Destiny 2 beta hits PC, underlines a difficult choice

Julio Franco

TechSpot Editor
Staff member

The PC version of the Destiny 2 beta landed this week, and it’s remarkably slick and pretty. For a certain subset of gamers, a difficult decision looms: PC or console?

I already knew that Destiny would be good on PC. I played the PC version months ago and said as much. With this week’s beta, thousands more PC owning Destiny fans will get to experience firsthand the vivid weirdness of playing Destiny at 100+fps with a mouse and keyboard. (Footage of the PC version has been floating around for a while now; you can watch some here). Despite my prior experience with the PC version, I still wasn’t quite sure how it’d feel to play it on my home PC, which I finally did yesterday morning.

After five minutes with the beta, it became clear that barring some exceptional unforeseen development, PC will be the best looking, best-playing version of Destiny. The game looks great on PS4 and all, but it’s in a whole other league on PC. It also plays more smoothly and feels much more responsive. I’ve always liked (and still like) the weighty feel of Destiny on console, where it runs at a sturdy 30fps. I’m sure that part of my reaction is simply due to the novelty of how different it looks and feels on PC, but in this case, different also means better.

There’s so much more visual information than I’m used to, because each second is filled with dozens more frames and each frame is packed with thousands more pixels. I can better appreciate Destiny’s art and am routinely catching so many tiny details I would’ve otherwise missed. Destiny has always been overflowing with colorful explosions, but the clarity of those explosions on PC makes the console versions feel blurry by comparison. My Titan’s shield radiates with tiny glowing particles; Cabal Psions explode with beautiful purple bursts when I shoot them just so. I can pick out my enemies’ facial expressions as I fight them, and more easily read their body language as they move.

You can count Brann’s teeth in real time.

When I played the PC version back at the reveal event in May, I opted to stick with mouse and keyboard controls the whole time. This time around, I decided to start on controller, since I’ve spent years achieving a mind-meld with Bungie’s impeccable Destiny control scheme. It was a good call, at least for my understanding of the beta. My May impressions were dominated by how wild it felt to play with the precision of a mouse, and I’m sure that when I play PvP on PC, I’ll stick with that control scheme. (One of the benefits of the PC version is that it’s possible to instantly switch between the two.) But with a controller, it was actually easier to directly compare the two versions.

The PC beta also appears to be exceptionally polished and well-optimized. The game regularly breaks 100fps for me with everything pushed up about as high as it’ll go, and I have yet to encounter a noticeable frame-rate dip. Granted that’s in the beta, which lacks for large outdoor environments, and also granted, I’m using a pretty hefty rig with an i7-7700k processor and a GTX 1080 GPU. But I’ve seen plenty of other players reporting solid performance on a variety of setups, and the port of the beta just seems to be slick and well put-together overall. There’s no stutter, the mouse works great with no weird smoothing or lag, and the menus are easy to use with a controller or a mouse. Bungie and Vicarious Visions, the studio helping with the PC port, have so far avoided the most common problems cross-platform developers run into on PC.

The question, then: If you’ve spent the last three years playing the game on PS4 or Xbox One, what do you do? The console versions launch next week on September 6, while the PC version doesn’t hit until October 24. That makes the decision easier in some respects—if you’re a Destiny true believer, you’re likely planning to play the game on console first. But what happens when October rolls around?

You can’t play the same character across PC and console. If you start on PS4, you can’t later import your progress over to PC, GTA Online style. You also can’t play with your console friends, a la Final Fantasy XIV or Gears of War 4. As far as I see it, that leaves players with a few options:

  • Stick with the console version, since you’ll have made so much progress that it’ll be a drag to start all over on a new platform.
  • Don’t buy it on console at all, and just wait six weeks.
  • Try to play on both console and PC, and if one gradually becomes your preferred platform, let that become your default way of playing.

The third option is arguably the best one, but it requires buying two copies of a game and, if you’re serious about sticking with both, all of the pricey expansion packs. That’s a lot of money, even if you wait until you’ve played some of the console version and determined that it’s good enough to double-dip. The “why not both?” approach also requires investing time in two different versions of the game, and Destiny already requires a lot of time. If you finally get that precious exotic armor to drop on PC, are you really gonna want go back to Xbox One, where you no longer have it?

