7 Key Takeaways From Bungie's First Destiny 2 Gameplay Reveal Footage

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_Bungie hosted a massive Destiny 2 gameplay reveal event in Los Angeles on Thursday and the impressions, theories, and facts are slowly starting to trickle in. I did not attend the event, but here are 7 things we know about the game after the keynote, gameplay demo, and early feeback from community members who were in the house for the event.

d2-01new Pick yourselves up, Guardians! (Photo credit: Bungie)

1. “A New Beginning For Everyone.”

“The 2 is a reminder,” game director Luke Smith said as he stood on stage in front of a giant number 2 projected behind him to open the event, “it’s a reminder that Destiny 2 is going to be a new beginning for everyone.” One of the recurring points of the event was that Bungie is focusing on expanding the already sizable Destiny community. The obvious, largest addition will be that of the PC gamers. Launching the game on PC signals an intention by Bungie and Activision to try to make Destiny a true monster of the genre. At the end of the presentation, it was revealed that Bungie has partnered with Blizzard to make Destiny 2 available exclusively on Battle.Net. We know that Blizzard is no stranger to massive online communities on PC and XBOX’s Phil Spencer has already made the Destiny-World Of Warcraft connection. This could be a huge step for Bungie and the Destiny community. In-game clan functionality has been revamped which will make it easier for existing groups to better coordinate with clanmates and fill out incomplete fireteams. Guided Games will allow solo players to fill open fireteam slots for raids, Nightfalls, and Trials. This should allow for clans to grow more rapidly, remain engages, and most importantly allow more players to complete endgame activities. According to Smith, only 50% of people who reached the Destiny 1 level cap, completed the raid. “That’s not good enough for Destiny 2,” he said. Aside from a few cosmetic things, we’re also going to be starting our characters from the scratch. Our powers, weapons, and leaders are all destroyed, missing, or scattered and it’s up to us to reclaim these things and “become legend” again. Every guardian in Destiny 2 will start at the same level. Takeaway: This stuff is what has me most excited for D2. As a Year 2 Destiny 1 player, I felt like there was always an uneasy barrier between me and players who started in Year 1. Starting everyone off at the same level ensures that we’re all starting with the same gear, running the missions for the first time, and exploring new places together. LFG sites were sometimes intimidating and kind of a crapshoot when it came to the types of people you would meet. When we’re all newbs, it encourages the kind of teamwork and open communication that Bungie is trying to foster in Destiny.

d2-02pvp Make new friends and shoot them! (Photo credit: Bungie)

2. Completely Rebuilt PvP Sandbox

It appears that The Crucible might be in for the biggest changes in Destiny 2. When talking about the sandbox, World Lead Steve Cotton said they were “building it for PvP players” with the goal that it’s “easy to get into, but it’s hard to master.” Most notably, all PvP gamtypes are now 4v4. It remains to be seen exactly how this will affect the experience, but it’s a massive change considering there were no 4v4 gametypes in Destiny 1 outside of private matches (and Bungie’s unbalanced matchmaking /kappa). They did not mention which of the existing gametypes would be coming forward, but they did allow attendees to participate a new game called Countdown, similar to Search and Destroy gametypes in games like Call Of Duty and Counter-Strike. Again, in the spirit of accessibility, the new PvP HUD was very impressive. As players move through the map, the name of your current location appears below the minimap, which will instantly resolve confusion when making call-outs to your teammates. Also on the HUD you can see which players on both teams are alive or dead, what subclass they are using, which power weapon they are using and if they grabbed ammo for it. Many players reported slower movement and longer TTK with weapons than the current Crucible, but much of that balance could change before launch in September. Takeaway: There wasn’t a whole lot to report on PvP from the sounds of it. My theory is that there are still major changes in store for The Crucible before the game launches once they get more community feedback from the summer Beta. Having call-out locations and player information on-screen at all times is a great addition and will help more players get up to speed with more competitive PvP modes like Trials and Iron Banner.

d2-03cabal This is bad. (Photo credit: Bungie)

