Destiny 2 is a bag of mixed results. On one hand, it’s a masterclass in PC port quality. On the other hand, it’ has all the trappings of what Destiny 2 does poorly: storytelling and worldbuilding in a cohesive package. This is our Destiny 2 PC review.
The major problem plaguing Destiny 2 on PC is the very simple fact that Destiny 2 is the first entry on the PC platform. The first Destiny was not a pillar of storytelling – Bungie going so far as to blame its terrible writing on Peter Dinklage’s delivery and replaced him with Nolan North – and that works to the detriment of Destiny 2 on PC. Unless you played the original on a console you don’t really know what’s fully going on in Destiny 2 at the outset, other than the Tower and the giant floating orb known as The Traveller are in trouble.
That’s the largest issue for me personally. As someone who played Destiny 1 on Xbox One, but could not get past the inaccurate feeling controls and 30 frames-per-second lock on a game that clearly belongs at higher frame rates, I found myself wondering why I should care about Ikora Rey, Cayde-6 and Zavala – the three Vanguard who help the players along their journey. If I had fully played Destiny 1 their individual plights during the opening sequences – their pain, their struggle, their defiance likely would have had a more profound effect on me.
I’m most likely not the only one in that same boat – struggling to wonder why we should be engaged in the opening moments with something that likely had a profound effect on players who spent hundreds of hours socializing in the Tower on console. The problem is that even reading articles beforehand and watching videos attempting to explain the story, it’s still a moment of massive disconnect for a platform that is coming into the Destiny universe halfway through.
The saving grace for Destiny 2 is that the story it does tell has more of a semblance of structure versus the original bits I played leading up to The Taken King. One of the major reasons besides the frame rate and controller that made me stop playing the original Destiny was down to story. It was a mess. Even the most ardent Destiny fan would admit that starting out Destiny got off on the wrong foot with the story.
Destiny 2, while not perfect, does tell a compelling narrative once you get into it. You are pitted against the Red Legion, a group of Cabal led by Ghaul whose quest for the Light drives this invasion of Earth. The Tower is lost and the Traveller compromised, taking the Light from the Guardians, including yourself. Destiny 2 unfolds as a story or redemption and revenge even, as you quest to retake the Light and drive Ghaul’s forces from the city.
Destiny 2, being what it is, isn’t devoid of huge moments. Saving Cayde-6 after he gets himself stuck in a Vex transporter and the banter with his on-ship AI was incredibly memorable. However, the mission involving in The Almighty – a weapon pointed by Ghaul towards our sun – is quite possibly one of the best levels I’ve played in a first-person shooter, ever. Destiny 2’s mix of stellar design choices and it’s incredibly tight and composed gameplay really shine, especially on PC where players can take full advantage of the engine Bungie has created.
Destiny until now was a console only shooter. Destiny 2, though, makes the case that the series has always belonged on the PC. Bungie’s creation looks absolutely bonkers maxed out at 4K on PC, and the inclusion of an uncapped framerate really makes the game sing. I’m playing the game on a PC equipped with an i7-6700K @ 4.0Ghz, 16 GDDR4 RAM @ 3200Mhz and a GTX 1080 and am able to push this game as far as my GPU will go. Playing it at 1440p with a 120% resolution scale I’m able to get a stable 60fps, especially after setting Depth of Field from the highest setting to high. In fact, I tried playing the game on my friend’s PS4 Pro after playing it on PC and honestly I can’t fathom how anyone can put up with the lower framerate in this game – or any game for that matter.
Mouse and Keyboard really shine here and add a level of precision the series has needed. There is no auto-aim with keyboard and mouse, though if you use a controller, which the game supports, auto-aim is enabled. The controls are so tight and precise, though, auto-aim should be an afterthought to those playing Destiny 2 with mouse and keyboard. The game doesn’t have recoil on PC, which is pretty standard for PC shooters. Now, that doesn’t mean the gun itself doesn’t recoil, however with Destiny 2 your reticle stays fixed in the middle of the screen as opposed to reacting to the recoil animation. For many this is seen as “easy mode” but with a mouse and keyboard set up, it’s actually a lot harder to react to recoil than with a thumbstick as there’s no haptic feedback going along with each shot when using a mouse. All in all, a smart design choice fitting the game to the platform it’s landing on.
