PC gamers weren't happy when Bungie's Luke Smith confirmed Destiny 2 on PC won't have dedicated servers, but that's actually half of the story. The studio chimes in to explain how Destiny 2's online networking works on PC.
According to Bungie's Matt Segur, Engineering Lead on Destiny 2, the PC version of the upcoming shooter actually has a "unique networking model" that's a hybrid of P2P and client-based servers. "We've seen a lot of people asking about how the networking model works for Destiny 2. Many are concerned by our announcement last week that Destiny 2 doesn't have dedicated servers. While that's useful shorthand, the full answer is more complex because Destiny has a unique networking model."
Remember that while Destiny 2 will use Blizzard's Battle.net client to handle the game's registration and social features, the game's PC servers will be hosted and run by Bungie themselves. In fact, Segur says that Bungie and Activision are investing in new server infrastructures such as cloud servers to build "unique technology" to host Destiny 2.
Check below for the full Q&A session with Segur, and before you ask, no Bungie still doesn't have a release date for Destiny 2 on PC. The PC version is delayed to ensure the game fulfills all of Bungie's promises, which include an uncapped frame rate, 4K 60FPS+ support with GTX 1080 Ti graphics cards, 21:9 resolution support, and FOV sliders.
Bungie affirms the PC version of Destiny 2 "wont feel like a port" and will instead feel like a game authentically made for the PC.
So why no dedicated servers?
Matt: Every activity in Destiny 2 is hosted by one of our servers. That means you will never again suffer a host migration during your Raid attempt or Trials match. This differs from Destiny 1, where these hosting duties were performed by player consoles and only script and mission logic ran in the data center. To understand the foundation on which we're building, check out this Destiny 1 presentation from GDC. Using the terms from this talk, in Destiny 2, both the Mission Host and Physics Host will run in our data centers.
Wait, so we do have dedicated servers?
Matt: We don't use that term, because in the gaming community, "dedicated servers" refers to pure client-server networking models. Destiny 2 uses a hybrid of client-server and peer-to-peer technology, just like Destiny 1. The server is authoritative over how the game progresses, and each player is authoritative over their own movement and abilities. This allows us to give players the feeling of immediacy in all their moving and shooting - no matter where they live and no matter whom they choose to play with.
Why peer-to-peer? Are we trying to save money?
Matt: Nope! We've invested heavily in new server infrastructure for Destiny 2, including using cloud servers for gameplay for the first time. We really believe this is the best model for all of Destiny 2's varied cooperative and competitive experiences. Engineering will always involve tradeoffs and cost-benefit analysis, but as a team we've got no regrets about the unique technology we've built for Destiny 2.
With Destiny 2 coming out on PC, does peer-to-peer networking put players at risk of being cheated?
Matt: The PC platform poses unique security challenges for Destiny 2, but our security Ninjas have spent several years building a plan for how to engage with this new and vibrant community. We have a variety of top-secret strategies to ensure that the life of a cheater in Destiny 2 PC will be nasty, brutish, and short. And, regardless of what platform you play on, all changes to your persistent character are communicated directly to our secure data center with no peer-to-peer interference.
Does this mean I'll never see a player warp around the map or shoot me through a wall again?
Matt: We think those controller-throwing lag-induced moments will be reduced for Destiny 2, but we can't promise they'll be eliminated. Fundamentally, we are trying to strike a balance between three hard problems: (1) make the game feel responsive, (2) make the game accessible to players all over the world, and (3) make the game fair for all. We'll continue to refine that balance as players engage with the Crucible in Destiny 2.
So what can we expect at launch?
Matt: We have a Beta coming up this summer that will be the first chance for players to get their hands-on Destiny 2 and kick the tires on its networking. We have spent a bunch of time working on matchmaking, latency, and responsiveness, and we feel pretty good about it. As with everything we do, we'll be monitoring the situation after launch and reacting to the community's feedback.