Destiny 2 Gameplay Reveal | What We Know So Far

We’re a little under four months away from Destiny 2 releasing and it has been a day since Bungie’s big Gameplay Reveal. I didn’t get to play Destiny 2 because I wasn’t at the Gameplay Reveal, but I’ll try to condense everything – yeah, I mean pretty much everything –  I’ve seen and heard about the game into this article. Here’s what we’ve learned about Destiny 2 as well as some of my thoughts:

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Story: So far, after being revived by a Ghost the Traveler created with its Light, we’ve saved the universe from time traveling Vex, finished a failed raid to destroy a Hive God, helped our favorite Awoken queen quell a Fallen rebellion, annihilated the angry father of said Hive God, and now Destiny 1 has left guardians mitigating a SIVA threat initiated by the Fallen. Where do we go from here? (Minor spoilers ahead if you don’t want to know anything about Destiny 2, skip ahead)

In Destiny 2, the threat guardians face hits closer to home than any other. Since the Traveler found its way to Earth, ghosts have been finding guardians to resurrect and infuse with Light to grant awesome power to protect the universe (or, you know, the Traveler itself). The guardians rallied to the Last City and protected it from alien threats, raising the Tower that guardians now call home. In the beginning of Destiny 2, the Tower and the Traveler are under assault. The opening cutscene shows a Cabal group called the Red Legion, led by one Dominus Ghaul (Gary), attacking everything we call home. Our vaults are destroyed, the Tower is in ruins, and our dear Light-granting Traveler is put into a cage that restricts its ability to grant us our abilities. In Destiny 2, guardians will take up the fight to restore our Traveler and get our Light back.

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But where will the guardians go? In Bungie’s Gameplay Reveal yesterday, there were clips of guardians gathering in a new social area called The Farm. This may well be the site of our resistance. If it’s not, at least it’s the site of our long awaited soccer matches.

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Destinations: During our time in Destiny 2, guardians will spend their time on four new destinations. The first new destination is the European Dead Zone. This is the biggest map that Bungie has created. It’s on Earth and might draw some similarities to the Cosmodrome we know and love, but new adventures await to be explored. More on that after the other destinations.

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Stop number 2 is Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. Zavala, the Titan Vanguard, has gone to this moon to recover and reflect on the loss of the Tower and the scattering of the guardians. This destination is most notable because of the lack of landmass. That’s right, Titan is a methane ocean. Guardians will explore the sinking remains of a human utopia that once flourished during the Golden Age of the Traveler.

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Next we have Io, the innermost moon of Jupiter. This is the last place that the Traveler stopped on its way to Earth, and as such is touted as a sacred place for guardians – especially Warlocks. Ikora Rey has come to this ruinous planet filled with mythology, and it is here that we’ll traverse the sulphuric yellow landscape to find her.

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The last new destination is Nessus, a Vex overrun planet that has gorgeous green skies and bright flora to complement. This machine world is inspired by canyons and Brazilian landscapes, and it is this destination where the beloved Caide-6 will be found.

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Exploration: Are we still going to be patrolling these destinations? Yes, but hear me out. Gone are the days of launching to orbit, landing on a destination, and looking for the nearest patrol beacon. Bungie is working hard to make exploration more meaningful, interesting, and worthy of our time. Each new destination is huge and has a lot to discover. In the Gameplay Reveal, there were mentions of treasure maps, villages with people to meet and quests to receive, new public events, lost sectors, and a whole lot more. Also, each destination will have a dedicated map where I imagine you’ll be able to mark quests and waypoints. When you’re ready for a change of scenery,  guardians will be able to hop from one destination to another without having to go to orbit, eliminating some of the precious loading time that we’re accustomed to.

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Guardians: So what’s new about us? Well, the first major point is that at least one subclass for each class has been redone. Now introducing: the Dawnblade. Warlocks in Destiny 1 have the solar subclass Sunsinger. This subclass is used mainly for its ability to revive oneself, but the actual power of the super was lost. Bungie has changed that with the new Dawnblade class. Upon super activation, guardians will don angelic wings of fire that allow them to soar above the battlefield while wielding a flaming, projectile-launching sword. Yeah, it looks as cool as it sounds.

