Of all the common sense improvements Bungie announced for Destiny 2, a change to the way the first game worked took me by surprise. The Crucible, one of my favorite Destiny modes, has seen its player count reduced from twelve to eight. This is a transition from 6v6 to 4v4 for all modes.
After the gameplay was first shown I found myself perplexed by this decision. I don’t remember the community ever making any particular requests to cut the number of players. One of the reasons I love the mode is that it unmistakably represents Destiny. It’s fast-paced, fast-paced, and full of insane skills popping up from all directions and from multiple players. Surviving and dominating in such a situation is exciting. I couldn’t wait, therefore, to try PvP first hand to understand what impressions it would give me and discuss the decision with Bungie.
The Crucible mode playable at the Bungie event was Countdown. It is a Counter-Strike-style mode in which a bomb must be placed or defused and in which players are either defending or attacking (at the end of the turn they switch roles). The goal is to plant a bomb in the enemy base and then defend it until it explodes. Each round is worth one point and the first team to six wins.
Team play is crucial, just as it was in Destiny 3v3 Trials. The pressure is on not dying because it is necessary to spend a special token to revive a teammate and these are limited to four per round for each team. Heavy weapon ammo is only guaranteed to the player who picks it up, which limits the use of anything that goes from a sniper rifle to a grenade launcher. With these limitations, working as a team is crucial.
I played Countdown in Midtown, an abandoned part of the Citadel.
Countdown feels like a slow mode for several reasons, first of all due to the presence of a small number of players on the map. There is the impression that some of the fast movement options that players had learned to use in the first Destiny, for example “skating” (the process of gaining speed by spamming the jump while falling), have been removed from Destiny 2. In the build I tested I wasn’t even able to find a teleportation skill, perhaps the most useful PvP skill available to the Hunter.
What’s more: I felt that the time it takes to kill an enemy has been increased compared to the first Destiny. I’m not sure if this is due to more powerful shields for the Guardians, their life, less damage from weapons, or a combination of these three factors, but it certainly gave the impression of being a less lethal experience than it did. what I was used to from the first Destiny.
There is certainly a greater tactical element to this Crucible. In the first Destiny you were often destroyed by players doing a surprise super from around a corner. You would have thought there was nothing to be done to win that fight. Each Guardian is now represented by an icon linked to the super at the top of the screen that turns gold when it is available. Also, the build I played with had general cooldowns because Bungie decided to ditch Intellect, Discipline and Strength which affected the time to reload grenades, melee and super attack. The cooldowns, therefore, will be a certain number of seconds regardless of class or equipment. This theoretically makes the fights a little more predictable because you know what skills a player can use.
You are thrown into a battle where it takes longer to kill enemies, a mode designed to promote team play, with fewer opponents, and it’s easy to see why Destiny’s Crucible feels slightly more manageable . Everyone, it seems, has slowed down a bit.
Countdown focuses on placing or defusing bombs. It’s a bit similar to Salvage from the first Destiny but with limited revives.
Ultimately this is exactly what Bungie is aiming for when it decided to upgrade to 4v4 for Destiny 2.
“As we started focusing on it, we felt like 4v4 felt good,” marketing director and sometimes Bungie writer Eric Osborne tells me at the Destiny 2 event. team that is vital to the Crucible. It became really great for players who weren’t playing much at the Crucible or for newcomers who were just starting to play. Basically with Destiny 2 you take, play and learn the fundamentals by understanding this that happens all the time. We think this format best suits a broad spectrum of players ??.
This point is crucial: With Destiny 2, Bungie is hoping for a fresh start for the series. It’s not a reboot but it’s more of a second chance to hit the Destiny experience. Consequently, the developers expect a wave of new players but also to recover those people who have abandoned the first chapter and who will start playing enthusiastically when the title is released in September.
The Crucible, in the first Destiny, ended up being brutal, with veterans dominating thanks to more powerful weapons, equipment and builds, burned in over the last few years of the game. Bungie, without a doubt, sees Destiny 2 as an opportunity to reset the Crucible, offering an experience that players who left the series can immediately understand. The shift towards 4v4 gives the feeling of being an important part of this aspect.
I found the new SMG category to be quite useful in close quarters combat.
The change in the way heavy ammo (now called power ammo) works is a prime example. Ammo powers are now available after 30 seconds and only to the player who collects them. This severely limits the amount of heavy ammo circulating in the course of matches. Linking this to the fact that sniper, fusion, and shotgun rifles are now considered heavy weapons, I expect to see less influence from powerful weapons in most Crucible matches. It will be more focused on skills with weapons such as auto rifles, hand cannons and the new SMGs.
Speaking with Osborne, however, it seems that there is something more behind the decision to go for 4v4. Staying with 4v4 for all modes means that designers can create more sophisticated maps. “We can design maps that specifically focus on 4v4 and create experiences that are perfect,” he says.
“If you’ve played Countdown in Midtown, the map and mode are specifically designed for 4v4 play. We define that set of principles we know, without worrying that the map needs to be designed for ten different modes and squad configurations, so we can take more tactical and relevant decisions “.
Curiously, it seems to me that Bungie has modified the Destiny Crucible to be more like Halo’s old-school competitive multiplayer. Bungie’s halo were slow, with a longer kill time than, say, Call of Duty. Competitive Halo was very focused on knowing where and when the most powerful weapons would appear and I remember spending hundreds of hours in Team Slayer 4v4 at the time, and loving it.
It’s hard to get a valid opinion on 4v4 based on just one hour in the company of Destiny 2’s Crucible (I played on PS4 Pro and PC) and in the early stages of the test it was easy to succumb to the muscle memory built up over hundreds of hours of gameplay with the first Destiny. It all felt quite familiar but I can’t help but regret the loss of the brutal madness that was the Crucible’s trademark. Part of me wants Bungie to allow Destiny to be Destiny when it comes to PvP, for better or for worse.
And while I understand what Bungie is trying to do and why it’s trying to do it, I’m still a bit puzzled by the decision to make 4v4 the only way to play PvP in Destiny 2. Why not drop off a handful of 6v6 modes? Why not add some 8v8 modes? Why not introduce an equivalent to Halo’s magnificent Big Team Battle mode within Destiny? Maybe we’ll see this sort of thing later as part of an expansion, but for now we know what we’ll get when Destiny 2 releases in September: a more thoughtful and easy-to-manage Crucible.