The Destiny 2 beta has finally closed after being extended for a couple of days. I was a day one player of Destiny and in the three years since it released, I have dipped in and out of the game since then and recently decided to relive the story and DLC by deleting a day one Hunter class guardian I have used and replayed the game hoping to relight the hope that Destiny 2 would build on the first game and deliver what the original idea for the franchise would bring. It is fair to say that the Beta has gotten me more hyped for Destiny 2 a little over a month away now, but it felt more like a very limited demo than a beta. This preview is solely based on the content and experience I had with this ‘beta’ on both PS4 and Xbox One.

The very first thing the beta had players undertake was the opening story mission to Destiny 2. In fact you really have literally only one thing you can actually pick and that is one of the three Guardians to use. Each of the Titan, Warlock and Hunter guardians were default level 200 and equipped with full epic level weapons and armour. I had hoped to be able to at least see what new gear and how the leveling up would work but sadly that was not to be an element of this beta.

I really enjoyed the more cinematic style of this opening mission that will see the player’s guardian return to The Tower, the original main social hub of Destiny to see the Red Legion led by “Gary” attacking in order to kidnap The Traveler. The flow of the gameplay itself is very much Destiny, it feels like the original with the gun-play so that is still as good as before. I loved finally getting to be in a fight alongside the leaders of the Guardians with Zavala, Cayde and Ikora and to see them in all their glory fighting especially with Zavala who is a huge element to the middle set piece battle on the main Tower grounds was thrilling after such a long time of only having minor dialogue exchanges with them till now. I also really appreciated the way cut-scenes were intermixed with the gameplay adding more fluid story telling complimenting the action although the loading screen between cut-scene and returning to the game were a distraction.

This mission did give players the first chance to check out the new weapon group changes and subclass powers. Weapons are no longer grouped by primary, special and heavy weapons but instead are now kinetic, energy and power. Shotguns, fusion rifles, sniper rifles and rocket launchers are now power weapons. Assault rifles, scout rifles and hand cannons can now be grouped under both kinetic and energy as now weapons are classed by the ammo they use which in the game is still white, green and purple. This is not fully explained in the mission but much like the new subclasses for each Guardian type, I got the sense that it was simply made this way to showcase them for the beta and that in the full game, this story mission will see guardians using the traditional system and classes with the fall of the tower by the end of the mission being the reason and explanation for the change.

The new sub-classes are great fun, the Titan new “Captain America” void shield standing out the most. Again, these new sub-classes will probably not feature in the same story mission in the full game as you should not actually have them until the Traveler is taken by Gary which then takes away the powers of Light from all Guardians. What I did find more intriguing though was the new character abilities such as the Titan’s ability to raise a barricade to act as a defensive wall as the hunter has an ability to suddenly dodge whilst the Warlock can create a healing field. This adds new support options for both Warlock and Titan that can help their squad or themselves in the heat of battle. Character abilities also have two forms for example the Titan can raise a full defensive wall or a barricade which he can take cover behind and then popping above it to take a shot which when returning to cover will also instantly reload the equipped weapon. These have a cool down as well so their use will need to be well judged but it almost has that HALO Reach feel which added armour abilities to the traditional HALO mix and again it has a similar effect with Destiny 2.

This mission does have me hyped for the main story which with the original ending being so poor, made Bungie acknowledges their failings with a stronger sense of story and story telling for Destiny 2. It was just a taste though but with how this felt and looked on screen, if the rest of the campaign has the same style I think I will be very happy.

Once the story mission has been finished, we were presented with the underwhelming choice of playing the one strike mission included, The Inverted Spire or trying the two crucible modes of quick match and competitive. Diving into the strike mission, one of my favourite elements to the first Destiny and I have to say that this felt like a Destiny strike mission and follows the same structure of a running gunfight through the mission before meeting the big bad at the end in a multi stage fight. The Inverted Spire gives us our first look at new Destiny location Nessus, a Vex world which has been invaded by the Red Legion. This is a very standard Destiny style strike but the location along made it interesting enough with a decent final fight forcing my little group of randoms to actually work together by combining our character powers of my titan wall and Warlock’s healing fields to survive sticky moments.

