Destiny 2: what new players need to know

It pains me to put a hunter on the front page

I’m now fully caught up on the Destiny 2 [official site] presentation and am wading through the first hands-on footage people are feeding out as videos. The game has a hard release date of 8 September on console (and a smidge of pre-order beta before that) but PC is still a bit of an unknown. It’ll still happen but the exact details are still lurking in the realms of “dunno”. BUT! That gives us some breathing room to get you, the wide-eyed PC player, up to speed. There’s also plenty in the info we now have that excites me and a few niggles I wanted to poke at while they’re still fresh in my mind. Shall we start with an overview of the game and then move on to things like the reworked match-making for raids and so on? It’s my article so I’ll assume you said yes!

Destiny?

Destiny is best thought of as a sci-fi MMO with some truly lovely-feeling shooting as its core gameplay. There was a story campaign but the bulk of the experience came after that through quests and raids and weekly challenges and PvP and all manner of other bits and pieces. Like I say, it’s an MMO set in space. I just checked my own game stats and the majority of my time was spent on PvP, playing a point capture map selection called Control. But what do you really need to know about Destiny and its lore to get to grips with Destiny 2? Allow me to explain – I’ll be brief!

A Teaspoon of Lore

Destiny 2 is set in the same universe as the original game. There’s a bunch of lore nerdery which might help you appreciate all the oohing and ahhing during the trailers but the core of that first game was that The Traveler – that big moon-looking object hovering in the sky over Earth – is the source of your characters’ special powers. It lets you tap into and use a force called Light and there’s also a lot of gubbins about existential threats and whether the Traveler’s motives are benign and… if you’ve played a lore-heavy sci-fi game you’ll probably be able to imagine the discussion of every minute detail on subreddits over the years.

There were factions in the first game and all manner of figureheads and legions within those factions because it’s a lore-heavy sci-fi game (even though you’ll hear a bunch of arguments about there not being a real story because of how it hid everything in grimoire cards so you had to be bothered to tease it out of the game and frankly some people didn’t fancy that approach). What I think is most useful to know is that one of the alien races is the Cabal. They’re based on Mars in the original game and take the form of these beefy, heavily armoured jerks – kind of space turtles who often had these irritating shields you’d need to work around when splattering them.

The Cabal are the focus as the main enemies for Destiny 2. Players of the original game suspected they might be because all of the other major races (the Hive, the Fallen, the Vex) had been the focus of a raid and a bunch of chunky content so it was theoretically the Cabal’s turn. So here you have a Cabal Warlord called Ghaul (also known as Gary because of bants in a trailer) who is in a right mard that the Traveler decided to make human and human adjacent characters (the blue-skinned Awoken and the humanoid machine Exos) the heroes of the piece and has decided HE deserves to wield Light too thankyouverymuch.

Clamping

To that end he sort of wheel-clamps the Traveler and siphons off its Light while also leading Cabal to destroy the original game’s hub world, The Tower.

TL;DR? This is a hard reset which zaps all your previous powers, destroys your loot vault and sends everyone you know scattering in all directions.

The story (in as far as Bungie have shown so far) is about regaining your powers and getting the band back together.

The band in this case is the triumvirate of vanguards for each of the player classes. There’s Zavala who was the commandy shouty blue guy who made the bubble shield in the trailer above. He’s one of the Awoken, if you were wondering, and he’s in charge of the Titan class. That’s the class which is very much about front-lining, stomping about and doing power-fists into the earth. Then there’s Nathan Fillion as Cayde-6 – an Exo who heads up the Hunters. Hunters are the showboating faction who wear capes and zip about being annoying. Hunters are the worst. Ikora Ray is the human who acts as the Warlock vanguard. The Warlocks are the best faction and they are in charge of space magic, really floofy jumping, and wiping out entire capture points with Nova Bombs in PvP.

