We played Destiny 2 on PC — here's what we learned

Last week, Activision held the Destiny 2 premiere and told the world what the new game will be like. Most exciting for Windows gamers, Destiny 2 will be coming to PC ... eventually. We played the PC version at the premiere and interviewed the PC development lead. Here's everything we learned so far.

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Performance

At the Destiny 2 premiere, Activision had numerous stations with playable builds of the PC version of Destiny 2. All three announced game types were available, including the story-based campaign, a cooperative Strike, and the new competitive Countdown mode.

To show off the advantages of the PC version, Activision had it running on top-of-the-line desktop systems equipped with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics cards – the best of the best. These were connected to 4K monitors as well as keyboards, mice, and headsets from Razer.

The PC development team wanted to be sure that "when we did it, we did it right… and came out of the gate strong with a game people would love," said David Shaw, senior producer and PC platform lead at Bungie, told us. So they made a list of the graphical features that PC gamers would want and worked to make sure those things would be in the game.

David Shaw Bungie Destiny 2 premiere

David Shaw, Bungie's PC platform lead and senior producer.

Destiny 2 PC graphical details

  • 4K resolution support
  • Support for 21:9 monitors: Although 16:9 monitors and televisions are by far the most common types of displays, some PC users prefer ultrawide 21:9 monitors.
  • Uncapped frame rate: Destiny 2 will run more fluidly than the console versions, which are capped at 30 frames per second (even on PlayStation 4 Pro).
  • Field of view slider: PC players will be able to increase or decrease the field of view.
  • Detailed graphical settings: PC games typically allow individual graphical features like antialiasing to be toggled and adjusted in order to manage the game's performance on a user's hardware, and Destiny 2 will do the same.
  • Text chat: All PC users have keyboards, so text chat is the most common form of in-game communication in PC games.

We played all three game types on the PC demo stations at the premiere and came away highly impressed with the game's performance. Destiny 2 runs beautifully on powerful hardware, with a completely fluid frame rate and tons of graphical detail. The artistry is beautiful already, and running the game on an expensive machine really makes it sing.

System requirements

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PC capture wasn't allowed at the premiere, so these screenshots come from the PlayStation 4 Pro version.

Of course, Destiny 2 looks great on high-end hardware. But what about the other end?

We asked David Shaw about the minimum system specs for the PC version, but unfortunately he couldn't go into detail about those yet. "We're absolutely enthusiastic about bringing the game to as many people as possible," he said. That doesn't tell us much – every developer wants to reach the widest possible audience – but they still have to choose the minimum hardware and graphical standards for their PC games.

It's likely that Bungie simply hasn't solidified those minimum specs yet. Destiny 2 has several more months of development before launch, and the PC version is due at some point after the console launch. Between now and then, Bungie will decide on hardware requirements and hopefully announce them well before launch.

Online features and servers

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The original Destiny borrowed many elements from massively multiplayer online games (MMOs), and the sequel is no different. In fact, Destiny 2 will feature two big new multiplayer features: Clans and Guided Games.

Clan support allows groups of like-minded gamers to join together for missions and clan-related activities. Clans can set their mottos, descriptions, and clan banners to differentiate themselves from other clans.

Player limit is an important factor with clan support, as the scope of a clan is directly limited by the maximum number of players who can join it. Bungie couldn't tell us how many players Destiny 2 clans will support, but it hinted that the final number has yet to be set in stone.

Destiny 2 Premiere Inverted Spire co-op

One of the biggest criticisms of the first Destiny is its lack of matchmaking for raids and certain other activities. That issue is definitely fixed with Destiny 2's matchmaking, which Activison calls Guided Games.

The feature seemingly requires one or more members of a clan to request players for a multiplayer activity. At that point, non-members can use the Guides Games feature to join their game. Non-clan members will be able to browse available games and see the description of the clan before joining their game.

Bungie confirmed that clans and Guided Games will work identically on PC and consoles. That parity extends to the servers that multiplayer games run on, as well. The PC version will not support dedicated servers.

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That's a shame, because dedicated servers are fairly standard on PC (though not universal) and are slowly gaining traction on consoles. They allow for faster connections and prevent slower players from negatively impacting the performance of players with faster connections.

Still, the lack of dedicated servers is far from damning for Destiny 2 on PC. While Destiny 2 does offer competitive multiplayer modes like Countdown, PvP is only a small part of a much larger game. The campaign and cooperative modes like Strikes and Raids are a huge part of this game, and peer-to-peer connections (the alternative to dedicated servers) are more than adequate for those types of gameplay.

I wouldn't recommend buying Destiny 2 primarily for its competitive gameplay even if you don't care about dedicated servers. Think of PvP as a side activity compared to the story and co-op content. Disappointment over the lack of dedicated servers is understandable. But if you choose to avoid Destiny 2 because of that, you probably didn't want to play the game that badly to begin with.

Controls

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Although the PC demo stations at the premiere were solely equipped with Razer mouse and keyboard setups, Destiny 2 will support controllers on PC as well. Players will be able to switch back and forth between controller, and mouse and keyboard, on the fly. That's good because a sizable minority of PC gamers (including me) prefer to use controllers when possible.