3. The (Cabal) Empire Strikes Back

“Earth’s last safe city is safe no more,” Smith said as the first gameplay reveal wrapped up. We already knew that things are going to be not-great for our Guardians when we eventually get our hands on Destiny 2, but the cutscenes and gameplay we saw at the the reveal hammered home the point that the mood of the game is changing from very first mission. In the teaser and reveal trailers we saw the Vanguard battling a Cabal faction called The Red Legion led by the large and mysterious Dominus Ghaul. Smith said that Ghaul and his cronies were raised to believe that “they should have been chosen to receive The Traveler’s power” and that they intend to “show The Traveler the error of its ways” by wiping us out, along with our precious Destiny 1 vaults. Smith compared Ghaul to Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber character in Die Hard: A character who has his act together and is working relentlessly towards the very specific goal of taking The Traveller’s light for himself. In “Homecoming,” the first campaign mission in D2, the player is dropped into battle in The Tower, trying to fend off a massive sneak-attack by The Red Legion. We are fighting side by side with Zavala, Ikora, and Amanda Holliday (we didn’t see Cayde in the in-game gameplay footage), but things aren’t going well. The Tower is literally being blown to pieces and the Cabal are beginning to overrun the area. We need to make our way to the Red Legion flagship and take down a shield generator, but the mission cuts short just before the end (Smith’s spoiler was that we lose, but I think most of us gathered that). Throughout the presentation we also learned that the Vanguard becomes scattered. One of our first priorities will be to locate Zavala, Ikora, and Cayde, who are located at new and different locations throughout the solar system. Takeaway: The mission is DARK. We’ve seen nighttime at The Tower, but in the footage we saw, the sky is pitch black. There’s rain obscuring the camera, fire and smoke everywhere, and Cabal are falling from the sky- we’ve never played a mission with such a bleak tone. Also, The Speaker is missing. VERY SUSPECT.

d2-04loot Pretty guns abound again. (Photo credit: Bungie)

4. There Will Be A Ton Of Loot!

With our tiny Destiny 1 vaults smashed to bits, Destiny 2 promises to provide us with all new weapons, armor, and exotics. How we will store these things is still a mystery, but for everyone with maxed-out god-rolled weapons, the grind returns in September! Weapon slots have been re-designed and feature Kinetic, Energy, and Power weapon classes. Kinetic and Energy weapons appear to use the same types of weapons in both slots (ie, you could carry two hand cannons), but sorry, it appears that dual-wielding is not possible. Energy weapons delivered elemental damage, while kinetic weapons did not. Shotguns, fusion, and sniper rifles have moved to the Power slot along with rocket launchers, heavy machine guns, and new grenade launchers. Smith said that this new configuration will give players “more freedom, more choice to use the stuff that they love.” Early response from the community was positive about how these new slots played in game. Finding loot while exploring the world was touched upon as well. Project Lead Mark Noseworthy said, ”Behind every locked door, there’s something there for you to find.” It sounds like they are really making an effort to reward players in more obvious ways for exploring the world. Clan rewards are also a new feature. Clans will have their own leveling system which will yield rewards shared by every member of the clan. Nothing sounds sweeter than not playing Destiny for a few days and coming back to find that your clan as deposited some sweet loot in your vault (or whatever), right? Takeaway: My biggest concern here is that we are so completely spoiled with loot right now that there is going to be a huge backlash when stuff doesn’t drop like crazy right away. With all of the new avenues to get weapons and armor in D2, I think we should be prepared for the overall quality of the loot to be a little lower than what we’re currently used it. People in the community have gotten so accustomed to plowing through all the D1 content to reach max-light that we have kind of forgotten the feeling of getting a T12 roll on armor, or a god-roll sniper rifle, or the thrill of decoding an exotic engram when you only have a few in your collection. None of that stuff really matters in D1 right now. I’m preparing myself for that long, slow grind when D2 hits. Embrace the pain, my friends!

d2-05explore The European Dead Zone. (Photo credit: Bungie)

