We made our way across the ocean to see whether Destiny 2 delivers on our hopes and expectations, and as we walked away from the event after eight hours, we felt reassured. Destiny 2 is on track to becoming something truly great.
It started out with an hour-long presentation. The premise of Destiny 2 is established straight away. The tower in the last safe city on Earth is invaded by the Cabal. The turtle-esque aliens feel strongly about taking control of the mysterious power given to the humans by The Traveller (the large sphere hanging over the city), and they simply go about bombing everything. A valiant effort to defend the city is made, and we get to see familiar faces like Cayde-6, Ikora Rey, and Zavala, give it their all. When the switch between cutscene and the actual game happens the crowd cheers. Destiny 2 looks like Destiny, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
As we grip the controller we feel right at home almost immediately. There is no doubt that this is Destiny at its core, both in terms of visuals and gameplay. What becomes apparent, however, is how much more dynamic it is. The whole combat zone feels alive; there is shouting over the radio, fire and sparks all over the place, and there is a sense of danger in the air. It feels like Destiny, but the "Homecoming" mission runs circles around all of the similar missions found in its the predecessor. From helping Zavala resist the initial onslaught aided by his Titan bubble, to watching Ikora Rey throwing a nova bomb at an attacking spacecraft, to standing eye-to-eye with the game's antagonist, Gaul, it all feels great. Truly great.
Luke Smith, game director on Destiny 2, who also headed up development on critically acclaimed expansion The Taken King, explains that Destiny 2 is a reboot and the idea is that it should be just as easy for someone who has never played Destiny to get into it, as it is for someone who has invested hundreds of hours.
"We want to build a world that you want to be a part of. This is about constructing a place that is interesting, it's about having amazing things to do. No matter what mood you are in and no matter if you are a solo player, competitive player, or a co-operative player, we have activities for you to play"
The objective has been to build a world players want to spend time in, a world full of things to do for all sorts of players. Regardless if you enjoy playing with friends or alone, there will be things for you to do. The structure of the game world has been severely altered, the planets you'll visit will be massive, and they'll contain lots of things to see and explore.
On Earth we get to visit the "European Dead Zone", according to Bungie the largest area that's ever been created for Destiny, and it's complete with dense forests, and underground cave system, and a Red Legion base to take over. We will also visit Titan, one of Saturn's moons, and that entirely lacks land mass. Nessus is a planet that the Vex has almost completely consumed and turned into a machine. We will also see Io, the last planet The Traveler visited before its collapse. We weren't shown any of this at the event, but it sure sounds like Destiny 2 will feature a more open world than its predecessor, complete with secrets and a map to help you explore.
The mission that has been shown, called Homecoming, is also the one we later get to play. For those of us who have invested a great deal of time in Destiny, it's a smooth transition to start blowing away Cabals. Destiny 2 plays almost exactly the same as Destiny, but as you'd expect a few new mechanics have been added to the mix. For now, two of the old subclasses are confirmed ("Striker" for the Titan, and "Gunslinger" for the Hunter), plus three brand new subclasses (more on these later on). The old classes have been given a minor makeover and have been given a brand new ability per class to go with grenade and melee attacks.
The Gunslinger has been given a dodge move to use in precarious situations (think of the evade jump of the "Nightstalker"). The Striker has been given a protective wall that can be set up, and the new Warlock class "Dawnblade" can conjure up a healing energy field. The abilities can also be modified with two different choices, allowing for some class customisation. The healing field of the "Dawnblade" can, for instance, be exchanged for a field that grants you and your fellow players a damage boost. This extra ability adds an another dimension to Destiny 2, as you need to consider a lot more as you go about assembling the perfect Raid team.
Dawnblade is the only new subclass we were allowed to sample. The grenades are the same as with the old Sunsinger class and the variations in terms of jumping are all familiar. The super consists of a burning sword that allows for lots of damage dealing at a high pace, preferably while airborne. The other two new special attacks shown were the Titan's Sentinel, based on the Void element. Imagine Captain America and you'll get the gist of it. The shield is used to target enemies dumb enough to get in its way, as well as for protection should the need arise. Arcstrider is the new Hunter class and it reminds us a lot of the Arcblade class from Destiny, at least as far as what was shown during the presentation.