After the destruction of The Tower Zavala’s off having an existential crisis, gazing across the methane seas of Saturn’s moon, Titan. Because he’s a Titan. DO YOU GET IT? Ikora has gone to a sacred site on Io to regroup and also to marshal her fury into something useful. The presentation made it sound like she was in some kind of mashup between a church and Professor Farnsworth’s Angry Dome. Cayde is doing bantz on Nessus which is a Vex stronghold – the Vex being a sort of robo collective who can play silly beggars with time itself. To be fair, Cayde is always doing bantz. He is Banter Claus. Archbishop of Banterbury. Immanuel Bant.

And thus: new story campaign, new strikes (kind of mini-raids), new actual raid with details TBA, new multiplayer maps presumably based around these new locations and so on and so on.

Here’s Terra Mantis’s footage of the Inverted Spire strike. It should give you a better feel for how the game flows. In case you’re wondering, they’re playing as a Gunslinger Hunter – they get a Golden Gun as their ultimate:

Let’s now move on to the more granular bits and bobs!

Weapons

So much of Destiny was about how guns felt when you handled them and you’d develop incredibly strong preferences and attachments to your loadout. That’s why I’m not particularly interested in the weapons themselves until I can actually play with them and see what feels nice. In the original game I favoured hand cannons as my primary weapon. They were good for close-up work and you could deal an impressive/horrific amount of damage if you were precise. I would also sometimes cheat on my favourite hand cannon – a gun called The Last Word – with the mid-range burst-fire of a pulse rifle. Secondary tended to be a sniper rife called Defiance of Yasmin and my heavy weapon slot was generally reserved for a machine gun (Qullim’s Terminus in case you were interested).

Destiny 2 seems to be doing away with that primary/secondary/heavy distinction so you can have more than one weapon of a particular type in your loadout. Maybe multiple sniper rifles if you’re That Kind Of Jerk. It might also be useful because the previous distinctions – primary, secondary and heavy – generally meant you had one all-rounder gun, one specialist gun and one massive burst damage gun. I can imagine a bunch of scenarios where you might want to have two or even three specialist guns you can easily access depending on your role in the current fight.

The new categories are thus “kinetic”, “energy” and “power”. What that actually means in specific terms is not clear to me yet – I assume it’ll be a lot clearer when I’ve watched more footage or when we get bigger chunks of time with the game.

Weapons

Supers

Supers are things in the original Destiny which you power up as you play and which, when charged, allow you to perform some spectacular or game-changing move. I mentioned two of those earlier – the Warlock’s purple Nova Bomb which you could use to blow an area up using purple elemental energy and the Golden Gun you get as a Gunslinger Hunter. Purple energy is technically called “void” energy but there’s also blue which is “arc” and orange/golden which is “solar”. By switching between different flavours of power you could change your super as well as other bits and bobs like how your character moves and how they jump and the grenades they can throw.

I’ll use the Warlock as an example:

If you’re using void power you’re a Voidwalker Warlock and you get that big bomb. If you’re using solar you’re a Sunsinger Warlock and you get Radiance which boosts your grenades and melee skills and reduces their cooldown timers massively. Arc power gives you Stormcaller Warlocks which gives you a Palpatine-style lightning attack. This one is super useful if you don’t fancy doing nonsense like “aiming” or “hiding”.

With the Traveler being clamped by turtles from Mars you lose all of this stuff even if you played the first game and had it maxed out. That’s why everyone’s stumbling around in the trailer – no Light means no powers. It looks like Bungie aren’t overhauling the elemental flavours though, so the supers you do get will be some new ones (based on the same principles but with different manifestations) and it looks like you earn back some of the earlier ones (but probably not the really game-breaky ones).

FIST OF NONSENSE

Specifically there’s a solar thing for Warlocks called Dawnblade where your super (I think that’s called Daybreak) has you use a flaming sword to slash projectiles at people, Sentinel is for Titans and gives you a void (i.e. purple) version of Captain America’s shield you can use to duff people up or ricochet off someone’s head to hit someone else, and Arcstrider for Hunters offers up fancy nonsense involving a glowing blue staff. It’s always fancy nonsense for Hunters.

