Destiny Alpha

Destiny Alpha

Wow! I mean, um, wow! I wasn’t sure if I was going to like Bungie’s new, highly anticipated game, Destiny, but I really really did.

There are good first person shooters, ones that you like playing and that are fun and replayable and so on. Then there are great first person shooters, ones that draw you in, make you care instantly about your character, that immerse you in a world that doesn’t feel immediately like “oh, this generic set-up again”. The great ones seamlessly integrate you into a world of their creation, where you simultaneously feel overwhelmed and at home.

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This is what Destiny does.

You start by building your character. There are humans, blue skinned Awoken that look like elves, and robots (aka “Exos”). Each race has a bunch of different faces and hair and face paint, so you can have a lot of fun playing around with options, though when you’re on the battlefield your character wears a helmet obscuring your face. This means the only time people will see the cool character you created is when you’re in the Tower (more on that later). You can also pick either a male or female character (meaningful glare at Ubisoft.)

There are three classes for your character: Titan (a heavy with lots of armour and guns), Hunter (a more agile and stealthy fighter), and Warlock (magic user with less focus on heavy weapons). I chose a female warlock as my main character.

After character creation, the alpha version I played dropped me into a war zone. It felt very similar to Halo in many ways, and yet at the same time it was very different. The similarities were obvious: it’s a sci-fi FPS with a similar control layout, the enemies are odd creatures with different abilities and classes.

The differences are far more interesting. The game is always live for a start. Pausing to go to the menu doesn’t halt gameplay, Enemies in particular areas will respawn as well, meaning there’s no such thing as completely clearing out an area. The enemies have classes with different strengths (ie. Vandals are stronger than Dregs) but you can have different levels of each class. This means you could be fighting level 4 Vandals in one area then run into some level 8 Vandals further down the track.

Levelling up seems to be simply experience based rather than for doing any certain set of achievements. The alpha trial started me off at level four which gave me some basic skills. I had warping grenades that wouldn’t just explode but suck foes in, as well as my special power than would flat out disintegrate enemies. My melee attack (once I got to level five) could also vaporise enemies when needed and drain their power to recharge my shields. (Shields are another familiar sight from Halo.) The further you progress the stronger your special abilities get, and the faster they recharge.

Playing as a Warlock was pretty hard. Early on your magic is strong but takes a long time to recharge (once you throw an energy grenade or use your special attack you have to wait for it recharge before you can use it again). This meant the boss of the first level (a Wizard) was super hard to beat the first time through.

There’s a wide range of weapons, though you only really use three at a time: primary, secondary and heavy. You only get heavy after reaching a certain level, and you can mix up long range, short range weapons in the other two slots. Similarly there is a wide range of armour, though some bits, like the Warlock’s bond, clearly did something other than increase your armour, but what exactly wasn’t explained.

This first level was almost a tutorial and was clearly supposed to be part of the story. As I played I saw other players in the game, not many but a few. At first I wasn’t sure what was going on, then I realised I wasn’t alone. How this will work in the final games seems like a mystery. Will your levels be populated with dozens of other Guardians (players) shooting up the Fallen (bad guys)?

If your friends are playing you, can join their Fireteam (a group of players working together), which worked incredibly well when I tried it with two of my friends - one who knew I was joining and another who I jumped in on uninvited (sorry Alan!). There were some issues with sound as my friends could hear me (albeit faintly) and I couldn’t hear them at all.

There are a few different level types (that I saw): Story, Explore, and Strike. Story is self explanatory. Explore levels are big maps with lots of little intricate paths and buildings on them. You may bump into a lot of other players here and lots of respawning Fallen. Scattered around Explore maps are small missions along the lines of “kill a specific number of Fallen” or “Get to this place”. Strikes are one-off missions, with a single goal, that require a team effort.

There is also the Crucible. This is the PvP area for all your capture the flag, deathmatch etc needs. In the alpha there was only the Control map available (control as many of the three zones as you can). It was a good little bit of fun and another chance for me to show off my terrible multiplayer skills. Anything that requires matchmaking, like the Crucible or the Strikes require a Playstation Plus account.

The final area was the Tower. This is a social area where you can go to tool up your character with items, have relics you discover in-game identified and to pick up bounties, challenges and other neat stuff. It felt a little odd doing a bunch of role-playing game stuff in the middle of a first-person shooter.

All of the maps, including the Tower, are gorgeous and have time and weather effects. If you stay in one place long enough you’ll the change from day to night and back again. Even in your ship you can see Earth rotating below you; it’s quite wonderful to watch.

