Last night was the beginning of the Destiny 2 PC beta for those of us who have already preordered the game. I am one of those weirdos that loves Destiny so much that I plan on playing it on multiple platforms. With Destiny year 2 and beyond I played it actively on both the PS4 and Xbox One… and going forward I am planning on doing the same and splitting time between PC and PS4. One of the things you need to realize is that I have some strange habits when it comes to gaming. I split my time between my gaming desktop upstairs and my gaming laptop in the living room. I’ve found the secret to marital happiness as a gamer is to be able to be flexible in my gaming habits and there are nights when I just need to be more available than cloistered in my office with my ear cans on. As a result I have two systems to worry about being able to play Destiny on. The positive is however as someone who potentially might be interested in Destiny 2, you are going to get functionally two different sets of reviews for the game… one on a system that is heftier than the recommended specifications and one that is closer to the minimums.
- Intel Core i7 5820k 3.3ghz 6 Core Processor
- Asus X99-A/USB 3.1 ATX Motherboard
- 32 gb G.Skill Ripjaws V Series DDR4-2400 Memory
- MSI Geforce GTX 980 4GB Twin Frozr Video Card
- System SSD but Game Running on Mechanical Hard Drive
For starters I spent absolutely zero time fiddling with the sliders and I just went with the defaults that it handed to me. The end result was a gorgeous 1080p 60 fps experience. I don’t have fancy monitors or anything even vaguely close to outputting a 4k or even 1440p signal so I went with it. With time I plan on ratcheting up the detail level to see what I can do, but I am hearing from folks with 1080s that they are having issues sustaining frame rate on Ultra so more or less I am pretty damned happy with the results. In truth the hardest thing I had to figure out was some third party screenshot tool that would actually record the screen. Bungie has done a bunch of stuff to disable overlays and I had to fall back on the Nvidia Experience tools to be able to capture anything. I am presently running the game in Windowed Fullscreen which is my preferred method and it just works great. The difference in quality between the PS4 and PC is noticeable even just running the game in 1080p. All of the textures just look crisper and less muddled, but that said the console experience with Destiny 2 on even a stock PS4 like mine…. looks noticeably better than the original Destiny. Last night I tried out everything but the strike, and saw zero frame drop at any point during my experiences. I have been keeping an eye on the lower left corner of the screen where I have the Nvidia framerate tools running… and the only time I saw drop was upon going into a pre-rendered cutscene. All of those are still at 30 fps, which I would assume is to be able to support all of the different configurations of the game.
- Asus ROG GL551JW
- Intel Core i7 4720HQ 2.6 ghz
- 16 gb DDR3 Memory
- Geforce GTX 960M 2GB GDDR5
- Mechanical Hard Drive
- 3rd Quarter 2014 Release Date
While the Desktop was a picture of simplicity… literally everything about the Laptop experience was a hassle. I included the street date of the laptop just for reference and to show that I am attempting to get this running in functionally a three year old machine. I knew that 1080p was largely out of the question so I started trying to dial in specs for a 720p setup. Since my laptop has a 15 inch screen that seemed completely reasonable and generally the only reason why I run MMOs in 1080p is because of the UI element resolution. The biggest issue that I kept running into is that for some reason it felt like my mouse was dying on me. I would have these issues where I could not swing my viewpoint to the right of my model, and then other times I couldn’t scope in my weapon at all. After trying a bunch of configuration options I noticed that it was ultimately happening at the same place each time in the mission, which made me start doubting it was just the mouse. After a bunch of searching I found a thread on Bungie PC Support forum talking about this same issue. What I ultimately had to do was go find the executable for Destiny 2 and choose properties off the right click menu… then change the compatibility settings to disable Scaling on High DPI settings. Note this is called something different depending on the version of windows you are running, but in all cases it will be some Option referencing DPI.
