Destiny 2 on PC: everything we know so far

We’ve played the campaign, a Strike, and the Crucible PVP—all on PC and in 4K. Here's what we know so far.

The PC Gamer staff can be divided into two categories: those who play Destiny, and those who don’t play Destiny because playing shooters with analog sticks makes them cry. The former group, while they are betrayers, have the advantage of knowing what's new and significant about Bungie's big Destiny 2 gameplay reveal today (it's coming to PC this time, if you hadn't heard) while newcomers to the sci-fi MMOFPS series are mostly just enjoying the large guns for their intrinsic, large gun qualities.

As our readers surely fall into both camps, here’s everything we learned about Destiny 2 based on today’s reveal event, both from a newcomer’s perspective and with an eye for what’s changed from the console exclusive original.

When is the PC release date?

The Destiny 2 console release date is September 8, but the PC release date isn’t set.

“We haven’t committed to a PC date yet,” said game director Luke Smith when we asked him directly after the reveal event. “At Bungie, we are totally committed to making the PC build as great as we can … and we want to make sure this version of the game has the time it needs to bake in the oven so it’s a delicious piece of bread when it comes out.”

We asked whether the PC version could come weeks or months after the console release, but Smith wouldn’t comment, adding only that it’s a question Bungie is “trying to answer in the coming weeks.”

When Destiny 2 was announced we were told that those who pre-order will get early access to a beta in the summer, which will be followed by an open beta. However the uncertainty over the PC version's release date led us to wonder whether the PC will be included in the beta. An Activision spokesperson responded: "We haven't announced the details for the beta yet."

A scene from the first mission.

Campaign, missions, and adventures 

Destiny 2 is an online-only, mostly co-op shooter, but one of Bungie’s stated goals is to support all sorts of players—solo, competitive, raiders. On the solo front, Destiny 2 will feature more cinematics than its predecessor (not a high bar) in campaign missions which, from the looks of it, involve NPC allies from the original game fighting alongside a solo player, or up to three-player teams.

As for the story: If you don’t want to dig into Destiny’s lore, all you need to know is that there was a battle with a bunch of giant 800-pound aliens called the Cabal and we lost. We even lost our powers—aka “the light”—to invaders known as the Red Legion, led by a fellow named Gaul. Or Ghal. Goll? OK, Gary. There were no subtitles in the livestream. From there, we’ll do extremely loot-heavy shooter things to take back the solar system: “Recover your powers, become strong again, reclaim your connection to The Traveler (a big ball in the sky), find powerful new gear, weapons, armor…”

Cooperative Strike missions are back (a 'dungeon' in any other game), and the example given was Inverted Spire, a mission on Nessus that ends with a three-stage boss. (The four new worlds to explore will be Earth, Titan, Io, and Nessus—it’s unclear currently whether old worlds from Destiny 1 like Venus and Mars will return, but our guess would be not.)

Patrol mode returns from Destiny for more casual play—that’s where you wander around public areas battling and accepting short missions—and will be made richer with ‘adventures,’ which include treasure maps, NPCs, and ‘lost sectors,’ which are (again) basically dungeons with bosses guarding treasures. The overworlds are bigger, too, including the European Dead Zone setting which was mentioned in the first game, a sinking outpost on the methane ocean of Titan, the Vexified (ie mechanized) planetoid Nessus, and the sacred, sulfuric Io, where the Traveller–that’s the big magic orb, keep up at the back–first touched down in our system. 

And to much applause, Bungie announced that players no longer have to go into orbit to start activities (which essentially means fewer load screens, if you’re unfamiliar with Destiny). 

New subclasses, supers, and weapons

If you’re new to Destiny, subclasses are a thing it has—variations on the three main classes: Hunter, Titan, and Warlock. And there were new ones on display today along with their unique supers. Dawnblade goes airborne with a flaming sword which hurls flaming projectiles, the Sentinel gets a Captain America void shield for bashing and throwing, and Arcstrider wields a lightning staff. From what we’ve played, the older subclasses have been reworked too. We tried a Striker Titan in PVP, and the Fist of Havoc super was no longer a one and done move, but had become a ‘roaming’ super. The Hunter's Gunslinger super has also been reworked so you can spam shots rather than being limited to three by default.

Subclasses also feature class abilities, separate from the main subclass tree. These activate on ‘X’ and perform similar jobs across different classes and subclasses—you can essentially generate a defensive aura, or an aura that boosts attack damage. In Destiny 1 the Titan bubble performed this function, effectively forcing Titans into a passive role in raids and strikes. Our guess is that this feature exists to allow everyone to run offensive supers, which are much more fun.

A couple of exotics we spotted.

As for new weapons, new archetypes include grenade launchers and submachine guns.  We also got to use an exotic arc version of the latter called Riskrunner, and an exotic minigun called ‘Sweet Business’, which was actually a primary auto rifle, rather than an HMG as might be expected. 

The way weapon loadouts work has been tweaked. Previously, weapon types were divided into primary, special, heavy slots. Now they’re kinetic, energy, and power. “Power weapons are things like fusion rifles, and sniper rifles, and grenade launcher,” says Smith. “In that energy slot, and kinetic slot, you can have the same weapons. The new weapon plan was designed to provide players more freedom and more choice to choose the stuff that they love.” 

