Destiny 2 is almost upon us, and when it lands it'll give eager guardians the chance to once again return to Bungie's vision of the future, this time battling a new Cabal threat intent on wiping humanity off the map like a stubborn stain. Be warned, though, as there are some light spoilers ahead, although nothing you haven't seen in the marketing materials released for the game thus far...
1. Some things have changed. The Tower that players will remember fondly as the social hub for the first Destiny is under siege at the very start of Destiny 2, and humanity is on the ropes, fighting to stay alive. The story, therefore, is about battling this new and powerful enemy threat, and from a position of severe weakness.
Now that our old stomping ground is in need of a bit of decorating, players will need to meet at a new location - the Farm - and certain activities, such as buying from vendors, will change as a result, as they - Xur, we're looking at you - will now be found out in the world instead of waiting conveniently in communal areas for you to check out their wares.
2. Though some things have remained the same: Players on console (not on PC, though) will be able to transfer their characters over from the first game to the second, although not everything will carry over. It's mainly a cosmetic thing, for those who've poured a lot of time and love into sculpting their guardian into the perfect Vex killing machine, you'll at least be able to take your carefully honed look into Destiny 2. Be warned, though, as taking your character from one to two will mean you won't be able to customise them in the same way as someone who starts this second chapter from scratch can.
3. It's still all about the guns: While the categories are being mixed up, which will certainly have an impact on the dynamic of play in the Crucible, the three weapon setup from the first game remains. In Destiny 2 the focus will be on the damage the weapons dish out, not the classes of old. It's not a game changing tweak, but it will give players something to think about, especially in the arena.
Naturally, earning new weapons will be a major focus for players in this shooter sequel, and players will be able to buy powerful and personable weapons from vendors, and unlock cool gear when they play, especially in certain lost sectors which will offer a sterner challenge and boss battles to overcome in exchange for desirable gear.
For more on the lost sectors, you can head this way for a short introductory trailer.
4. Bungie wants us to explore more: At launch, Destiny is launching with a selection of new sandboxes to explore, each one filled with new adventures for players to uncover. This time around Bungie wants us to delve deeper into the world (if that's possible).
"We're going to be sending players to four brand new destinations. The European Dead Zone is certainly one of the largest, and this is a place that takes place in a - I'm not going to specify the specific region in Europe - but it's this lush forest," project lead Mark Noseworthy told us in Cologne in August.
"But it's really mysterious, there's a shard of the Traveller that fell off during a battle long ago, and it's been corrupted and it's having an impact on the forest and the fauna there, and the Cabal have set up a base. Every destination that we try to build is a place full of mystery for players to uncover and discover, right? And 'discovery' is an important word because it's a thing we're trying to really lean into in Destiny 2."
Later in the same interview, Noseworthy said that Bungie "wanted players to be able to go off the beaten path," adding that "exploring the world, making it feel real and being a place you can really live in, has been a real goal for us on this project." Consider us intrigued.
For more in-depth preview impressions, you can head here.
5. Destiny has still got class: There are going to be three new sub-classes for Warlocks, Titans, and Hunters to master, one apiece. As before, once you've picked a class you're locked in for the duration, although you can switch sub-class and get a new bag of tricks to play around with.
Dawnblade is the Warlock variant, and it's a melee focused, sword-wielding badass that we sampled when we played the PC version of the game at Gamescom (which, for the record, played like a dream). Some players might want to play this new sub-class as a healer, but what's the point of doing that when you can get stuck into Cabal and Fallen enemies with a flaming sword.
Hunters are being invited to put down their golden guns and change things up with the Arcstrider, whose Arc Staff and agility combine to great effect on the battlefield. Again, this is a nimble class with the option to triple jump or dodge mid-leap, while still packing a punch in the heat of battle.
Finally, there's the Sentinal, a shielded tank of a character that will be beating heart of any concerted fireteam attack either when playing cooperative strikes or player-versus-player battles in the Crucible. Whichever of the new classes people adopt, there are certainly going to be nuances to explore and tactics to experiment with, especially when you throw the varied selection of weapons into the mix.
For even more Destiny 2 story and gameplay intel, check out our Everything We Know So Far GRTV show, complete with stirring soundtrack.
6. When and where can you play it: Destiny 2's worldwide launch is September 6 on PS4 and Xbox One, with another worldwide release for the PC version (via Battle.net) coming on October 24. In terms of exactly when you can play, it's a rolling launch, so the servers don't all go live at once. This should be 12:00 AM in the country you're in, but with the USA at least, this means 12 AM Eastern Time, which equates to 21:00 in the West of the country - three hours earlier.
On top of this, the first raid is going to go live at 10:00 PT (18:00 BST) on September 13, with the first trials also going live at the same time on September 15. Guided games, however, will have a soft beta on September 12, the goal being to bring these in full later on.
PC players have a few weeks longer to wait, but at least it looks like that wait will be worth it. As you can see in this gameplay clip, the game looks like a natural fit on PC.
7. Time to invest? The Standard Edition for the game will cost you £54.99, granting you access to the minimum, but there's also a bundle for £79.99 in which you can get the full game as well as Expansions I and II, bringing new content like story missions, activities, gear, and other content. Paying £89.99 will get you the Digital Deluxe Edition, and this includes the game, expansion pass, and 'premium digital content', which is the Legendary Sword; Legendary Player Emote; and Cabal Empire Themed Emblem.
On top of this, pre-ordering any of these will also grant you more bonuses as well, as on both PS4 and Xbox One you'll get the Coldheart Exotic Rifle; a Kill-Tracker Ghost; and Salute Emote. Also, if you're a PS4 player, you'll get a Dynamic theme on top of that as well.
If physical editions are more your thing, and you have yet to buy a PS4 or Xbox One, you can also get a Collector's Edition console which features the console in question, the game, a Frontier Bag, Expansion pass, bonus digital items, and a Cabal-themed collector's box. Those who are fans of the PS4 have another two choices, as there's a Glacial White PS4 pro bundle with the game, expansion pass, and digital content for £349.99, as well as a regular 500GB console bundle for £229.99.
That's not all, though, as the physical Limited Edition is another option for those who just want the game and not a console. This costs £89.99 for both PS4 and Xbox One, and includes the game; expansion pass; Legendary sword; Legendary player emote; Cabal Empire-themed emblem; Limited Edition steelbook case; Cabal-themed Collector's box; booklet with secrets of the Cabal Empire; Cabal schematic; collectible postcard images; Cabal military pawns. Phew.
For more on Bungie's post launch plans, which the studio thinks will make us "pretty happy", you can head here.