Earlier today, Bungie finally tore the veil off Destiny 2, the long-awaited sequel to its shooter-MMO. The game’s hour-long reveal event yielded a smorgasbord of new details, including the scope and plot of the central story, four new planets to explore, new activities and a raid to tackle, as well as a suite of fresh subclasses and gear. Even so, plenty of questions still need answering. We’ve already outlined what we—and, we’re willing to bet, many others—hope to see from the PC version of Destiny 2. So today, we spoke to Bungie's PC lead David Shaw to find out what Destiny 2 does to meet the unique demands of its newfound PC audience.
PC Gamer: Can you tell us a bit about the decision to have Destiny 2 launching through the Blizzard launcher?
David Shaw: Yeah, absolutely. So, we’re huge fans of Blizzard. Always have been. Personally, I still have my Diablo 2 collector’s edition and all the characters—the action figures—still in their packages. Many of us have just always been huge Blizzard fans, so when we had the opportunity to work with them for this unprecedented partnership, we had to jump at it. It was just a huge opportunity, and we believe we share some common DNA on how we view players and experiences, so it seemed like a really great place to bring the game.
So, have they had input into Destiny 2 beyond the launch and stuff, into, like, the way you’ve structured loot and stuff? Have people from Blizzard had input into the gameplay itself?
So, Destiny is very much a Bungie game. We’re always open to suggestions from partners on what they think about the game. Everyone in the world loves to give their opinions on Destiny 1 and what they think should be in Destiny 2. We listen to everybody who has an opinion on the game and say, “hey, if that’s a great idea, let’s go figure out how to make that happen.” But there is not an official partnership on the game itself.
Having said that, your Destiny account will be tied to your Battle.net account, presumably.
So you’ll be using Blizzard’s suite of security as well.
So, security is one of those things. It actually varies from game to game. We’ll definitely be working with the Battle.net folks and working with Activision, and we’ll be working with our own internal teams to make sure that we can provide the most secure experience possible on day one. That’s one of our key goals.
Have you taken any extra steps with the PC version specifically to stop cheats?
Oh yeah, I mean, the consoles and the PC are very, very different beasts. You get a lot of things kind of built in or nearly for free with the consoles, so yes, we’ve looked at a whole slew of different things that frankly don’t exist on consoles. And we’re addressing as many of those as we can as fast as we can, and we’re super excited to bring it to PC.
One technical question. We were reading an interview this morning saying there’s like an FOV slider in Destiny 2, but we couldn’t see it on the build on the show floor. Is that correct?
Yeah, we pulled it from this build because it was something that was coming in late. This is a dev build; there’s still stuff that’s being added, so everything we’re doing is not visible in the build today. FOV was one of those that we said, for a couple of reasons, one it was coming in a little bit later. We also wanted to provide a consistent experience across the gameplay today. FOV adjustability is absolutely something we’re going to have in the game. We haven’t locked down a range yet—I’m sure that’s the follow-up question—but we’re actively evaluating that.
Did you have to make any tweaks to the core gameplay, the shooting gameplay, to make it work on PC?
Yeah, absolutely. We have done a ton of work. One of the key factors we looked at when coming to PC is that we don’t want anybody looking at the game as a console port. Yeah, Bungie has a long history in console. People seem to love the console games. We wanted to make sure that it feels like a PC game, it plays like a PC game. We’ve gone and changed things, like if you were to compare side-by-side screenshots, you’ll find that the reticle is slightly below center on consoles. It’s dead center on the PC. One of the things we found in development is that we were kind of chasing the mouse because of the way our recoil model works, so we’ve adjusted that. We’ve done a ton of work to try and make [the PC version] feel and play like a great PC shooter. Hopefully you guys will come back later today, see me outside and be like, “you nailed it.” That’s what we’re hoping.
One of the things we were talking about is, obviously, Bungie’s games since Halo have had a certain feel to them, which is partly due to that little nudge of auto-aim. And the games have been 30 frames per second for a long time, Destiny was previously. So how much did the shift to being able to run the game at 60 frames affect the feel of Destiny?
It affected the feel a little bit, but I honestly think the 30 to 60 was less impactful than moving to mouse and keyboard. That’s really where the bulk of the changes came in. 30 to 60, I think, it just kind of lit people’s eyes up like, “whoa, OK, this is great.” And I want to be totally clear: the game plays fantastically at 30, it always has. But at 60 there’s just something a little different about that.
Is it locked at 30 on the consoles?
It is. It is 30 on the consoles. But like I said, I think the mouse and keyboard switch really was far more impactful than going to a higher framerate. And it does play at 60 but the framerate is uncapped. It’s at 60 on the floor, I think, because I believe that’s what g-sync is doing with it—and we think g-sync is fantastic tech, we’re working with Nvidia. But if you want to play at 144 [fps] and your rig will handle it, it’ll do that just fine.
Will you require a really super, hot rig to play Destiny 2?
No, no, no. So, we’re not announcing a min spec or recommended spec today. We’ll talk about that in the future. But no, you absolutely won’t have to buy the latest and greatest hardware to be able to play the game and have a fun, quality experience.
Do you have a sense of the kind of card you would need to run, say, 1080 at 60 frames? What kind of just ballpark rig do you think you’d be looking at?
Because we’re still in development, there are things constantly adjusting and tweaking and we’re figuring things out, so I feel like I would be giving you an answer that is not a great answer. I’d rather wait a little while. Maybe ask us again at E3 and maybe we’ll be ready to talk about that in-depth.
What’s the provenance of the PC version? Is it being worked on mainly by Bungie itself in Seattle? Is it one of the other studios handling the PC version?
