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  • Daniel James

Shooters to Prep for Destiny 2

You’ve got just under a month until Destiny 2 rolls out. It’s been a while since you played the Crucible and your Destiny skills just aren’t up to par. So where to start?

The obvious place to start would be Destiny. While a sequel, Destiny 2 is still fundamentally a Destiny game. You’ll be rocking the same classes, with similar abilities and familiar types of weapons. That said, Destiny 2 is also much different from its predecessors. With new tactical abilities, a new weapon system and a more competitive focus, the game will certainly frustrate players expecting more of the same.

So, what exactly changed? Destiny 2 has an increased focus on precision and headshot damage. Aim assist and bullet magnetism have been drastically reduced as well. Bungie is ramping up the skill curve to support long-term competitive play. This is no reason for casual players to fear, though, as the game feels excellent to use and should be easy to pick up.

Where to start? While Destiny 2 represents the future of the franchises, its changes recall two much, much older games: Counter Strike and Halo. Both games are easy (and cheap) to pick up and feature challenging skill curves. Between these two games, you’ll be able to prepare for what’s to come. Long-time Bungie fans will certainly enter with a leg up.

I’d encourage players to pick up the following: Counter Strike: Global Offensive (PC), Halo: The Master Chief Collection (Xbox One) and Halo 5/Halo Forge (Xbox One/PC). While I’ll be playing Destiny 2 on PS4 myself, I’d encourage PS4 players to find a PC or Mac to play CS:GO, at least. It’s not very graphically demanding and I’ve gotten it running very smoothly on both my 2013 MacBook Pro and Surface Pro 4.

Counter Strike: Global Offensive

Counter Strike is a game of movement, map awareness and precision. The game ostensibly revolves around the “bomb or defuse” objectives, but don’t be fooled: it’s an objective game mode in the loosest sense of the word. It’s an excellent team game for a different reason.

The game itself revolves around its tense gunfighting. You’ll defend or attack an objective, sure, but it’s the gunfighters that wins the game. This is abstractly true of most shooters, but none more than Counter Strike.

As a player, you’re either defending your zone, or on the attack. In CS:GO, you’ll learn when to attack, and when to flee. If you haven’t seen True Vanguard’s incredible videos on this calculus in Destiny, you’ll learn it quickly enough here. A bad push, an incorrect peek or an overzealous charge can result in instant death.

In the minimalist, labyrinthian arenas of Counter Strike, every death is felt immediately. New routes open, each player finding a new position to defend the objective—or claim it. All the while, speculating the enemy’s movements while plotting their own, fully aware that a false move will result in instant death.

CS: GO is the gaming’s premiere shooter for a reason. The map awareness, gunfighting skills and movement strategy are skills that easily translate into success in other shooters. It’s an infinitely playable game that serves as both a beginner’s guide for the new, and a proving ground for the genre’s best.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

This is a more obvious pick, for an obvious reason: Bungie invented the modern console shooter with these games. But with decades of newer, more advanced games, why the MCC? These games maintain a level of gunfighting and strategic purity that have yet to be replicated on console, even by Bungie themselves.

Like Counter Strike, Halo is incredibly gunfight oriented compared to its later competitors like Call of Duty or Battlefield. It’s also much more precise. I’d recommend players load the Team Slayer or SWAT playlists. Most of you have likely played Team Slayer (Edit: If you were a console gamer at all between 2001-2011, you’ve almost certainly played Slayer). And if you have, good on you: collect $200 and go to SWAT.

SWAT, if you’re unfamiliar, is a Slayer mode where headshots are an instant kill. Every movement, every shot, every jump, and every crouch, is critical. It’s a beautiful game of dancing between the maps’ intimate, inimitable geometry while weaving your reticle to connect headshots. It remains the premiere test of skill among console shooters.

But more importantly, these games function much like Destiny 2 do, albeit in different ways. Of the original trilogy, I favor 2—the smaller, symmetrical maps and powerful short-range weapons feel more rewarding. But to prepare for Destiny 2, take some time to load a Halo 3 playlist. Halo Reach in backwards compatibility will work just as well.

Halo 3 and Reach feature much larger maps, permeated by long hallways, wide courtyards and extensive examples of verticality. These longer-range gunfights closely resemble the ones I engaged in with Destiny 2. With increased accuracy, higher headshot damage and longer range battles, Halo 3 and Reach deliver a similar experience. It’s worth noting that these were Bungie’s last two games before Destiny.

Further, there’s equipment and Spartan Abilities, whose use on Halo’s battlefields resembles the tactical abilities in Destiny 2. They’re largely shielding or mobilization abilities that aid players in disengaging from combat or defending a position. At first I was skeptical of the comparison between the two.

But after IGN’s PVP reveals showed them in action, I find that they’re adequately compared. The actual flow of gameplay and immediate tactics in reaction to them are quite similar. Learn to navigate the games of bubble shields, armor locks and grav lifts in Halo and you’ll begin to crack the mindset that will let you effectively use tactical abilities in Destiny 2.

Halo 5

This is a controversial opinion. While Halo 5’s story is pretty bad, Destiny’s story is so much worse that I’ve lost my “Ahh, Bungie never woulda…” schtick I ran with during Halo 4. For those who don’t recall—or have forcibly expunged that slimy disaster from mind—Halo’s first post-Bungie game features the series’ worst multiplayer experience. Conversely, it's a pleasant surprise that Halo 5’s multiplayer is easily one of the series' best multiplayer experiences.

I’m going to stick my hand up and say it: Halo 5’s multiplayer is one of the best in the series, only surpassed by Halo 2. I also find it to be the best console shooter of the current console generation. While I find Destiny’s more fun, truth be told, Halo 5’s multiplayer is gloriously smooth, challenging and rewarding in a way that Destiny’s more accessible combat just isn’t designed to be. As PC Gamer said best, “The pistol is the weapon of the gods, and I am not worthy.” Nothing beats the crisp “pop” that Halo rewards headshots with.

In fact, Halo 5 and Destiny are the only two games I play on my Xbox One. All third-party games go to my PC, and Sony’s exclusives keep me busy on my PS4. I just can’t say the same for Xbox. What few exclusives there are can, are and will be, played on my PC. But Halo 5 makes the Xbox One worth owning. Even as Halo 5’s multiplayer was made available for free on Windows 10 as ‘Halo: Forge,’ I still come back to the tried-and-true console version on a weekly basis.

I’ve never had a death I didn’t deserve and I’ve never had a kill I didn’t work for. That’s a level of balance I didn’t see in Destiny, but I see as possible in Destiny 2.’

I’d encourage players to put serious time into Halo 5. The reliance on precision and movement is something that most AAA shooters have eschewed as of late. I’d go so far as to say, Destiny 2 feels as much like Halo 5 as it does its predecessor. Halo 5 represents Halo moving into the future; Destiny 2 is, in some ways, a reach back into Bungie’s past. It’s no surprise, then, that the two games feel similar.

Those are my personal picks for preparing for Destiny 2. I’m sure you have plenty of your own. Drop your favorite non-Destiny shooters in the comments. For many of us, these are the last few weeks of not playing Destiny non-stop.