GAMING POINT OF LOU – THE DESTINY 2 BETA
It’s often been said that there is a fine line between love and hate, primarially because in order to love something, you have to feel passionately about it. Conversely, in order to hate something, you also have to feel passionately about it. This is my conundrum with the Destiny 2 beta, and before anyone asks, I am a veteran of Destiny 1 with over a thousand hours into the game. I’ve killed Atheon and then descended into the pit to wipe the floor with Crota. When Crota’s daddy showed up in year two looking for payback, I went off to the Dreadnaught and finished Oryx. Finally when Aksis decided to rear his ugly head in Rise Of Iron, down into the Perfection Complex we went, and wiped him from existence. I’ve helped start, and am an admin in a Destiny Clan named “The FUG Life”. I’ve participated in my fair share of vanilla PVP, Iron Banner, and even attempted Trials of Osiris once or twice. (Believe me when I tell you I am TERRIBLE at Trials.) I’ve been there, done that, and LITERALLY bought the T-shirt.
It’s obvious after my time with the Beta this past week that PVP balance was the driving force behind the sequel. Bungie’s painstaking attention to obtaining such a high level of homogenization in the Crucible has systematically destroyed the PVE experience in the game. From the revamp of the weapons systems, to the reduced ability cooldowns, everything that made your Guardian feel like a super space magic wielding badass is gone. It makes me feel like a guardian with training wheels. For example, in D1 a tier 5 (the highest level) grenade cooldown was 25 seconds, in the beta, your grenade cooldown is 1:30, and to top it off, the effectiveness of the grenades is half of what it was in D1. This means you are waiting 5 times as long for something nowhere near as effective. This is fine for PVP play, but for those of us fighting a horde of Cabal and wishing we had a grenade available, are left Wanting, Also the enemies are full on bullet sponges, soaking up two to three times the damage before meeting their maker. It’s frustrating when you are dumping an entire magazine from an auto rifle into a simple red bar (the lowest tier) enemy only to not have them drop.
At this point you are probably thinking “But Lou, PVP has to be pretty damn good!!” Well, you would be Half right. While the overall weapon balance is most certainly light years ahead of what it was in D1, the aforementioned nerfing of ability cooldowns, the reduced speed of your guardian, and the new “dual primary” weapon loadout, has stripped away what made Destiny PVP “feel” different from any of the thousands of other competitive shooters on the market. The way it plays now, it’s no different than your garden variety Call of Duty, or Battlefield with a Destiny coat of paint on it. No longer can you play as a full time sniper, hanging back in the lanes, and covering your teammates while they push the enemy team. Nor can you be the typical “shotgun warrior” zipping into and out of close quarters engagements with aplomb, now both teams are stuck engaging at the same combat distance, with the same weapons. That freedom of choice, while frustrating to many, at least kept you on your toes. In D1 you had to learn map awareness, and learn how to counter multiple play styles, but in D2 that’s been taken away. The largest proof of all this is my record during the beta. In D1 my highest K/D (kill / death) ratio is .95, but over the course of the past week, my average KD/A ratio (because now assists are lumped in as well) was well over 1, almost bordering on 2 per match. I’m a self avowed scrub, and yet what they did to PVP made ME look half way decent, that should tell you all you need to know (and for the record, that’s not good)
My first day with the Beta was the worst, I absolutely loathed what I saw. I was three seconds away from going to Gamestop and canceling my preorder, but then things did start to change. For starters I tired the new Warlock subclass, called the Dawnblade, and absolutely fell in love. It is a fantastic subclass with the ability to rain down fiery death upon its enemies and is designed for air superiority, a first for Destiny, and it does a great job with it. Then over the course of the next day or so Bungie began to let out details surrounding the Beta. They informed us that what we were playing is an older build, and most of the issues that we were experiencing have already been rectified for the retail release. I took that with a hefty truckload of salt, but I maintain hope that they will at least address some of the larger problems before September 6th. The art direction of the game was also gorgeous, although we have only seen one destination in action, This being the planetoid Nessus. It was a fantastic locale, full of life and color, harkening back to Venus from D1, but yet providing something fresh and new. I am also pleased to report that from what I’ve seen, many of the connection and latency issues that plagued D1 due to it’s archaic P2P (peer to peer) system seem to have been recitfied. Nowhere in any of the crucible matches that I played in, or the numerous times I ran the one available strike, did i notice any lag, rubber banding, or general technical wonkiness. Of course I had an admittedly small sample to draw on, but the signs are pointing in the right direction. It appears as if Bungie’s decision to go with it’s new hybrid P2P architecture might actually pay off.
At the end of a long week, I have to honestly say, I don’t know how to feel about it all. On the one hand I’m fuming mad at what they did to PVE, sacrificing my guardians power progression at the hand of the PVP altar. On the other hand I know that they were trying to shut up the legion of PVP sweaties crying nerf every 3 seconds. The perfect solution, should have been a complete separation of PVE and PVP, but Bungie has already stated that they will not do that (for who knows what reason). All I can hope is that come September 6th I will see a refined version of what I spent the last week playing, maybe make me feel like less of a Kinderguardian, and more like the badass I should be.