I played Destiny 2 on PC, and I finally understand what all the fuss is about
Fun fact: I don’t own an Xbox One or PS4. My trusty PC is where the vast majority of my gaming happens. This means that when Destiny launched back in 2014, I missed that boat entirely. Actually, the reality is more dramatic than that. I practically tripped off the dock’s edge, fell into the ocean, and drowned hopelessly while I watched the good ship Destiny disappear into the horizon.
The thing is, I work with Tarryn van der Byl. Anyone who follows Tarryn’s exploits will know that for the last three years she’s been all Destiny, all day. She hosts Destiny tea parties, but only Guardians are invited. When she dreams, she dreams of Destiny. When she showers, she showers with her copy of Destiny, complete with a tiny waterproof speaker pumping out the Destiny soundtrack. In other words, she’s Destiny or GTFO.
I’ve felt a little left out, to be honest. So, like, sadface or whatever. But then Destiny 2 became a really real thing that’s happening for realsies, and it’s coming to PC. Sure, it’s coming late. But it’s coming. And the recent beta on PC finally gave me the chance to wear Tarryn’s undies for four whole days. Success!
To be 100% clear, the beta was pretty limited, so I still don’t fully understand what Destiny 2 is. It began with a small chunk of story stuff, something to do with a giant, floating golf ball called The Traveler, and a bunch of dicks called the Red Legion attaching a space-starfish to it so they can control (or destroy, maybe?) the source of the Light that powers the Guardians of The Last City. I think that’s An Important Development, because Light allows the Guardians to press space to respawn? I don’t know. Tarryn’s in Cape Town, I’m in Jo’burg, but even with all that distance between us I can still clearly hear her eyeballs rolling at my (entirely unapologetic) lack of Destiny knowledge.
It’s pretty though! Also, I’m quite fond of the space-opera-meets-Medieval-pomp aesthetic. That, and it’s got Nathan Fillion and Gina Torres in it, which makes Destiny 2 a sort of unofficial Browncoats reunion. I approve of this.
Beyond that, the beta offered a single Strike mission to play through, alongside two variants of the Crucible (one super serious, the other more casual). The Crucible is Destiny 2‘s PvP multiplayer offering, which lets you drag your favourite characters into various arenas across a variety of game modes so you can dismember (and be dismembered by) the favourite characters of other people around the world. It’s entertaining, but I get the feeling the Crucible is in no way the primary focus of Destiny. Cooperation seems to hold more weight than competition in the Destiny mythos, which meant the beta’s Strike mission stood out as being more Destiny 2‘s thing.
Before I get into that, let’s talk about the Guardians. These are the player characters, and they function much like the player characters in any traditional role-playing game. There are three classes of Guardian: Titan, Hunter and Warlock. Titans are beefy, Hunters are agile, and Warlocks do sparkly magic stuff. Each class has its own set of skill trees and sub-classes so you can customise them to your liking, and you’re free to create multiple characters to suit your mood and/or preferred play style. As you play, you unlock new abilities, guns and gear for your Guardians, and these can ALSO be customised with modular bits and pieces, which work alongside the built-in bonuses, perks and traits that high-level gear brings. Obviously, there’s also levelling up to be done, and as you reach higher Guardian levels, you’ll be able to tackle more difficult missions.
Essentially, it’s an action RPG, but it’s also a first-person shooter. And this is where those Strike missions come in. These are like dungeon runs in Diablo. You (and your friends, if you’ve got ’em) drop into an instanced, somewhat-randomised mission, tasked with completing a sequence of objectives. Along the way, you’ll shoot anything that tries to murder you. Sometimes, the things trying to murder you are elite things, which are scarier and more likely to murder you than the regular things – but that’s good, because shooting those scary elite things will bag you sexier rewards. Eventually, you’ll reach the end of the Strike, where you’ll shoot the biggest and baddest of all the things trying to murder you. Once you’ve shoot-ed it enough, it’ll die, and you’ll get really nice loot in return.
It sounds simple, because it is. But it’s also massively enjoyable, and as with any solid action RPG, that core loop of shootin’ and lootin’ so you can shoot-‘n’-loot even harder is incredibly gratifying. The sense of satisfaction that’s born of finding a hot new weapon or gaining a level is increased exponentially when you get friends in on the action. There are vehicles in there too, but they barely featured in the beta.
Now that I’ve played Destiny 2 for myself, I can finally appreciate why it’s an undying obsession for so many Tarryns out there. It blends an intrinsically addicting gameplay loop with the uncomplicated joy of using cool guns and flashy abilities to vanquish inventively dangerous foes. Naturally, with Bungie’s pedigree behind it, every aspect of Destiny 2 feels neatly polished and tightly designed. I was worried the game’s console-centric design might result in the PC version feeling off somehow, but my short time with it gave no indication that this’ll be the case. It’s also intensely attractive, and the sense of environmental scale is captivating. Putting Destiny 2 on Blizzard’s Battle.net platform is an incredibly smart move, and you’ll be happy to find menus full of graphics options and the like, if you’re into that sort of thing. PC niceties like support for resolutions up to 4K, an uncapped frame rate, and support for ultra-wide monitors will feature as well.
I feel as though I’ve barely scratched the surface of this thing, but the crux of it is this: Destiny 2 is going to be huge, it’s a pleasure to play on PC, and I’m excited to see the rest of it. It’s a pity there’s no cross-platform play, but I’ve no doubt the PC community will jump on it, so it’s not as though there’ll be a shortage of people to play with.
It’s releasing on PS4 and XBO tomorrow, 6 September. The PC version will follow on 24 October.