Strikes are returning in Destiny 2, and we got a chance to go hands-on with the Inverted Spire strike at Bungie's gameplay reveal this past Thursday. I also had the opportunity to ask the World Lead Steve Cotton about the studio's approach to strikes for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC sequel.
The Inverted Spire strike presented at the Destiny 2 event is the first of what Bungie promises to be a "ton of strikes" in the sequel. Like much of the game, it builds on the lessons the developers learned from what was originally offered in Destiny 1 and the many expansions, as Steve Cotton explains.
"Strikes are very similar to what they were in Destiny 1 in terms of they are really cooperative experiences that take 20 to 25 minutes," Cotton told me when asked if there are going to be any differences with the new strikes." The strikes in Destiny 2, there's a little more too them. There's a little more about the environment that plays into it. The bosses are a little more tiered, there's more variety. Every time you play it, it's not going be the same. We've had to evolve it, but basically it is mechanically the same."
Nessus is the setting for the Inverted Spire strike. It is one of the four new destinations in Destiny 2 and is a planetoid turned into a Vex machine world. The Cabal Red Legion are there digging for something and naturally upset something long buried at the bottom. It's up to the Guardians to fight their way through Vex and Cabal before confronting a three-stage Vex boss at the end. Guardians will be advised along the way by a new character named Fail Safe, an AI character that maybe oversees the planetoid.
The first noticeable thing about the Inverted Spire strike is the play space feels much bigger than anything from Destiny 1 in addition to having a mix of combat and platforming elements. It still takes approximately the same amount of time to complete, but Bungie has evolved it to keep Guardians engaged, moving, and challenged while also providing fun moments and cool set pieces.
Playing the Inverted Spire strike Playing on the PlayStation 4 Pro provided excellent scenery. Destiny 2 is running at 4K and 30 frames per second (fps) on the console, though it may not be rendered at 4K as previously mentioned. You can see the visual upgrades with the grass and plant life scattered around Nessus that looks much improved over anything from the original title.
The combat continues the satisfying gunplay from the original. There's no reason to change what works, though Bungie has tweaked Guardians loadouts and abilities. For example, Sniper Rifles now fall in the Heavy Weapon slot.
I played a Striker Titan for this mission equipped with a Sweet Business Exotic Auto Rifle, which felt more like carrying a minigun. I used a Suros GJS-42 Hand Cannon for the Energy Weapon slots and greatly enjoyed the NADDODD-D Grenade Launcher as my Heavy Weapon.
The full gamut of the new Cabal Red Legion enemy units were there to face off against in the strike. Most notably, the War Hounds made their presence known in two of the more interested settings. The first was a large battleground pockmarked with artillery holes. The second was at the dig site itself as massive machinery rotated around the hole. This was one of the more chaotic and comedic areas as many players at the even found themselves dead either from the machinery, the Cabal, or both.
At first glance, the Vex look much like they did in Destiny 1. However, Bungie made a few visual and other tweaks to units. For example, the Fanatics look much creepier and the Harpies will fire a constant laser beam now.
Meanwhile, the Modular Mind boss is still a bullet sponge, but he's an upgrade over many Destiny 1 bosses in a couple of ways. He moves around quite a bit, so he's not a static target players can hang back and shoot with all the other enemies swarming. It feels more like the Shield Bros. and The Wretched Eye strikes, but with a three-stage bonus.
The floor drops underneath players after completing a straight up fight against the Modular Mind in the first stage. The second stage moves to a small circular arena with the boss in the middle. While minions swarm around, the Mind will slam the ground and cause it to burn or send your Guardian flying high in the air. The floor disappears again to take players to the final stage against the Modular Mind with Vex minions, including Fanatics, spawning out of the pools surrounding the arena and charging the player. It's hectic and complicated by the exploding Fanatics leaving damaging pools of goo in their wake.
In all, the Inverted Spire was a promising first taste of the strikes that will be available in Destiny 2. How many there will be total is certainly a question, but I could not get Bungie to talk about the number of missions or strikes that will be available when the game releases September 8 for the PS4 and Xbox One and the PC sometime later.[Featured Image by Bungie/Activision]
[Disclosure: Activision provided travel and hotel accommodations so that I could attend the event.]