BEST

Frisbee

Hunters are awful

PvP

PvP takes place in The Crucible and spans a wide range of modes. Some are always available and some are only around for limited times and have unusual requirements or restrictions/boosts. In the original there are another tier of PvP modes – Iron Banner is monthly-ish and you can earn special loot, there was also a Sparrow Racing League and there’s a hardcore elimination-style thing called Trials of Osiris. It sounds like Bungie want to keep that basic variety so there’s at least one mode each player will want to play but they’ve been reworking how it fits together.

It sounds like all PvP in the Crucible is going to be set up as 4v4 instead of the variable team sizes of the earlier game. That’s good in that you don’t need to add or drop people if you fancy changing modes during a session. I’m wondering whether Trials of Osiris falls into that bracket? Theoretically it could but Trials is a 3v3 mode with a bunch of specific requirements that ramp up the difficulty and sort of gate access because you needed a group and an access pass and it’s only available a few days each week. Bungie mentioned Trials as a thing that would exist in Destiny 2 but I’m wondering if that will be an exception to the 4v4 rule because it feels like it was so finely balanced around 3 that 4 would make it a significantly different experience. That said, they might have overhauled the whole thing and made it something different.

Another change is that instead of needing to keep mental track of big PvP milestones, like who of the enemy team has their super ability charged, or who picked up the limited supplies of heavy weapon ammo and is thus a greater threat, you’ll get that info on your HUD. Part of me is inches away from screaming “GIT GUD NUB NUB!” and “IN MY DAY WE HAD TO REMEMBER THAT STUFF BY HAND!” But Bungie are banging on about things being easy to pick up and hard to master. Bloody annoying to people like me whose mastery extended as far as the thing which is now default info for everyone if you ask me!

They also mention an attack/defend mode called Countdown. I assume it’s a word game with a few number rounds thrown in at intervals. Or I suppose it might be a vaguely Counter-Strikey mode about setting charges and killing other Guardians if you want to watch this video:

Guided Games

This is the one causing a lot of feather-ruffling. Think of it as Bungie’s way of bringing LFG (looking for group) queries into the main game rather than leaving them as the domain of subreddits and dedicated third party forums/apps. It combines with an attempt to make matchmaking a bit less awful.

The idea is the if you’re a member of a clan you can use that as a kind of second friend list in order to find people for raids who are of a similar gaming bent to you. If you aren’t you can see which clans are up for raids as well as a little bit about them – a short bio, for example – which would theoretically give you an idea of how friendly they might be to play with and what they prioritise.

Their vision is that solo players will be taking less of a gamble when they join a group to attempt a raid or a strike or something, and that players who are already partied up to some degree can easily fill any remaining slots.

I want to be in her gang.

That’s the plan. I believe that that’s how Bungie want it to work and I hope that’s how they get it to work because otherwise as a solo player who is nervy about joining up with randos you can end up missing a huge chunk of content and loot.

I do have reservations, though. What they showed of the system sort of relied on the clans giving accurate or flavourful information in their short bio to let solo players know if they wanted to play with them. I can imagine it being far more of a lottery in real life (although I guess Bungie could also get players to rate groups on competitiveness or helpfulness which could add another dimension to sorting through clans). They also haven’t revealed enough about the system to know if it factors in things like whether you’re happy to be on voice with strangers. I’m not. I get really nervous, not least because I have a very obviously female voice and that can end up in some very uncomfy places online.

So…. cautiously optimistic but assuming third party hubs might need to make up for shortcomings?

