E3 2017: Hands-on with Destiny 2

Like many readers, I was originally disappointed when Destiny wasn’t released for PC. I’m not even a Halo fan but could see that the title had promise. Release, though, sounded just OK. I fed my sci-fi MMO-ish need with doses of PlanetSide 2 and Star Wars: The Old Republic and largely ignored the title, aside from the fact that major gaming sites seemed happy with the expansion. I figured it was one of those few decent console games not made by Nintendo that PC players just wouldn’t get. Whatever.

Fast forward to the announcement that Blizzard would add Destiny 2 to its launcher to ensure its PC release. PC fans freak out. World of Warcraft token values skyrocket. Massively OP writers and readers note its potential to define the genre. The chance to demo it at E3 put me on the hype train, but the reality has caused me to pump the breaks.

Demo woes

The biggest problem with my Destiny 2 experience was the nature of the demo. MMOs really are hard to demo when compared to most games. They’re about immersion, community, teamwork, and persistence. There are few ways to show all that in the typical 15-30 minute floor demo, but I felt not-really-an-MMO Sea of Thieves actually did it better than most legitimate MMOs have. Surly Bungie could match that with to show off the sequel that should be the fruits of labor when toeing the line of our genre, or at least tease the PvE experience by showing some of the single-player campaign some other media saw.

Nope. The Destiny 2 demo I saw was a battleground. I’d seen another company do this with another large, open-looking multiplayer game, and while I love some lobby games, I don’t play them and expect much persistence. For an MMO (or something trying to be persistent), I want to see something about the world, not self-contained content. I like battlegrounds for accessibility, but I want long term effects beyond gaining some levels or loot, and while a demo rarely can do that, it can hint at it. Destiny 2’s demo didn’t.

Counting down bombs

That being said, Countdown, the battleground used for the demo, was enjoyable. Each team of four took turns on offense and defense, being able to win by eliminating the other team or by successfully doing an objective: Offense tries to set off a bomb at one of two locations by activating the bomb and holding down the site until it goes off, while defense tries to prevent the bomb from being activated or diffusing it. However, even if offense can set off bomb, the match won’t end, making me think that a good defense could potentially kill offense and at least tie the match, if not win it.

While killing may not sound like a big deal, it should be noted that this was a single elimination mode: if you died, you’re out for the rest of the round. Each team does get a few revives, but they weren’t automatic, and they had a limit. This means that not only did players have to decide if someone was worth rezzing (especially if he or she ran in guns blazing and got killed within moments) but stand near that ally to resurrect him or her, making it possible to lure enemies out of cover in attempts to save their fallen comrade. It also meant you could easily revive that player your team just barely finished as the body crumbled behind solid cover.

As a fan of Overwatch’s 3v3 Elimination mode, I was immediately drawn to Countdown, especially because the game goes to the team that gets six wins first. There’s plenty of room for error and comebacks, but again, this feels like something to innovate lobby shooters, not a persistent world.

We weren’t allowed time to check our loadouts or pick characters, so I apologize for some vague descriptions. What I can tell you is that the gun my Gunslinger (I think) was using packed a punch, so much so that it caused the gun to move around and force me to constantly readjust my aim. It’s not the kind of weapon I tend to use in shooters because I’m a terrible shot, but I could see the appeal for those looking to invest deeply to master something so potentially deadly. The problem for me, however, was that our guns were so strong that the only time I saw melee was when someone ran around a corner and (I think) stuck a sci-fi sword into me.

Our team wasn’t great, but one thing we picked up later was jet packs. While the mechanic wasn’t nearly as free as what I’m used to from, say, the Tribes series, having rockets that can take you over walls made the level design more interesting (though after Lawbreakers, it’s hard to keep innovating in that area). While I did use my rockets to ambush some of my enemies and get off a revive, my team was both unskilled and uncommunicative. We had one guy who was a pretty good shot, taking down three out of four enemies solo after a particularly brutal encounter, displaying how much skill can help in the game, but time and numbers caught up with him. The other team simply moved as a better unit, even if they had mostly figured out the rocket jumping after we had.

Our lone gunmen had given us a single round by detonating a bomb, but as I mentioned earlier, we noticed the match hadn’t ended immediately. He still had to wait for the general match countdown to complete, and the other team, seeming to have figured out something was wrong, nearly did so in the confusion.

While I enjoyed the match, I didn’t get that MMO feeling. I didn’t feel like I got what the hype was about. Remember, I’m also someone who didn’t get Overwatch for a very long time, probably because I jump to games with deep innovations and forget that many mainstream titles are taking baby steps. Destiny 2’s Countdown option certainly fits that bill, and scratches an itch from an Overwatch mode I almost exclusively play (aside from holiday events), so that probably says something. However, I’ll wait for a meatier demo before I give into the hype again.

Massively Overpowered is on the ground in Los Angeles, California, for E3 2017, bringing you expert MMO coverage on The Elder Scrolls Online, Black Desert, and everything else on display at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo!
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31 Comments on "E3 2017: Hands-on with Destiny 2"

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Reselect Name

Lobby based, not interested.

