So I was way off… and I’m so glad I was.
Believe the hype
I’ll be honest – the only reason I preordered Destiny was because everyone else was doing it. I liked the Halo series, but I didn’t really see where all the hype was coming from. Halo + Borderlands? Meh…
So last Thursday, Bungie released the Destiny PS4 beta, and as soon as I booted it up, any doubt I had was dropkicked and thrown straight out the window. Destiny has me wrapped in grasp and it’s not letting go. Bungie has me dangling from a bridge, and I want more!
What changed my mind? Polish.
Destined for greatness?
Most betas are pretty rough.
We saw Battlefield Hardline about a month ago, which was fun but rough around the edges. Squad join wasn’t working, balance issues abounded, and we saw clipping issues and other things we expected. Not to mention the terrible UI. Pretty par on course for a beta.
Destiny? Slap a gold label on this puppy because this thing plays like a retail game.
As you boot up you’re greeted with a cutscene that sets the stage. A CUTSCENE! In a beta! Are you sure this isn’t a demo?
It’s far in the future, and humanity’s golden age has both come – thanks to a mysterious orb called ‘The Traveler’, and gone – with the arrival of an evil ‘darkness’. You play the role of a guardian, a long-dead and recently re-animated hero, and it’s up to you and your fellow guardians to ensure that humanity survives.
The Halo Effect
So how does it play? Well I hope you’re ready for a pretty damn good Halo clone – and I mean that in the best way possible. From the floaty jumping to the tight and fast shooting, it’s evident that Bungie isn’t straying too far from what they know. And that’s a good thing.
If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then Bungie must think very highly of themselves.
But if Destiny was simply a Halo clone, there would be no point to this game. The first-person shooting is only the tip of the iceberg – the gateway to the amazing journey that Destiny is setting you off on. Behind the fun, fast first person action is a deep, persistent class-based upgrade system that continues to reward your play with new armor options, new powers and weapons. And this is how Destiny will ultimately set itself apart from its older cousin.
The weapon and loot drops that we’ve seen in Borderlands finds it’s way into Destiny, but they’re more stingy with their giveaways – and to be quite honest, this actually helps keep you invested in the game. It forces the player to get used to your equipment, spend on upgrades and become attached; only to become rewarded with a better weapon that will force you to think twice about discarding the kit that you’ve been spending your time getting to know. It’s an interesting mechanic, and one that works really well.
Cooperation is key
I played the story missions with friends online, and I can tell you that this game needs to be experienced with others. I don’t want to spoil sections of the beta, but we definitely had a blast cooperating to take out some of the big bosses.
Free roam mode offers more of the same thing, but random “boss” events definitely help you feel like you’re in a larger world with buddies who are there to help you out. It’s almost like JJ Abrams’ Avengers as opposed to Christopher Nolan’s Batman series of movies. You get the feeling that you’re a bunch of heroes thrown together for the greater good, rather than a one-man army.
Playing this game with friends and communicating with a headset is highly recommended.
Playa on playa violence
The Destiny beta also showcases a fun competitive multiplayer mode. Currently on display in the Crucible (what Bungie is calling their PvP matchmaking area) is a team-based domination-style gametype called Control, which is unlocked after you reach level 5 or 6 in the main story mode.
I know I keep harping on how Halo-like this game is, but it’s no more evident than when squaring off against other humans. As my colleague evilenger found out in his recent time in the Crucible, you’re going to want to play this game like you would Halo. That means a fast-paced run-and-gun strategy that involves less ADS, more melee, and liberal use of grenades and vehicles (when available). We’ll have a ‘tips for noobs’ article soon, so stay tuned.
In a nutshell, it’s fun and refreshing, especially for those who have never played Halo before. Sorry Sony, but Killzone just doesn’t compare.
The Old Guy in me Says
If you have an opportunity to try this beta, DO IT. Bungie is being generous by handing out 3 beta keys for each preorder, and I suggest that you consider grabbing one from a friend. It’s a hefty download (11GB) but you’ll thank me later.
The Destiny Beta is currently on hiatus, but it will return tomorrow for PS4 and PS3, and is set to launch on the Xbox One and Xbox 360.
Go and claim your destiny, Guardian.