Destiny 2's Shiny PC Beta Underlines A Difficult Choice

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.

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 have otherwise missed. Destiny has always been overflowing with colourful 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-optimised. The game regularly breaks 100fps for me with everything pushed up about as high as it will 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 14 or Gears of War 4. As far as I see it, that leaves players with a few options:

  1. Stick with the console version, since you'll have made so much progress that it will be a drag to start all over on a new platform.
  2. Don't buy it on console at all, and just wait six weeks.
  3. 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 pricy 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 armour 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 have 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 will 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 Destiny as 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?


Comments

    I'm playing on PS4. I don't care that it might be prettier on PC, all the people I spent 2-3 years with in Destiny are on PS4 and hardly any are switching.

    On the sofa, with my PS4 Pro and 4K telly. That is where I shall be.

      I had it on XBox... my friends i played with have now moved over to PS4 because they knew a couple others over there...

      I'll be heading to PC now and find a new community

    PC - More so because it means my partner and I can play without being in separate rooms or having to lug the spare tv downstairs.

    Also that 60fps goodness is a huge plus.

    It's really a pity they couldn't merge the communities. Makes me wonder what their reason(excuse) is?

      You will never see PC and console playing together in an FPS, there is simply too much advantage to using kb/m over a controller. Maybe just maybe if it was strictly PVE, even then I doubt it.

        These days, I wonder how true that still is. Console controls have really come along in recent years, and the gap isn't as big as it used to be.

        At pro levels, theres still a clear difference, but if you watch non-pro streams for the big games that cross both console and PC, gameplay doesn't really seem that different.

          Oh I still think it's a pretty big gap, Ana in Overwatch for example, one of the best healers and has a high pick rate on PC. On console she barely gets used due to it being too hard to reliably heal with.

          I wonder if they ever let consoles officially have full kb/m support, would they do it then?

          Last edited 30/08/17 2:52 pm

            Dust514 on the PS3 had keyboard and mouse support, and the difference was stark.

            Like... prosecute these players for war crimes stark. KB&M players were untouchable gods no matter how outmatched their gear was. Right up until the devs coded in artificial lag and hamstrung KB&M input. Even with that artificial 'balance' (that made KB&M genuine torture to play compared to any other shooter with the same input), the difference was STILL strong. Match-decidingly strong.

            This was only a couple years ago.

        Not cross-play, I was thinking more along the lines of cross-saves. Bungie/Activision/Sony/Microsoft should have allowed you to carry your character across from any system to any system. You could be playing with your buddies on Xbox One on Monday, then on Wednesday be playing that exact character but with your buddies on the PC. There are no local saves on Destiny 2 and it all lives on Bungie (?) servers. There wouldn't have been any technical issue to prevent this.

          This exactly. I want to play on all three platforms, but I'm not going to be bothered building up nine seperate characters.

          I'll be on my Scorpio for Destiny 2, and I'll reevaluate where I call home when it's time for Destiny 3.

        I don't see that as a valid reason. I mean it may be true, but why lock players out entirely? It'd be much simpler to allow players to choose Console matches or PC matches and if there is an (dis)advantage then so be it.

    I have 2 groups of gaming friends, my PC buds I've known for 4+ years, and my Destiny friends on PS4 which I met on Destiny. I've decided to buy both PS4 and PC. I know eventually I'll veer onto one platform, but I do enjoy playing with both groups, its just hard when some only play on PC and others only PS4. For me Destiny is a great game, but its the people you play with that make it so much better, that's why i'm getting it on 2 platforms

    For me I will stick with my PS4PRO. To get my computer to get up to that level (then on to real 4k) or more I need to get a new card and honestly I dont play that much of anything on pc anymore, to warrant the spend.

    As a life time PC gamer I just find PC gaming so elitist these days, I find it passed the point of being annoying, right to the point of it being hilarious. with something like Destiny I would rather kick back on my sofa, than spend hours of a time sitting at a computer being uncomfortable. And the thought of playing against PC people on keyboard and mouse vs my controller, just doesnt sound like fun to me.

    I am sure it will look more glorious and play a bit more spritely on PC but I think I am at the age where my days of caring about min/maxing are way behind me, I play for fun. What I played on the PS4 beta was inspiring enough.

    That said *twitch* I dont think this debate is over for me just yet.

      PC gaming so elitist these days, I find it passed the point of being annoying, right to the point of it being hilarious. with something like Destiny I would rather kick back on my sofa, than spend hours of a time sitting at a computer being uncomfortable

      ????

        What don't you understand? Sitting up at a computer is extremely bad on your body. Especially if that is what you already do for eight hours a day. That's not me talking but ergonomics and science.

        PC gamers are elitist, not sure why that is hard to understand. That is just a given, like dogs bark, a summers day is hot. Sure there are some exceptions but it's pretty much correct.

          Slouching on a couch is better? And console players can be pretty elitist too, always the same old arguments. "Mouse and keyboard? Pfft, give me a controller any day, and how's about that having to upgrade your PC every few minutes?" I have my PC hooked up to my TV and have a controller plugged in so I have the best of both worlds if I want it but I find sitting at my PC perfectly comfortable.