Misc/Alt/Other

  • You’ll be able to hop from world to world without needing to go back to orbit every damn time. Going back to orbit every five minutes was the BIGGEST FAFF. That is why everyone cheered at this bit of the announcement.
  • Patrol (which is the kind of free roaming PvE bit) will now let you find treasures and lost sectors, so it seems a bit beefier than the old approach.
  • The map is being reworked to do things I used to use an app for, like flagging up where public events would be happening and when (those are limited-time encounters in the patrol space where you come together with whoever happens to be nearby to defend a thing or fight a thing or whatever the task is.
  • They mentioned one of the strikes would be on Nessus and would feature a three-stage boss.
  • If you do join a clan, everyone’s progress will feed into a big progress bucket and lead to clan-wide rewards. Other games have versions of this stuff – WoW guild advancement was all about rewarding players for being active members of a guild, for example. You’ll also see it in things like League of Legends where a big LAN tournament like the All-Star might gift items or boosts to an entire region if their team wins. I’m assuming clans will have some version of this with everyone’s XP feeding into a vat which sometimes dispenses some nice digital toys. That’s TBC, though.
  • The game will be available on PC via The Artist Formerly Known As Battle.Net which is fine by me as it won’t personally involve me needing to download yet another game client.
  • BUT! The PC release date is currently unconfirmed. All the September 8 ballyhooing is for consoles. In all honesty that probably won’t affect me because I’ll likely do the bulk of my playing on PS4. I prefer FPS on console. It’s a personal preference so as the kids on Twitter say, don’t @ me. I’m not hurting anyone except all of my foes as I rack up amazing killstreaks.
  • Oh, and Ikora Ray better get some improved screentime soon. Her presence in the trailers and story so far has fit her personality, but it has also meant that she has tended to be sidelined while Nathan Fillion’s bant-machine and Zavala’s speechmaking take centre stage. She gets to do some cool things but I worry that new players will look at the cinematics and campaign footage so far and not think “WARLOCKS ARE CLEARLY THE BEST”. I am taking the fact a lady Warlock has been repping hard for my class and that we got the Dawnblade super as my current consolation.
  • #justice4ikora

    YAY!

    From this site

    21 Comments

    1. welverin says:

      Warlocks are the best class, but Ikora Rey is rather boring and uninteresting, particularly compared to Commander Broyles and Captain Reynolds.

    2. Premium User Badge

      Nauallis says:

      Nice write-up. It’s almost as if you’ve actually played the game!

      Titans are clearly the best class though. Gotta bubble all the things, especially other bubbles. Bubble forts!

    3. Moraven says:

      The new categories are thus “kinetic”, “energy” and “power”. What that actually means in specific terms is not clear to me yet

      Kinectic and Energy are both primary weapons of ole, with the Energy slot allowing a primary with elemental damage (sounds like you can mod primaries).

      So you are forced to choose between a Heavy and Shotgun-Sniper now.

    4. HothMonster says:

      Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na BANTMAN!

    5. Sandepande says:

      If one is vehemently anti-multiplayer (especially over the internet with random people), how much enjoyment is there in PvE? I suspect the story bits won’t last terribly long.

      • HallowedError says:

        I played a lot by myself just because the game made it feel good to shoot stuff.

      • Moraven says:

        If you did most of the game solo, Destiny 1 story missions got you up to 20 hours of content, if you did not repeat anything.

        Patrol, the more open world and do bounties and mini quests, was pretty limited. Public Quests (big bad spawns, kill it with others around the area) Taken King expansion Dreadnaught was a more interesting Patrol area with some things to discover, but rather small.

        Destiny 2, from the preview, is giving us larger worlds with a lot more things to do outside the story missions. World Quests from WoW and other MMOs. Lot more going on to keep you entertained beyond Story Missions.

        You had a daily challenge to repeat one Story Mission on hard for some rewards in Destiny 1. The mission was on hard (Near or at level cap) with a couple modifiers (like Solar damage is increased, enemies melee hit harder). There was also daily quests to do certain things or kill certain enemies. The gunplay is so solid, dropping in for 30 minutes doing a simple kill quest was still fun.

        Strikes, 3 man dungeons, had matchmaking and easy for anyone to join solo and complete.