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For those who will actually miss the shared ability cooldown aura, there is still hope to be found. Guardians now have a third ability slot, in addition to the grenade and melee abilities, that is universal across any subclass changes. Warlocks, for example, can use the ability slot to buff attack power or to heal (it appears that these are AoE and will also affect others). Hopefully there will still be some mechanic for Warlocks to revive themselves because I really feel like that was one of the unique Warlock factors that separated them from the rest.

For Titans, the Defender class has been reworked. Titan guardians will now be able to deploy the Sentinel class. Upon super activation, Sentinels will equip a shield humming with void energy. This shield can be used to bash enemies’ faces in, or whipped a la Captain America across great distances to, you guess it, bash enemies’ faces in. It’s what Titans are good at. I’m not sure where we’ll see the nice Armor/Blessing/Weapons of Light buffs that the Defender provided, though they might be found in the Warlock’s third ability slot, but Titans can use their universal third ability to provide a cover barrier to hide behind. 

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Hunters will now have the Arcstrider class. This is a rework of the Bladedancer, but, of the new sublcasses shown in the Gameplay Reveal, it’s the one that seems the most similar to its original. If you liked the Bladedancer, don’t worry! Arcstriders will now focus on an arc charged staff instead of a knife. This allows bigger hits, cooler combos, and more Kung Fu inspired movement and attack. The hunters’ third ability will allow them to Shadestep, now available to all classes for being in that skill slot. Hopefully this will be a welcome addition to the Hunter repertoire. It certainly looks like it will be very unique.

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Gameplay: That’s all well and good, but what about our loot, man? Things in this department have changed a little as well. Intellect, Discipline, and Strength stats were absent in the playable demo after the reveal, and gone are the days of the Primary, Special, and Heavy weapons. Instead, guardians will be met with the Kinetic, Energy, and Power slots to fill with weapons. This may have both pros and cons. Here’s why: Kinetic and Energy weapons can be filled by the same types of weapons. This means that guardians who want a scout rifle for distance play and a handcannon for close range damage equipped at the same time will finally have that dream realized. You can slot one in the Kinetic field and the other in the Energy field. The Power slot, then, allows guardians to equip the guns that are the usual go-tos for big damage: sniper rifles, rocket launchers, swords, etc.

While I’m very excited about being able to switch between two weapons that are essentially primaries for general use, I’m concerned about losing the variety of loadout choices that a distinct special and heavy weapon provided. I’m not sure how it’ll work out, and maybe I’ll love how it plays, but I’m worried about not having a versatile setup with a rocket launcher and a sniper rifle. This might be remedied by some of the new gun options, though, as there will now be gatling-like guns, grenade launchers, submachine guns, and probably more to come. We’ll just have to see how it all rolls out.

Clans and Guided Games: No matter what happens, it’s not going to stop guardians assembling from all over the planet. After all, Destiny is a social game. In my experience, Destiny is at its prime when enjoyed with other people. Memories come flooding back to me of betas, launch parties, a late night of flawless raider runs, the Iron Banner, and all other content tackled with friends I’ve known for years and new friends I’ve met in game. The strength and appeal of Destiny’s social aspect is evidenced by the fact that I’ll be playing Destiny 2 on PS4, despite having an Xbox One and a PC that it would look beautiful on, because I have real life friends to play with and talk about Destiny with when we meet outside the game.

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So, for the solo players out there, how are you going to be able to benefit from this? Bungie has introduced Guided Games. Because they know that Destiny is best experienced with other guardians with whom you can laugh and banter, Bungie is developing an easier way to pair existing groups with solo players. The LFG works for now, but Bungie’s vision is a lot more seamless. Established groups can, and will, create clans so they can rally under a unified title, banner, and slogan (all of which will be customizable and viewable in game). When these clans need one more player for the raid, or if two clansmen are attempting the nightfall and need a third to fill their ranks, they can initiate a guided game. Solo players who are looking to complete the same content can then view all clans in need of another player. By reading the clans’ mission statements, the solo players can choose a clan that best suits them and hopefully have an enjoyable experience – all without the LFG. The goal of this is that solo players meet clans and have a good time, potentially becoming a member of the clan themselves and making friends in the process. I think this a brilliant move on Bungie’s part and I’m excited to see more people enjoying the more difficult content that I know and love.