The second option is a tough call for superfans, since it means waiting almost two months while console players crack secrets, beat the raid, and excavate the game’s loot and surprises. On the more positive side, waiting means that Bungie will have six weeks to fix problems that may come to light during the console launch. Look at the PC beta: They’ve made a bunch of small tweaks to ammo and charge-rates since the console beta, and I already noticed they fixed that weird turbine section and made it more playable and fun.

Complicating the decision is the fact that Destiny lives and dies on its community, and if you move to PC from Xbox or PS4, you risk leaving your community behind. In fact, that’ll probably wind up being the deciding factor for a lot of people, including me. A lot of my friends play on PS4. I know some are planning to play on PC as well, but not all. Is that number big enough? Can we talk the remaining players into switching? Would I still love playing Destinyas much if I couldn’t play with some of my oldest Destiny friends?

For the majority of video games, true cross-platform play remains a pipe dream. (Oh, for a world where I can play on PC with my friends on PS4!) I’ve never had to deal with a question like this for a series I play as much as Destiny. The closest comparisons are probably Diablo 3, which I played on PC but only came to love when it came out on PS4, and Overwatch, which I abandoned on console more or less the moment I bought it on PC.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do, and I’m guessing I’m not alone. Readers, I put it to you: Assuming you’re planning on playing Destiny 2 and have both a console and a gaming PC, what’s your plan?

Permalink to story.

 

andy06shake

TS Evangelist
PC all the way there is no comparison.

Shame characters are not interchangeable between cross formats all the same as its really not that hard to implement if they wish.
 

erickmendes

TS Evangelist
I'm a Pc Gamer. If I was a Console Gamer, I would stick to the console version because of control scheme familiarity... So it's really a no brainer...

Getting 2 copies of the same game? I'm no rich...
In the end I think it's dev fault to keep the two audiences apart... They make an MMO game where console gamers can't meet PC gamers... Sure it's for better because PvP keyboard/mouse vs gamepad wouldn't be really fair for the majority of players, but still a bad call.

Whatever...
 

Skidmarksdeluxe

TS Evangelist
I'm still yet to buy a game this year and this game isn't going to change that. Whether the upcoming Assassins Creed game changes that still remains to be seen.
 

andy06shake

TS Evangelist
I'm a Pc Gamer. If I was a Console Gamer, I would stick to the console version because of control scheme familiarity... So it's really a no brainer...

Getting 2 copies of the same game? I'm no rich...
In the end I think it's dev fault to keep the two audiences apart... They make an MMO game where console gamers can't meet PC gamers... Sure it's for better because PvP keyboard/mouse vs gamepad wouldn't be really fair for the majority of players, but still a bad call.

Whatever...
I just came up with a solution that will appease my Mrs but not the bank account.

Buy this for the kids on the PS4 so I can sneak in a wee shot and play it after their bedtime for six weeks, by which time I'm sure she will be complaining. Then get it for the PC under the premise that it leaves the weans alone with their PS version.

That just might work. ;)
 
D

davislane1

How to identify a Kotaku article in two easy steps:

1. Read the opening paragraph.
2. Does the author ask a question with a patently obvious answer?

This is the opening paragraph:

The PC version of the Destiny 2 beta landed this week, and it’s remarkably slick and pretty. For a certain subset of gamers, a difficult decision looms: PC or console?

The question is whether a first person shooter will be better on PC or capped at 30FPS on a console.

This free guide was brought to you by Real Gamers Everywhere. Real Gamers -- Answering the questions Kotaku writers can't.

I'm a Pc Gamer. If I was a Console Gamer, I would stick to the console version because of control scheme familiarity... So it's really a no brainer...
Played Destiny 1 on PS4. Played the beta on PC yesterday. I'd advise anyone thinking about buying this for console to consider investing in a PC if you're into Destiny. It's a far better experience and the only real learning curve with controls is that using a super now requires one button instead of two.

As for the game on PC...

I'm actually interested now. The game looks great and appears to be well optimized (3440x1440p, consistent 75-100FPS running on a 1070 set with everything to max and FXAA). It also looks like it may have a properly conveyed story this time around. The maps also show promise (though I suspect the player hub will be the tower with grass).

The one downside is that multiplayer (the only thing worth playing in the original) is going to be exclusively 4 v 4 this time around. This seems like a mistake from my beta experience as the flow of action is significantly reduced.
 

