Destiny: “Alpha” impressions.
Well, like everyone else with PS+ it seems, I have had the opportunity to spend some time with Destiny. Bunige’s next big release after walking away from the Halo franchise that put them on the map. Like many others, I had mixed feelings and thoughts on it just from I had seen before going into this “alpha”. No one has really had any time to play this game before E3 this year from what I can tell, so like everyone else post E3, I can give you my thoughts on it. It should be mentioned of course that this is a “alpha” which means before it’s release, many things may change/ be added upon/ dropped entirely, and so on, nothing is really concrete of course.
The story, from what I can tell from Wikipedia, goes as follows:
“Destiny is set seven hundred years into the future in a post-apocalyptic setting following a prosperous period of exploration, peace and technological advancement known as the Golden Age. In a universe where humans have spread out and colonized planets in the Solar System, an event known as “the Collapse” saw the mysterious dissolution of these colonies, the end of the Golden Age, and mankind teetering on the brink of extinction. The only known survivors of the Collapse are those living on Earth, who were saved by “the Traveller”, a white, spherical celestial body whose appearance centuries before had enabled humans to reach the stars. The Traveller now hovers above the last remaining human city, and its presence allows the “Guardians of the City”—the last defenders of the human race—the ability to wield an unknown power, only referred to as “The Light”.
Upon mankind’s first attempt to repopulate and reconstruct after the Collapse, it is discovered that hostile alien races have occupied mankind’s former colonies and civilizations and are now encroaching upon the City. The player takes on the role of a Guardian of the City, and is tasked with investigating and destroying these threats before humanity is completely wiped out. ”
It may seem lazy to steal that from Wikipedia, but the game never really bothers to give you a story, so I had to look elsewhere for it. The “alpha” does drop you into the game at level 4, so unfortunately I can’t comment on well the story gets across in the opening levels, which is a shame, because it’s a halfway decent sounding story from what I can tell. But the crux of the game is divided up into 3 sections, one on earth in Russia where you face the Fallen and the Hive, the tower, which acts as a hub for characters to do everything, from shopping, storing and purchasing of gear to checking their mail, and the crucible, which is where PVP happens. The “alpha” does limit you to only getting to level 8, which seems like a low cap, to be honest, but it gives you just enough time to give you a firm grasp on what the full game will be like.
Let’s get this out of the way first, Bungie doesn’t want to say it, but if it quacks like a duck… this is a MMO shooter, or MMOFPS as its known. They want to call it a “shared world shooter” but… I call it like it is, this is basically a MMO, you just can’t talk to each other in game, which is a strange omission to make. I’ve seen some people compare it to Planetside 2, but I don’t find that fair because they’re not trying to be the same type of game. The most recent title I can compare it to is Defiance, which has most of the traditional MMO mentalities to it, while still being a shooter. I don’t know why Bungie doesn’t let it be what it is… but it is just that. I think that alone will help some people understand if they want it or not right away.
Let’s start with the positives. The game is stunning to look at.
I’m not normally a person that normally notices things like screen tearing or blurring, but the game looks and runs very smooth, and I had no problems with it in that department. The world is decently massive, and the player is given a speeder that allows you move through the area faster than on foot. Control wise the game is fine too. Bungie has chops in the FPS department, and they do shine through here. The guns are responsive, they all decently unique, and thankfully no one class seems to be limited in what they can and can’t use, so that’s entirely up to you. Each class has a unique super move that you slowly build up to, and each one is a game changer, saving you in a bad situation. The game is nice and atmospheric at times, with a decent score. Character models are well designed, and I truthfully really dig the different armor sets. It’s really a stunning game visually, with lots to look at. Character creation gives you a decent amount of options, with 3 races to chose from. Not sure if there will be more, but each race does give you a decent amount of customization options. I chose to play as the Exo, which are robot people, it’s all fluff that doesn’t effect the game too much, but the more customization, the better. Classes are decently varied, and while the beta doesn’t really give you a lot of choice, from what I can tell there is a lot of choice to be had in how you level your character after a while. Gear drops are well implemented, except for the odd choice of letting items drop that players cannot use due to level restrictions. But for gear itself, such as armor, your never left with something your character cannot use, at least I never was. Even if that happens, you can just drop it in your bank to give to another character, or shred it for money. Different gear can give you upgrades and bonuses to things like reload speed and ammo capacity if you use it long enough. And of course certain special gear will also have MMO style bonuses, like Strength, Discipline and Intelligence, which give you different bonuses. There is of course lots of different ways to get gear, and once you hit level 20, you can paint it however you want, which adds to the customization. PVP, which is something I normally cannot stand, is actually really fun, probably because the gameplay fits perfectly, given as it plays most like any other shooter you’ve ever played.
Of course, there are negatives as well. Let’s start with the fact that… it has a lot of HALO inspiration. The hive is practically the flood, for all we know right now, and the fallen are very Elite looking at times. Having looked at some of the other races according to artwork and wikis, I can see some HALO inspiration here and there. It’s not a terrible thing per say, but it’s hard to ignore the HALO in this game. The game also divides up weapons into 3 types, normal which is your assault rifle, special which is your shotguns, snipers rifles, and fuse rifles, and heavy which are your rockets launchers and such. You only have to find ammo of one of 3 different types, which is good, but special and heavy weapons have very little in the way of ammo they can store. Perhaps other classes and certain upgrades will change that, but seeing as the “alpha” does not allow you to really customize your class too much, your left without a lot of options, especially for some people who prefer to use a shotgun or a sniper rifle as a main weapon instead of it being a secondary one. Quests often devolve into kill this guy for loot he drops or kill this guy in general, which is fine for a shooter, but your not told to collect 5 amour pieces off enemies, your given a percentage to fill, with no clear idea until you collect one or two of how many you actually need. Supposedly you can also find quests that just happen sort of randomly. I say supposedly because I never actually ran into one, but in fairness to the game I spent a decent chunk of my time in PVP. Peter Dinklage is actually your narrator/ NAV unit called Ghost, but he sounds really flat and bored by the dialog. Perhaps they will alter his voice somehow.
(I only found one glitch, so I thought to share it.)
This is a game that has me torn in a lot of ways. While it is a MMOFPS, it’s certainly different from much of the competition in that market, so I’m not even sure that its the correct thing to call it at times. I’m genuinely interested by what I see so far, but I also see why some people are very against it. Even having played the “alpha”, which I hesitate to call as its closer to a beta, which is really just a term for a glorified demo at this point, I’m not sure what to think. Really, I’m torn because I do like what I see, and I give them credit for trying to be even slightly different. This is a tough one to call, but… I am interested enough in it that I may pick this up when it comes out. It’s not for everyone of course, but its certainly unique. Honestly, you have to check it out for yourself and see if its up your alley or not. I hate to say that, because it’s a cop out, but I think everyone will be fairly divided on this one, so your only choice is to play it yourself. So go to it.