titan, the Fist of Havoc is now Fists of Havoc, as you can ground pound more than once, as well as shoulder charge, when this super is activated. For the Warlock, you now have a super called Dawnblade. This solar based attack has you using a solar sword to fire large swaths (think sawblades) of fire. I must say that using a Titan has always been my first choice, and knowing I have more than one Fist of Havoc attack when activated is pretty cool. You'll find that it's radius is not as large, but that is to be expected, and only fair, given you can use the ground pound more than once during activation.
Another brief thing I looked at was the ‘talents' within the character menu. I got to spend more time in the Warlock's menu, but I took a quick sneak peak at the Hunter's, and I noticed that it was not your typical Destiny menu, as in Destiny 2 there are ‘some small skill trees' within each character's ability/talent menu. I wasn't able to switch between too many of them, but if you look in the video below, there is a bit more time where you can see the Warlock's talents and what they do. It seems that there might be more importance this time around then just levelling up your general talent boxes as you have less of them this time, but they seem to be kind of focused. It's my hope that these separate trees really do play a role in how one plays and how you can play in a team with others.
During my time watching the presentation, and speaking with Community Manager David (DeeJ) Dague, it was clear that Bungie wants to make the world of Destiny 2 more social, and to do this they are doing two things: Clans and Guided Games.
Clans is an important feature in such that it allows you to hook up with a group of likeminded gamers and form a group. This helps when doing strikes, nightfalls, raids, and entering the crucible. In the original Destiny, the only way to form a clan was register on Bungie.net and then manage your clan from there. In Destiny 2 clans are finally baked into the game. It is its own menu that can be accessed in such a way that you'll never have to leave the game. You will have customizable banners and a clan description which makes you your own group. Being able to set up games and make sure people can play is a key feature of the clan system. When speaking with DeeJ about clans, he made it clear that you cannot join more than one clan at a time (unlike Xbox One groups) so you'll have to choose your clan carefully and be weary of "clan hoppers".
To me this is one of the key features of the social aspect of Destiny 2. It is akin to LFG on the Xbox One, but again, baked into the actual game. Here clans that cannot fill a spot (or more) on their roster for a strike, nightfall or raid can reach out to the public, and vice versa, those guardians who do not have a party for the aforementioned activities can apply to any clan to fill in a spot. It basically helps each side of the fence so to speak, clan vs. single player, get that much-needed time with a full group to finish doing a task or actually getting through some level or part of the game that one might not have been able to do prior to using the guided game feature. I just hope that it is user friendly in such that it's really does what it is supposed to and that clans don't take on that "better than thou" attitude, and correspondingly, that a random player who needs help doesn't act like a doofus (e.g. not doing their part, trash talking, etc.) when a good group of people are willing to help out someone in need.
The final, and somewhat contentious issue for me, is what change is being made to the PvP mode that will be most noticeable, as it is from 6 vs. 6 to 4 vs. 4. Personally, I don't agree with this change, as I think it does more harm than good.
First off, the matches are smaller, and will have less people. Advocates for this change believe that this will let each individual feel like part of the team, but I think it could hinder some of the more casual PvP players. When I asked Deej about this fact, and stated my view, he replied that the goal with the 4 vs. 4 is about empowering people to feel like they play a part in the match and have them feel like a part of the team. If a team loses, Deej stated each player could learn what he didn't do and how he could do it better. I in part agree with this view, where my concern lies in this new 4 vs. 4 could somewhat fracture the PvP players, and even alienate those that only like to come around occasionally, particularly during Iron Banner, as the numbers are now quite limited. Another factor with the smaller teams is that you'll only be able to play with 3 of your friends (or clan) at one time, whereas the original Destiny allows for a larger group to gather, allowing you to play with more of your regular friends at once in public matches.
I feel that the smaller teams may also have an opposite effect on the casual PvP player, making them feel like they aren't part of a team when they don't do as well as they hoped. If you have a few guardians playing and a random casual user comes in to fill that lowly fourth spot, they will most likely feel on their own more as opposed to a bigger group, most likely giving them a more negative experience then when filled with a bigger group who can usually help balance things out. I know what some of you are saying, that if you can't pull your weight, get out, but that shouldn't be the case with a game that strives to be so social. I know that many of the people that I play Destiny with are those who enjoy the PvE more than the PvP, but we all like to hit the Crucible during Iron Banner and special events. When my online friends learned it was now 4 vs. 4 in PvP, they stated that they will play less of the Crucible modes, given that there won't be an ability to have the usual, and larger, number of people playing. Plus they also wondered how this will affect the game modes we enjoy (e.g. Control and Supremacy).
I am hoping that I explained myself well enough in my concerns for the Crucible mode, given that I know I am not the only one feeling somewhat unhappy with this one major change, which I do think is a double-edged sword, and in my case, it leans towards the more negative.
One final gameplay note that I would like to comment on, and one that is not yet implemented, is the need for ‘hot keys'. Destiny requires you to use items from your guardian's on-character storage, and having to access the menu while playing, especially during such things as boss fights or a when a high number of enemies are attacking at one time, is very annoying. For example, when needing to use a Heavy Ammo Synth having to stop playing, you need to enter the menu, find the synth, and use it, and then back out not only takes time, but puts you and your team at risk. I asked Deej if there were any plans to implement such a feature, and although he said something like this is not in the game, he said the game is not done. I kindly informed him that this would be a great feature to have. My usual group of Destiny players are more than willing to get rid of an emote, or two, and allow us to put some much-needed hotkeys on the d-pad.
So, there you have it guardians, these are my thoughts, and opinions, about some of the things I saw, and played, during my time in LA a few weeks ago. Yes, it took a while for me to put things into words, but as noted earlier, there was a reason or two. Anyhow, those reasons aside, Destiny 2, even with the limited look we've been given to date, seems to be headed in the direction that many fans want. I personally know that the story, and PvE mode as a whole, looks to be heading in the right direction, and that if they have learned from the past, they know that fans want an epic narrative and fulfilling end-game experience. And who doesn't want to explore new areas. As for the PvP mode, I am somewhat hesitant to embrace it, and I am not sure it will have the desired effect and worry about those casual and less experienced Crucible players, but I am just one opinion amongst many. At the end of the day though, the gameplay may still be a familiar experience on many levels, but Destiny 2 looks to continue the journey in a way that should be enjoyable to many players, both returning and new alike.