Just like in Destiny 2’s predecessor, you play a Guardian that is empowered by the Traveler’s Light. Aside from your character’s gender, you choose between three base classes: Titan, Hunter, and Warlock. The three classes each provide different flavors of both offense and support, so it’s up to you as to what style suits you the best. The Titans are built like linebackers and are designed as a “front line” class. The Hunters are intended to be more agile and sneaky, using in-and-out-like tactics and attacks. The Warlocks’ design focus on a more magical and fantastical set of skills.
Like in Destiny 1, Destiny 2’s classes continue to be a different flavor of more or less the same play style. Don’t get me wrong, the classes are different in both looks and attack style, but no one class is superior to another in any specific category. Each class has 3 subclasses where each of their powers is based on one of the game’s three “element” categories: Arc, Solar, and Void. Each subclass has a special melee, a choice between three grenade types, and a super (attack) that they can trigger once their super meter is full.
New to Destiny 2 is a set of secondary abilities that focus on defense and/or support. The Titan can put up a wall of Light that blocks themselves and teammates from incoming attacks. The Titan can choose between a body sized wall or a waist-high one, allowing them to shoot over cover. Enemies can walk through the wall at the expense of a chunk of health while the wall-erector and teammates can pass through unscathed.
Hunters now have a dodge ability that allows them choose between two dodge styles: a short distance dodge with a fast recovery time and a longer distance dodge (a roll) that takes longer to recover from. The Warlocks can now create a pool that can provide one of two affects. One is a healing pool that slowly regenerates health for the user and their allies. The other provides that same group a minor damage buff. Of course, players of the same team have to stand within the pool in order to reap its benefits.
Another change comes in how each subclass chooses their perks and skillsets. In Destiny 1, the subclasses arranged their perks and skills in columns of three, allowing the player to handpick their favorite features for each column. In Destiny 2, the perk and skill assortment has been pre-arranged into two branches for each class. So, while you can mix and match with your grenade and secondary ability choices, you have to commit to one of two perk branches.
Aside from that, many of the standards that originated the classes in the first Destiny remain, with little tweaks here and there. Titans still have their shoulder charge ability, which is now available across all of its subclasses. Hunters still have their knife toss and smoke grenade abilities depending on the subclass you choose. Warlocks still have their ranged melee attacks, one of their well-known “magical” staples. Destiny 1’s later-added subclasses of Sunbreaker (Titan), NightStalker (Hunter), and Stormcaller (Warlock) each have their tweaks but seem to stay the closest to how they were originally designed.
Of course, with Destiny 2 being a “new” game, you also get new (or newly designed) subclasses and supers. The new subclasses lean mostly towards the same array of skills that the subclasses of the same element had in Destiny 1. The true difference of their names comes in behavior of that element’s super. The Arcstrider is the new Arc-based class of the Hunter, which replaces the Arc Blade with an Arc Staff. Summon the Arc Staff to apply heavy damage with staff swipes and an area of effect smash. The Dawnblade gives the Solar Warlock a sword that can send firey slashes across long distances. Notably, it comes without the self-revive ability that Destiny 1‘s subclass of the same type had.
The Sentinel gives the Void Titan super some new offensive capabilities through its Sentinel Shield. As the Sentinel, perform your best Captain America impression as you block attacks, toss your shield to ricochet off enemies at a distance, or simply whack them when up close. Also, while not necessarily a new class, the super belonging to Arc Titan‘s Striker subclass was also revisited. The once one-and-done Fist of Havoc super is now the Fists of Havoc. Once you perform you initial Fists of Havoc smash, you stay electrified for a limited time, allowing you to perform more ground smashes or shoulder smashes without having to sprint first.
I personally like the overhaul of the class system, which feels like an even playing field across the board. Each class has a multi-shot ranged super, a close quarters super, and an immediate activation super – where the initial attack occurs the moment the super is activated. While the Titans appear to have been given more attention, having two considerable super changes, it wasn’t done in a way that allowed them to feel over powered. Giving the Titan more mobile supers while decreasing the area of effect from Fist of Havoc smashes was a nice touch.
There are some notable nerfs and removals from the various subclasses, which I am finding very agreeable. With the Titan’s Arc and Void classes having mobile close-ranged supers, it’s understandable that the hammer swings has been removed from the Hammer of Sol (Sunbreaker). Self-resurrection is a big removal, taking away that multi-life convenience that Warlocks once had in raids or one-life PVP modes. “Sticky” grenades damage has been reduced, taking away the once guaranteed insta-kill affect it had. This was also true for the Titan’s shoulder charge attacks, which are now available across all of the Titan’s subclasses.
At its base, the class and subclass system in Destiny 2 feels pretty balanced. More importantly, the various subclasses are simply fun, if not more fun than they were in Destiny 1.