Basically it means you can run a kinetic handgun and an elemental handgun at the same time, likewise for submachineguns. In practice, what was notable was the scarcity of ‘Power’ ammo for things like sniper rifles, shotguns, and rocket launchers. Though it’s notable our characters didn’t have any ammo ‘synth’ on them to restock with in the show floor build. Nor did any engrams drop—ie loot—from defeated enemies. Many things still remain under wraps.

Leveling

The characters on the show floor build are all level 20 and light level 200. Light is the incremental end-game leveling system that was used in Destiny 1, which essentially works like gear scores in other MMOs. The current light cap in Destiny 1 is 400, so make of that what you will, but the suggestion is progression will work similarly.

Subclass abilities may require items to unlock. Mousing over locked abilities presents a pop-up that lists a green crystal as a requirement, so developing subclasses may require some item-hunting as well as general leveling.

Enemies

Over the course of the day we’ve fought the Cabal, the Vex, and each other. Thus far we haven’t seen any new alien races, but the Cabal did feature numerous new enemy types. The Gladiators wield two giant cleavers with which they inevitably bum rush you. We also shotgunned a few Cabal dogs, which are the series’ first quadrupedal enemies. Pleasingly, the Cabal didn’t overuse the giant shields they carried into battle, which made shooting the fiddly because you had to bullseye them in the head, elbow or foot to make them flinch. Though precision aiming is of course easier with a mouse.

Raids

We’re fans of raiding—and that includes the interpretive dance under fire approach that Destiny offers—so it’s good to know that yep, there’s a raid. Just one, for now, and at present it’s unclear whether the raid will be available at launch. Given that the PC is set to release after the console versions, it’s also a shame that PC players probably won’t be going in ‘blind’ in terms of learning the raid’s mechanics and bosses, potentially robbing the experience of some amount of mystery.

Clans

Full clan support has been added for Destiny 2, with custom banners and in-game rosters, plus a vague reward system which grants your clanmates benefits for your achievements, and you for theirs. Meaning even if you aren’t playing, you’ll be accruing some benefit—what exactly isn’t clear at this stage—from the efforts of your clan compadres. We didn't see any custom clan flags but there is a vacant slot for clan flags on the character screen.

What’s most interesting is that you don’t have to join a clan to benefit from clans existing. If you’re a solo player but you want to go on a six-player raid, the ‘guided games’ system can pair you with a clan that needs an extra or two. The hope is that by matching stray players with established groups, both parties will benefit. The player can read a little about the group they’re temporarily joining—and perhaps better avoid negative experiences—and groups whose schedules haven’t perfectly aligned aren’t prevented from raiding when they want to.

We asked Luke Smith and PC lead David Shaw about how Bungie intends to police the guided games to ensure clans don’t kick the player being guided just before the loot drops. The answer is that, while they've clearly given the issue thought, they aren't speaking in specifics right now. We do know that there will be a mechanism to enable both clan and guided player to part company if it isn’t working out.

Luke Smith did confirm that text chat will be available on PC. He described text chat as having less of a fear factor than voice chat for strangers teaming up. Knowing how complex Destiny’s high-level co-op challenges can get, voice will probably be necessary past a certain level, but it's good to have the text option.

PvP

Destiny 2’s competitive multiplayer mode, Crucible, will now be 4v4 for all modes—including a new attack-defend mode called Countdown. It’s a Counter-Strike style bomb defusal scenario in which the attackers must activate a bomb at one of the map’s two bomb sites. Rounds are quick and lethal, though you can resurrect fallen teammates to keep them in the fight. Rounds end when a charge either detonates or is defused, or all opponents are downed and no charge is in play.

 PC-specific features

According to Glixel, the Destiny 2 demo at the show was run with a Core i7-7700K 4.2GHz, 16GB RAM, and a GTX 1080Ti. And though the footage sure looked like it was being driven by analog stick, we’ve been playing on mouse and keyboard at the event, and can confirm custom keymapping, plus 4K and ultrawide resolution support, an uncapped framerate, and an FOV setting (coming soon, not implemented in the build we played). See a photo of just one of the settings screens that Tim snapped above.

The game ran at a rock-solid 60 fps at the hands-on, and Destiny 2’s PC lead said that the limit was due to running g-sync on the monitors at the event. The final version will support faster framerates. A few settings were turned down, but the game performed impressively, and looked fantastic at 4K. The increased framerate noticeably made the game feel faster and snappier than we’re used to from Destiny on consoles. Subtle alterations to the shooting have been made, such as moving the reticle to the center of the screen, to make the game feel good with a mouse and keyboard.

Oh, and Destiny 2 will be the first non-Blizzard game available on Battle.net. (Also known as the Blizzard Desktop App, but who calls it that?)

More on Destiny 2

6 things Destiny 2 needs to be a success on PC
Tim has written out a best case scenario for Destiny's debut on PC.

Why raiding is the biggest reason to be excited about Destiny 2
It's all about the raids, argues Austin Wood.

Destiny 1 recap video
If you haven't played Destiny, here's a good way to find out what's happened so far...

A complete guide to Destiny lore for PC gamers
...But if you prefer your lore written, Chris Thursten laid it all out for us last year.