5. Exploration Will Be Wider, Quicker, And Rewarding

Cotton: “We’ve made being in the world so much better than just doing patrols. There’s so much more to do as you explore.” Initially it appears there will be four new worlds for us to explore in Destiny 2. Titan, a moon of Saturn; Io, a moon of Jupiter; Nessus, a Vex controlled-planetoid; and The European Dead Zone on Earth. Each of these places appear to drop us in unique (if not somewhat familiar-looking) environments. Patrols, enemy encounters, material farming, chests, will all still be activities for players to participate in, but there are two new activities that have a lot of promise. New characters in the world will present their own stories and send us on side-quests called Adventures. These Adventures will have new mechanics and encounters, take us to new places, and have their own rewards. Some characters will mark your map with Lost Sectors, which are similar to dungeons. Each Lost Sector will reward us with loot if we can get past a boss. Speaking of the map, it’s been overhauled! World maps appear much more detailed now, showing locations of Lost Sectors and public events. You’ll also be able to see when public events are happening so you don’t have to stand around and wait for a tank to drop out of the sky anymore or use a third-party application. However the best quality of life improvement of the whole show is the fact that you can jump from planet to planet without going to orbit. Yes, if you’re on Io and you want to go to Titan, just bring up your map and you’re off. We all love our dropships, but this will allow us to get in and out of areas without having to make those annoying trips to orbit. Takeaway: Again, I’m a huge fan of what Bungie is attempting here. People have been clamoring for Patrol spaces to feel more alive and it sounds like that’s what they are trying to do. Side quests in Destiny sound like a great idea until I haven’t seen my family for two weeks and start to annoy myself with my own stink. This could also be a great way for solo players to get some awesome loot while exploring the new worlds.

d2-06dawnblade Dawnblade, activate! (Photo credit: Bungie)

6. At Least 3 New Subclasses

We got a peek at three new subclasses for our guardians:

  • Dawnblade (Warlock): Super is a firey sword that allows you to “rain down fire-phoenix projectiles that just decimate people” according to Abilities FX Artist Dave Samuel. Sounds and looks awesome.
  • Sentinel (Titan): Super is a shield that can be used to charge at enemies, protect teammates, or thrown Captain America style to inflict damage.
  • Arcstrider (Hunter): Super is an electric staff, similar to arc blade. This one was the least exciting, in my opinion.

There were also some tweaks to existing subclasses. For example, Striker Titans’ Fist Of Havoc works a little differently in that you can use it more than once, or if you prefer, you can run around the map shoulder charging anyone foolish enough to get in your way. Takeaway: The Dawnblade and Sentinel subclassses look like they will be interesting additions to how we build our loadouts and fireteams, but the Arcstrider looks very much like the existing Bladedancer subclass. I’ll be interested to see what other changes they make to the existing subclasses, or if any of them will not be coming forward to Destiny 2.

d2-07big Big baddies are back. (Photo credit: Bungie)

7. It’s Going To Be Big

The scope of Destiny 2 looks to be huge, however the activities we participate in will consist of the familiar game modes:

  • The Red War: A new cinematic campaign that “sends you across the solar system and back to all new places,” said Cotton.
  • 3-player co-op strikes: Starting with The Inverted Spire, which was shown at the reveal. You can watch a full playthrough here.
  • Weekly Nightfall strikes.
  • Raid. There were a few jokes thrown around about leaking details of the raid, but nothing of note was revealed other than that we’re getting one raid at or around launch.
  • The Crucible. See above.

Expect all of these modes to be beefed up a bit both in playable and non-playable content. Lead Writer Christine Thompson said, “there’s more cinematics than we’ve ever had before,” and Noseworthy said of the European Dead Zone that it was “the largest destination we’ve ever built. Easily. Maybe even by a factor of two.” So it sounds like players should expect to see the same events they already love in Destiny, just a lot more of them and done better. Takeaway: Again, I’m okay with this. I’m better than okay with this. If there was more content in Destiny 1 would I still be playing it? I am still playing it. Give me a ton more, fix some of the quirks, slap a new coat of paint on it, and take my money. Players like me that are still playing D1 and enjoying it are not going to be a tough sell for Bungie. It’s already pre-ordered. It will be bringing in new players (and I’ll lump players that left after Year 1 Destiny into that group) that might prove difficult, the size and scope of this game might be too daunting to commit to.

Final Thoughts

I thought the reveal was a success overall. Everything I wanted to see was there. They showed a little too much of the first mission for my liking, and there was one minor spoiler that I thought I caught, but don’t want to share right now. I still think the sense of awe will be there when I play it for the first time on September 7th (10:00pm MT suckers!). There was a lot of chatter online about the lack of 60fps for consoles, no dedicated servers, and that “it’s still just Destiny,” but honestly I love the original so much and appreciated the new things that ARE there that I’m willing to give it a pass on that stuff. Needless to say I am excited to get my hands on the Beta, whenever it launches. I’m sure some of the features we saw during this week’s reveal will change over time before the release, but everything I saw and heard on Thursday give me confidence that Bungie is on track to deliver something truly special in September.