Review: Destiny 2 on PC is a top-notch experience
The best just keeps getting better.
Platform: Windows PC
(Disclaimer: This version of Destiny was tested on a CyberPower PC with a nVidia GeForce GTX 1080, 32GB of DDR4 RAM and a liquid cooled Intel Core i7 7700K clocked at 4.2GHz. This PC was connected to a 28-inch 4K display. Not all computers will run Destiny in which this review was tested.)
I’ve spent the past week playing Destiny 2 on the PC after having played the PS4 version since launch. In that time, I’ve had the opportunity to get into the game and see most of the aspects which I felt would be crucial to cover. In this review, I’ll be covering topics that are specific to the PC version, if you’re looking a full, comprehensive review of the game, like the story, leveling, gear, missions, and quests, then check out our console review.
Visuals: Let’s start with the positives first. Destiny 2 for the PC is a stunning game to behold, assuming you have a rig with specs that are capable of running it on ultra settings. Fortunately, I do (see specs listed in the disclaimer above). Bungie has also done a great job allowing a wide range of computers to run Destiny 2, but it’s on ultra settings where this game really shines. Despite the fact that I’ve been playing Destiny on my PS4 Pro (in 4K), once I booted up the game on PC and started playing the intro to the campaign, I almost immediately had a feeling of disappointment. Not that the game was bad, but that I felt like I should have waited before putting in so many hours into the PS4 version. On ultra settings, Destiny’s worlds just seem to come alive thanks to increased draw distance, improved lighting, and dynamic particle effects. Planets like Nessus, look like something out of Avatar, bustling with life and with HDR, the colors just pop. But it was the Nightfall, pyramidion, where I remember saying out loud, “WOW.” The geometric shapes refracting the light really made for an ominous feeling. The detail on things like armor, structures, and even the ground is also just sharper. The PC version also a few exclusive features that the console versions do not, like uncapped framerates and SLI support (dual graphics card for increased performance). It also has HDR support at launch (for HDR-supported monitors and TVs). While Bungie has confirmed HDR support for the PS4 version, it still hasn’t received it post launched, but it’s promised. However, for this review, it would have been nice to see how it compared to the PC version.
During the Pyramidion Nightfall, things got very hectic at the end while trying to finish off the “boss” and frame rate stayed consistent almost 98% of the time, or so it felt. I almost never experience any lag or stuttering. I can’t say for sure if that was due to Bungie’s level of polish or if I’m unknowingly boasting about my machine’s performance. I’d like to think it was more of Bungie’s fine-tuning and attention to detail, as I’ve played other games that, despite my computer’s specs, ran like crap. For PC gamers who like to measure a game by its pixels, I don’t think anyone will be disappointed by Destiny 2.
Controls: The controls of Destiny 2 are so good, regardless if you decide to use a mouse and keyboard or a controller. While I’m a huge console player, especially for FPS games, I’ve been forcing myself to use the mouse and keyboard to become a more accurate shot. That being said, for this review I decided to use both to cover my bases. I’m not taking sides on the whole “mouse & keyboard vs controller” argument, as I feel that’s subjective and really comes down to personal preference. There is no right or wrong way to play a shooter, there’s only a level of comfort. Regardless of your choice, Bungie has done a marvelous job of fine-tuning the controls in Destiny 2 so that any player can jump in and feel like they’re playing like a pro. There’s just something really satisfying with Destiny 2’s shooting that I love. It’s tight when it needs to be (down the sights) and not very “floaty” when shooting from the hip. This is the complete opposite, for me at least, in Star Wars Battlefront 2, which felt like I was shooting underwater. The gun would float all over the place and never really give me that pinpoint accuracy that I’m used to with games like CoD, Halo, Battlefield, and Destiny.