Reader
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NeoWolf

Destiny and Destiny 2 are not lobby based. They have a persistant universe and social spaces there is no lobby queueing at all.

Reader
jay

Isn’t it a combination of the two? Some persistent areas with open world, and some procedurally generated instances & battlegrounds? Kind of like a weird combination of Warframe & Defiance?

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NeoWolf

Its pretty much like an MMO in that the planets and the Social areas exist persistantly and you can go to them at any time to pick up and do world quests and dailies/bounties/events etc and there are many other players all doing the same.

The only instances are when you enter special things like main story missions.

Strikes/Raids and Battlegrounds work a little differently in that with strikes you queue for them either specifically or via a playlist and it will either auto group you or place you in the world near where the strike begins with a group you already had (if you had one) and you are in the open world unter you enter the strike entrance at which point you are in an instance. Raids work similar but there is no groupfinding for raids you must find a group to do one by yourself.

Battlegrounds are like Battelgrounds in say WoW you queue for them and enter they are not connected to the real world in any way.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
NeoWolf

As far as I’ve heard from others on Twitch who played the game at E3 they must have been varying the demo content available throughout (maybe different thing on a different day?) as one of them played one of D2 new strikes which had all these mining things going around and another got to play the first story mission (and only the first). So you must have just lucked out and gone when they were showcasing a new battleground.

Reader
Nick

I’ve worked demo booths at cons and the PvP stuff always goes over better. The other options are short segments where each person waiting does the same exact thing, so many people don’t even bother after just watching someone else do it. It’s also a ‘1 and done’ experience while PvP they are often willing to try it repeatedly.

Such demo’s allow for more people to play and interact at once and much more easily. Its more engaging than each person going through some story stuff by themselves and a much lower learning curve than a raid/fireteam content. Only option outside of those is another ‘on rails’ game play demo where you do the same exact thing everyone in front of you did.

Reader
Sushi Maru

Why do people think Destiny is an MMO lol

Reader
Reselect Name

I really wish they would stop.

I dont want devs making these lobby instanced co-op games and trying to sell them as MMOs.

Though I dont know if they come out and call them MMOs but they certainly dont make an effort to clarify.

I was originally interested in Destiny until I learned its not really an MMO. I think devs intentionally keep it vague hoping to get people like me to buy it. Take my money and leave me with a game that isnt what I thought it was and dont like.

Reader
Nick

I’ve gotten more player interaction on Destiny than I have in BnS or ESO by a far margin. I fail to see how it isn’t when they have open areas, public quests, player hubs and matchmaking systems just like other MMO’s dungeon finders.

Reader
Danny Smith

I feel a little sorry for the pc only gamers who still think its an MMO, boy are they in for a disappointment.

But i guess the folks at E3 giving demos didn’t have time to explain why they didn’t have time to explain :p

Reader
Denice J. Cook

Haha!

Reader
Nick

Always felt like an MMO to me. As a matter of fact the only other games where I interacted with as many players in open areas were the ones that used ‘public quests’ heavily. Matchmaking is no different from WoW-esque games. The loot system is superior with its ‘smart loot’ giving you rewards from engrams based on current loot, much better than getting 100% useless trash most of the time

Reader
Reselect Name

Match making is not something that comes from MMOs. The games that established the MMO genre are Ultima Online and Everquest. Open world and persistent.

At best Destiny is a pseudo MMO. Seems to me it has as much in common with CoD as it does Ultima Online.

Reader
TomTurtle

Looks like they went for a more accessible game mode to demo to make it easily presentable.
I don’t know how popular that kind of mode is in Destiny, but I’m guessing that’s not what most people mainly play the game for.

Yet another poor demo experience for you sadly. I think impression pieces made closer to launch will be more enlightening for these games, possibly ones where you get to play with friends.

deekay_plus
Reader
deekay_plus

it’s a shame they demoed arena pvp for it. which is less the appeal of a game like destiny and hardly sets it apart from the typical fotm shooter out there.

tho certainly devs love to demo that pvp mode at cons for w/e reason. division’s darkzone con demo comes to mind.

Reader
Danny Smith

Its probably because the last year or more of destiny has been gearing towards pvp as a focus and ‘muh esports’. Rise of Iron was a roughly 3 hour long expansion story with another short raid but after that almost every update -and catastrophic issue that required system overhauls- was all for pvp. A lot of PC players who didn’t look into it seem to be expecting first person WoW but really its a 1-3 player diablo with less than half a dozen areas and an increasing focus on pvp as its core. Which for the audience at large seems to be making them enough money with the cosmetic microtransactions they added but pve wise its really gotten less and less focus as the game has gone on. If the demos showing a lot of pvp they are showing a lot of what you are getting. The pve world post beating the raid really exists just to get you new weapons for pvp and thats about it.

