Destiny 2 – Digital Deluxe Edition Review – PC

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Destiny 2 has already taken the console scene by storm and now, almost two months later, PC gamers get their chance to experience the magic, and console gamers get their chance to double-dip and start their character grinds from scratch. From a content perspective, Destiny 2 is virtually identical to what you could have been playing since September 3.   There are obviously several perks associated with the PC version as well as a few caveats, which I will cover upfront, but most of this review is identical to the PS4 coverage published on 9/9.

Destiny 2 on PC is optimized to take full advantage of the PC platform and features 4K resolution support, uncapped frame rate, full mouse and keyboard support with custom key mapping, text chat, adjustable field of view, a detailed PC settings screen, 21:9 and triple monitor support, and HDR. Destiny 2 is playable on Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10. While that all sounds great and I was certainly looking forward to 60fps on the PC that just wasn’t happening; at least in 4K. My might i7 4GHz with a GTX 1080ti card and 16GB of RAM could only muster 40-55fps running at 4K at max detail. Tweaking various settings for over an hour got me close to a stable 60fps, but ultimately I just dropped back to 1080p and cranked everything back to the max. My Sony TV does a fantastic job of upconverting to 4K anyway and I was still getting a better overall presentation than the PS4 Pro could deliver.   Locking down 60fps at 1440 was no problem with my setup, and if I disabled v-sync I was getting upwards of 120fps at 1080p.

Playing Destiny 2 on the PC requires that you install Battlenet; yet another launch platform to go along with Steam, Uplay, and Origin. Honestly, Battlenet has fairly limited overhead, minimal invasive presence, and actually does a good job of filtering would be cheaters while offering up nice tools for matchmaking, chatting, and even streaming options. And if you’ve been playing games like Diablo or Overwatch you already have this service installed. It does seem a bit slower on the periodic updates – those “finalizing” wait times are killer after a download.

Once you are inside the game Destiny 2 is no different than the console versions with the exceptions of some added controller options and keyboard mapping. Playing with a mouse and keyboard is probably a huge reason many have either waited or even double-dipped for a second purchase on PC, and while the added precision of a quality optical mouse and mechanical keyboard may give you’re a competitive edge, honestly, I found the game functionally identical when playing with a controller. There is just the right amount of aim assist to keep the game fair, balanced and fun.

From an audio standpoint, the 7.1 surround mix being delivered from my PC was identical to that of the PS4. Wait times when jumping from planet to planet were significantly shorter thanks to the power of the PC and my SSD installation. So while there are a few quality of life enhancements to the overall game – namely 60fps support – the benefits of PC aren’t nearly as significant or impactful as I had hoped.   I took a 30-day break between PS4 and PC just to get a fresh perspective and I kind of wish I hadn’t.   For those considering a double-dip, you might seriously want to stick with the PS4. Stable 4K is mostly out of the question and doubling the FPS doesn’t really enhance the game – at least not enough to justify grinding out all your characters from scratch.   Now if Activision allowed you to port your console characters to PC I would recommend a double-dip all day long. And since all that information is hosted on Bungie servers I’m still waiting for somebody to tell me why you can’t.

The bottom line is that you’ll want to play Destiny 2 where all (or most of) your friends are playing Destiny 2.   If they all jumped ship to PC and you have the rig to run it then saddle up for the 8-10 hour grind per character to get back to Lv20. Personally, I don’t have the time to keep current with this game on two platforms, so tough decisions lie ahead. I also cringe when I look at a new map and see all those Lost Sectors and Region Chests that I had already 100% collected on PS4 and know I get to do it all over on PC. The good news is that playing on the PC is the definite and superlative experience, although keep in mind PS4 players get all their future content early.   Oh the choices…

So that is basically everything specific to the PC version. The rest of this review is a slightly modified and updated version of my PS4 review to reflect an additional 20 hours spent with the game on PC.

Destiny 2 descends upon our planet with the foreboding scale of a giant sentient sphere, and much like the Traveler will overshadow the next several months (perhaps years) of countless FPS gamers. Bungie has had three years to perfect the formula that, despite a rocky start in 2014, was slowly polished, tweaked, and tightened through countless upgrades and expansions, so expectations for this sequel were high.

After more than a week and an additional 20 hours of PC gameplay I’ve knocked back the single-player campaign, completed about half of the side content, and dabbled with the Crucible PvP. Strikes and Raids are next on the list. As with my PS4 experience, what I have played on PC has been pretty close to perfection. Every quibble I had with the original has been addressed, and Destiny 2 is fast on track to becoming one of the dominant forces in FPS gaming through 2020 on both console and PC.

Since the original Destiny was never available on PC everyone gets to start new characters from scratch.   Personally, there was no real benefit to importing your character on console other than the cool summary of your achievements.   Once you’ve got a character the game drops you into an hour or more of solo gameplay, much of which will be familiar to those who played the BETA, before the game opens up to cooperative play and access to the Director.

The Director has been revamped for Destiny 2, and while it still offers you access to all the major destinations like Earth, Titan, Io, and Nessus, you now have much greater freedom when accessing these large and complex planetary maps. You can now choose where on the map you want to get dropped off, and there are Fast Travel options to quickly move among the major sectors. These are invaluable since you probably won’t get your Sparrow until late in the game – perhaps even after completing the story.

