New content, upgrades for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, and new information about long-awaited features coming in future seasons: Destiny 2 had a big day today, so let’s break it all down.
First, the big one: Destiny 2: Beyond Light has now been optimized for next-gen consoles. I’ve played dozens of hours of Destiny 2 since its annual expansion came out last month. Today I played a couple more and in some important ways it felt like an entirely new game. While PC players have had the luxury of seeing Destiny run at 60 FPS since 2017, that option is brand-new on console, and yes, it really does make a huge difference.
Everything looks more vibrant and alive, and extra frames make everything that’s moving feel that much more dynamic and distinct from the game’s beautiful, relatively static backdrops. Beyond making the game more responsive, the higher framerate adds more motion clarity and gives Destiny’s world a greater sense of depth and volume, like I’m actually in a 3D space rather than merely watching characters run around in a 2D representation of one. It’s already making me want to explore Europa all over again.
The next-gen version of the game has a bunch of other graphical improvements as well, including 4K resolution on PS5 and Series X. Here are screenshots of Europa’s landing zone from Xbox One, Series S, and PS5, respectively (at different times of day):
The next-gen version of the game also has a field-of-view (FOV) slider that lets you expand the horizontal real-estate of the screen from the default 75 up to 105:
Meanwhile, Destiny’s PVP mode, Crucible, now supports up to 120 FPS on PS5 and Series X. I don’t have a 120Hz TV, but even on my older LG 40”, matches ran smoother at the new 60fps baseline and there were fewer times when it felt like events were happening faster than the game could communicate them to me.
These are the major changes, but the next-gen version of the game (I’ve tried it on both PS5 and Series S) feels better in smaller ways as well. The UI is crisper, the menu cursor is more responsive, and of course load times are much faster. It took me roughly 50 seconds to get from the launch screen to Europa on Xbox One, 40 seconds on Xbox Series S, and 27 on PS5. Selecting loadouts and toggling back and forth between menus is also a lot faster.
One big difference between the Xbox Series X/S and PS5 versions of Destiny 2 is how they install. My Xbox Series S simply prompted me to install the game’s upgrade when I went to launch the base version on the home screen.
On PS5, however, I had to hunt for the game in the store, scroll to the “three dots” icon to select to download the next-gen version, and still somehow ended up with both the PS4 and PS5 versions of the game, forcing me to manually go back into my storage and delete the older one. Smart Delivery continues to be a low-key stress reducer when it comes to managing cross-gen libraries.
While the next-gen upgrades are great, they aren’t the only thing that’s new in Destiny today. The latest round of Iron Banner also kicked off (which I’m more eager to grind through now thanks to the new FOV slider and smoother framerate). Prophecy, Season of Arrival’s excellent, mind-bending, three-player dungeon is back as well. Most importantly, the current season’s latest exotic quest has gone live, sending players on a scavenger hunt to rediscover Hawkmoon, a satisfyingly punchy little hand cannon from the first game. I’m looking forward to digging into that tonight as well.
In addition to all of that, assistant game director Joe Blackburn took to the Bungie blog today to preview a bit of what’s coming to Destiny 2 in 2021. A lot of it arrives in Season 13, which is set to begin in February. That includes:
- Fallen S.A.B.E.R. and Devil’s Lair strikes in the Cosmodrome.
- Lost Sectors on the Moon getting Legendary and Master variants with three new pieces of exotic armor.
- Six new legendary weapons as part of strike, Gambit, and Crucible ritual activities.
- Nightfalls getting the unique weapons Palindrome, Swarm, and Shadow Price, with adept variants dropping from the Grandmaster difficulty.
Blackburn also confirmed that Transmog (the option to combine one piece of armor’s stats with another’s aesthetic) will arrive in season 14. Here’s two work-in-progress images of how it will work:
Stuff like full cross-play (the game currently only has cross-gen play, i.e. PS4 to PS5 and Xbox One to Series X/S), and the Vault of Glass raid are coming next year as well, but don’t have firm dates yet. All of this was previewed in the context of Bungie recommitting to making sure the game continues to grow its loot pool after it severely contracted with the launch of Beyond Light, and hinting at future plans to fine-tune how it currently handles the sunsetting of old loot. A big part of that process? Hiring more developers so that the studio doesn’t burn itself out trying to meet perennial player demands for new rewards to chase.
“There’s no way for us to make more rewards at Destiny’s standards and still maintain the health of our current team, therefore we’re going to reinforce the Rewards Team with more talent that will allow us to deliver quality and quantity in the future,” Blackburn wrote. “Molding someone new into a master Destiny gunsmith takes time. This isn’t going to be a change that the community will feel next week, but it does put our best foot forward as we step towards The Witch Queen and Lightfall.”
The developer said both of those expansions will launch with more loot than either last year’s Shadowkeep or November’s Beyond Light had. The Witch Queen is currently slated to arrive fall 2021, followed by Lightfall in fall 2022.