        • Premium User Badge

          polantom says:

          I usually played solo and only really joined teams for the missions which required it. Its a good shooter, with guns that feel really good and some nice powers but its also fairly straight forward to play.
          The going back to orbit all the time is irritating and it would be nice if your ship could do anything other than be a loading screen but those were the only real downsides for me.
          Oh, and Warlocks rule.

          • Maxheadroom says:

            The solid shooter mechanics (and it was very solid and satisfying) carried the whole game. There was no story to speak of and having to form groups outside of the game was ridiculous.

            I don’t see this being different enough to warrant going back to. Despite being assured there actually ‘will’ be a story this time, it just looks like one more generic, motivationless bad guy to shoot.

            Open to being proven wrong but I wont be running out and buying it on day 1

      • Junkenstein says:

        The thing is, when people complained about the lack of content in Destiny at the start, it was from a Diablo-esque inifinte end-game perspective. Just playing through the solo stuff once took about as long as your typical classic FPS from back in the day. Add on the patrols, some dabbling in Strikes and there was plenty to do for a casual PvE-er like me.

    6. Doctor K says:

      I play a hunter, and I just cannot stand warlockery. “Oh, hunters are OP!” warlocks cry. Then they throw their two guaranteed kill sticky grenades. After your two friends are dead and you kill the warlock he resurrects himself like a phoenix made of sticky grenades, and kills you and a friend with his next two throws. But that’s okay, because I get a bow that doesn’t really achieve much in multiplayer, a knife (Yes, a knife. Yes, on a timer), or a gun with fewer shots than they get grenades that harder to land hits with.

      I’d be saltier, but my brother plays a warlock so I always have superior backup.

    7. NullBuilder says:

      Isn’t this a bit premature? The game isn’t even coming out for four months at the earliest.

      • Premium User Badge

        polantom says:

        I take it that you’re new to the internet. Four months is barely enough time to get in enough over-hyping of the game followed by crushing disappointment when it seems that some ridiculously unlikely expectation won’t be met leading to a couple of hate campaigns, a twitter war, reddit melting down into a seething pool of nerd rage, some death threats to the developers and a petition or three.

    8. Sparkasaurusmex says:

      I wonder if this will have a combined community or will it still be separate ones with PS4 players isolated from their PC big brothers. Not real interested in this game but I’d probably give it a chance if I can play along with my console buddies.

    9. Deathshadow says:

      I really enjoyed Destiny (though the raiding was a bit frustrating going to a LFG.COM site but it worked once you figured it out having your tablet or PC on at the same time playing on your console).

      The big only thing with the PC version I dread are the fak’n hackers! You know its going to get hacked its just meant to be on the PC. Even though I am mostly a PC gamer Ive learned and prefer to play these types of shooters on consoles since there are more closed and harder to hack. For example I have Black Ops 3 on Steam and the BOIII PS4 edition. To compare them both “hackerwise” its night and day, clearly the console is the wtg. I will probably end up of buying the PC version of Destiny just for shites and giggles and ease of use finding raid groups. I am saving up for a Street triple 765 and will be working more than playing games! Game and ride safely!

    10. Tei says:

      Maybe is too early for advices. Because the beta is not even announced. Anyway heres some advice:
      – 1st, the most important. If you meet people that is fun to play with, add them to your friend list. This is going to be very important later on.
      – While leveling, ger don’t matter, so don’t waste money on it. Only if on “yellow” (legendary) weapons.
      – Pay attention to the faction things. I don’t know how it will work in D2, but in D1 the rewards where locked to level 2 or 3, so the first levels had not rewards. Enough level would unlock buying from that vendor.
      – Mix and taste everything. Try at least once raiding with cool people, try Osiris, try the pvp. You never know what will click for you.

    11. PiiSmith says:

      I am shocked how many people here on PC centric Rock, Paper, Shotgun have played the console only Destiny. A shooter with a gamepad. I start to shiver thinking about it. ;)

    12. Premium User Badge

      Qazinsky says:

      So, what you are saying, is that I should play a hunter?

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