Once this change was made my mouse suddenly started working as it should. One more round of tweaks saw me setting the display mode to Windowed Fullscreen and I was finally playing the game in pretty good shape. While its not amazing… it is playable at a generally 30 fps… however as you can see in the upper right hand corner of the above screenshot… I am dipping down into the high 20s occasionally. The biggest challenge is that Destiny requires a ton of VRAM. When I was playing on the Medium preset I was consuming every last bit of VRAM available and borrowing from the system memory. I really appreciate Bungie including a gauge under the video settings to show just how much you are consuming and how much is left available. The high preset functionally takes a little bit over 2 gb, and I would assume each time you ratchet it up those requirements go up again. The other thing you can take away from the fact I was running it on a laptop… is that effectively everything on a laptop performs like it is a generation older than the equivalent Desktop component. So my 4th gen i7 in truth performs about like a 3rd gen i5… and my gtx 960m… effectively performs the same as a gtx 760 in a desktop card. Between the two setups you should be able to extrapolate how this game should be able to run on whatever your current gaming PC setup seems to be.
For a complete write up about my feelings of the Destiny 2 beta… I highly suggest you check out my PS4 impressions post from July. I am not going to spend a lot of time this morning talking about general topics. Instead I am going to focus in on the tweaks that were made between the two betas. The first noticeable thing is that the recharge rate that I complain so much about on the PS4 seems to be greatly improved. During the tower courtyard fight on PS4 it felt like I was lucky getting a single super charge and a single grenade charge while fighting the three waves of red legion cabal. During the PC beta… I could easily get 3 super charges and 2 grenade charges during the same time. Grenade still lags a bit from what I would have liked it to be… but part of that might simply be that I am used to running around with the Armamentarium and as a result always have two grenade charges available, so even when I use one… there is almost always one sitting there waiting in reserve. Things just feel “better” as a result of the recharge rates being cranked up, and it feels more like the Destiny experience I am used to. My guess is that they have increased the rate of recharge you get from killing things, because the effect was a bit less noticeable in the Crucible. Previously in the PS4 beta everyone got their supers at exactly the same time… which was just a few minutes from the end of the match. During the PC beta I managed to get off two supers and was getting close to a third by the time the match ended, so in theory had I been playing better I probably would have easily gotten three supers.
The other big takeaway is that everything just feels more polished. This one isn’t easy to quantify, but everything about this build felt production ready. The other big takeaway is that once I got used to the hotkeys… the PC experience is just flawless and before long I reached a point where it was just as instinctive for me to hit F to activate my super as it is to mash my two shoulder buttons. So far I have only modified one hotkey, and that was to change ~ from toggling between weapons since I use that as my push to talk key. Instead I use the alternate key which is mouse wheel to shift between weapons. For those going into the game I thought it might be useful really quick to run down the basic hotkeys.
- Movement – WASD + Mouselook
- Primary Fire/Light Attack – Left Mouse
- Scope/Heavy Attack – Right Mouse
- Melee/Block – C
- Reload – R
- Jump – Space
- Toggle Sprint – Shift
- Toggle Crouch – Ctl
- Class Ability – V
- Super Move – F
- Air Super Move – X
- Interact With Objects – E
- Kinetic Weapon – 1
- Secondary Weapon – 2
- Heavy Weapon – 3
- Rotation Through Weapons – Mouse Wheel
- Toggle Chat – T
- Deploy Ghost – Tab
- Return to Orbit – O
- Character Loadout Screen – F1
It is a lot of hotkeys to remember, but in truth it largely matches the pattern I was used to with PC shooters already. All in all I thought the PC Beta played amazingly well and it is going to be a really hard call as to which game gets the majority of my attention. I think ultimately it is going to be determined by how many people that I know are chosing which platforms. The only other thing that really concerns me are the general limitations of Battle.net already. I feel like I am already bumping up against the maximum friend number there because of the various other Blizzard games that I play… and for the most part everyone in my Destiny clan is not already in that list. So it is going to be a bit frustrating to try and find space to add everyone new in. I am also really curious to find out how each of you felt that the PC Beta was when it goes “open beta” today.