Eyes On the Destiny 2 Gameplay Stream

My biggest takeaway from today’s Destiny stream on Twitch is that Bungie wants to do a much better job with storytelling. Aside from showing lots of footage that appeared to be lifted straight from in-game cutscenes, Bungie’s various staffers frequently threw out phrases such as “a cinematic story with more cutscenes than we’ve ever had in a game before”.  As someone who, like most people, basically forgot everything about Destiny’s story less than 10 minutes after every line of dialogue, I can appreciate Destiny 2 aiming for a more engrossing tale.

A better story may be what grabbed me most from the presentation, but what Bungie pushed hardest was building a player community. The whole stream was aimed toward people who have already played a ton of Destiny and would have a lot riding on what Destiny 2 does to a game in which they’ve already invested hundreds of hours. Bungie seems to understand that Destiny fans are frighteningly passionate about a game that most everyone, including those fans, found to be a huge let down. Destiny 2 is taking some obvious, but necessary steps to be a much better multiplayer game.

Clans

The idea of a clan (guild, free company) is nothing new to games, but in a game that was part shooter/part poor man’s MMO like Destiny, one of the major missing components was some form of in-game party permanence. Clans in Destiny 2 will presumably alleviate the first game’s disconnected feel, giving players a list of clan members and tools to communicate with them (though it hasn’t been confirmed if that will be through voice or text) within the game itself. Clans will also feature custom banners for your squad and cumulative rewards based on the entire group’s accomplishments.

Destiny 2 will also employ an idea they’re calling Guided Games. Bungie prefaced the introduction of this system by discussing how much it sucked that certain gameplay modes in Destiny like Nightfalls and Raids required a specific number of players, but wouldn’t allow you to find players via automatic matchmaking. In a pretty ballsy move, they had social lead M.E. Chung on stage flat out making the argument for why they didn’t add this option to the first game, which is pretty rare. You don’t often see developers explain why they didn’t add things to a game, so kudos to them. Her argument boiled down to the idea that the harder-core players who raid every week can be pretty vitriolic to those who don’t, which is of course a turn off to the more casual players. This created a scenario in the first Destiny where the best content, the raids, might as well have been non-existent to people who didn’t have a hardcore, dedicated group of five friends.

Guided Games are positioned to bridge that gap by basically allowing solo, clan-less players to fill in open spots on a clan-built fireteam for just that one instance. So, if you’re in a clan tackling a 6-person mission, but you only have 5 people available, you can advertise in game for a solo sub using Guided Games.

This all sounds to me like a version of something like the Party Finder in Final Fantasy XIV, the Raid Finder before that in World of Warcraft, or any of the various “LFG” tools players currently use for Destiny outside the game. But again, this is an in-game tool for Destiny 2, which is another great step in the right direction for the series. I know I’ve personally decided against trying certain missions in Destiny because I didn’t feel like using a website to dig up other players in a game that is best played with friends. Hopefully, this addition will have us all checking out raids this time around.


Beyond clan support, here's some more info I gleaned from the reveal:

  • Strikes, the 3-player cooperative missions, will make a return. They didn’t confirm if the player limit for these would still be three, but that’s probably the case.
  • One raid is confirmed.
  • The Crucible, Destiny’s PvP option, returns. They’ve confirmed 4v4 matches for all modes and one new mode. I didn’t exactly understand the hype for the new Countdown mode, but the audience, which seemed very interested in PvP, was pumped for it.
  • The open world areas will have more to do than “just doing patrols”. That wording shows signs that they’re well aware of the player base’s gripes about the first game, which is a good sign.
  • Open world areas also have quest giver NPCs that actually speak to the player! Again, this is something you see in like every game, but its omission in Destiny made the plot really hard to care about.
  • The presenter mentioned some NPCs will give treasure hunt quests. He added that some would end with “a boss with a key” and “a new map” which led to a wave of applause from the crowd. Again, lots of things we take for granted in normal games were missing from Destiny so here’s hope they’re on the right track.
  • I didn’t fully get the implications of if, but there will be a change to how weapon loadouts work. It sounds like you’ll have three weapons and a heavy instead of two and a heavy. I’ll have to do a bit of research on that one.
  • Player’s won’t have to go to orbit to change objectives! This will save dozens of minutes for every hour of gameplay. It’s a huge deal. I’m not even exaggerating.

They closed with the announcement that Destiny 2 on PC will be a Battle.net game…? They even said the phrase “battle net” which I thought had been retired. Either way, that’s potentially very interesting, as it could lead to crossovers with Blizzard’s other properties. Maybe you’ll get to play Heroes of the Storm as the lady who gives you Warlock quests (I’m sure she has a name and I don’t care). This move also means they’re side-stepping Steam, which is interesting as a business move.

If all of this reads like “So they’re fixing a lot of the problems with Destiny, but this doesn’t sound much like a sequel,” I think I concur. Destiny 2 even looks like the same game graphically. I was feeling very “meh” about the entire presentation until it dawned on me that this is exactly what a Destiny 2 should be. The first game nailed the gameplay and visuals, but faltered on everything from community support, pacing, quest structure, story, storytelling… to basically everything else. If I was offered Destiny but with all those problems fixed, I’d absolutely be on board.

So I guess I’m absolutely on board.

We’ll have more impressions when the Destiny 2 beta begins later this summer and much more to say about it when it releases September 18th for PC, Xbox One, and PS4.