Bungie repeatedly said Destiny 2 is a chance at a fresh start for Guardians on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. One prominent example of this is the various Guardian classes, which have been either replaced or revamped. This includes a complete overhaul of the skill trees used for all classes.
I had the chance to play the new sub-classes at the Destiny 2 gameplay reveal event and speak with World Lead Steve Cotton. While it’s not confirmed there will be three subclasses for each class at launch yet, what is there shows Bungie pushing for more free-roaming super abilities plus the reduction of development headaches.
“Everything is re-imagined at least. And then there’s some brand-new ones. The re-imagined ones are because we had classes that we loved. We still have more stories that we want to tell about them and these re-imagined versions are even better versions,” Cotton told me during our interview.
Indeed, it’s not just the classes that have been re-imagined or replaced, but the entire skill tree setup for each sub-class. The columns of perks are gone and replaced with groups of nodes that branch off the central super ability.
Players will still be able to choose between grenade and melee perks along with the addition of choosing between two variants of class ability. The class abilities are available across all Destiny 2 sub-classes for each class and we’ll get into a deeper dive into each below.
The big change with the skill tree comes with the removal of the armor, agility, and recovery perks. These are now tied to the armor the Guardian is wearing in place of the Intellect, Discipline, and Strength stats. Additionally, players will be able to choose between two sets of four perks.
Bungie’s decision behind this appears to be simplification as the two groups of perks are “two optimal ways to play,” per Project Lead Mark Noseworthy in an IGN Fireteam interview. This is the developer catering to the more casual gamers who did not quite understand how to mix and match the various perks in the skill tree and armor. Additionally, it makes balancing the game easier on Bungie’s dev team. The downside is this potentially limits dedicated players ability to min/max their stats and abilities to their desired playstyle like they could in Destiny 1.
As a whole, the Titan class is being given a new Barricade class ability with two options. The Towering Barricade erects a large barrier “that can be used for cover or to seal off dangerous areas for a short time.” The other ability option is the “Rally Barricade” which constructs a waist high barrier “That allows you to peek over it while aiming down sights and instantly reloads your equipped weapon you take cover.” Both barricades can be destroyed after taking too much damage.
The ability for Titans to “skate” by rapidly tapping the jump button has been nerfed. I could skate a little during my time playing The Inverted Spire strike, but it did not generate the same kind of forward momentum as in Destiny 1.
The Striker Titan subclass was playable at the Destiny 2 gameplay reveal and functions very similar to the sub-class from the original game with the same grenade and jump options. The major difference is the super ability is now the Fists of Havoc, with an emphasis on the plural. The super is capable of multiple slams and multiple shoulder charges when active. Character run speed is also increased.
The area of effect of the Fist of Havoc slams appears to be reduced. Additionally, the Lightning Grenade has a slight delay before starting the pulse of lightnings.
Code of Juggernaut Group Perks
- Knockout — Breaking enemy shields increases your melee range.
- Reversal — Melee kills immediately trigger health regeneration.
- Frontal Assault — A powerful melee punch that grants you increased weapon stability.
- Trample — Fist of Havoc lasts longer while sprinting. Killing enemies with Fist of Havoc extends its duration
Unnamed Group Perks
- Shoulder Charge — After sprinting for a short time press R1 to slam shoulder.
- Aftermath — Fist of Havoc disorients enemies and leaves a damage-dealing field in its wake.
- Magnitude — increased the duration of Pulse/Lightning Grenades and Aftermath.
- Aerial Strike — Fist of Havoc deals more damage the longer it is in the air.
The Sentinel Titan subclass was not playable at the event so not much is known beyond what was shown in the official gameplay premiere. It appears to be a replacement for the Defender subclass and equips the character with a Captain America-like shield which can be used to defend, throw at foes, or used as a battering ram through groups of enemies.
When asked about Bungie giving Titans yet another super power based on Marvel’s Avengers, World Lead Scott Cotton could only give a laughing “no comment.”
The Warlock class had the only playable new subclass during the Destiny 2 reveal. In fact, the Dawnblade is the only subclass shown for the game yet. It’s unknown if the Voidwalker and Stormcaller will return, but Bungie will no longer have to design encounters around the Sunsinger self-resurrection.
The class ability for the Warlock is a choice between Healing Rift and Empowering Rift. The former creates a circle of light that will heal those inside it. The latter will create a circle that “increases the attack power of those inside it.”
The grenade and jumping abilities for the Dawnblade subclass are carried over from the Sunsinger in Destiny 1. The super ability is obviously the major difference as it summons a flaming sword and wings for Guardian. Players can fling flaming blades at enemies like the Titan Sunbreaker.
Meanwhile, the two sets of four perks offer differing abilities, including the ability to float in the air while firing a weapon.
Attunement of Sky Group Perks
- Igniting Touch — A powerful melee ability that ignites enemies and causes them to explode
- Risen Angel –: While in air, aim your weapon to hover in place for a short time. Dealing Precision damage extends this effect’s duration
- Skyfire: While Daybreak is active, Descend causes explosive damage where you land
- Phoenix Dive: Hold O while in-air to quickly Descend and regenerate health
Unnamed Group Perks
- Firestarter — A power melee ability that damages enemies while also increasing your movement and reload speed.
- Wild fire — Engage your enemies mid-flight. Fire weapons and throw grenades while gliding.
- Blazing Dash — Press O, O while midair to Dodge.
- Everlasting Flames — Killing an enemy with Daybreak extends its duration.
Bungie wants Hunters to be the mobile class and so its class abilities are centered around this. The Shadestep ability has been converted into the “Dodge” class ability with two options. The Marksman’s Dodge will automatically reload your equipped weapon while the Gambler’s Dodge will generate Melee energy when dodging near enemies.
The only playable Hunter subclass at the Destiny 2 event was this old favorite. The Golden Gun has been buffed with up to six shots, depending on the set of four perks selected. It’s unclear if each shot does the same or less damage as before.
Once again, the grenade abilities carry over from the original game along with the jump abilities. However, the “Better Control” perk has been renamed to “Strafe Jump,” but has the same descriptor text.
Way of the Outlaw Group Perks
- Bombs for Bullseyes — Precision hits generate Grenade energy.
- Chain of Woe — Precision kills increase weapon reload speed for you and nearby allies.
- Six-Shooter — Golden Gun can be fired quickly up to 6 times but has a shorter duration.
- Explosive Knife — Throw a knife at enemies that explodes shortly after impact when melee energy is full.
Unnamed Group Perks
- Line ‘Em Up — Precision hits with Golden Gun increases its damage and extends its duration
- Crowd Please — Precision hits with Golden Gun generate Orbs of Light for your allies
- Gunslinger’s Trance — Enter a trance with each Precision kill, reducing the cool down of your Golden Gun
- Knife Juggler — Throw a knife at enemies when melee energy is full. A precision kill with this ability immediately recharges it.
Amusingly nicknamed “Pole Dancer” by the Destiny community, this subclass was not playable at the Destiny 2 event. The official gameplay trailer reveals it to be an upgrade over the existing Bladedancer with the Hunter wielding a large staff instead of a pair of knives.
[Featured Image by Bungie/Activision]
[Disclosure: Activision provided travel and hotel accommodations so that I could attend the event.]