Performance: I briefly touched on the uncapped framerate of Destiny 2, as an exclusive feature of the PC version, but it deserves its own talking point. When you see a game running uncapped or even above 60 frames per second (fps), it just makes the game feel more refined and polished. I experienced the same feeling after playing Blizzard’s Overwatch on PS4, then on PC. On my computer, the Overwatch just felt, better. It felt smooth. That’s how I felt playing Destiny 2 on PC, smooth and unrestricted. It’s a hard thing to impress upon people because you can come off as sounding like an elitist, (aka PC Master Race), but it’s the truth. Consoles, like the PS4 and Xbox One, allow all players to be on an equal playing field, but on PC, you have a wide range of PCs, from the machines with the minimum requirements to the beastly “rigs” with SLI graphics, three monitors and more. Either way, Destiny 2 is the kind of game that should make most PC players want to upgrade, so they can experience it the way the developers truly intended.
Blizzard Launcher: Destiny 2 is the first non-Blizzard game to be attached to the Blizzard BattleNet Launcher. Since Blizzard is part of Activision, it only made sense, as Activision didn’t want to use Steam. By using the BattleNet launcher, players could use the newly implement chat feature to communicate with their friends for raids and Nightfalls.
Content: By launching the game on PC after the console version, Bungie was able to incorporate all the revisions, fixes and patches to bring the game to a more stable and refined version.
Right off the bat, one issue is the lack of exclusive content. Because of Sony’s agreement with Bungie and Activision, certain content, like nightfalls and crucible maps are locked to the PS4 for at least a year. While an argument can be made that the PC version is vastly superior to the PS4 version, making up the difference, still, losing out on cool content stinks either way.
Speaking of content, an issue that carries over from the consoles is the lack of endgame content. Because Destiny 2’s max level is only 20 (it can be achieved in as little as a day or two for dedicated players and as quickly as a week for casual players), it means a lot of people will achieve endgame status quickly and with only a few nightfall missions and one raid (with a prestige version), players are running out of things to do in short order. While the first of two planned expansions drops on December 5, in the meantime players need to find something “fun” to keep their attention. Then there’s the issue of how long until the next expansion and how fast players will burn through the first.
The biggest issue I, and many other gamers have encountered, is the restriction of certain applications that can be running at the same time as Destiny 2. I’m not going to get into the controversy regarding the Destiny 2 bans that were handed out on day 1, however, I will talk about how Bungie is preventing or restricting some applications from running alongside the open client.
Streamers, like those on Twitch and YouTube, will find that some of their favorite applications they use to stream can’t be used in full-screen, while others can’t use overlays to display frames per second and similar content. Bungie says that want to keep players on an even playing field, which I understand and support, as there are a lot of cheaters out there. That being said, there are also a lot of people who just want to stream their games for their fans/audience, but may be scared of being perma-banned if they use the wrong application. Personally, I think a list of approved applications and features should be posted by Bungie in order to alleviate the issue and worry. They’ve already posted some issues that may cause a ban or issues, a comprehensive list would be a little more thorough.
Destiny 2 on PC is just like Destiny 2 on consoles, same content (aside from the PS4 exclusives), same story, for better or worse, same characters, loot, and modes. The only real and major difference is the graphical and performance settings. Boosting the settings to ultra and increasing the field of view, really change the Destiny 2 experience. For anyone serious about the game, like raiding, missions, the crucible and more, they should really consider migrating to the PC version. It really is that good. Running Destiny 2 at 60 fps, 30fps more than consoles, or higher will really open a player’s eyes, as shooting, aiming and jumping just feel so much more fluid and acute. If you don’t have a powerful “dream machine” to run Destiny 2, that’s fine. Even moderate machines should be capable of running Destiny in 1080p at 60fps, which may be enough to make those who prefer the PS4 exclusive content rethink where they want to play.
Bungie and Vicarious Visions have made more than just a great port of an already great console game. In fact, you’d be hardpressed to even think that Destiny 2 for PC was a port at all. It feels so perfect you could think that it was always meant to be a PC game first and forget the roots of Destiny started on consoles.
Now that players have the game in their hands and new content is forthcoming, the longevity of the series is in Bungie’s hands. Can they keep the game fresh enough to keep diehard fans attention, while also catering to the casuals who’ve made Destiny a smash hit, its second time around?