Still, offering keyboard and mouse controls for a traditionally console-focused game like Destiny is more complicated than you'd think. Bungie games excel at giving players a feeling of weight and produce a feeling of kick and heft when firing. To make Destiny 2 play naturally on PC, Bungie had to adjust variables like turn speed and gun recoil – but not to such an extent that it would no longer feel like Destiny.

Destiny 2 mouse and keyboard default control layout

  • F1: Character menu.
  • 1 to 3: Kinetic weapon, energy weapon, and power weapon.
  • Tab: Summon Ghost.
  • Q: Grenade.
  • WASD: movement.
  • E: Melee attack.
  • R: Reload weapon.
  • Shift: Sprint.
  • Ctrl: Crouch/slide.
  • F: Super ability.
  • G: Interact.
  • X: Phoenix dive (Warlock Dawnblade).
  • C: Highlight player.
  • V: Class ability.
  • Space: Jump.
  • Arrow keys: Emotes.
  • Left Mouse: Fire.
  • Right mouse: Aim.
  • Mouse wheel: Switch weapons.

Coming exclusively to Battle.net

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The most controversial aspect of Destiny 2 on PC is how it will be sold. Destiny 2 will be exclusive to Battle.net, Blizzard's online storefront and gaming platform. The reason for the controversy is this exclusivity will prevent Destiny 2 from being sold on Steam, the most popular PC game storefront. That means it won't be sold on the Windows 10 Store, either.

This carries one significant advantage for Activision, in that it won't have to share profits with an outside party. Valve typically takes about 30 percent from each Steam sale, so there's definitely a potential for Battle.net exclusivity to increase Destiny 2's profitability on PC.

The downside for consumers is that most PC gamers genuinely prefer to buy their games on Steam. Keeping all of your PC games in one place, tied to one account has long been a major selling point for Steam.

Additionally, most of us already have Steam friends lists that facilitate easy communication and gameplay between friends. Tying the game to Battle.net instead of Steam means we'll have to add our fellow Destiny 2-playing friends all over again and miss out on Steam's built-in cross-game chat.

Still, Destiny 2 will be exclusive to Battle.net on PC, and that's that. If you really want to play the game, you'll buy it regardless of the digital storefront. Destiny 2 is going to be a huge game with a long lifespan, and this time, PC gamers won't have to miss out on it. On the whole, that's good news.

Hopefully coming in the not-too-distant future

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One more thing about Destiny 2 on PC: It won't launch alongside the console versions on September 8. The PC version's release date is undecided. Keep in mind, Destiny 2 for PC isn't a port. The core game is being developed independently of platform and then optimized for each individual platform.

That said, PC games require a lot more optimization than console games due to variations in hardware, OSes, and other factors. Destiny 2 is likely to arrive on PC shortly after the console version in 2017, but Activision can't be specific until the game is closer to completion.

All versions of Destiny 2, including PC, will have a beta this summer. To get access to the beta when it arrives, you just need to preorder the game. The PC version will still have a physical version (that will tie into Battle.net), which you can get at Amazon.

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Disclosure: Travel to the Destiny 2 premiere was provided by Activision.

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

23 Comments
  • Very nice, shame that my PC is soooooo trash hahaha D:
  • Q: Grenade.
    G: Interact.
    Something is wrong here...:D
    I hope we're able to remap all of this nonsense.
  • G is a bit odd for an interact button due to the distance from where the index finger would normally be when gaming. Then again, I can't remember how much it is used in Destiny.
  • Very little from memory.
  • I agree the first one was so repetitive that I never purchased an excision pack. I won't get this game. Even if Paul says it's good.
  • Great interview Paul!
  • I'm hearing all the things I like, unlocked framerate, controller support, and more. This is looking like the version I'll get if I pick this game up.
  • Really solid summary of what there is to know now. It will be hard for me to buy this out of the gate considering how much I was burned by pre-ordering the first one (the non-mmo mmo without a story to start). It certainly had some interesting game play but I could never bring myself to buy any of the dlc/expansions.
  • Let's hope battle.net could handle the load from all this player rushing towards D2~
  • I can sense a touch of sarcasm in this post.
  • Glad you asked about lower end PCs, but not happy with the generic answer. Hopefully they can do a lot to reach more players
  • You said that the console version is capped at 30fps including the PS4 Pro. Does that also mean it will be restricted on the Scorpio as well?
  • They haven't confirmed frame rate for the Scorpio version. It's something I worry about as well, as they might limit it to 30 FPS just to maintain parity with the PS4 version. That would suck.
  • I'll be happy with 4k on Scorpio. After playing it in 30fps the last 3 years, I'm not too bent out of shape about it being stuck there on consoles.
  • that would mean bungie is wacked, xb1 and ps4 players won't ever play each other, so no need for parity.
  • No, but original XBOX One/One S players will be playing with Scorpio players, so at the very least in any competitive game modes I would expect them to limit it to similar framerates so there isn't issues with some players having an advantage in controller latency.  Though given PC has varying framerates, resolutions, widescreen vs ultrawide support, FOV differences...I'm not sure why that "even the playing field" mentality exists on console when they are actively adding more imbalance between PC players by giving more control and graphics options lol (which I love, of course, it just seems funny).
  • (double post)
  • Can't bloody wait! As for the Scorpio I'm not sure if they will cap it at thirt