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DESTINY 2 Is the Game We Originally Wanted (Preview)

Most of us can agree that Destiny‘s release was far from perfect. Its lack of an enticing narrative (or any at all, actually), repetitive missions, and annoying RNG loot drops drove a lot of players away. Of course, that was never the case for yours truly. It wasn’t until after I put 300+ into the game that I finally decided enough was enough. With that in mind, I already had a laundry list of improvements I wanted to see in a potential sequel. Thursday’s stellar keynote address answered a lot of my concerns, but unfortunately not all of them. Here are my takeaways after an afternoon of going hands-on with the campaign (PS4), PVP (PS4), and Strike (PC) from the highly anticipated Destiny 2.

There’s finally a real campaign–Praise the Traveler! I played the same 10-15 minute-long mission shown off at the keynote called “Homecoming” and well, watching the Tower crumble was definitely intense. While the gameplay felt pretty familiar, the increased NPC chatter that surrounded me, on top of new scripted moments, made it clear that Bungie heard everyone loud and clear and added a robust campaign. The changes weren’t earth-shattering by any stretch, but characters appear to have the soul and charm that were sorely lacking in the first game. This was also my first look at the new Dawnblade special, where the player wields a mighty blade that shoots out fire blasts. Let’s just say it packed quite a punch. I can’t wait to wreak havoc with the sequel’s new specials.

My hope is that at the very least, the campaign gives Guardians some memorable moments. I don’t really think it will dive too deep into the lore that was revealed in the first game since the new focus seems to be on a new threat, Primus Ghaul. But I guess we’ll have to wait and see; consider me cautiously optimistic.

Moving on to the new strikes, I checked one out called “The Inverted Spire” on the PC. Teaming up with two other players, I travelled down to a drilling site to duke it out in a three-staged boss fight. Of everything, this was the most impressive thing I saw. While the premise was the same as past Destiny strikes (pew pew your way through hoards of enemies to reach the boss), the journey to the boss felt more imaginative. Not only did we have to fight our way through a massive site on the new Vex-controlled Nessus equipped with a deadly drill we constantly had to avoid, we also had to hop between platforms while taking out a barrage of enemies.

When we finally reached our destination, the final boss was reminiscent of our good friend Atheon—albeit a miniature version. This was easily the most impressive and fun gameplay I got a chance to experience. It almost felt like they took cues from what made the Raids so much fun regarding the mission structure. I can also report that the build we played had no hiccups on the PC, and it ran smooth as hell.

My final stretch of the Destiny 2 tour landed me in the four-on-four PvP mode called Countdown. In this particular mode, one side has to arm one bomb in one of two possible locations while the other team is tasked with defending those two locations. The first to six gets the whole burrito. It was a fairly straightforward and fast-paced mode. My first impression was that nothing has really changed as far as the core gameplay is concerned, and that’s not bad at all. It’s pure butter. Bungie just knows how to make great precision-based sci-fi first-person shooters. And they didn’t have to fix anything here, it’s still all about precision and skill. The new specials felt incredibly powerful in this mode because you could take out a whole team in one fell swoop. Building up your special meter quickly became imperative throughout the rounds. There’s also a third ability to go along with your grenade and melee attack for each class that’s activated by holding circle.

Cayde Destiny 2 Battlefield

Some have already started to describe this as Destiny 1.5, and to be blunt, based on what we’ve seen so far, it’s a fair assessment—at least for now. And that’s what’s so tough about this. Bungie clearly allowed the community’s voice to shine through the decisions they’ve made, so it’s hard to penalize them for that. Everything I saw and got my hands on was fun and exciting, but at the end of the day it felt like more of the same.

Bungie is definitely headed in the right direction with Destiny 2. It’s important to remember that this is just a glimpse of what’s going to probably be a massive package. We’re simply analyzing a small sample size. We still need to see what the whole package will be like. How will the loot system be retooled? Will the level system be reimagined? How well will the clans and guided games be implemented? Will planets finally feel massive and mysterious? How will the raids be improved? How will the gameplay vary when it comes to the daily grind?

As you can see, there are still so many things we need to get our hands on. I’m excited, as every dedicated Guardian out there should be. One thing’s for certain, Bungie has been listening.

Destiny 2 launches September 8, 2017.

Image: Bungie, Activision

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