Destiny 2 Is a New Yet Remarkably Familiar Beginning [Hands-On Preview]

In the middle of a raging storm, the guardians scan the cloudy horizon as they protect the last safe city on the planet. Slowly they realize that their satellites aren’t operational and their warning systems are going haywire. Before they know it a colossal armada of hostile ships emerge from the storm with eyes on The Traveller, the source of all the Guardians powers.

The attack is successful, the last bastion of humankind has fallen to Ghaul, the games new villain, and the Red Legion who have also taken the power that The Traveller once gave to the guardians. Now the guardians must ban together to take back the City and restore the power that is rightfully theres.

If most of what I just said doesn’t make sense to you, have no fear. It’s a context heavy way of saying that the history from the original Destiny has been overwritten in the sequel, everyone is back to square one with Destiny 2 wiping the slate clean. So, if you haven’t played the original game, you shouldn’t have much trouble jumping into this one.

I had a chance to play Bungie’s newest baby at their premiere event this week in Los Angeles where both fans and press were present to test the game’s single-player, multiplayer, and cooperative modes. And while I had a ton of fun with all the modes I played, it didn’t feel a whole lot different than the original game.

Mankind Has Fallen

Right off the bat, I was thrown into action in the middle of the Red Legion’s assault on The City. I had to use all the typical powers from the first game to mow down enemies while my fellow guardians did the same alongside me.

It was a short mission where I fought through waves of enemies until I was picked up by an allied pilot who dropped me on one of the enemy ships. I had to make my way through the ship, killing dozens of enemy cronies until I got to the shield generator where I was taken out by Ghaul.

It was over in a few minutes when I played through it on PC, and it only got shorter when I played it again on PS4. I had to remind myself that I wasn’t playing an expansion pack for the first game both times I played through; it barely felt any different.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The controls were tight, movement felt light and shooting Red Legion soldiers in the face was super satisfying—the standard things you come to expect from Bungie. Nothing felt out of place, but depending on who you ask, too much of the same thing can get tiring. And while the new story seems interesting, is it all really worth throwing your progress from the original game and starting from scratch?

Guardian On Guardian Action

The bulk of my time with the preview build was spent with one of the multiplayer modes: The Crucible. Two teams of four either attack or defend two bombs. Meanwhile, the attacking team needs to plant charges and the defending team needs to defuse or prevent them from planting altogether.

While I’ve always preferred the low time-to-kill, quick-to-die action of Call of Duty over the more complicated shooters like Halo and Destiny, I did enjoy going back to familiar battlegrounds to experience the new tweaks Bungie have made.

And this is where Destiny 2’s mantra of “a new beginning” will come on strongest. All experience and customizations from the first game will be wiped as players both new and old can mesh together come September. It’s a nice thought, but my time playing at this event indicated otherwise. The fans of the first game who were at the event, and who had also invested tens of hours into the first game, completely wiped the floor with me and my media-employed teammates.

That shows a fundamental flaw with Bungie’s “new beginning” strategy. It’s not going to be a new beginning for the thousands of players who spent most of their gaming time shooting each other in the original Destiny. They are coming in with all of the knowledge they gained from their extensive playtime. It feels pointless to throw away everything from the first title, even though it serves a story purpose.

Is It Really A New Beginning?

If you had told me this was a big reveal event for a new Destiny expansion, I would’ve questioned what all the hype was about. And that’s part of how I feel right now. The game feels great and I had a ton of fun, but I can’t say that it felt that different from Destiny.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The original Destiny was a great game with a ton of good features that only got better as more content was released. But usually a sequel needs to feel like a substantial leap over its predecessor to warrant a sequel, and Destiny 2 is not that kind of game.

I was only able to spend a few hours with the game, so I can’t say that my worries are going to materialize in September, but right now I’m worried about what Destiny 2 has to offer.