The Destiny 2 beta is slim, but shows everything is in the right place

Destiny 2 Sentinel

We’ve still got a little while to wait until the Destiny 2 beta arrives on PC, but it is currently underway on PlayStation 4, and will hit Xbox One later this week. Despite already being convinced that the PC will be the One True Platform for Destiny 2, I couldn’t help but boot up my PS4 and have a look at what’s on offer in the beta. What new and cool things would await? And what can us PC players expect to play in a few weeks time? 

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The console beta comprises of the opening Homecoming campaign mission, the Endless Spire co-op Strike, and two PvP game modes. You can play all these components as any one of the three classes, and each can be configured to either their brand new subclasses – Dawnblade, Sentinel, and Arcstrider – or a re-tooled original subclass. Along with two full sets of armour for each role, and over 20 weapons (including three exotics), you could say there’s plenty to play with. But the way they’re being offered up feels a little… off.

Destiny 2 beta strike

Way back in the summer of 2014, the original Destiny had a beta, too. While featuring roughly the same kind of content as the Destiny 2 beta, it was all linked together in one of the game’s open-world segments. You could explore the Russian Cosmodrome at your leisure, doing some basic Patrol side-quests, getting a feel for the game’s scope. While in there you could see other Guardian players going about their business and join forces if they were headed in the same direction as you. There was even the chance to saddle up on your Star Wars speeder bike-style Sparrow.

The Destiny 2 beta, on the other hand, simply throws you into the Homecoming mission when you first boot up, and then later offers a menu where you can choose to do either the Strike or engage in some PvP matches. No hub world, no social space, no MMO interconnectivity. What gives?

I find this a touch concerning. In a game as large and as connected as Destiny 2, surely a beta needs to crunch the numbers on servers? Don’t we need to test the social hubs? Make sure the world segments can support numerous players? The lack of these elements make it feel much more like a Destiny 2 demo rather than a beta test.

Destiny 2 beta strike Modular Mind

Put those concerns aside for the moment, though, and it’s clear that Bungie are still pushing in the right direction when it comes to the actual nuts and bolts of the game. Since the launch event I attended back in May, the skill trees of Destiny 2’s classes have been subtly tweaked, presumably in response to continued internal testing and feedback from communities. The shooting model still feels incredibly robust, and the Homecoming mission has been notably expanded with sizable new segments. The new form of Control PvP is fantastic, too, and the Endless Vale map has a great variety of platform heights and cover that reminds me of the smashed up arenas of early Call of Duty games. If anything, this beta has absolutely convinced me not to worry about the quality of Destiny 2’s design.

But that design needs to be coupled with strong online service. The tests for that don’t appear to be here, but who knows what form the PC beta will take in August? Perhaps we’ll get to test out the EDZ hub word segment, as well as one or two of the new activities like Lost Sectors. The console beta will conduct a stress test on the Farm social space this Sunday, but perhaps on PC we’ll have continual access to it? I’ve even got a theory that there will be a second beta before launch, with more connected content, simply because I can’t believe that Bungie wouldn’t need to do extensive testing on the vital sever technologies that power Destiny 2.

If you played the original Destiny beta back in 2014 you should be prepared for a slimmer experience with the sequel’s beta, then. But also don’t let that sour you – you still get to spend a handful of days getting to grips with the wonderful Warlock Dawnblade and its excessively fiery Super move. You can go mental with the amazingly punchy Sunspot exotic hand cannon, and team up to take on the stompy Vex Modular Mind boss in the imaginatively designed Strike. It’s a small slice of cake, sure, but it’s a tasty one.