Thoughts on the Destiny Beta
I haven’t followed Destiny very closely at all, so when I started the beta I was pretty much going in blind. I do remember being excited about what I saw at the last E3, but now the hype has kicked into overdrive and September 9th can’t come soon enough.
I’m not entirely sure how you would classify Destiny as a game. Destiny is obviously a first-person shooter first and foremost, but the game is also heavily invested in several different kinds of online components. Destiny is not a MMOFPS, or at least I wouldn’t consider it one. Some people think that any game that has massive amounts of people playing online makes it an MMO but from my understanding it has always been about massive amounts of players actually playing together. You can’t really win here because there a lots of people on both sides who insist their definition is correct, but I’m getting a little off track here. Destiny is what I would consider a Persistent Online World, or I guess a POFPS. You can go to a social area and visit shops and so on and you are there with several other people but it seems pretty obvious that the area is instanced. When you are out doing story missions or just exploring there also seems to be a smaller smattering of players but that’s actually a good thing since a very crowded zone would pretty much ruin this kind of game.
So when I first started out I had to create a character. Of the three races and classes I went with Exo Hunter, which is pretty much a robot stalker-y type. Each character class gets their own set of abilities. I was able to throw a fire grenade and a throwing knife along with summoning a powerful fiery pistol as a sort of ultimate ability. I don’t know exactly what other classes can do but I’ve seen some interesting stuff like weird shield things and powerful ground-pound moves so I imagine it’s stuff like that. It actually reminds me a lot Borderlands in many ways but there seems to be a whole lot more depth here. I’m not entirely sure how their level system is going to work but it seems that pretty much every time you level up you get a new ability or passive. It doesn’t really look like a talent tree but each ability has a progress ring around them. How exactly you unlock these abilities is something I’m not too sure of. It might be straight progression based or maybe you need to do certain kinds of actions.
Unlike Borderlands, loot drops at a fairly slow pace. You get different kinds of weapons (Primary, Special, and Heavy) along with your standard equipment slots like chest, head, feet, etc. I actually like this a lot better since it makes finding stuff a lot more exciting. Borderlands loot system was cool at first but the novelty of their loot diarrhea wore off pretty fast. I also really like how the loot in Destiny can be upgraded. Weapons, for example, seem to level up when they are used and you can spend Glimmer (the game’s currency) to upgrade them. I had some kind of scout rifle that got a damage upgrade, stability upgrade, and a different scope. From what I’ve seen this only applies to green loot (and probably everything above that) and not the common white-named stuff.
The story in Destiny is a little confusing but still interesting. It feels like I need a read a Wiki after playing but that’s alright. When you finally get to go into orbit with your ship you get the option of choosing where you want to go next. Right now in the Beta you are limited to an area of Russia on Earth but eventually you can go to the Moon and I can only assume onto other planets. When browsing the area map there are a few things you can deploy to. Your past story missions, along with your next one, are shown here along with a couple of other options like a Strike Mission and an Exploration Mission. When you are in the story areas you will be progressing on your own but you can still run into other players around you. However there are “Darkness Areas” which I think might be instanced. I was running around with some guy and once I entered into one of these areas he disappeared. I have a feeling that if you are grouped (I think you can group up) you could probably co-op these areas. While in Darkness Areas your respawning is different. If you die at anytime in one of these then you will have to start over at the very beginning of it with the progress reset.
The Strike Mission I did was actually pretty cool. It matched me up with two other players and we played through a mission together. There were lots of really cool moments in this like defending against waves of bad guys, a fight with a big spider tank, and a cool final boss. The exploration mission seems to be the most open experience you will get. For most of these missions you will be running around the same big zone but after you finish you will head back to orbit automatically. When you are exploring you can just wander around anywhere you want. There were also several small missions that you could find scattered about which felt similar to MMO questing. It mainly consisted of stuff like “Go Kill this guy,” “Kill These and collect a bunch of this,” “Survery The Area” and so on. Again you can also see other players here but I’m not sure how high the cap goes. I never seemed to run into more than a couple of guys at a time.
Once you get to a certain level (Five, I think) you unlock the Crucible stuff. This is where you will get your standard FPS fix. There are half a dozen or so modes you can select from once you unlock them but from what I could tell it was mostly 6v6 or 3v3 stuff. Some of these I believe also give you bonuses like rep with a certain faction or tokens which can be redeemed for loot. You also have a chance at winning some items at the end of the match. I played through three matches and so far I’m really liking the PVP stuff. I do wish that it was a little higher than 6v6 (maybe 8v8 at least) but that’s mainly because it feels like my team depends on my performance more when we have less players. The competitive modes seem to player just like the story and co-op stuff. You get to use your character abilities, gear, and weapons. I was actually pretty surprised by this and I thought they would just make everybody the same here but I guess not. I’m very interested in knowing how this balances out and how exactly somebody who is low level and has crap gear can compete with higher levels who have awesome stuff. I was still able to do pretty well despite my poor equipment so maybe there is some behind the scenes balancing done.
One interesting aspect of Destiny that caught my eye was how it effects people who don’t have Playstaion Plus or Xbox Live Gold. Both systems require their service to play online games but Destiny is pretty online based. What I noticed was that certain missions like the Strike team one said that they required a Playstation Plus subscription in order to play. Pretty much everything that involved any kind of matchmaking, like the crucible pvp stuff, requires that you have a subscription to PS+ (Or Gold, I assume). So if you don’t have your consoles respective service then you are missing out on quite a few of the game’s features, and that’s only what I found in the beta Personally it doesn’t affect me since I am a subscriber and I think PS+ is incredible but I know a lot of people aren’t happy with having to pay the extra amount, especially Playstation Fans who didn’t have to deal with this last gen.
I hit the beta level cap of 8 and I think I’m going to stop there. I could continue playing the pvp matches and trying to find loot but they are likely to wipe the beta data anyway. Plus I don’t have the greatest attention span and I don’t want to burn out on the game before it is even out. I am very excited about release and can’t wait to play the full version of the game. Now I’m extra bummed that I missed out on pre-ordering the sweet Ghost Edition.