In fact, Destiny 2 is quite possibly the most stable and well made PC port I’ve played all year long. Since launching I’ve not had any issues with the game crashing, nor have I noticed any bugs or glitches while playing the game. Now that isn’t to say those things don’t exist, nothing is perfect after all, however they haven’t cropped up during my experience.
Destiny 2’s campaign is but one aspect of the loot grind you’ll go through, and once you’ve completed that there is still plenty for you to do as a player. Strikes – missions you can get and complete with a group of three guardians, provide a great challenge and a way to get more loot drops – especially after level 20 where your gear becomes increasingly more important. It’s MMO-y in a way, your gear and the grind to get it define the end-game of Destiny 2 as much as it would in World of Warcraft. Your gear level, defined by your Light Level, represent your collective strength as a guardian, and also will unlock certain activities when you hit a high enough level. The new Nightfall strikes unlock at 230 light, while the Raids in Destiny 2 require a light level of 260.
This is honestly where the game slowed down considerably for me. Getting to level 20 isn’t hard – I went from 14 to 20 in a single few hour play session. Once you hit 20, however, your progression slows to an almost halt by comparison to the previous rate you gained experience. It makes some sense to slow it down so played don’t just power through things. But at the same time, there isn’t a whole lot of variety in terms what you can do to increase your light level. Sure, you can do public events, Adventures on the various locales, or you can go through the strike playlist and fight in the crucible.This ends up being just a grind for grinding sake. It doesn’t give the same feeling of progress as your 1-20 jaunt provided. I don’t feel as though I’m actually getting stronger, as opposed to my initial leveling period.
At the end of the day, however, I keep wanting to go back. That grinding loop has me locked into the game. I grind to get more gear and get stronger. Rinse and repeat. I really wish there would be a way to choose the strike you want to play exactly, playing through the strikes themselves with a group of good friends is always a good time and lessens the feeling of a grind. Additionally, the consol-ification of the matchmaking services can get incredibly annoying, making me wish for a server browser each time I queue up for a Strike or Crucible match without a full fireteam.
It also helps that the entire time through Destiny 2 you’re greeted by amazing looking locations and a soundtrack that sucks you in. Destiny 2, simply put, is one of the most visually stunning games I’ve played on my PC this year. The use of color blows me away and the way Bungie and the port house they used, Vicarious Visions, made what admittedly was a great looking game on console and surpassed it tenfold really shows they treated their PC port with the same level of care as the other versions. It’s a level of care not typically associated with the PC version of large, triple-A cross-platform releases that make Destiny 2 on PC stand out above the rest as the definitive version of the game.
Also, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to the theme of The Farm on repeat (my Google Play Music statistic says about 37, and that’s not counting the time I’ve just sat with the game open to the Farm letting the music play). The playful use of piano and oboe really give this game a sense of hope and determination, which is replicated by the NPCs you interact with as well. Suraya Hawthorne is a legit great character for the player to initially interact with, even if her falcon can’t stop seizuring on her shoulder sometimes. Devrin in Trostland is great, often prompting me to go make tea while playing the game after he refuses to bring me my own. And as you play through Destiny 2, the Vanguard start to open up, making even someone who doesn’t have hundreds of hours of interaction with them feel for their plight. It’s just too bad there is that initial disconnect at the onset of the story.
Destiny 2 on PC makes you feel as though the series really always belonged on the computer. The extra level of detail in each nook and cranny, the fluid, fast-paced and incredibly accurate movement thanks to the control set-up coupled with high framerates, and the support Destiny 2 has for multiple GPU and monitor setups really drive home that Bungie and Vicarious Vision made Destiny 2 its own on PC.
However, it’s not without thematic pitfalls. Being the second entry in the series, new fans to Destiny might feel disconnected with the story from the outset, which is hard to ignore. Additionally, while the gameplay loop itself is satisfying and addictive, the grind post-level 20 can be tiresome, and the sense of progression feels lost at that point.
Final Score: 8.0
- PC specific support is stellar
- 60 frames per second really lets the game shine as it should have always done
- Campaign missions are incredibly memorable, making me want to play through them again
- Soundtrack is legit one of the best all year
- Post 20 progression seems pedestrian, making the grind a bore
- Story disconnects thanks to it not being as cohesive as possible, as well as the sheer fact PC players are missing the entire first half of the Destiny story.
- No server browser making for large queue times when the game can’t connect players