After several weeks of taking the fight to the Red Legion on consoles, we've taken an extended look at Bungie's shooter ahead of its launch on PC.
Destiny 2 was released on consoles a month and a half ago. The shooter sequel has already broken franchise records in terms of concurrent players, and has been on the receiving end of positive reviews from all over. However, despite this initial success, Bungie is raising the stakes by also bringing Destiny 2 to PC. This marks the first time that PC gamers will be able to experience the studio's latest sci-fi universe having missed out the first time around, and the release of this sequel is being announced as loudly as when it came to consoles. With that in mind we visited Bungie in Seattle to find out what the fuss is all about and to get stuck in during an extended hands-on.
PC project lead David Shaw welcomed us to Bungie on arrival at the offices. During a short introduction it was revealed that while the PC version of the game will be the same as it is on console, it will have its own unique feeling. It's also worth mentioning that it's completely identical - along with microtransactions and mobile app support - no matter which platform you're using. Our monitors during the demo weren't HDR ready, so we can't speak to that, but ahead of our hands-on we were assured that the game will be snazzy enough in 4K while running at 60FPS (capped, although the game itself will be uncapped). We weren't disappointed.
As soon as we sat down we could see how beautiful the game is on PC. When all the graphics settings are turned to maximum, and with the game running smoothly at 60 frames per second in 4K, the visual experience is quite something. While continuing off into the horizon, the draw distance lets them paint gorgeous backgrounds for each of the levels, complementing the razor-sharp and finely detailed textures you can see up close. Among other things, the water and the glass surfaces reflect the environment clearly and modify it accordingly. Even the shadows are recognisable as a shape of the character and not that pixel smudge we've seen before on consoles.
Of course, the visual finish that we saw needed quite a powerful setup to run as smoothly as it did during this event (you can read up on detailed test machine specifications below). Luckily, even slower machines can take you to the beautiful world of Destiny 2, since there are a vast number of tweaks to be found in the graphics settings (anti-aliasing, texture details, field of view, that sort of thing). David Shaw answered our question about the cooperation with Nvidia by telling us that the graphics card maker was just one business partner among many, and promised that the game will run just as smoothly with equally powerful AMD hardware. He says that every possible setup is optimised to deliver the best possible gaming experience no matter which platform or hardware is used.
The visuals are only one part of the superiority that the PC version of Destiny 2 holds over the same game on console, but the main thing is how well the controls work. Shaw mentions that they worked on the keyboard and mouse controls for many months before the results were in the kind of shape that they could approve. We must admit that the effort has paid off since the player-character reacted to the controls very sharply. The movement is fluent, precise, and totally in the player's control. A good example is the fact that during a few hours of campaign gameplay we didn't die. Not even once. We remember getting killed on a few occasions during the same section of the game on console. Even so, back then we were positively surprised by how well the controller worked, but now after trying Destiny 2 with a mouse and a keyboard, it feels like coming home from a pleasant vacation. For those who insist playing with a controller, it's not a problem since Destiny 2 on PC has full controller support, identical to PS4 or Xbox.
Shaw laughed when asked why the first Destiny was never released on PC, telling us that it was probably the most asked question during the original Destiny's launch campaign. Back then they had so much work to do when creating the game on four different platforms that they simply didn't have the manpower to create a PC version that would meet their high standards. Basically, the same reason stands for why the PC version wasn't released alongside the console launch. It was Bungie's goal all along to release the game on all platforms at the same time, but they felt that to get the PC version to the level they wanted, a few extra weeks were necessary.
Despite the separate release dates, Destiny 2 will get its extra content in sync with the other platforms in the future. Shaw told us that once PC players have levelled their characters for activities like raids, all extra content, from DLCs through to the updates and patches, will be released simultaneously. Besides the identical content and fully-synced updates, Shaw doesn't have anything to say about potential crossplay between the platforms. Cross-saving, on the other hand, he sees as an interesting idea and hopes that they get to do it one day. Maybe that's something they're already looking at doing, and of course, Bungie is listening to fans and is trying to deliver on good ideas whenever possible (such as 21:9 monitor support and text chat). Just in case anyone was wondering, in the early days Bungie made a lot of games for Mac, but don't expect to see Destiny on the App Store. Finally, even though VR is a hot topic at the moment, Bungie isn't thinking about taking Destiny into the realms of virtual reality.
Our visit to Bungie's offices proved that with the right graphical tweaks and optimisations, along with well-implemented controls, you can make a good game even better. Shaw and his team want to underline the fact that the PC version is not an enhanced port of the console game, but a ground-up re-envisioning of what this game should be on PC. This third version of Destiny 2 polishes a very good game, and we think from here on in, PC is the way to go.
We tested Destiny 2 on the following hardware:
o GPU: NVIDIA GeForce® GTX 1080 Ti
o CPU: Intel Core i7-7700K 4.2Ghz
o 16GB Ram/500GB SSD/Windows 10
o Monitor: Predator XB1 27" 4K IPS with NVidia G-Sync [XB271HK]
o Keyboard: Razer Ornata Chroma
o Mouse: Razer Deathadder Elite
o Headset: Razer Man O'War 7.1
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