On July 18th, the Destiny 2 Beta was released for PS4 users who pre-ordered the game, marking the return of the series. Up to this point, the first Destiny game had carried a feeling of infamy with it because of the disappointment that it became to a lot of the players. Even after a few expansions and DLCs, Destiny largely died out. With the release of the beta, Destiny players finally have a chance to see whether or not Bungie learned their lesson from the last game. Since getting the beta, myself, I've played through the initial mission as a Titan, Hunter and Warlock, and the major differences made to the game are clear.
1. Gameplay is epic
The first mission you play is based entirely around saving what's left of your home from an invasion. The familiar scene of The Tower, looking peacefully out over a city and The Traveler, is now coated in fire and rubble with war ships flying in the distance and Cabal soldiers crashing into a battlefield in giant pods. In between scenes on the dynamic battlefield are cut scenes that actually add to the narrative -- not to mention the fact that they're beautiful in their own right. Destiny 2 really seems to take advantage of all the space it seems to give the players.
2. The new abilities make combat more interesting
Beyond the super charge and abilities given to a Guardian from their sub-class, a Guardian now has a class-specific ability. Hunters can dodge quickly; Warlocks can lay down a ring to increase either weapon damage or health of those within it; and Titans can lay down a shield at either hip or full height. These abilities add a layer to combat that wasn't present in the last game and may prove to be a really powerful skill to master.
3. More flexibility with weapon layout
The way that weapons are organized has been really mixed around from where it was in Destiny. In Destiny 2, the weapons are organized by "kinetic weapon", "energy weapon" and "power weapon". Kinetic weapons are guns without any type of energy or "type" associated with them; energy weapons are those with a "type"; and power weapons are the heavy-hitters. However, the fun part is that both of the first categories can be any kind of primary weapon. If you want two auto rifles, you can get two auto rifles; the same goes for sub machine guns, scout rifles and side arms. The catch side to that is that shotguns, sniper rifles and pulse rifles have been moved to the heavy category. This makes them harder to find ammo for, and, therefore, harder to actually use.
4. More variation in mission targets
A problem with the first Destiny game was that it got repetitive really quickly. There was a type of mission where you'd fend off a hoard while guarding something, one where you'd kill a roided-out version of a normal character and one where you'd kill a bunch of enemies to find something. In the first mission of the beta, on the other hand, the final objective is to destroy some exhaust fans so you can take down a ship, which (spoiler alert) doesn't happen. Even though slightly anti-climactic, this shows that Destiny is trying to avoid being the same mission over and over again for the entire game.
5. Better boss fights
Another highlight of the beta includes a strike in which you fight a giant Vex called Protheon. The Vex, itself, isn't something incredibly new to the game, but the sequence of the fight is pretty dynamic. Each time you get Protheon down to a certain health, it takes the floor out from under you, you fall and you fight it again. The whole area is beautiful and it makes the fight interesting as Protheon changes the stage you're fighting on and brings in new elements as the final fight of the strike progresses. I have hopes that this indicates a shift towards making the strike bosses more interesting in Destiny 2.
Overall, the Destiny 2 Beta is a bunch of positives for me. It really seems to show that Bungie learned from the mistakes that were made by Destiny, despite it being a fantastic game, itself.