This is actually by design, as Bungie wants you to walk the maps, at least the first time you play, so you don’t zip by all of the fantastic little secrets and events they’ve stashed around the maps like Adventures, Lost Sectors, and those infamous Public Events. Adventures are these cool self-contained stories that reward you with insightful background on characters and events, while Lost Sectors are more like mini dungeon challenges with a big chest waiting for you when you clear the area. Nine-player Public Events roll in at random intervals, and when the sky darkens you had better hope other players are nearby, otherwise just move along.

As before, Destiny 2 is designed for both the solo and the social gamer. There is easily 30-40 hours of content you can play all by yourself, but you can just as easily bring up to two other players along with seamless drop-in/out co-op and the game will scale the difficulty and the loot accordingly. They really do need a four-player co-op mode though, as it always seems somebody is left in the lobby to chat while the other three play. Even the Strikes are limited to three players.

Raids support up to six players and offer the most challenging gameplay events in Destiny 2 as well as the best rewards. And then you have the 4v4, PvP Crucible events with all new modes and maps that will keep competitive gamers playing until Destiny 3 arrives. A new integrated Clan system makes it easier than ever for gamers to gather together, create their own unique look, and work toward their own rewards and XP bonuses. There have been early reports of attempted cheating with just as many reports of banner players. It seems Activision/Bungie is diligent in keep the game fair and secure.

So what else is new? How about three new character Subclasses including the Dawnblade Warlock, Sentinel Titan, and the Arcstrider Hunter, along with other subclasses you can unlock by completing various quests. The $100 Digital Deluxe version of Destiny 2 also includes the Expansion Pass granting you access to the two big expansions that will feature all-new content for both the solo and multiplayer portions of the game.

Destiny 2 delivers a total next-gen presentation on the PC with a locked 30 or 60fps or you can uncap and see how many frames your rig can push per second. While the PS4 used dynamic resolution to maintain a locked 30fps, you’ll need to tweak your options to match your PC’s power and go for that silky smooth 60fps. The textures, architecture, lighting, and special effects will blow you away.  The PC version offers HDR support that really makes parts of the game pop with light and color; especially when contrasted with the darker interiors of some areas that really showcase the rich vibrant colors and real-time lighting and shadows. Character modeling and animation are gorgeous both in the game and the in-engine cutscenes that still render at 30fps on PC, and the movies are of such quality they could easily be cut together to create a feature animated movie.

Each planet/moon offers its own unique theme which is carried over in subtle design touches in both textures and the most intricate details found in the outdoor environments and indoor locations. There is a true air of sci-fi sophistication to the look and feel of the game that sticks with you from one jaw-dropping moment to the next. There is one mission in particular where sunlight becomes more deadly than any enemy in the game, and I swear you could almost feel the blinding white heat coming off the screen.

The audio package is also pretty amazing with a score that literally sends shivers down my spine when it starts. Borrowing on themes from Halo and the previous Destiny game, the score dynamically shifts, dips and soars with the action, suspense, danger, and mystery of each moment in the game. And nothing can beat the parts of the soundtrack when that awesome choir gets added to the orchestration. The voice acting is pure perfection with great dialogue from every major character and many of the subordinates.   Nathan Fillion steals the show as Cayde-6, delivering his lines with perfect comedic timing and just a hint of Captain Reynolds inflection. Peter Stormare, Claudia Black, Bill Nighy, Gina Torres, Lance Reddick, Nolan North, and John DiMaggio are just a few other big names to lend their voice talent to what is actually a quite compelling script.

One of my big complaints with the first Destiny was an overall lack of story. Even after multiple expansions it just seemed like Bungie was having trouble properly motivating players through the narrative; instead relying on OCD loot collection. Destiny 2 kicks off with an epic opening movie and keeps the drama unfolding throughout with periodic cutscenes and loads of backstory revealed through primary mission-giver NPC’s as well as the ramblings of your Ghost (Nolan North) when you explore new areas and make new discoveries. Interestingly enough, the story far exceeds the dramatic scope of the slightly disappointing final boss fight, but does tease a peek at what’s to come in future content drops.

Other than that, Destiny 2 doesn’t attempt to fix what isn’t broke. You still have the three classes of characters and their subclasses that can all easily hit the level 20 cap by the end of the story content; probably before if you do a few of the side missions. You have your energy, kinetic, and power weapons along with assorted armor slots that will quickly become your new obsession in keeping them filled with the best loot you can collect while recycling the rest.

I did enjoy the new reputation system that allows you to redeem various collectibles and scrap parts with various key NPC’s in the game to level-up your reputation with each character in order to earn valuable Engrams that will unlock loot. Thankfully the RNG loot system has been refined so, not only do you get class-specific loot, it also comes close to level and usability. The only exception to this is certain quest items that, if you wait too long to collect, will likely be lower than what you already have. As always, the best loot is always out there in the world to be found, usually as Strike and Raid rewards, and almost never on sale in a store.

But if you like to shop, the new Tower that unlocks after you’ve completed the story has all your favorite destinations for weapons, armor, engram decryptions, Sparrows and ships. It dwarfs the tower from the original game is size and complexity, and took me nearly an hour to fully explore the first time I was permitted. And you can always return to the Farm if you prefer a simpler shopping experience or an impromptu game of soccer.

After nearly 60 combined hours on PS4 and PC I can safely say that Destiny 2 is pretty much perfection in presentation, gameplay, content, and the promise of what’s to come. If the first game is any indication, Destiny only gets better with age; at least for the people who are in this for the long haul. But even if you are only interested in the solo and co-op stuff and never touch the PvP, you’re looking at 80-100 hours of quality content before there is any chance of getting bored, and by then the DLC will start rolling out, making sure you’ll be playing Destiny 2 until you can get your hands on Destiny 3.

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