AlecB

TS Rookie
The "Beta" is a lot more like a mini demo. It does not show what Destiny is about. It shows a 30 minute linear compaing mission, a COD like PVP and a strike that seems okay.

What it does do a good job of, IMO is show how the game mechanics work. MOVE/SHOOT/COMBAT and the basic consent of eliminate waves of enemies.

If I was to compare this beta with what Massive showed us with The Division, Massive did a much better job of showing what the game was about. This beta does not how what Destiny is about. If I never head of destiny and I was shown this beta, I would assume another linear shooter story, basic PVP and a co-op just because.

I'm a big fan of The Division on PC, so I hope Destiny 2 will be at least as good.
 
D

davislane1

What it does do a good job of, IMO is show how the game mechanics work. MOVE/SHOOT/COMBAT and the basic consent of eliminate waves of enemies.

If I never head of destiny and I was shown this beta, I would assume another linear shooter story, basic PVP and a co-op just because.
Then you would have assumed correctly.
 

Nobina

TS Evangelist
Gonna try the open beta and hope I can run it decently on GTX 1050 Ti 4GB OC, I don't care about maxing out graphics. Judging by a benchmark I've seen it's gonna be just fine on high.
 

IAMTHESTIG

TS Evangelist
This whole keeping players from intermingling is terrible... Yes the mouse is a superior aiming device, but analog stick is superior movement controller compared to the on/off digital keyboard. So really good game pad users might be nearly as good or better than some kb/mouse users. Not only that, but why not offer controller or kb/m only servers, so players can choose if they want to go against the other. A simple icon in front of the players handle could indicate if they are using gamepad or kb/mouse. That should keep just about everyone happy I would imagine.

And these days with every damn game requiring an online connection, there is NO REASON not to allow the characters/avatars to be shared across platforms. That is an insult to our intelligence in a lot of ways...

All that griping aside, I'm glad to hear this seems like a solid port. I'm think I'll give this game a try as it always looked interesting to me, but wasn't able to in the past as I only game on PC.
 
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IAMTHESTIG

TS Evangelist
The "Beta" is a lot more like a mini demo. It does not show what Destiny is about. It shows a 30 minute linear compaing mission, a COD like PVP and a strike that seems okay.

What it does do a good job of, IMO is show how the game mechanics work. MOVE/SHOOT/COMBAT and the basic consent of eliminate waves of enemies.

If I was to compare this beta with what Massive showed us with The Division, Massive did a much better job of showing what the game was about. This beta does not how what Destiny is about. If I never head of destiny and I was shown this beta, I would assume another linear shooter story, basic PVP and a co-op just because.

I'm a big fan of The Division on PC, so I hope Destiny 2 will be at least as good.
Interesting points... I must admit though demos need to make a come back. I really miss being able to test out a game to see if I like it prior to buying. And not everything is available on Steam so often times you can't get a refund if you don't like it or it is about as stable as Windows ME.
 

Axiarus

TS Evangelist
This whole keeping players from intermingling is terrible... Yes the mouse is a superior aiming device, but analog stick is superior movement controller compared to the on/off digital keyboard. So really good game pad users might be nearly as good or better than some kb/mouse users. Not only that, but why not offer controller or kb/m only servers, so players can choose if they want to go against the other. A simple icon in front of the players handle could indicate if they are using gamepad or kb/mouse. That should keep just about everyone happy I would imagine.

And these days with every damn game requiring an online connection, there is NO REASON not to allow the characters/avatars to be shared across platforms. That is an insult to our intelligence in a lot of ways...

All that griping aside, I'm glad to hear this seems like a solid port. I'm think I'll give this game a try as it always looked interesting to me, but wasn't able to in the past as I only game on PC.
It has been shown in every cross platform trial that M/KB players destroy controller players. Every time.
 
D

davislane1

This whole keeping players from intermingling is terrible... Yes the mouse is a superior aiming device, but analog stick is superior movement controller compared to the on/off digital keyboard. So really good game pad users might be nearly as good or better than some kb/mouse users. Not only that, but why not offer controller or kb/m only servers, so players can choose if they want to go against the other. A simple icon in front of the players handle could indicate if they are using gamepad or kb/mouse. That should keep just about everyone happy I would imagine.

And these days with every damn game requiring an online connection, there is NO REASON not to allow the characters/avatars to be shared across platforms. That is an insult to our intelligence in a lot of ways...