So we kind of have embarked on an interesting situation. We’re not outsourcing it. Instead, we’ve developed this true partnership with Vicarious Visions in Albany, New York. We look at them as an extended part of the dev team. There’s a group of folks there that we’re working with—I’m literally working with them every single day. There’s emails, there’s video conferencing, sometimes we’re out at V.V., sometimes they’re at Bungie. We’ve crafted a strong partnership with them. Bungie is leading the game; it is absolute a Bungie project. But the partnership we have with V.V. has been phenomenally successful. When you play the game, hopefully it shows the quality of work that that team has done.
With Destiny 1 multiplayer, there were some issues with latency. And PC gamers demand very tight latency in multiplayer games. Have you taken any extra steps with the PC version to facilitate that?
We’ve done a bunch of stuff overall. We’ve heard that across the board, so we have looked at our tech and tried to figure out "okay, where can we optimize, how can we reduce that." So there is new tech coming, but I would say that, at the moment, it’s not specifically geared toward PC. But again, we have things we are doing to kind of get to the last push, so we’re very cognizant of those issues and we’re definitely trying to deliver the best experience possible.
Is it still peer-to-peer in terms of the multiplayer? Are there dedicated servers?
It is a complicated typology. We do not have dedicated servers for Destiny 2 on PC.
Because one of the issues with Destiny 1, people complained about the tick rate that was being used, right?
That led to a lot of trading and stuff, and that was where they kind of identified that that’s where some of the lag was coming from. Is there going to be a different tick rate?
I would say that, today, we don’t have a good answer for that, meaning we’re not talking about the server side of things at this time. I can tell you that we have had conversations and we’re aware of—we try really hard to listen to the community and hear what their concerns are, and we try to take those and turn those into the plans.
One of the interesting things, because we’ve been writing about the game for some time—Tom and I, we’ve played a lot of Destiny 1, we’re big fans. And when we write about the game, sometimes we get a reaction from the PC gaming audience that can be a bit—I guess they feel shut out of the first one, and it breeds a little bit of negativity toward the second one. What do you think Destiny 2 needs to do kind of win those guys over? I guess there’s the beta, which is one thing.
Yeah, that’ll be one thing. I honestly think that we approached the whole project with that in mind. We know we have to come out of the gate and be legit on day one. So we tried to focus on the things that we think will most say, to the PC gamer, "we hear you, we love you and we want to support you." Focusing on things like up to 4K resolution, uncapped framerate, mouse and keyboard support with full key remapping, adjustable FOV, tons of graphical options, support for different aspect rations—21:9—and text chat. You know, a ton of different things that are those feature sets that, when people bitch about a game just being a console port, those things are missing. We tried to find the things that are really gonna say to the gamer, "we get it, we’re trying to be a game that you’re gonna love." And we’ll continue to evolve, you know. I have no doubt that from today forward we will continue to get PC-specific feedback, and we’ll look at that as a good way to prioritize.
Do you have any worry about, like—this game’s obviously built a sizable community on console, and now you’re injecting a different format that has its own, let’s say, idiosyncrasies?
You know, I’ve seen something on Reddit saying that there’s gonna be a lot of PC people being snobby. Is that something you’re kind of cognizant of and you’re trying to manage, or you don’t care?
We’re aware of it. I mean, if—I’m gonna speak kind of personally here, rather than for Bungie, on this. I mean, I think back to the Halo days, and in the Halo days the community could get a little toxic at times. And there were definite concerns of that before we launched Destiny of like, "oh gosh, what are we gonna do when the horrible community comes in?" We tried to make a lot of good choices about how to kind of get people together in a way that didn’t lend itself to that immediate toxicity, and either we were really successful or we just attract people that want that community. We’re trying to do the same thing on PC.
We’re gonna follow a lot of the same models that we’ve used in Destiny 1 that have been successful for us, we’re trying to use things like Guided Games that allow you to kind of interview the group you’re gonna play with first and say, "oh yeah, these people sound like great people to play with," and we’re hopeful that that helps engender that same kind of community spirit in the PC side.
With Guided Games, what happens, say I’m in a clan, there’s five of us, we want to run the raid, we bring someone in to be guided by us, and within 10 minutes it turns out he’s a jerk, he’s like saying a bunch of terrible stuff. Or maybe he’s awful at the game. Do we boot him then? What does that mean for us and what does that mean for him?
Honestly, not my area of expertise. I’m not sure I even have the right—I think that question is possibly better for literally anyone else.
So with Destiny 1, there were content differences between different versions. Is that true of Destiny 2 as well?
So we have announced that Sony does have exclusive content for a period of time. So all content eventually comes to all platforms, but consistent with Destiny 1, PlayStation players will get it first.
Will there be any kind of, like, for people who are on console now but want to move to PC, is there any way they can move their characters over?
We’ve heard about that a lot. We definitely have gotten strong feedback that people are interested in that. At this time, we don’t have anything to announce. We think it’s super interesting, we totally get it, but we don’t have anything really to say about that topic today.
But it’s something on the table? Is it at least under discussion? Because it’s the difference between “we’ve heard about it and ruled it out” and “we’ve heard about it and we’re still thinking about it”.
I mean, we’re thinking about—this is a marathon, not a sprint, right? We’ve already got a pretty sizable history with Destiny and we expect a long one in the future, so I would say there are lots of things we would say, today, we’re not doing, but that are on the table. This is something, certainly, I personally think about quite a lot.
I would love a persistent account. Because I don’t want to leave all my other friends behind! But I want to play on PC.
I understand. I’m with you.