It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of excellent PC ports, it was the age of terrible PC ports, it was the epoch of incredibly powerful graphics cards, it was the epoch of peer-to-per servers, it was the season of 60 frames-per-second, it was the season of game delays, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.
The story of Destiny 2 on PC is perhaps less dramatic than the French Revolution and its guillotines, but there’s something Dickensian about PC gaming in the modern era. It’s the best place to play, but it’s always fraught with issues, from shoddy ports to cheating epidemics.
When it comes to Destiny 2 there’s good news and there’s bad news. Thankfully, it’s mostly good news.
We’re gonna start with the bad.
The bad news about Destiny 2’s PC port is mostly two-fold at this point. First, we don’t know when the PC version will come out. It may be out on September 8th when the PS4 and Xbox One editions launch, or it may be out in 2018. We just don’t know at this point.
Second, despite the launching on the Blizzard App (formerly Battle.net) the game will use peer-to-peer servers rather than dedicated servers, which is a pretty major disappointment.
Dedicated servers perform better and are more secure, and for a game that’s pretty much always online, coming from the powerhouses that are Bungie and Activision, gamers shouldn’t have to settle for less. Destiny basically prints money for Bungie and Activision. Dedicated servers should be part of the package.
It also sounds like console players will not be able to transfer their Destiny 1 characters from PS4 and Xbox One to PC. That’s not a big deal as far as I’m concerned, given that your powers and gear don’t transfer anyways and everyone starts with a clean slate, but I guess some people might be upset. You can’t make everyone happy!
The Good News
That’s the bad news. The good news is that the PC port of Destiny 2, from what I’ve played and seen and discussed with the game’s PC lead, David Shaw, is very good. Playing with a mouse and keyboard makes the game infinitely better.
That’s my opinion, but that’s also objective fact. Because while some people may think there’s debate between mouse and keyboard and gamepad, when it comes to first-person shooters there is simply no contest.
PvE and PvP feels incredibly fluid and precise with a mouse and keyboard in silky smooth 60 fps on PC. Especially in the Crucible, I felt far, far more comfortable, skillful and deadly than I’ve ever felt on a PS4.
Destiny meets Counter-Strike
I played the Countdown mode, which is a 4 vs 4 mode similar to Counter-Strike, in which teams alternate setting/diffusing a charge at one of two points. Players can revive fallen allies, and a round is over when either a charge goes off or is diffused, or if one team is killed off entirely.
These rounds are fast and furious, though a full match can take a while. The first team to 6 wins, so you can wrap up a match in anywhere from 6 to 11 rounds. My time on PC was much more enjoyable than on PS4, simply because I felt much more natural with a mouse and keyboard, and of course 60 fps doesn’t hurt.
On PC I felt immediately at home. I had a great match on Crucible at the end of my time at the Destiny 2 event on Thursday, with my team winning six rounds straight. I came in second place, with a hefty number of kills, detonations and successful attempts at disarming charges. It was thrilling, tense and fun, and I felt like a completely different player than I did earlier playing the same mode on PS4 earlier that afternoon, where I had a middling performance at best, and lost far too often.
PvE is also better with M&KB
I also played the campaign mission on PC (unfortunately I only had time to play the Strike on PS4) and while the difference here was less apparent than in a PvP match, PvE with mouse and keyboard felt really great. Vicarious Visions is helping Bungie on the port (as well as on future content for Destiny 2) and they’ve obviously put a lot of love into it. While it’s a little daunting to get used to all the keyboard controls, having gotten so used to controls with a gamepad, I still find it far preferable. And you can always remap everything if the default controls aren’t to your liking.
The settings are robust, for one thing. We couldn’t access them (to avoid tinkering) at the event, but there’s plenty of graphics options, from adjusting resolution to a FOV slider (that wasn’t added to this build but is confirmed for the final build) to all the bells and whistles PC gamers have come to expect. This isn’t some shoddy, half-baked port. It’s the real deal.
When speaking with Shaw he told me that some of the challenges porting a game like Destiny 2 to PC is making it at once feel like a Destiny game and feel like a PC shooter. While guns in the console version of the game feel weighty, with a tangible kick, on PC this kind of feedback doesn’t work. It simply doesn’t translate to a mouse. Gunplay needs to be more fluid, precise, and less hefty. What’s remarkable is that even though gunplay in the PC version is tailored to a mouse and keyboard experience, you still feel very much like you’re playing a Destiny game.
I can honestly say that PC will be my platform of choice for this game. I’m excited to load up the app formerly known as Battle.net and make a Sophie’s choice between Overwatch and Destiny 2. There’s lots of reasons why I’m pretty sure I’ll play way more Destiny 2 than I played of the original, but the PC version is really, really high on that list.
I’m bummed out that the game won’t have dedicated servers and I’m nervous that the PC version might be delayed a long time, because that’s just how things often work out for PC gamers. On the other hand, I’m really happy that the port, at least at this point, appears to be excellent.
I’ll have more thoughts about the game soon, including more impressions of my time in the campaign, PvP, and Strike, and why I think a lot of the changes Bungie has made are more important than people think. A lot of gamers seem nonplussed by the gameplay reveal, but I think sometimes people just want Big Changes and don’t consider how Smart Improvements, however subtle, can be much more important to a sequel.
Oh, and here’s what the game was running on at the event:
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce® GTX 1080 Ti (Courtesy of Nvidia)
- CPU: Intel Core i7-7700K 4.2Ghz (Courtesy of Intel)
- 16GB Ram/500GB SSD/Windows 10
- Monitor: Predator XB1 27” 4K IPS with NVidia G-Sync [XB271HK]
- (Courtesy of Acer)
- Keyboard: Razer Ornata Chroma (Courtesy of Razer)
- Mouse: Razer Deathadder Elite (Courtesy of Razer)
- Headset: Razer Man O’War 7.1 (Courtesy of Razer)
That’s pretty similar to my own gaming rig, actually. I run a GTX 1080 rather than 1080 Ti, and my CPU is an Intel Core i7-7700K at 4 Ghz, so it’s not quite as beefy as the PCs we were using here, but it’s close. I have the same amount of RAM. It’s certainly too close to feel the need to upgrade, and I’m pretty sure Destiny 2 will run just fine on my rig, though Bungie and Vicarious Visions aren’t announcing recommended specs just yet.