Passing on PC Destiny 2

The-guy-that-Nathan-Fillion-voices from the open beta.

Soon you will probably see a lot of talk about the launch of Destiny 2 on the PC.

I’m trying to be more discerning with my game purchases these days, so I have no plans to pay full price for an over-hyped, mediocre shooter whose main attraction seems to be a large cult following. Maybe if it goes on sale I’ll take a look at it, but who are we kidding, this is Activision/Blizzard and it’s never going to go on sale, so I’m probably never going to buy it.

In more practical concerns, I also don’t particularly want to jump into a game with a whole slew of people moving over from the PS4 who already know all the tricks. There won’t be any fun phase of discovery for the PC launch crowd. No feeling out of what works and what doesn’t work. It will be all business from the very first moment.

So I’m just not going to feed the Gaming Industrial Complex this time.

And this just in: I just read Belghast’s first post on PC Destiny 2. He describes making it to level 14 (of 20) on the first night. He is hoping to be done maxing out his first character’s level and finishing the storyline in the first three days. Granted he is a veteran so I’m sure it is old hat for him, but still, it’s more evidence to support my decision. There are plenty of other games around to keep me busy for three days.

But if you are playing it, have fun! :)

P.S. I’d be interested in watching a blind Let’s Play of Destiny 2 though. Must be blind, and the player must not have played Destiny 1 before. Let me know if anyone sees anything like that. I’m finding bupkis from a cursory search of YouTube.

Destiny 2 Anti-Hype

I tried out the Destiny 2 PC Open Beta Tuesday night. I’ve never played Destiny before or even seen it or read much about it.

It was incredibly easy to install and play through the Battle.net launcher. I just clicked on the “Install” button and less than an hour later it was ready to go.

It was not quite as easy to configure though. It gave me exactly one opportunity to adjust my video settings and then I got a class selection screen. The class descriptions gave very little indication of the kind of mechanics to expect so I randomly picked the first one (I can’t even remember the class name). After picking a class, the game launches right into cut scenes and then into the game. There was no character customization, but that could have been a limitation of the beta.

My first complaint surfaced right away. I was trying to record my play session with OBS Studio and the default video settings did not record. All I got was a black screen in OBS. I fiddled with the OBS settings with no luck. I have no trouble recording most other games, but Destiny 2 decided to make things difficult.

Since I didn’t want to spoil too much of the game before I started recording, I tried to exit out of the cut scenes to get back to the main menu. No such luck. Once it starts, you’re stuck with it. I had to ALT-F4 to exit the game to try again.

When I started the game the second time, it no longer asked if I wanted to adjust the video settings. It went straight into the class selection screen and then on into the cut scenes. I tried again after ALT-F4 a couple of times but there were no menus anywhere to change any settings.

Eventually I gave up and skipped past the two cut scenes until I got to the first playable section, where it drops you on a burning ship or something in the middle of a battle. Then I could bring up a menu and fiddle with the video settings. I tried changing to fullscreen windowed, but still couldn’t record.

As a last resort I setup a new scene in OBS to record the whole display, and it finally worked. This is the first “modern” game that I haven’t been able to record with the standard Game capture plugin. It was very annoying.

I started over again so I could watch all of the cut scenes. I think I was supposed to geek out over Nathan Fillion but when I heard his voice coming out of a robot face I kind of rolled my eyes. Another sarcastic robot doing comic relief in a sci-fi motif. Never seen that before!

I thought I also heard Lance Reddick’s voice as well–the black FBI agent from Fringe with the very distinctive voice. (IMDB research confirms this.) (IMDB research also confirms that the woman’s voice sounded familiar to me because it was none other than Gina Torres, so it’s a big ol’ Firefly reunion.)

I played through the single-player campaign. The story made no impression on me. They made zero attempt to draw the player into it. They just dropped you into a setting and said, “Here, everything’s exploding so go save the day… because … well, that’s what you do in shooters.”

The combat was very smooth but completely ordinary. The only thing I could see to distinguish this game from any other shooter was the double-jumping jet pack thingy. Personally I thought it was a bit too slow and floaty but I could get used to it.

