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Destiny 2, the follow-up to 2014’s first-person shooter/role-playing hit, released its open beta over the weekend for players around the world to get their hands on the upcoming sequel. The beta’s release was so successful that the developer, Bungie, extended the release an extra two days through Tuesday night.
Game director Luke Smith, who also worked on the original game, spoke about the success of the beta’s launch on a recent episode of the Namek vs. Saiyan podcast, hosted by The Hollywood Reporter‘s Patrick Shanley.
Smith addressed fans’ reactions to the game’s beta launch and also promised (very) big expansions when the full game hits shelves for PlayStation 4, PC and Xbox One on Sept. 6.
“We’re always excited to see reactions to anything we create,” Smith said. “Our fans respond with excitement and areas we can improve and we’re happy to hear it.”
As for the content of the beta, Smith said his team was busy moving beyond it in the final months before full release of the game. “This particular beta is less of a test of our game design because the content is a few months old,” he said. “We’ve been building the rest of the game while we submitted the beta.”
“The beta is an extremely small slice, intentionally so,” Smith continued. “We’re actually keeping a whole bunch of the game secret. We’re not really showing any of our awesome worlds. We’re focusing on one map where our competitive PVP play is. We very intentionally made the beta focus on the technical diligence of a very small slice of content so our players can be surprised and delighted in September [when the full game is released].”
The game, which blends elements of first-person shooters with classic RPG character customization and development, is meant to be enjoyed with other players, Smith said. “So much of Destiny is about being a part of a community. When you’re a part of community that’s discovering this game together, I think that’s an amazing experience for the people who are there.”
As with any sequel, there are bound to be new players unfamiliar with the original picking up the game for the first time, as well as fans of the first game returning and expecting new features. Smith’s team was well aware of this and tried to walk that line between welcoming newcomers and satisfying the expectations of returning players. “That’s a huge opportunity for us,” Smith said. “We want anyone who enjoys a first-person shooter to be able to jump into Destiny. We’d also love to make sure that as you get into the game it’s teaching you how to play. We want to create a game with Destiny 2 that is a world that pulls you in and makes you want to play and finds you people to play with.”
Those who have played the beta undoubtedly came across one particularly challenging sequence in the “Homecoming” story mode at the beginning of the demo: the turbine challenge, in which the player must avoid two spinning turbine blades while dismantling a massive engine. “I was surprised by the turbine, because there’s only one [blade] in the shipping game,” Smith said. “We’ve removed [the second blade] in the shipping game.” He added with a laugh, “I died a couple times, too.”
While the full game will offer many challenges, Smith assured it will also provide growth and assistance for new and veteran players alike. “One of our core philosophies around Destiny 2 has been this phrase: ‘We’re not hiding the fun,'” Smith said. “Anyone can come play and enjoy the game and also learn how to play. This is about a game that brings you back each week.”
One feature that will aid in that regard is a new helpful guide called Milestone. “Milestone is the way that players learn to play Destiny,” explained Smith. “It’s our way of saying if you want to know what to do next in the game you can press one button on the controller and the game will show you what the next best thing for you to do is.”
Smith also promised a rehauled story for Destiny 2, something he seemed excited about. “We’re trying to focus on worlds you want to be a part of and characters that you can’t wait to hear from, or characters who create an emotional response. We have characters who are very polarizing.”
Listen to Smith’s interview in full at the 24:10 of the podcast below.
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