I had a few hours to play the “Destiny 2” beta last weekend, and based on my limited experience with the game, it feels almost exactly like the original “Destiny.”
Seriously. The jump between the first game and its major expansion, “The Taken King,” feels more significant than the leap between “Destiny” as it exists now and the “Destiny 2” beta.
But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Developer Bungie knows the first game’s blueprint still works. After a hard day at work, friends like to meet up online to play cooperative missions or take on others in competitive battles. If the beta is any indication, the sci-fi shooter sequel will retain that original “Destiny” skeleton. In fact, it seems most of its organs and muscles will remain intact as well.
Here are some of my takeaways from my short stint with the “Destiny 2” beta.
Missions are longer
Missions in “Destiny” were comically short. I had a couple of friends who could blast through the story mode in an afternoon because some missions literally look five minutes or less if you knew what you were doing.
The opening “Destiny 2” story mission available in the beta feels at least twice as long as any “Destiny” mission. If most “Destiny 2” missions follow suit, that means less time in menus and more time running and gunning. I say bring it on.
Not only are missions longer, but they feel more important. No longer are you a lone guardian communicating with your commanders who are safely at base. At least in the first “Destiny 2” mission, you’re interacting with and fighting alongside those heroes. Such changes lead me to believe the story will feel more personal and significant.
I’m not on board with new weapon slots
In “Destiny,” you were allotted three weapon slots. The first was your primary slot and allowed for hand cannons and auto, pulse and scout rifles. The second was your special slot and allowed for shotguns and sniper and fusion rifles. The third was your heavy slot and allowed for rocket launchers, heavy machine guns and swords.
Things will be significantly different in “Destiny 2.” Now you’ll have a kinetic slot, an energy slot and a power slot.
In the kinetic and energy slots, you can run any combination of hand cannons, auto rifles, pulse rifles, scout rifles and the new sub-machine guns—so long as one does normal damage and one does energy damage. This gives players a bit more versatility. Want to equip two different hand cannons because you just love hand cannons oh so much? Go for it. Prefer to have a scout rifle for long-range targets and an auto rifle for up-close encounters? Now you can.
The biggest change is that shotguns, sniper rifles and fusion rifles are now considered heavy weapons. That means you can’t have a rocket launcher and sniper equipped at the same time as you could in “Destiny.” In other words, what players choose as their heavy weapon will matter a lot more.
The change makes sense for player-versus-player modes so battles don’t turn into ridiculous shotgun melees or long-range sniper skirmishes. But cooperative modes such as raids might become much more challenging.
It’s boring to play alone
Anyone who’s read this column for a few months knows how much I loved “Destiny” after its huge “The Taken King” expansion launched. I played it daily for months with my friends and never grew tired of raiding and competing with my buds.
The “Destiny 2” beta was my first time playing “Destiny” alone, and what a difference it made. The world and gameplay felt much emptier when I wasn’t battling alongside my real friends. I’d think twice about buying “Destiny 2” if you don’t have buddies you can play with regularly.
It’s also boring without loot
Arguably, “Destiny’s” biggest draw is its loot cycle. Everything you do in the game allows you to earn gear and weapons to slowly make your character better. You’re not just randomly running and gunning with no objective; you’re working toward making your character as powerful as he or she can be. It’s addictive.
The “Destiny 2” beta took the leveling and looting systems out of the equation almost entirely, allowing players to feel what the game would be like if it was just another standard shooter. After playing through the beta, I realized “Destiny 2” wouldn’t hold my attention nearly as long if the loot cycle were removed. Good thing it’s coming back in full force.
Aside from the story improvements, weapon slot changes and new character abilities, the “Destiny 2” beta feels identical to “Destiny.” That’s fine if you’ve got friends to play with, but I wonder if the formula will be able to hold my attention as much as “The Taken King” did. Time will tell. For now, I’m eagerly awaiting “Destiny 2’s” release Sept. 6.
Video game columnist Jake Magee has been with GazetteXtra since 2014. His opinion is not necessarily that of Gazette management. Let him know what you think by emailing email@example.com, leaving a comment below, or following @jakemmagee on Twitter.