What I found the weirdest was that Destiny has a very solemn vibe to it. This is the last city on Earth, there’s a mystical planetoid hanging over it protecting it, this is humanity's last stand, and yet, in the Tower, a group of Guardians are jumping around kicking about a beach ball (seriously, there was a beach ball.) That is pretty much my only gripe, and it’s not even really a gripe.

Usually when I play a game like this there’s a number of things that I want the creators to do. With Destiny the main thing I want is more. I want to know more and play more and have the opportunity to sit down and explore the world. After the disappointment of Titanfall’s always-online experience, it was nice to play something that did this sort of gameplay very well indeed. Though, admittedly, this was the alpha with very few people playing.

+ Halo, turned up to 11, with wonderful co-op play
- It’s not out yet
"If this is our Destiny, then we can be very pleased"
- Destiny
Follow Own it?


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Comments Comments (21)

Posted by grdwalker
On Tuesday 17 Jun 2014 6:01 PM
so jelly I couldn't play this after all the footage i've seen.
It was very clever of them, reinforced some interest..
Posted by SolomonLaw
On Tuesday 17 Jun 2014 6:21 PM
Still I think I will check out some full game reviews before committing. Some next gen releases haven't hit the heights expected or promised. Still I need a FPS for my ps4 with multiplayer
Posted by atipuss
On Tuesday 17 Jun 2014 7:12 PM
Glad to hear you like it. Cant wait! :)
Posted by Jermachi
On Tuesday 17 Jun 2014 7:55 PM
After watching some E3 coverage I seem to have lost interest in this game. I don't know what is was but it just doesn't gel with me. Maybe once I play the beta it will change my mind.
Posted by stutank
On Tuesday 17 Jun 2014 7:56 PM
So glad I got an xbox 360 earlier this year. This game looks awesome.
Posted by reavers
On Tuesday 17 Jun 2014 9:48 PM
I would love to get my hands on this!
Posted by CloudAxel16
On Tuesday 17 Jun 2014 9:57 PM
I hope they have a open beta on all platforms. I'm not too into multiplayer games so I want to try this out before I buy it. But I still think it looks pretty good.
Posted by scotteffone
On Tuesday 17 Jun 2014 11:53 PM
Sounds interesting - not something I would normally consider but I might just follow this.
Posted by ModifiedSoul
On Wednesday 18 Jun 2014 10:52 AM
BOOOOOOO anyone with Beta codes should of had guaranteed access
Posted by guido
On Wednesday 18 Jun 2014 11:45 AM
Definitely getting hyped again for this game with all the positive feedback from the Alpha. It seems like Bungie are set to do for MMO's in the console space what they did for FPS's with the Halo series with tweaking the formula, honing the interface, inventory management etc. to better suit consoles, gamepads and console gamers.
On Wednesday 18 Jun 2014 11:48 AM
I'm getting so sick of console manufactures getting exclusive access to DLC/betas/timed exclusive content etc. It doesn't make me more likely to buy one over the other, it just makes me irritated when I can't have the full game or I don't notice when I do and someone else doesn't. Can we go back to the days of full games being released either multi-platform or exclusive?
Posted by Bappernz
On Wednesday 18 Jun 2014 3:52 PM
really want tp get my hands on this before i commit to buying it
Posted by thegr8link
On Wednesday 18 Jun 2014 6:09 PM
So glad it's cross platform unlike Halo, will probably wait for this before committing to a next gen console
Posted by RealmEnder
On Wednesday 18 Jun 2014 10:48 PM
I have heard a lot of great feedback about the alpha. Looks like Bungie is onto another winner.
Posted by Brentos14
On Thursday 19 Jun 2014 3:43 PM
this sounds good gonna head over and watch the co op game play see what it looks like and then make my mind up
Posted by Seraphim
On Thursday 19 Jun 2014 5:21 PM
Seen a lot of great gameplay vids so far. Can't for the beta to hit XO.
Posted by jamesg
On Thursday 19 Jun 2014 9:54 PM
As someone that loves Borderlands I can honestly say Destiny has the potential to be far more. It really does feel like a perfect mixture of an MMO and and a FPS.
Posted by SpawnSeekSlay
On Monday 23 Jun 2014 11:15 PM
Had this preordered for way too long. Bring on the beta, and better yet bring on September! And my white PS4 :)
Posted by Ethan527
On Saturday 28 Jun 2014 1:23 PM
might have to check this one out. reminds me of Halo
Posted by THE_BOZBOZ
On Monday 28 Jul 2014 9:14 PM
Looking to join a kiwi clan for Destiny? Join "New Zealand Zeta Nauts". Our clan ID is "NZ".
Posted by Skull_Lad21
On Saturday 8 Nov 2014 4:37 PM
Ok now I really want to play this. I need some Destiny!