The strike did show some new Cabal enemies such as dual sword wielding henchmen and wild dogs just to mix up the action. I did like that now when completing a strike all the team is rewarded via the completion reward chest that appears at the end although for me all I ended up with were duplicate weapons that my generic Guardian already had and some very ugly looking new armour pieces, I am really not a fan of the American Football gear look to the Titan. But it was challenging enough and a dam good fire-fight all the way through.

The limited Crucible content was very…crucible. I did enjoy the new 4 vs 4 team set up which I felt gives it a real HALO 2 MP vibe to it. But it felt crucible and could not really see any real changes that made it stand out from the original Destiny Crucible other than the new weapon grouping. The action was fast and Control is my go to mode in the crucible but only having two maps limited what really could be experienced, but for a beta, the servers held up well during the time it was live and having a good set up of weapons will as always, help give your guardian a build to use. Did notice that super-moves took more time to charge up resulting in maybe just a single or two uses during a match and having shotguns, snipers and fusion rifles as power weapons kept the action more open but in the maps where power ammo would drop, if the other team has control of that area then it became rather annoying when trying to take the point in that map zone at times. Action was fast and fluid but it would have been nice to have maybe an extra map to experience.

So for one brief hour on what was supposed to be the final day of the beta until it was extended by two days, players were given the opportunity to visit the brand new social hub area for Destiny 2 which replaces The Tower after its destruction. This will be where vendors will be to buy armour and weapons like the tower but these were not present this time. Did like how they have taken the random balls you would find on the Tower and finally added a full on football pitch which as you can see from the video, I  did have one or two games of football with random players which was fun and a very nice touch.

The Farm really fits in with the whole opening to the game with the fall of the Tower and Guardians now being really without a base or home and being outside and in the country brings that back to basics tone to the social hub which I enjoyed. Looking forward to returning and seeing how the Vendors respond to losing the Tower.

Final thoughts…

The first Destiny was the reason I chose the PlayStation 4 over the Xbox One when this current generation of consoles released. As a huge fanboy of HALO, I was both excited and intrigued with the vision Bungie was taking with their next chapter in gaming, Destiny. I was a day one buyer of Destiny and had the expansion pass hoping for the expansions to expand on the story. But like many I felt burned by the many issues Destiny suffered after its release with the lackluster story and empty expansions that took the main story sideways and never forward. Friends who began the Destiny journey with me began to drop away so the whole Raid craze never became a thing for me. So it is fair to say I am one of the thousands that are looking to Bungie to do better with Destiny 2.

This certainly felt more like a limited demo than an actual beta. Bungie had already confirmed that the build which was being used was months old and adjusts had already been made leading into September’s release. It was a taste of what Destiny 2 will offer but I was left wanting more from it. I would have liked the chance to look at customization options in character creation and would have preferred the chance to see the new leveling up system in action instead of default level 200 characters with epic weapons and armour. The story mission definitely has me hyped for the story which Bungie has focused a lot in recent developer videos on being far more story focused with more to experience than original game. The gameplay did feel refined and visually it certainly looks great with better lighting effects and was really impressed to see that the Xbox One version looked no different than the PS4 version, something that I felt was noticeable with the original.

Has this “beta” done enough to win original Destiny fans back is a big question, with the limited content being criticised a lot during its run. But as someone who was slightly burned by the original Destiny, I do feel more hyped for the sequel and just having a taste of being in the world of Destiny 2 was fun. Bungie have a lot to prove in Destiny 2 with most of the new features and changes promised not being shown in this brief demo. I am left feeling hopeful which is probably all this demo/beta could really do.

Although I must try to stop calling the new villain and big bad of the Red Legion Ghaul……Gary!