This included "The Inverted Spire," a cooperative Strike for three players, and the new PvP mode, called "Countdown." We played both multiplayer modes at the event and found that one of them really shows off how special Destiny 2 is going to be.
Strikes are Destiny's equivalent of the instanced dungeons in an MMO. Three players can join up and work together to complete a Strike, potentially finding gear that can't be acquired any other way. These typically take 20 to 45 minutes to complete. Both of my runs through the Inverted Spire (I played both the PC and PlayStation 4 versions) clocked in right around 20 minutes.
The Inverted Spire takes place on Nessus, one of Destiny 2's new planets. Nessus contains both temperate and arid regions, milk waterfalls (whatever that means), ancient ruins, and machinery built by the Vex. Although the Vex have already claimed the planet, the Red Legion is fighting them for some unknown purpose. Our team of Guardians must contend with both of them throughout the Strike.
As the level begins, our AI companion Failsafe instructs us to investigate a series of seismic disruptions. Could the Cabal be responsible for them, or someone else? We cross a stretch of gray ground dotted with red vegetation and soon encounter two forces locked in battle. One group consists of Legionaries, the other robotic Goblins and a Minotaur. Although the two groups of foes are at odds, they'll still stop to fight our Guardians – a scenario that plays out several times during the Strike.
After eliminating this first batch of enemies, we access a machine called the Conflux before moving on. The path forward involves perilous jumps across elevated stone structures. Missing one of these jumps will result in death, but they're not too tough for our Guardians. We also jump through a few circular jump-gates that hurl us forward on our journey towards a group of subterranean ruins.
Upon reaching the ruins, we follow the dark path towards a huge vertical strip of light. This area is called The Anchor, a Darkness Zone. There we find more enemies squabbling with each other, including Scions who snipe at us from afar and energy shield-carrying Phalanxes.
During my second run through the Strike, I miss a jump and fall into a lower area away from my teammates. There I take out a couple of flamethrower-wielding Incendiors (one of Destiny 2's new enemies) before falling prey to a Phalanx. The experience emphasizes the need for cooperation, as going out on your own makes you rather vulnerable.
Thankfully, my team eventually finds and revives me. Next we move on to the Legion Dig Site, another Darkness Zone. This involves descending a series of massive stone structures while battling Vex sentries – always a good time. Past the Dig Site, we approach the Drilling Site. The area leading up to it is covered with craters, fire, and more enemies fighting.
A Red Legion force mans the Drill Site. We must eliminate a pair of officers, both heavily-armored Centurions, before heading towards the Vex energy source we seek. From an immensely tall machine platform, we're forced to battle hordes of attackers while waiting for the platform's transit system to reset itself. Some of these attackers include cleaver-wielding Centurions (a new Destiny 2 enemy) and vicious doglike War Beasts.
Eventually the jump-gate comes online and sends us towards an enormous drilling machine. The cylindrical machine has several huge arms equipped with buzzsaw-like drills that rotate around the area, chipping away at rocks and anything else in their path. Our path takes us around the edge of the drill's reach, forcing us to move to avoid whirling death.
After evading the drills and defeating a few Red Legion unfriendlies, we finally reach the hole to the dig site we seek. Inside the rock face, the walls are composed entirely of machinery and metal. This is the Inverted Spire itself, a subterranean tower seemingly built long before the Vex or Red Legion arrived on Nessus.
Inside, we fend off a few Harpies, floating tentacled baddies, before their reinforcement arrives. Out of nowhere, a towering Vex called the Modular Mind appears from an energy portal. The Modular Mind is the Inverted Spire boss, a two-story tall robot that resembles a cross between Megatron and Soundwave from the Transformers.
As we hide behind pillars to dodge the Modular Mind's purple energy blasts, we slowly wear away at the robot's health. Eventually the floor disappears, dropping us down another level in the spire. The boss reappears in the center of the platform, now rapid-firing blue pulse shots and pounding the ground with its other arm when we get too close. More Vex troops – Hobgoblins this time – join in the fray as well.
The floor disappears one last time, and we fall down to the final area of the level. The platform is surrounded on all sides by glowing liquid that drains a Guardian's life on contact. That means trouble, because the Modular Mind has a Force Push-style attack that flings everyone away from him. Both of his arms fire rapid blasts now, and enemies continually crawl up from the poisoned waters around us.
Once we finally defeat the Modular Mind, Failsafe explains what the Cabal and Red Legion had been up to. As is traditional among Destiny players, the team performs and dances until the level ends.
The Inverted Spire is a great new Strike. Nessus is an interesting and varied location, with plenty of terrain types and architecture to experience along the way. The occasional platforming bits keep things fresh and varied, and the gunplay and enemies are as strong as ever. The actual boss is too bullet spongey for my tastes, but that's MMO-style games for you. If you enjoy teaming up with friends in the original game, this new strike is definitely something to look forward to.
The Crucible, Destiny's player-versus-player component, returns with a few modifications in Destiny 2. Most significantly, the two competing teams now consist of four players each rather than six. The benefits of this change seem to be that games can start faster since they need fewer people, and maps can be smaller (and thus require fewer development resources). For players, the experience isn't too different since the new maps are designed to get everyone into the fight quickly.
Countdown is a brand new competitive mode in which one team must defend strategic points while the other team tries to plant explosive charges on them. Once a charge has been planted, the defenders have only a short time to defuse them before the round ends in favor of the attackers. Downed players can come back to life in Countdown games, but only if a live teammate revives them. If every member of either team gets killed off, the other side automatically wins.
My main takeaway from Countdown is the rounds are super fast. An individual round has a two-minute time limit, but it's not unusual for the round to end sooner because the offense successfully plants a charge or a team gets killed off. Games last for several rounds, but the whole thing probably lasts for fifteen minutes at most.
The Crucible will offer other competitive game types that we didn't get to sample at the Destiny 2 premiere. In my experience, it's a serviceable and surprisingly fast mode that should appeal to the established Destiny PvP crowd. Competitive multiplayer isn't really Destiny's strength, though.
There are so many games with a greater competitive focus, such as Overwatch and Activision's own Call of Duty. It's tough to compete against that. But a cooperative game that lets you take a break for some competition is still a good thing, so hopefully Destiny 2's other PvP modes will turn out strong as well.
Destiny 2 is coming to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on September 8, and PC at a later date. It will cost $59.99. We've already shared detailed impressions of the new campaign, and we'll have more from the Destiny 2 premiere soon!
Disclosure: Travel to the Destiny 2 premiere was provided by Activision.