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.

  • I’m really enjoying the game. I tried it on the 360, PS4 and Xone. Surprisingly the 360 version held up really well which is great because the few people I play online games with cant afford to upgrade to a next gen system. I hate the smeared visuals but the gameplay is the same and its the type of game you want friends in.

    One cool thing is the characters are portable from current to last gen consoles and visa versa. Its limited to the service (Live or PSN) but its nice to know if my friends do upgrade and we’re playing the game 6 months plus from now I can carry over my progress to the Xone.

    I dont know if they are going to meet their goal of a 10 year experience but Im on board for a few months at least.

  • If they release a PC version I might check it out…just can’t get into console shooters.

  • You know that Destiny is basically Defiance but in FPS mode. Though in some areas a little bit more developed thats the first thing that caught me when i saw it. So no not interesting in playing another Defiance no matter how well its hidden.

  • I played it over the weekend, and while I liked the story, and the single player for the most part there were a couple things I was disappointed in.

    First, the classes are completely homogenized and don’t feel different at all. I got an Exo Hunter (my first as well) and an Awakened Titan to 8, and I couldn’t feel a difference between them.

    Both get a jump boost, both get a grenade, both get a super melee attack, the only real difference is the special and in that the titans is so much better, especially in pvp, as you don’t have to aim. Also looking into it, Warlock is apparently pretty much the same as well.

    I just wish they gave me more reasons to play something other than just 1 character. Like I wish the special weapons were class restricted or something as well.

    Also, I did not enjoy the pvp, but I think I went into it with the wrong weapons. The couple matches I played I noticed everyone using rocket launchers and close range weapons like shotguns and hand cannons and other weapons that were high damage with one pull of the trigger and it just seemed like there was no place for the automatic weapons and pulse rifles and things like that, at least in my short experience. It was like every time I saw a player, even if I saw them first, I would shoot with the pulse rifle and they would turn and one shot me with whatever weapon they were using.

  • @freequest

    I played about 40 hours of Defiance and around 12 hours of Destiny. They aren’t even close to the same game.

    It’s like saying I played Bubsy 3D so I don’t want to play Super Mario 3D World because “they are the same game”. Just because games share some similar structures doesn’t make them the same…


    If you look at the talent trees the classes get more distinct as you open up more abilities. All of the classes have alternate trees that seem a lot more distinct. For instance the second tree for the Titan is all about shielding you and your allies.

    The high level gear also seems to have abilities built in. For instance I saw a pic of a sniper rifle that threw you into camouflage when you ADS.

    Will the classes ever be as distinct as an mmo? No but I definitely felt the difference playing my Titan and my warlock and that was without the full talent set unlocked.

  • It is true that they probably are more distinct and open up more once you get higher level, but at least up to level 8 (the beta max) I felt that they played very much the same for them, and that is all I have to go on at this point.

    I don’t expect them to be as diverse, and I will take a look deeper into the trees as well later.

  • I haven’t tried it, but it did remind me of Borderlands with some MMO features (maybe even like Defiance). I’m hard pressed to decide if I want to play it or not. On the one hand it seems cool, and it looks beautiful. On the other, it seems like it was too easy to make the above comparisons, and if it’s too similar to either of those games I’d lose interest pretty quickly.

  • I think my biggest concern is the leveling will probably be able to be completed in a single marathon afternoon.

    We appeared to get roughly a level per story mission. It’d seem to me that’s not likely to change much. Other than achievements, I can totally see the MMO mindset having players blast through the campaign on opening day, then just farming whatever content can be played at level 20 for the endgame loots.

    There’s going to have to be systems in place to do end-game modes of everything I’d hope. We got two level difficulties for the story missions and Devil’s Lair. Surely all this can be “redone” at a level 20 difficulty to keep all the content they worked so hard to develop relevant beyond the first day.

  • @Fergor

    O my bad I should have said they are similar enough that when you get down to it your playing the same game.

    Still not interested in a more teched up Defiance rip

  • I don’t find it anything like Defiance. Defiance isn’t nearly as fun to play. You need to think of it more like Halo, with excellent Co-op and RPG elements. Halo was great for it’s setpiece battles and their scope. Destiny mostly captures this feeling, especially during the story and strike mission instanced areas. People will replay this content over and over even without the loot whorin’ aspect for the same reasons they’d replay levels in Halo over and over. It’s just damn fun to play the game and wipe out the bad guys. I’m really hoping some of the higher level Strike Missions and Story missions incorporate more of what Halo did great with the big vehicle combat sequences and setpiece fights.

    If anything, it’s the explore mode that’s the weakest aspect of the game, with it’s static spawns and enemies that won’t challenge you outside their assigned bubble.

  • Again, Destiny and Defiance play absolutely nothing alike. Wildstar and WoW are MMOs. They share the same structures. You can dislike one and love the other because they play differently within the same framework.