Hands on with the Destiny 2 single player campaign

After today?s Destiny 2 presentation, the gaming press was invited to play various portions of the new upcoming game. The first thing on my agenda was to play Homecoming, the first mission in the game. This was shown off during the livestream reveal, but playing it for myself really got me excited.

My first play through of the level was on a PC with keyboard and mouse controls. Now, I?m not a PC gamer, and haven?t played a first person shooter with these types of controls since probably Team Fortress. In other words, it?s been forever, so I knew going in that I was probably going to suck. And I did. The aiming was entirely too fast and all of the keyboard shortcuts for things like grenades, melee, and Supers was something I screwed up on more than one occasion. Still, I managed to somehow make my way through and reach the end.

For those unfamiliar with the Homecoming mission, the player is treated to an opening cinematic with the three main Guardians from the first game in the Tower. Zavala has summoned Ikora and Cayde-6 because an urgent matter has just come up: the satellites monitoring the protective Wall around the last city on Earth have went dark. At first they think it could just be the raging thunderstorm outside, but soon an armada of Cabal ships arrive and begin a massive assault.

Luckily you survive the onslaught and are plopped straight down into the iconic Tower, except now it?s a burning shell of its former glory. The first thing that struck me as I began to move around the world is that it has received a massive facelift. The graphics are clearly on a whole other level from the original Destiny. The environments are littered with details and the raging storm with torrential downpours, heavy wind, and the chaos of incoming attackers with fire everywhere is really an amazing sight to behold. We weren?t allowed to capture any footage from the PC version, but I did notice in the video options a bunch of toggles and the resolution was set at 4K. It?s obvious the game is pushing some new technology in the graphics department, not only in the environments and special effects, but also with the character models. The enemies are more detailed than ever before and they almost look like they?re ripped straight out of a CG cinematic. It?s obvious that the tethers of the PS3 and 360 generation have been fully cut to allow Bungie to create a brand new engine capable of so much more than has ever been seen before.

One of the biggest changes to Destiny 2 are the weapons. No longer are you limited to having standard, special, and heavy weapons stuck in specific slots. Instead they are grouped by Kinectic, Energy, and Power. This will allow each player to have more freedom and choice when it comes to utilizing their favorite weapons. I had a variety of different weaponry already on my character when I began, and I admit it took me a moment to come to grips with this new system in place. I wasn?t accustomed to having a Sniper Rifle in the ?Heavy? (now called Power) category, for example, and I think this could really be a fun way to switch things up for the sequel. I did go hands-on with the new Grenade Launcher weapon and it?s as cool as it sounds. I was able to quickly take down some mini-bosses by pummeling them with grenades for massive damage.

One of the best moments of Homecoming is that you go to the spot where the Speaker normally resides and he?s gone missing. Now, this is a section of the Tower that always had a door that was locked, and I always wished Bungie would unlock it so we could see what waited on the other side. Well, they do just that in this mission! You get to see all of the cool stuff on the other side of the door, but unfortunately it?s all in shambles and burning down. Still, these little nods of fan service are sure to make longtime players of the original game giddy with excitement.

Overall the first mission is rather short, but an amazingly fun time. The idea of starting you out in the Tower is genius, as every Destiny player is intimately aware of the space and watching it blow up and burn down around you makes the attack feel very personal. I mean, this is a spot that most players have spent hours and hours of their life, and now it?s being destroyed all around them. The game does and excellent job of instilling a feeling of sorrow, dread, and eventually revenge and hope, and the fact that it accomplishes this in just the opening act is very impressive.

In the end, we know that the three Guardian leaders survive, but are scattered to the wind. Each end up on a different planet after the Tower is destroyed and the Traveller is imprisoned by the leader of the Red Legion, Gaul, who believes he should be the one to receive the Traveller?s light, not the Guardians. After the Traveller is captured, the Guardians lose their light and thus the setup for Destiny 2 begins – you must start over from scratch and regain your powers and retake what was once your?s. I can?t wait to see what happens next!

I?m off to play some Crucible and a new Strike, plus I?ll get my hands on the PS4 version (where I?m more at home). We?ll have much more on Destiny 2, so check back.