All that griping aside, I'm glad to hear this seems like a solid port. I'm think I'll give this game a try as it always looked interesting to me, but wasn't able to in the past as I only game on PC.
It has been shown in every cross platform trial that M/KB players destroy controller players. Every time.
Pretty much. It doesn't matter if Player A can move backwards and forwards or left or right with more control than Player B if Player B can line up a headshot on every pixel. If anything, that just makes for a smoother kill.
 

GeforcerFX

TS Evangelist
This whole keeping players from intermingling is terrible... Yes the mouse is a superior aiming device, but analog stick is superior movement controller compared to the on/off digital keyboard. So really good game pad users might be nearly as good or better than some kb/mouse users. Not only that, but why not offer controller or kb/m only servers, so players can choose if they want to go against the other. A simple icon in front of the players handle could indicate if they are using gamepad or kb/mouse. That should keep just about everyone happy I would imagine.

And these days with every damn game requiring an online connection, there is NO REASON not to allow the characters/avatars to be shared across platforms. That is an insult to our intelligence in a lot of ways...

All that griping aside, I'm glad to hear this seems like a solid port. I'm think I'll give this game a try as it always looked interesting to me, but wasn't able to in the past as I only game on PC.
It's not as much what type of control your using, it's the player base. PC gamers tend to be more invested gamers, consoles have a larger casual crown then PC. It makes sense consoles are a bit simpler to operate, no settings or drivers they just load a disc, install updates and play games, then you have the cost differences. You have dedicated gamers on consoles and I am sure if they dialed in there settings to be perfect for them they are competitive against KB/M players I have two friends playing BF1/3/4 on PC with controllers that can usually place top of the team if they try, but they play 800-1000 hours of battlefield a year. Keeping the more extreme gamers away from the casuals is usually a good idea for shooters. If Microsoft kept there promise from 2 years ago and adds KB/M support for the xbox one family and devs decide to start implementing it then you could see more cross platform, especially xbox->PC since Microsoft seems to be ok with that more.
 

Nobina

TS Evangelist
When was there any competition? PC was always better in every way. If people like consoles it's fine but if you compare them to PC it wins every time.
 

adisoftcafe

TS Booster
Pc is better if you can find people to play with. I think Destiny will have a large player base on pc this year. In the future...we'll see.
 

Adhmuz

TechSpot Paladin
Pre-ordered on Xbox One. Wait! Xbox One? Not PS4? All my friends are on Xbox!! Shocking !!
Wait you own an Xbox and NOT a PS4?!?!?! OMFG no one cares...

Pc is better if you can find people to play with. I think Destiny will have a large player base on pc this year. In the future...we'll see.
Well no kidding the player base will fall off after the first year, the last Destiny was only fun until they started cramming forced DLC down our throats, I say forced because the game became pointless without the added ability to progress. Also designed obsolescence, games are only meant to last so long before a sequel comes out and replaces it. At least this game doesn't follow the COD yearly big dump on everyone's chest routine.
 

Thannos

TS Booster
After playing the original Destiny on both an Xbox 360 and Xbox One I was used to the controller scheme for it, but being a PC gamer all of my life really made the Beta for Destiny 2 absolutely incredible being able to use a keyboard and mouse, not to mention the increase fluidity and responsiveness from the higher fps.

Also, it really is crazy how well the game is optimized. I rarely dipped below 80fps on my old Geforce 780Ti (which is the only bottleneck/last thing in my rig needing to be upgraded) with all the settings on max at 1080p.
 

Forebode

TS Booster
Perhaps after it's released, they can go back and test with cross consoles to pc. It's easy for people to speculate and complain that it's not in the game. If it goes live and console players are decimated by pc players, wont they still complain? If it works out.. GREAT.. but if it doesn't, wouldn't you rather have a Content DLC than a feature one?
 

adisoftcafe

TS Booster
:)) This is not a competitive pvp game! Plug in a controller to your pc. You will have a little surprize. This activates auto-aim
 

Forebode

TS Booster
:)) This is not a competitive pvp game! Plug in a controller to your pc. You will have a little surprize. This activates auto-aim
eh.. aim assist.. what non-sense. like bowling with bumpers. perhaps that's why the people like it the controller on pc. It's not that they play better, it's that they have a handicap which helps them play better.