Reader
Nick

huh, I got to light level 399 (only 2 items left at 399, rest are at 400) just doing dailies for faction and public events. Think I ran maybe 4 group instances in the past 2 months. Zero raids. I was surprised to hear apparently soloing for progress is hard and they are adding even more in Destiny 2.

Reader
Sorrior Draconus

More like a first person gun only warframe where you hangout in relays instead of ships

deekay_plus
Reader
deekay_plus

that’s a shame really. my buddy who plays on ps4 always talks up and streams the pve stuff. was no aware they have taken focus away from that stuff.

Reader
Arktouros

At it’s core though that’s what hit games like Borderlands series are as well, a FPS Diablo focused on “loot-splosions” and grinding the same content over and over for those random upgrades. It’s a model that works and is pretty fun when done properly. When done incorrectly you end up with a title like Defiance that tried to make a big deal out of the MMO and open world aspects while getting the loot and character progress elements completely wrong.

If they get the core of the PvE game right, there really isn’t much need to focus on it from there and instead can be free to focus on the PvP aspects of the game.

Reader
Sushi Maru

This is not Diablo, or Borderlands. Defiance is more of an MMO than Destiny will ever be. Destiny is a multiplayer game with persistence, and you grind the same content over and over to upgrade a few weapons which end up being the best.

Reader
Arktouros

I don’t understand your point? You say Destiny isn’t like Diablo or Borderlands then go on to describe Diablo and Borderlands like game elements for Destiny….what? I mean both games you literally grind the same content over and over to upgrade items till they’re the best.

Reader
Danny Smith

Thats not Destiny though, theres maybe a handful of named weapons you will want out of maybe 25ish tops, the rest is all vendor trash you get to infuse its stats into the named ones. forever. There is no ‘holy shit i got this ridiuclous weapon!’ its ‘finally i got the weapon everyone wants from this one raid everyones doing, now i can grind to infuse this forever’. Borderlands it is not.

Reader
Arktouros

Other than the infusing thing that’s pretty much no different than any loot grinder that has ever existed. I mean I killed the end dragon dealio on Borderlands 2 for weeks and maybe saw one maybe two upgrades out of the literally thousands of guns, grenade mods, shield mods, etc that was thrown at me. Every new Season in Diablo 3 is basically, “Finally got my set I wanted I can push/grind/farm properly.”

Reader
Pentalyn Priestess

I’m both a PS4 owner and a PC gamer…Destiny is one of the, if not the best, shooter ever made for the PS4. The gear progression system is unique and fun. Raiding is optional and there is tons of content for co-op, pvp and solo players. If the PC version is even half this, it will be amazing. And I WILL be playing it on PC, not PS4. Because…PC!!!

Reader
Arktouros

“Even though I own a PS4 I’m going to buy this game for my PC where it comes out month(s) later and has less content despite paying the same price as I would have for the PS4.”

:|

Reader
Sray

I don’t understand this offended attitude that so many PC players seem to have with the PS4 exclusivity period, or later launch date.

It’s not a permanent difference in content between the platforms, only a time locked one: that content will be made available on Xbox and PC at a later date. And that will most likely result in a period of time where the Xbox and PC have new content, and the PS4 goes through a content drought. It’s really just a small trade off to play on a preferred platform. Missing out exclusivity deals on the PC is the price we pay for the (mostly) unregulated open sandbox of PC gaming: if you want something different then convince Gabe Newell to start competing with Sony and Microsoft for those deals; but don’t be surprised if those deals come with the same types of strings that console players have to deal with.

As for the later date thing, I have to wonder if the fact that it’s only two months that makes PC gamers choke on it so much: the gap isn’t long enough to make us grateful that it’s actually coming to our platform this time, just resentful instead. Most of us were quite grateful finally getting getting games like GTA IV after a year, GTA V after 18 months, and Bayonetta after 8 years. I’ll bet if Activision had announced the PC version for six months after console launch instead of just two months later, there wouldn’t be half as much bitching about it.

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BalsBigBrother

but I want my shiny and I wants its NAOW!

Heh money talks and Sony money is doing the talking at the moment hence the exclusivity thing not that I begrudge them that either. Its not like they are locking down the entire game, its some cosmetics and essentially a quest.

If someone offered me a big bag of money for a small exclusivity deal like that you can be sure I would say yes and I am sure there wouldn’t be many folks here who would turn it down when push comes to shove (if they are being honest with themselves).

Reader
Sray

We PC gamers tend to act like we’re pretty hard done by a lot of the time, but the fact is that we’re actually in a pretty sweet position. It’s a rare multiplatform release that doesn’t actually come to the PC; most AAA titles do support all graphical the bells and whistles, (just maybe not as well as we’d like sometimes); and the fact is that 90% of the biggest, and most popular games in the world (stuff like LoL, DotA, WoW, CSGO, etc) are PC exclusive: entire genres like flight sims, and RTS/4X are virtually non-existent on consoles. We’re hardly the victims of discrimination we often make ourselves out to be.

Reader
Anthony Dixon

Ok.

wpDiscuz