Last week, DualShockers was invited back to Bungie Headquarters in Bellevue, Washington to play the PC version of Destiny 2. While the development team has stated that the game is designed to be “one game” on all platforms, we did notice some stark differences in our time with the game on PC.
For many, Destiny 2 will be their first entry into the series as it is the first time the game is being offered on PC, compared to the original’s console-exclusive release. Despite its origins on console, the game feels right at home on a mid-to-high-range gaming rig in everything from the sheer performance power, to the humbling cutscenes at the beginning of the game.
These cutscenes, for instance, detail your progress in the first game on PS4 and Xbox One, but here everyone is starting from the beginning and while the two games have the same story, weapons, armor, and characters, they feel like two distinctly different beasts.
To begin, the boundaries that are set forth by the current-gen consoles have been shattered; Destiny 2 in 4k with an unlocked framerate looks incredible. We played the game on an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti with an Intel Core i7-7700K 4.2Ghz processor, and it was and is simply the best-looking first-person shooter out right now. Whereas the graphics help the make the overall experience more enjoyable, they also change the dynamics of the gunplay both in PvE and PvP.
In PvE content, everything from the skybox to the souls of Fallen leaving their bodies after being headshot are stunning. This matters because there is a sect of the Destiny 2 community that will be playing through the story for the fourth, fifth, or even seventh time. Take it from someone who has played the first mission “Homecoming” more than 12 times: I can wholeheartedly say that while the story and the environments are fundamentally the same, the enhanced visuals on PC will make it worth your while.
For PvP, the increase in framerate makes all the difference. This is the way the game was meant to be played, and as such, much of the PvP meta differs from consoles. Furthermore, the reduction of recoil in the PC version of the game has led different weapons to dominate on PC. With these things in mind, I found that–regardless of the map–Hand Cannons were filthy. The need to aim down sights has almost disappeared entirely and because of this, weapons that deal a lot of damage with the single pull of a trigger excel.
Many of us were using the Minuet-42, which you can see in some of the gameplay we were able to record in the Crucible, and we wrecked house. On the whole, the meta is different, and reaction times are faster. Also, watch out for the Golden Gun since it’s much easier to execute a Guardian and, with the mouse, whip around and shoot someone behind you. This change in gameplay is yet another factor that invigorates a veteran Destiny 2 player like myself to go through all of this content again feeling refreshed, compared to the console experience when it first released.
The PC version of the game also offers a ton of support unique to the platform such as a Field of View slider that goes all the way up to 105, custom key-mapping, and an extremely customizable settings page. I found myself utilizing all of these in interesting ways so as to customize the experience to my liking. When the boost on my Sparrow was bound to the right mouse button, for instance, I love that I was able to change it to “shift.” I imagine, for example, that key-bindings for the unique perks on the Trials of the Nine weapons that allow players to slide to partially reload their weapons will do well in the Crucible with the more flexible key-binding options.
Nevertheless, there was a unique crux within the PC version of Destiny 2 that muddied my overall positive experience, and that was the omission of a general text chat for nearby players. While Destiny 2 doesn’t pretend to be an MMO as much as its predecessor and is realistically deemed a “shared world shooter,” it frustrated me not to be able to speak with other Guardians nearby when I was visiting The Farm, or when I was patrolling Nessus. While there is a whisper setting that you must enable to be able to receive whispers from players you don’t know, there still isn’t a meaningful way to make first contact with strangers whom you might otherwise befriend and play alongside to experience the game’s content.
There’s no general chat, area chat, trade chat, barrens chat, farm chat, proximity chat, or anything of the kind, and it seems like that’s one of the most important aspects of sitting behind a keyboard. Bungie explained to me that this was done consciously to avoid negative interactions, but in doing so, they’re also removing any chance at unique, funny, or interpersonal interactions outside of emoting at each other. There also isn’t a clan chat, outside of the Destiny app on mobile. It feels like in trying to protect the players, they’ve sacrificed one of the most integral parts of any PC gaming community and when compared to the design finesse that went into the development of this version of the game, it feels even more strange that it is absent.
Similarly, the issues with aim assist that were evident in the beta are still present. If you plug in a controller or utilize a peripheral such as the XIM adaptor, you can make full use of the aim assist, which feels really uncompetitive. This decision was made so that players who are migrating from other platforms feel right at home, but the consequence is that PvP will be far from competitive and frustrating to players who choose not to use aim assist.
While the games can be balanced separately, as we learned in our roundtable sessions with Bungie employees responsible for this version, the issues (including a lack of general or clan chat, and an oversight in terms of aim assist competitiveness) may hurt the overall user experience for markets already used to solutions in both areas. But at the end of the day, it’s Destiny 2 in its most beautiful form.
On the whole, Destiny 2 on PC feels familiar but exciting for all the right reasons. The attention to detail that went into producing a beautiful and high-functioning version of Destiny 2 on the PC is very apparent. Players who may have been aching for a higher fidelity version of the game, with loads more customization in terms of experience, will fall in love with what this version has to offer.
Destiny 2 is available now on PS4 and Xbox One, and releases today on PC.
Editor’s Note: The reporter’s expenses, including flight and accommodations, were paid for by Activision.