The Destiny franchise started out as a console-exclusive series, but since Destiny 2‘s release on PC in 2017, there’s been no question about where the best place to play is. PC might still reign supreme if you have high-end hardware, but with the next-gen update now available on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S, it’s not such a no-brainer anymore.
To put it simply, the new update is revelatory for console players. Based on the several hours I’ve spent with the new Xbox Series X-enhanced version so far, it’s finally possible to enjoy the benefits formerly reserved for PC, and the results are stark.
I played Destiny 2 on Xbox One and One X for years, ignoring the PC version until cross-save support finally allowed me to finally bring my progress with me. The benefits were massive in two specific areas: the increase in frame rate (Destiny 2 on consoles has, until now, been locked to 30fps) and the reduction in load times (which were agonizingly long). The contrast in performance between a decent PC and Xbox One was so extreme that, after playing for hours on PC and then jumping back to Xbox, I would be convinced something was actually broken and that my system needed to be restarted or a game update was needed. This happened multiple times, with each instance evoking a no, I know it ultimately wasn’t broken last time, but something is clearly off this time. And those long waits to move from location to location led to more doomscrolling than my brain could handle, something there just isn’t time for when playing on PC.
Now, those issues are a thing of the past on Xbox Series X. Load times had already been improved quite a bit just by playing the backwards-compatible version of Destiny 2, but with this update, jumping around the solar system is no longer a hassle. Head to Europa but realize you forgot to pick up bounties or cash in an engram? No big deal–you’re not signing up for several minutes of load times as you head into the Tower and then back to where you were.
Read our Destiny 2: Beyond Light review
Jumping between planets took around 30 seconds for me, and opening the game and selecting a character is also much faster. Combined with getting to the Tower more quickly, that means picking up the game for the first time each day doesn’t involve wasting 7-8 minutes before you can even begin playing an activity.
But these benefits extend beyond moving from one location to another. Opening your inventory, looking through your gear, previewing shaders (even while loading!)–it’s all much snappier and feels less like you’re wading through molasses to do what you want.
And that stuff you want to play is better than ever thanks to the boost in frame rate. The lack of a 60fps option on Xbox One X and PS4 Pro was frustrating–the 4K and HDR support made for a terrific-looking game on the upgraded consoles, but the action itself never felt as good as it could have been. I would have traded resolution for frame rate in the blink of an eye, but thanks to the next-gen hardware, that trade-off isn’t necessary, as you get 4K and 60fps on Series X and PS5 (or 1080p on Series S).
Destiny 2’s image quality still looks spectacular to my eye on Series X, but with the benefit of far smoother motion. That makes combat–already the best in any first-person shooter for my money–and any moment of navigating the world or looking at anything in motion feel much better and more natural. For those playing on a 120hz display, you also get the benefit of 120fps support in Crucible (make sure to enable it first in the Video area of the Settings menu). This lends an even greater level of fluidity to the action without resulting in a terribly noticeable hit to the graphics; the PvP nature of combat means you’ll be more concerned with getting shot than any decrease in image quality. It’s a welcome option that I plan to keep enabled, though this is one particular benefit that will be of no use for many players until they opt to upgrade their TVs.
Destiny 2 FOV set to max (left) and the default (right)
The last notable addition is the field-of-view slider, bringing an option to consoles that is typically reserved for PC players. With it, you can effectively extend the amount of peripheral vision you have, allowing you to see more on screen at a time, albeit at the expense of making what’s in front of you appear somewhat smaller. Increasing it from the default of 75 to the maximum of 105 is a strange experience at first, akin to feeling like you’re taking the blinders off or looking through a fishbowl. But it’s a quick adjustment and I appreciated having a greater view of what is around me, making it another option that I’m glad is present. And it is just that–an option, meaning you can stick with the default experience if that’s what you prefer.
But whereas FOV is more of a matter of taste, it’s hard to imagine anyone taking issue with the other enhancements delivered in update 3.0.1. This is a transformative improvement for Destiny 2 on consoles, and one that will make it impossible for me to ever go back.
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