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Solo players aren’t the only people benefitting from this relationship, though. Clans will now have a progression system. Everyone in the clan will contribute to the clan’s experience levels by doing any content that Destiny 2 has. This means that it benefits clans to have a larger roster, as more members means more cumulative experience. Clans can level up and will have benefits based on levels, though it’s unclear what those rewards might be.

Group Content: To get those rewards, and to get some sweet, sweet loot, guardians will need to complete group content. Just like its predecessor, Destiny 2 will launch with all new strikes and a new raid. The biggest change coming to group content is found in the Crucible, where guardians assemble to duke it out against each other.

The Crucible in Destiny 1 is typically 6v6, with some 3v3 game modes. In Destiny 2, however, Crucible matches will be reduced to 4v4. This will make matches feel more involved and important. Teams must unite and play together to win and those victories will feel more personal than they do now. One new game mode, Countdown, has been showcased. There will most likely be more modes to come, but for now Countdown is a familiar game mode where two teams contend with bombs and objectives. One team fights to plant bombs and destroy objectives while the other team defends objectives and dismantles bombs. Teammates can be revived upon death, which we’ve seen in modes like Salvage.

PC Release: These new crucible changes raise the question of whether or not Destiny 2 will be available on the competitive home of video games: the PC. We’ve seen Overwatch, Gears of War 4, MOBAs, and many other competitive games thrive in the PC environment. This is usually because using a mouse to aim is inherently more accurate than a joystick with aim assist. So, will Destiny 2 be available on PC? Yes. Will it see any kind of competitive league outside of the already established Trials of Osiris? Maybe! Destiny 2 will be available on the PC exclusively through Blizzard Entertainment. Many people are disappointed that it’s not being run through Valve’s Steam (Steam is one of the largest gaming platforms on PC), but Blizzard is a great company and I think that they’ll do a fine job. Plus, potential Destiny crossovers into other Blizzard games are exciting and Blizzard is already involved in competitive leagues for four of its games. This could be good news for those who wish to see Destiny 2 in a competitive sphere.

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Unfortunately, Destiny 2 will (as of now) not be ready for release on PC when it releases for consoles on September 8. The good news is that when Destiny 2 is available on PC, it’ll bring with it 4K resolutions and an uncapped framerate. If you’ve got a rig that’ll run it, Destiny 2 will look amazing. Destiny 2 will, however, have some PlayStation exclusive content; Destiny 1 had PS exclusive crucible maps, strikes, weapons, and armor exclusive for limited runs before releasing on Xbox (not all content made it to Xbox). PC players will probably be in the same boat as Xbox here, so it’s something to consider.
What’s Next? Why am I giving all this information to you if the game doesn’t release for months? Well, you might not have to wait that long. If you pre-order the game on the platform of your choosing, there will be a beta this summer. Destiny 1 has had an incredible run and, from the looks of it, Bungie is really listening to feedback to make Destiny 2 vastly better. I’ll be playing from beta all the way into the foreseeable future because I love Destiny and the universe Bungie has made. Hopefully I’ll see you in the beta. If not, then I’ll see you on September 8. Eyes up, guardian.

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edit: Updated information about the third ability slot available to each class

New Gamers: Why It’s Okay To Play on Easy

Before I get this piece started, I have to address the elephant in the room: endeavoring to join the gaming community can be a very intimidating and daunting experience to newcomers. Why is that?

There are multiple factors at play here: there doesn’t seem to be a very effective format for mentoring or coaching newcomers, the “git gud” and elitist mentalities, the grouping of all skill levels, and the taboo of playing on Easy mode. I’ll get to the last one, but first I want to address the others.

Given the nature of gaming, I’m not sure that it would even be a viable option to have a coach teaching you how to play. This lack of education creates the idea that anyone who is skilled at video games is self-taught. This is troubling for newcomers who already feel that they’re behind the curve by starting later in life. Not only is this teaching experience missing, it often seems that the community isn’t even willing to participate where they can. This is evidenced by the rising popularity of “sherpas”, or skilled gamers willing to help new players with difficult levels. The success of sherpa-ing shows that there is a demand for it, but the supply is scarce. And while this community help is great, it often results in a new player being carried through a level instead of that same new player building the skill to do it alone. But for single player games and those unable to find a mentor, they’re often met by the community with a cold shoulder and a “git gud”.