One nitpick: I did not like how the iron sights shifted the gun all the way from the right side to the center of the screen. It felt like an extremely unnatural shift in perspective. In real life, you don’t bring the gun up from your right side to stick it under your chin. You raise the gun up a little and tilt your head to the right.

For comparison, below is Far Cry 4, a very polished shooter. The change from one position to the other is less dramatic, and the change in the basic shape of the gun is far less noticeable. (Yes, these kinds of things matter to me and can have a huge impact on my perception of a game.)

Anyway, I finished the Destiny 2 campaign with very little trouble. I died once in an area that looked like it phased from a single-player area into a multiplayer “public quest” area. I was warned to get inside a protective bubble and then literally one second later I got killed before I could even take a step toward the bubble. It’s always a great feeling in a shooter to get killed without even having a chance to fight back.

The phasing was kind of neat, I have to admit. It was a 100% seamless transition from being by myself to being surrounded by a few other players, defending a checkpoint. And when I left the area the other players disappeared.

The Big Bad at the end made a really dire speech about stealing light that made no sense considering the complete lack of context I had for the story. He sounded like Mr. Burns with his plot to cover up the sun and it was a bit silly.

I didn’t try any of the other PvP or Coop options after finishing the single-player campaign. I spent a total of about 50 minutes playing before logging out with no compelling desire to return.

I know I’m going to regret this, but: What’s all the hype about? I didn’t hate it, but Destiny 2 looked and played like every other shooter. You run around, you shoot things, and numbers fly out instead of blood. I found myself thinking more than once, “The Division open beta was better than this.” And I didn’t really care for The Division that much. (It wasn’t terrible either, it was just … average.)

I actually missed having cover mechanics. The last shooter-ish game I played was Mass Effect Andromeda, which had completely seamless, natural cover mechanics, and I liked that better. It doesn’t feel very comfortable anymore to stand out in the open while people are shooting at me. :)

I get the impression from Twitter and other blog posts that this open beta is only showing a fraction of what will actually be in the game. Okay, well, what is the point of that? Isn’t this open beta supposed to sell me on the game? (We all know open betas aren’t for testing.) Isn’t it supposed to show me what’s new and unique about this particular shooter, to convince me to shell out $60+ as opposed to playing any of the perfectly good shooters that I already own?

I guess this speaks to the points that Scopique and Belghast both made in their posts: This was not a very good sales demo for me. I was interested in seeing why everyone is so hyped for this game, but after playing the demo, I have no interest in buying it. Not unless it goes on sale. (I said that about Overwatch, too, and to this day there have been no sales that I know of and I still don’t own it.)

Destiny 2 Gameplay Reveal Event

The other day saw one of the biggest MMORPG* events on the Internet that I can recall in recent memory: Bungie’s Destiny 2 Gameplay Reveal Event. Since some of us have to work, I didn’t actually see it, but almost everyone in my timeline was watching it and commenting on it. It had the feel of an Apple event.

I never played Destiny, since I don’t have any of the new generation of consoles. (The newest console I own is a PS3, which has remained unplugged and in a box for several years. The only hope it ever has to see the light of day again is that one day I plan to buy and play Demon’s Souls.)

Furthermore, I’ve never played any version of Halo either, since I’ve never owned an Xbox of any kind. Therefore, I’ve never played a game by Bungie in my life.

So you can probably guess that my response to all this Destiny 2 hooplah is a little below the average level of hype. (The average appears to be frenzied, drooling gamers smashing pre-order buttons with mouse clicks so hard it shatters plastic, sending fragments and spittle flying in all directions.)

We’ve known there would be a PC version of Destiny 2 for a while now, but what we didn’t know is that it will be a Battle.net exclusive. That raised quite a few eyebrows. The responses ranged the full gamut from “This is the worst thing ever!” to “This is the best thing ever!” Personally I don’t really care. I’ve never had any problems with Blizzard’s launcher.

I’ll probably get it, although I have to admit at this particular moment the prospect of playing another MMORPG after playing so many single-player games in a row feels roughly like contemplating sticking a large fork in my eyeball. (A subject for another post.)

* I’m not entirely sure we can describe Destiny 2 as an “MMORPG” quite yet, but let’s just say it is for now.