Nearly two months after its original release on current-gen consoles, Bungie is finally taking its first steps back into the massive ecosystem of PC gaming with Destiny 2. After beating the campaign and attempting the Leviathan Raid on PlayStation 4 I decided to put down the DualShock and wait for what was sure to be the definitive version of Destiny 2. With the release date in sight, Bungie was gracious enough to bring me and other games journalists on their own dime to their Studio HQ to have hands-on time with the final build of the PC port. It was a treat to experience as both a long-term fan and a member of this industry.
What was immediately apparent walking into the play area was that we were going to be playing Destiny 2 on powerful hardware. Specifically, these were the same machines shown off at the Nvidia booth during E3, with each PC packing an Intel Core i7-770K clocked at 4.2GHz, an Nvidia GTX 1080Ti and 16GB of RAM. To showcase the graphical prowess Destiny 2 had yet to unleash, our machines were geared to play at 4K resolution at a stable 60FPS on Asus Predator G-Sync monitors. Thankfully though, not everyone needs this level of hardware. Because Destiny 2 has a moderate amount of PC optimization the game has a respectable low-spec for budget players looking to jump into the action. While I would have loved to experiment with some settings, Bungie had put some restrictions on us so I wasn’t able to go as in-depth as I would have liked. Destiny 2 was not running at max settings during this preview event, with many of them set to high and medium. Despite the average settings, Destiny 2 still looks and feels superior to the console release in nearly every way.
After I switched to PC as my preferred platform for gaming it’s becomingly increasingly hard to deal with the limitations of first-person shooters on current-gen consoles running at 30FPS. Smoothness and clarity are such integral parts of the experience for shooters and Destiny 2 is finally unshackled from those limiters. Mouse and keyboard also offer that next level of precision that aim-assisted controllers can only dream of achieving and the freedom to map the game to my personal preference is ideal for comfort. Hand Cannons, Scout Rifles and Pulse Rifles feel so much more attuned and viable to this control method and I was able to experiment with a larger set of weapons than being locked to the safety of an auto rifle and select exotics on PlayStation 4. Players who do want to use a controller on PC can safely do so as well with everything set to the console defaults except the crosshair, which is a default ten degrees higher and can be adjusted back in the options menu.
The game ran beautifully throughout the day with no stuttering, screen tearing or annoying bugs to hamper or outright crash the experience. After replaying the opening act of “Homecoming” all the way to “Utopia”, we took a break so Bungie could fast track us to a post-campaign level. We broke into fireteams to explore Nessus, tackle the Pyramidion Vanguard Strike and engage in a flurry of Crucible matches to close out the event. Because our machines were hooked up via LAN connections I can’t comment on the quality of Bungie’s PC netcode for launch. It should also be noted that Blizzard provided no assistance with the PC release of Destiny 2 and their client will only handle whispers and invites, not matchmaking. I had the most fun playing Crucible during the event because it was hilarious to hear all of the team chatter and trash talking going on all around us. Compared to the beginning of the event where we were isolated in our own little games, this moment was truly when the charm of Destiny came out while playing with new companions.
The PC port of Destiny 2 is great, but that doesn’t mean it won’t share many of the same issues that persist in the console release. Endgame is the largest complaint the community currently has. While we have heard of the new improvements and event-based content coming down the pipeline from Twitchcon 2017, Destiny 2 currently lacks that hook to keep a majority of its players logging in every day and that won’t be fixed until an expansion releases to repeat the cycle. I’m also worried at the size of the playerbase at launch. While Destiny and Destiny 2 have grown strong with a console playerbase, there’s nothing new for them to experience here except a smoother framerate and improved visuals—if they have a powerful enough rig to play it. Destiny 2 PC needs to reach out to a different set of players and grow a brand new community from the ground up, which could be a struggle.
Before I had to leave we were able to ask questions to the PC dev team and the only question I had burning in my mind was how Destiny 2 PC would address gameplay balancing going forward from the console release. Because of the precision of keyboard and mouse, some guns could now be considered more viable or powerful than others in the competitive meta using this control method. Currently, Destiny 2 PC will be moving in the same direction as its console counter-parts, including day and date release for all upcoming DLC and season patches, but if those separate gameplay tweaks need to occur then they will be addressed in future patches. For a more in-depth critique of Destiny 2, feel free to read Bryan Calhoun’s review, which shares many of the same thoughts.
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