What Has Bungie Learned Since Destiny?
Breaking down the Destiny 2 gameplay reveal event
The world got its first glimpse of Destiny 2 — sequel to the blockbuster hit released nearly three years ago — on May 18, 2017. The studio behind the game, Bungie, flew out hundreds of reporters, journalists, and prominent YouTubers to experience the hour-long event. They got to see and try the gameplay firsthand while the rest of the world waited eagerly for their impressions.
The original game received its share of praise and criticism; the first impressions of Destiny 2 give us some indication of what Bungie may have learned (and may be addressing) in the sequel.
A focus on storytelling
One of the biggest complaints about the original Destiny was its lack of story. One of the best (or worst?) examples of its lackluster storytelling was this gem of a quote that came at the end of the main campaign:
“I don’t have time to explain why I don’t have time to explain.”
Okay. Well you could at least try.
Three paid expansions later, Destiny finally found its stride in the story it was trying to tell. Sort of. It’s hard to say if the story was actually decent, or if it was just such a vast improvement over the original offering that it only seemed that way.
However, from the looks of the reveal trailer, the studio took that feedback to heart and put the story at the forefront this time around:
The Guardians (the players’ characters) have been attacked on their home turf by an evil that thinks they’re undeserving of the power that they’ve been given. What follows will be the Guardians’ attempt at regrouping to retake what they’ve lost.
We’ll have to wait and see if they were successful in telling a compelling story, as we were only treated to glimpses of it at the event. But at least Bungie is listening.
Worlds to be explored
Players also ripped the original game apart for not delivering on the promise of an expansive universe waiting to be explored. The game offered its own take on an open world; different planets that you could travel to that were sectioned off with invisible walls. This offered the illusion of freedom and exploration, but it was effectively just a playground with fences.
There are new worlds to explore again, but the studio made a point to call out the amount of exploration present in each one. There are now regions called “Lost Sectors” — secret locations with special treasures that are guarded by a big bad guy. Hopefully, they’ve made the act of finding and getting to the location just as fun as obtaining the treasure inside.
Bringing the community together
One of the more interesting parts of the reveal came when Social Lead, M.E. Chung, came onstage to talk about several additions to the game that would help bring the Destiny community together:
- Matchmaking: Chung talked about the developers’ desire to make it easier for players to find others to group up with. The first Destiny lacked matchmaking for its most challenging group content. Players had to resort to using forums and mobile apps to find other people to play with. In Destiny 2, it looks like players won’t have to go through those hurdles.
- Clans: Players can form clans and recruit people they enjoy playing with. Clans will be represented in game by the their name, a custom banner, and a brief description. Everything you do as part of the clan will contribute to its advancement. We don’t have too many details on what that means yet, but we do know that you’ll be contributing to the clan’s success whether you like to play the game’s story, or if you like playing competitively in the Crucible.
- Guided Games: A way for experienced clans in the game to guide new (or solo) players through the most challenging group content: raids. Raids are designed to be challenging for even an experienced group playing together, so they are almost impossible to do singlehandedly. This feature will let new and solo players get a chance to experience a part of the game they wouldn’t have been able to access otherwise.
These features are huge quality of life improvements in a game designed to be social, but was unfortunately never equipped to be.
New classes and skills
Destiny gave the player a choice in how they wanted to experience the world through its class system. Would you play as the unbreakable Titan? The mysterious Warlock? Or the wandering Hunter? These classes were based off the traditional archetypes of fighter, mage, and thief, respectively. The classes also had a subclass system that let players specialize further.
Aside from aesthetics, the biggest differences between each class and their subclasses were in their skills (special grenades or melee strikes) and their “super” ability — extremely powerful abilities that allowed the player to shoot beams empowered by solar energy, or throw down defensive shields to protect their allies (to name a few).
It now looks like two of the available classes have been revamped (the Titan Striker and Hunter Gunslinger) while three new ones have been added: the Titan Sentinel, the Hunter Arcstrider, and the Warlock Dawnblade. The Sentinel looks like it gives the Titan both offensive and defensive options as it charges into a group of enemies with a purple shield. The Arcstrider looks like it improves the Hunter’s already impressive agility by letting it somersault through enemies while decimating them with an electrical staff.
Much of the gameplay reveal was from the Dawnblade’s perspective though. Its super ability charged up the Warlock and let it fly through the air with wings of flame, raining down fiery swords on its enemies.
On top of that, each character now comes with skills they can use in battle to further differentiate their role and specialization. The Titan can put up barriers that protect him and his allies. The Warlock can lay down pools of energy that either heal or power up the group offensively. The Hunter gets yet another skill that makes them more nimble — a dodge that avoids attacks and instantly reloads their weapon. Fitting for a character based all around agility.
It is a bit disappointing that Bungie didn’t use this opportunity to reveal any new classes beyond the three aforementioned ones. Perhaps they’re saving it for an expansion down the line? Or perhaps they don’t have one in the works at all. There will still be plenty to play and experiment with given the changes they’ve made to the existing subclasses, as well as the addition of the new ones, but it would’ve been fun to see what else Bungie could come up with.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the biggest takeaway from last week was that Bungie listened. Player complaints around the lack of story, difficulty (or lack of) matchmaking, and lifeless worlds were all addressed in some way. The new classes and subclasses help breathe life into the sequel by giving the developers a fresh slate to work off of.
The first Destiny had its flaws, and it looks like Bungie has addressed some of them with this brief glimpse at what the second adventure in the franchise has to offer.
Some things remain to be seen though. Will character progression mirror the refined system they currently have in place? Or will it resemble the convoluted mess that the first Destiny launched with? How about the weapon balance in the game? Has Bungie put an effort into balancing the competitive multiplayer experience by cleverly manipulating weapon performance?
We’ll find out more as we get closer to E3.
Check out the official gameplay reveal trailer below!
And to watch the full Gameplay Premiere Event, click here.
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