This solution to a newcomer’s problem is now an internet meme, but it’s also destructive. Imagine playing a difficult game where you’re stuck on a boss or a demanding encounter, so you turn to the internet gaming community for some genuine help. Instead, you receive some off hand remark about how you don’t deserve to play the game unless you’re already good at it. Queue the paradox. Gamers don’t live in a Boolean world of people who are good and people who aren’t. There are new players of every age wanting to have fun and sometimes get help, often just to be shot down. There’s nothing wrong with being in the learning stage; the gaming community needs to be a lot more accepting and helpful toward these people.

Another barricade in the newcomer’s experience can be that they’re pitted against people of all ages and all skill levels. I can’t think of any other activity where the newest participant is immediately thrown in with the veterans. This makes multiplayer games incredibly scary for those who aren’t as skilled. The brave new souls who are courageous enough to venture into the battlegrounds of multiplayer are usually met with being kicked off of teams or being yelled at enough for poor performance that they leave on their own anyway. Again, the paradox of not being good enough to play but not being able to play enough to be good is relevant.

When all of this toxicity seeps in and the newcomer is left with no other options, they’re tempted with a taboo that may further ostracize them: playing a game on the Easy difficulty. Why is this taboo? It doesn’t make any sense. I think it goes along with the “git gud” mentality above, but that’s exactly what newcomers are trying to do. There’s no reason to ridicule them for starting on Easy.

When you’re a beginner, you start at the bottom: crawl before you walk, Tee Ball before Baseball, D-DU-UDU before complex strum patterns, addition before multi-variable calculus. This is how we learn as humans. It doesn’t make any sense, then, that a new video game player be expected to immediately play a game that’s completely alien to them on a Normal difficulty. That subverts the natural learning process.

There exists a stigma associated with the Easy difficulty. Playing on Easy isn’t viewed as validly playing or completing the game and you should be ashamed for even thinking about it. This mentality is complete garbage. There’s nothing wrong with being completely unfamiliar with a genre riddled with unique mechanics. If you’ve never played a third-person game, let alone one that involves stealth, crafting, and resource management, there’s going to be a learning curve.

The first time I remember setting out on an epic video game journey all by myself was after watching my older brother play through the PS1 Final Fantasy games. I loved the cutscenes and the stories and I wanted to experience the grand sense of magic that came with it. I set off alone with high hopes only to be met with boss fights I wasn’t prepared for and couldn’t get past. I quit each one out of frustration. But in the process, I noticed that I got further in FF 9 than I did in FF 8. And I got further in 8 than I did in 7. I was learning how to play RPGs. Eventually I’d come back and 100% each of those games (minus the card games I didn’t care a ton for), but it took multiple failures and the completion of other games through my career to build the skill to tackle the challenge of epic RPGs and learn how they work.

Now, as a veteran gamer, I’m able to tackle pretty much any game thrown at me and complete it. When I think about new gamers, though, I can’t help but remember the frustration I felt at being stuck in games and giving up. It very well could have ruined my gaming career. Looking back at that, I was one of the lucky ones. I realize now that there are probably many people out there who try to break through into the video game world only to be met with so much frustration and difficulty that they quit and never return. I’d rather see somebody playing on Easy and falling in love with the epic worlds and stories while building the skills to get to Normal than see someone start out over their heads, get to a frustrating part of a game, and quit. Some of those people don’t come back, and as someone who understands how important and wonderful video games can be, it truly makes me sad.

It’s okay to play on Easy. It’s okay to be overwhelmed by the community that’s so far ahead of you and so much better than you. It’s not okay to miss out on something you might love because you’re afraid of what a toxic internet community might think of you if they find out you aren’t already a master. You’re new. You’re building skills. You need to start at the level that is appropriate for you, and that just might be Easy. Don’t let anybody keep you from discovering a passion for video games. There are countless worlds and stories for you to experience, save, and fall in love with. So please, from a veteran gamer to a first timer, don’t give up.

And please, internet gaming community, try a little harder to realize that everyone out there is trying to enjoy the games just like you are.