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Feature Article

Destiny 2 PC Release: Key Differences - Graphics, Controls, Recoil, And More

Giving PC players the proper Destiny, too.

Bungie partnered with Vicarious Visions to make sure Destiny 2 is specifically tuned for the PC and has the look and feel of a game that's true to the platform. This meant having a seven-week release gap after the console versions, as developers stated that the extra time was spent to get it right. The game is also going to live on Blizzard's Battle.net ecosystem and uses some of its functionality--like the friends list and chat/whisper. But what else separates this version from its console counterparts? And what specific features are offered for PC players?

Control Schemes

Competitive players will no doubt use a keyboard and mouse, but Destiny 2 still has full support for controllers. So, for those more laid-back and less stressful encounters, you can kick back with a controller, if you want, since the game seamlessly transitions between control schemes. The game will switch schemes as soon as it receives input from either one. Unlike keybinds, gamepad button mappings aren't fully customizable, but gamepad control options are the same as seen on consoles.

Recoil Pattern

While we're on the subject of controllers, Bungie and Vicarious Visions stated in a roundtable discussion that the recoil pattern for weapons is different depending on whether or not you're using keyboard and mouse vs controller. For example, an auto rifle will have a scattered recoil pattern when using keyboard and mouse, but the same gun will pull upward as you're firing when using a controller. These patterns immediately switch as soon as the game receives an input from either control scheme.

As the developers stated, it wouldn't be good design if players constantly had to constantly swipe the mouse downward to fight the recoil whereas this is much less of an issue with a controller's analog stick.

Graphics Options Galore (3D Ambient Occlusion, No MSAA)

Destiny 2 got the full PC graphical treatment with plenty of options to choose from. You'll be able to unlock the framerate, so users of high-refresh monitors should be happy. It comes with that coveted FOV slider for wider viewing angles and even accommodates 21:9 displays properly.

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There were three distinct anti-aliasing options in the beta, but the final release has one dropped. The beta had issues with multisample antialiasing (MSAA), and Bungie and Vicarious Visions stated that they couldn't get it working properly. Fast-approximate AA (FXAA) and subpixel morphological AA (SMAA) are the only ones found in the menu. Supersampling is possible through increasing the render resolution; it's visually superior but also taxes performance big time. Check out our explainer if you want to know more about anti-aliasing techniques and how they impact performance,

There's also a never-before-seen ambient occlusion option available. It's simply marked as "3D" in the menu, and this particular implementation here uses proprietary tech that adds more depth to the look of object shadowing than HDAO, and it's similar to techniques like HBAO plus. You can dig deeper into what ambient occlusion does for games in our own explainer video here.

How To Improve FPS

Speaking of performance and framerate, Nvidia did a comprehensive analysis on each graphics option; the visual difference and their effect on FPS. The company used a mid-range rig equipped with a 6GB GTX 1060 video card and an Intel Core i7-6700K CPU at 4.6GHz with a 1080p resolution for a large majority of the performance breakdown, but highlighted a few points if you want to squeeze out more FPS without sacrificing too much visual quality:

  • Turning off "Depth of Field" gave an extra 4 FPS
  • Going from an "FOV" of 105 to 95 saved about 2.4 FPS
  • "Foliage Detail Distance" from High to Medium added 4.1 FPS
  • Using HDAO instead of 3D for "Ambient Occlusion" boosted framerate by 5.4 FPS
  • "Shadow Quality" on High instead of Highest saves about 4.1 FPS
    • Note: using Medium offers a 9.4 FPS boost from Highest
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At the Activision/Bungie preview event for Destiny 2 on PC, GameSpot was able to experience the game in 4K while consistently staying above 60 FPS, even in chaotic Crucible matches. Our graphics settings included SMAA, 16x anisotropic filtering, 3D ambient occlusion, and a mix of medium to max quality settings with FOV set to 105. The system used for the following gameplay video was equipped with an Intel Core i7-7700K CPU and Nvidia's GTX 1080 Ti video card.

Content Rollout Will Sync With Consoles

A big question about the PC version of Destiny 2 is how the rollout of content will be handled on the platform, considering the nearly two-month release gap. The Raid will be available approximately one week after release, giving players time to level and gear up. Over time, the cadence of activities and events will be in sync across all versions. In talking with the developers, it's confirmed that DLC and patches will come out at the same time for each platform.

In addition, the PC version may also receive patches separate from the console version, since it'll likely need attention to platform-specific issues that may arise, like weapon balancing or potential bugs.

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No Cross-Play Or Cross-Save Planned

Bungie and Vicarious confirmed in a roundtable discussion that there aren't any plans to implement cross-play, even for non-competitive situations. PC players will only be able to play with other PC players, and same goes for each console. There also aren't any plans for cross-save functionality, so characters on each version can only be used on that particular platform.

Those are a some of the key differences between the PC and console releases of Destiny 2. If you want to get an idea of how the game is as a whole, check out Kallie Plagge's full Destiny 2 review of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions and stay tuned for her updated review that'll include the PC version. And if you're ready to get started, be sure to read through our wealth of class guides and tips.

Activision hosted and provided accommodations for a preview event for the PC version of Destiny 2 in which GameSpot participated and gathered the information in this article.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com
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    highammichael

    Michael Higham

    Associate Editor at GameSpot. Southeast San Diego to the Bay. I've been gaming since I was five years old, why stop now?
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