          For the record I also have consoles and play them too, so really I don't see why we have to come in here talking down to anyone who wants to use a PC.

          Why are you bringing up the fact that its bad for your body? So is sitting on a couch. I don't understand why you say PC gaming is uncomfortable. Perhaps your chair is just uncomfortable.

          Gamers are elitist no matter what platform you're on. If you come across as hostile as you do here in game no wonder people act "elitist" towards you. I have much better experiences with people online on PC than I do on my PS4.

      The only elitist one here is you mate. How does me being more comfortable sitting at me desk make me elitist?

        I didn't say that now did I? I said I was more comfortable not sitting at a computer 12 odd hours a day. I have all the proof I need about the PC gaming community from playing a lot of PC games (either in my history or playing a lot of FPS games while staying with friends and family), there is just another level of toxicity in text chat that, thankfully, consoles dont have. In MY experience the level of 'seriousness' and hardcore level of competition on PC is something I (as in ME, not you or others) can live without. While sure it is still there on consoles in small pockets on PC it thrives.

          If you added text chat to console, Youd get the exact same level of toxicity. But as Console is limited to voice chat, You dont see that toxicity.

      ..... A controller? For an FPS? I will never ever understand how people can play FPS games with a controller. A steering wheel or joystick, yeah... but a controller? Never...

    Getting both, will likely end up concentrating on PC. No ragrets.

    Still gonna wait to see if it's worth it before I make the decision.

    Friends and Community > Frames Per Second.
    I'll be sticking to the Xbox.

      And we will be glad to keep you. :)

    I thought I would stick with the PS4 Pro but I just played the Beta on PC with a 21:9 (3440 x 1440) monitor and I was gob-smacked for most of the intro mission, it's stunningly smooth and so bloody beautiful.

    I'm also using a XBox Pro controller and am having no issues keeping up with the K+M warriors! I may check out the alternative but my hands have had over 20 years of gripping controllers and I find WASD really tiring for even short amounts of time.

    Is that "my console friends..." pic really from Destiny? It reminds me of Helldivers.

    I'll be sticking with PS4 cause that's where my group of friends are, I don't play games on PC anymore so I would be so bad at Keyboard+mouse and get demolished in PVP compared to PS4 where I was actually good at PVP.

    I'll be trying the PC beta - see how it runs on my rig in eyefinity - but will (hopefully) stick with PS4. As said above, friends & community trump framecount.

      And I look forward to it.

        Aiming with a mouse was nice, but digital 8-directional movement... I'll take my dualshock, tyvm. Also would need to spend half an hour tweaking performance - everyone was saying "it runs like butter", but framerate was all over the place for me in the strike - anywhere from 20-90fps on my 390x.

        5d 9hr 30min... but not like anyone's counting :P

    My brother will play it on both, because he's a huge fan of Destiny. I'll get it on PS4 simply because he will initially play it on PS4 and when the PC version comes out we would have exhausted the campaign and they'll be no reason for me to play it.

      ...when the PC version comes out we would have exhausted the campaign and they'll be no reason for me to play it.
      (sic)

      Bro ... it's Destiny ... I don't think hanging your hat on a single campaign completion is really the point ... :P

      ummm, the campaign isn't the main part of Destiny, that's just the bit you start with. All the good stuff is after the campaign.

    Gave the PC beta a go this arvo. Looked and ran great. I loved playing Destiny solo on console but sucked at the aiming, so I'll be picking it up for PC this time around. Actually pretty pumped for it now.

    So this looks like a similar gameplay experience to Halo (not so much the story/graphics, i mean the actual gameplay, the combat). Can anyone strongly disagree? It's obviously nothing like any Call of Duty game, there's far too much movement available.

    I already have 6 Destiny 1 characters across two platforms. I think I'm gonna go with PS4 and PC this time around. Just don't have enough friends who play on Xbox.

    I don't understand why Bungie doesn't do something like make the title/saves cross platform so you can choose to play on either/or with the same profile and characters, and crossplay can work if you have a control style lock for particular PvP events, that way people can all play together no matter what they're on. I'd play controller matches with PS4 players, and probably play the entirety of the campaign that way, I just don't want to buy a console if I don't need to.

    I'm getting Destiny on both Xbox and PC! I have 2 different groups of friends, both of which will play the game. I'll likely mainly play on PC though

    Can anyone explain why the VSync options offer fram rate locking at 30, 50 and 100 fps but not 60???

    I was in the same dilemma as the author of the article. I was questioning again and again what to do and where to play. The moments I've had with destiny 1, the friends I've made, the people who thanked me for doing stuff and everything in between... its simply not worth trading it in for all that time and memories for prettier graphics. The community has and will make the game it will always be... So I will stick to xbox one. Also I get the bonus stuff of whatever bungie decides to give to veteran players, which PC players will not get. Also I get to play earlier... its pretty much a no brainer to stick with console for me now

    There is only one option. Don't play it. Warframe is better. Its free. And its devs are cool Canadalanders.

Join the discussion!