Bungie’s Destiny has been a runaway success for the developer and Activision. After hyping up the sequel for a number of months, Destiny 2 is finally here on consoles. We recently got our hands on all three console versions, namely the PS4, Xbox One and PS4 Pro builds. The original Destiny was a cross generation release which meant that Bungie never really got the opportunity to fully utilize the potential of current gen consoles. And although later expansion packs like Rise of Iron were only available on current gen consoles, the game as a whole didn’t really pushed the PS4 and Xbox One to their limits.
However, with Destiny 2, Bungie’s next big shooter is a current gen exclusive and the effects of that are quite visible. The very first thing that you will observe as soon as you put your first few steps in the world of Destiny 2, is the extremely beautiful art style and color palette. Yes, Destiny 2 looks far more attractive and intriguing than its predecessor thanks to its different but familiar art style from the original. But perhaps what shines through the most is the game’s lighting effects. It’s simply wonderful.
Using a mix of global illumination and physical based rendering, Destiny 2 has plenty of dynamic lighting effects, various alpha and volumetric effects along with a physics based particles system. This along with modern graphical methodologies such as post processing, motion blur, depth of field and intricately design enemy animations along with high resolution textures (specially on the PS4 Pro) really brings the whole game together.
Destiny 2 also uses a ton of screen space reflection effects coupled with weather effect such as rain. As mentioned before, everything is PBR supported so every light source has a different effect on each material and the way they react to it. It really is a gorgeous looking game overall.
In hindsight, Bungie did a great job of supporting 4 different platforms with the original Destiny, and they did an even better job by achieving parity between the PS4 and Xbox One versions. The original Destiny ran at a native 1080p resolution on the PS4 and Xbox One with a target frame rate of 30 frames per second. And it seems like Bungie have achieved almost identical results on both consoles in the case of Destiny 2. The PS4 version of the sequel runs at a native 1920 X 1080 resolution, however the Xbox One version seems to have a bit of a soft look at times which possibly indicates that a dynamic resolution might be in place. However, both versions are a 1 to 1 match with barely any differences in terms of core texture quality, texture filtering and draw distances. Both versions run at a steady 30 frames per second and we observed no drops during our playthrough.
However, the most impactful benefit to image quality, as expected comes on the PlayStation 4 Pro version. Destiny 2 achieves 4K resolution on the Pro, however it’s not native 4K. The game runs in checkerboard 4K and this can be clearly concluded by observing the artifacts of several objects and materials. But really, you need to zoom in to actually see this kind of details.
Furthermore, much has been said about the lack of 60fps on the PS4 Pro. The Pro version doesn’t provide a special 60 frames per second mode. This may sound disappointing to fans but there is a genuine reason why Destiny 2 can’t hit 60fps on the PS4 Pro. And the answer is pretty simple. The CPU. Let’s be honest, the CPU in the PS4 Pro is minor upgrade over the found in the base version which itself was pretty archaic to begin with. Expecting this level of image quality with all the physics based particle effects, complex post processing and a 1080p resolution along with a 60fps option is simply too much for the PS4 Pro to handle. We need to realize the fact that the PS4 Pro is a half-step up from the base PS4 and is not a true next-gen console. If Bungie really wanted to achieve a 60fps they would have to implement a dynamic resolution buffer which will scale accordingly so that 60 fps can be maintained. Games like Titanfall 2 actually went below HD resolutions to achieve the 60fps cap but we don’t think Bungie wanted to compromise on image quality and visual effects as they form a huge part of the experience.
But let’s be fair, the PS4 Pro version of Destiny 2 does achieve what it sets out to do. A checkerboard 4K image quality, a steady frame rate of 30 along with improved shadow effects, draw distances and texture quality and other minor improvements highlight the PS4 Pro build. It doesn’t sound like a ton of improvement compared to the base PS4 version, but a game that is so heavily CPU based as Destiny 2, this in a way is a pretty remarkable achievement.
Destiny 2 looks great on all platforms but there is one issue we wanted to point out. It seems that objects distant in an area and not in the immediate vicinity of the player are rendered in lower resolution. Jaggies are apparent on distance objects such as fences. This is much reduced on the PS4 Pro build but they are quite noticeable on the PS4 and Xbox One. We think that Destiny 2 may possibly be using a resolution reconstruction technique for far away objects in order to maintain a higher overall resolution, similar to what Quantum Break did on the Xbox One. However, this particular issue isn’t a deal breaker by any means and it won’t impact the experience, at least in our case it didn’t.
In the end, whatever platform you play Destiny 2 on, Bungie has delivered. In many ways Destiny 2 acts as a benchmark tool for each console’s potential from a technical perspective. It will be interesting to see how Destiny 2 performs on the PC next month and then later on the Xbox One X.