A lot has changed for Destiny 2 in the three years since release. After launching as a full-priced product, it decided to take the free-to-play route in late 2019. After teaming up with Activision to bring both the original game and this sequel to market, Bungie cut ties with the publisher to do it alone. And after expanding the base game with two big pieces of DLC, a lot of content was recently removed so the developer can better handle and manage the experience. The popular looter shooter finds itself in an interesting position then as the PlayStation 5 version arrives — a significant update designed to enhance the game for those already playing rather than attract new players. This is the best Destiny 2 has ever looked and ran on consoles to date.
While PC players have been enjoying Bungie's Halo follow-up at 60 frames-per-second for years, the same cannot be said of those on PlayStation 4 or even PS4 Pro. Last-gen systems were always capped at 30, creating a drastic difference between versions. That all disappears on PS5, however, as Sony diehards are finally given the chance to see what they've been missing out on. And it's a bit of a revelation.
Destiny 2 has always felt great to play, with a copious amount of mobility options and fantastic gunplay. The PS5 version takes those mechanics to the next level as 60 frames-per-second makes for a smoother overall experience both in terms of how your controller inputs are reflected on-screen and your reaction times to those very enemies demanding a press of the R2 button. Combined with the slightly larger PS5 DualSense controller in your hands, it feels divine.
That applies to all PvE content in the game, where you and a bunch of friends can team up and take on the armies of Darkness. With the recent release of Destiny 2: Beyond Light, a lot of new missions, quests, and destinations allow you to do just that should you wish to invest some cash. The free experience will introduce you to the world and its lore, but the good stuff still requires a purchase. In that sense, it's not a particularly great free-to-play offering.
We're not done discussing frame rates though because Bungie has gone the extra mile to implement an optional 120 frames-per-second mode during PvP multiplayer matches. While only compatible with the best 4K TVs on the market, it provides a noticeable advantage over those competing at lower frame rates. Your reactions will be quicker, you'll spot enemies in the distance faster, and navigation of each map feels more fluid with gunplay that only gets better. Considering the game still matchmakes you against players on PS4, it almost feels unfair at times. The trade-off is a significant hit to visuals, to the point where it looks worse than what a base PS4 can produce. Of course, reaching such a high frame rate must be taxing on the hardware, but there is a very noticeable drop in graphical quality. It's up to you decide whether that's worth the slight tactical advantage.
In the usual 60 frames-per-second mode though, Destiny 2 takes advantage of the PS5 to deliver better lighting, draw distances, and more detailed models at 4K. It's a significant improvement over what PlayStation players are used to and makes for a next-gen showpiece alongside Demon's Souls. Never has loading into the Tower been so impressive.
Better yet, you'll actually get there faster than ever. Load times have been significantly reduced across the board, ensuring less time is spent waiting in orbit or travelling to a planet as assets and environments are put together. The PS5 SSD is to thank for that. No longer is there a delay between pressing the Options button and your inventory and loadout appearing — a real frustration the community has put up with for years in the heat of battle. If the frame rate boost isn't considered the best thing about Destiny 2 on PS5, the speedy load times most certainly are.
But then that's about as far as Bungie goes supporting the next-gen console, with no room whatsoever for Activity Cards or DualSense controller implementation. The adaptive triggers feel exactly the same as the PS4 DualShock's counterpart and we've only got standard rumble to play around with. Disappointing omissions indeed — the ability to load straight into a Crucible match or the Tower from the PS5 home screen would have been a real gamechanger.
It's a solid update then all things considered, but the best and worst thing about this next-gen version is that it is still very much Destiny 2. Its hardcore community is very much established and those potentially interested in giving the looter shooter a shot have most likely already done so. This PS5 version does absolutely nothing to change that — it’s simply a prettier and better running version. Clans committed to chasing the maximum Power level and mastering Raid encounters can continue doing so while newcomers find themselves overwhelmed with systems, mechanics, and levels as soon as they boot the game up. Fixing that particular issue was never the main objective of a PS5 version, but as we kick start a new generation, it's tough to avoid just how impenetrable Destiny 2 can be.
The PS5 version of Destiny 2 caters entirely to its committed community with a smooth 60 frames-per-second that accentuates its tremendous gunplay, taking it to new heights for console players. Further perks include another frame rate mode in the triple figures and dramatically shorter load times to ensure the action comes quicker than ever. While new players will continue to be overwhelmed by almost everything it has to offer, Destiny 2 in the next generation is a crowd-pleaser for those already playing — a fanbase that has learned to both love and loathe the experience at the very same time.