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Hands-on with the Destiny first-look alpha - Destructoid




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Destiny  




Hands-on with the Destiny first-look alpha photo
Hands-on with the Destiny first-look alpha

2:00 PM on 06.10.2014

When Tyrion Lannister tells you to kill something, you kill it


After months of hype it's nice to be able to sit down and actually play a game for yourself. It's crazy to think that Bungie sent over members of the press to an event without even giving them a chance to play Destiny, but here we are these many months later, and the technical alpha has started for PlayStation 4 owners.

I've been playing it for quite a while, and I'm glad to say that it was worth the wait -- even if it doesn't blow me away quite yet.

Bungie (PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 [previewed], Xbox 360, Xbox One)
Developer: Bungie
Publisher: Activision
Release: September 9, 2014

Whatever you do, don't call it Borderlands. Well, you can actually in some regards, because it is a class-based FPS with RPG elements. The comparisons basically stop there though. Once you boot up Destiny, you'll get to fully customize a character with an editor that trumps pretty much every other shooter I've ever played. Any of the three classes (Titan, Hunter, and Warlock) can be male or female, as well as any of the three included races -- Human, Awoken (aliens), and Exo (robots). I chose an Exo Titan.

Right off the bat one of the first things I noticed about Destiny was the weird user interface. Everything is controlled by a virtual mouse cursor that floats around the screen, which you'll direct by way of the left stick. It's odd, because there's no way to flip around the menus with the d-pad like any other game, and it can be jarring to slowly scroll across the screen to select something. On the flipside, the menus themselves are clean, and easy to read, which is more important.

Upon the start of the alpha I was thrown into a story mission, which is just part of Destiny's three pronged method of gameplay -- story, sandbox exploration, and PVP. As a Guardian sent to Earth to save it from the mysterious Fallen, the first mission involves an indoor colony and a boss fight. Peter Dinklage of Game of Thrones fame is your AI guide, calling out hints and tips as you slowly make your way into the depths of your target building. Honestly I'm just happy to hear his voice, but he could use a little more "oomph" in his lines. Hopefully his performance ramps up as you advance in the story.

Slowly but surely I made my way through the darkened abandoned building, taking in the sights and admiring the great lightning engine on the PS4. It really reminds me of the flashlight sections in Doom III in a good way, and there was a fair bit of tension once the baddies started rushing out of the dark crevices of the room. Everything culminated in a boss fight, which was sufficiently satisfying, and consisted of plenty of adds to take out.

Combat is built around the constant injection of action. You don't run out of grenades, you recharge them. You don't just get to jump -- you can extend your leap with a jetpack. Each character also has a super move (in this case, a ground pound), which can be used in a pinch, and recharges fairly quickly. The upgrade system is fairly robust, doling out new skill points at a quicker rate than most RPG shooters, allowing passives like bonus damage, better grenades, and upgraded jumps. You'll also unlock some new moves, like a shoulder charge and the like.

While the visuals didn't really blow me away at this point in the game's development, they look great on the PS4, and the draw distance is vast enough to where you'll want to sit down and take in the sights every so often. It's very smooth, and as I mentioned previously, the lightning is smooth as well. It's not going to take the honors of the best looking current-gen game, but everything is insanely polished. It helps that you can summon your mount at will and just ride around, looking at everything.

I also really liked the "ruined cape motif" that Destiny's art direction is going for. The enemies remind me of fighting the Covenant from Halo for the first time, and the elite type characters are formidable enough to earn my respect. With moves like teleports, special attacks, and even call-backs like Needler weaponry, it's a style that reminds me of Mass Effect mixed with Knights of the Old Republic -- with it's own unique spin.

Destiny isn't just about doing linear story missions though, as some levels are billed as "open world" joints. I wouldn't necessarily think of them as on the scale of say, a GTA game, but they are fairly large sandboxes that allow you to just wander around willy nilly. It's not just aimless exploration either, since tiny optional beacons can be found that trigger mini-missions.

Multiplayer-wise I really dig Bungie's take on the whole "online-only" system. Yes, it sucks that you'll need to connect to the internet to even play the game, and many of you out there will probably forgo the opportunity, which is fine. But the result is something that reminds me of the best parts of Journey -- players will randomly phase in and out of your game seamlessly, helping you out in a pinch and forming squads. I love that it just drops players in without the hassle of checking what level you are, looking for other games in a giant list, or worrying about connection issues. It's just seamless.

Destiny has a hub world too, and it reminds me of Phantasy Star Online in a big way. There's a message center to grab mail from, equipment vendors to get gear from, and even bounties to acquire. There's even a PVP vendor that sells specific PVP gear with tokens that you can only earn by fighting other players. Wait, PVP? Yep, Bungie is incorporating what it does best -- full competitive multiplayer in the form of the Crucible. There will be multiple modes available in the full game, but I only got a chance to try out "Control" -- which is basically "Capture the Point" (A, B, C).

This mode is 6v6, and operates like a traditional FPS, but with the same character you've used in all of your other missions. There's vehicles to use, and the level itself really reminded me of playing Halo for the first time, which is a great feeling. The audio has a real punch to it, and makes combat pretty entertaining as a whole -- especially with a pair of great headphones. At the present time it looks like you can play the Crucible as much as you want, but the actual currency you earn from it is capped at 100 tokens per week (a very MMO-like trait).

Destiny is an ambitious game, and I had a lot of fun during my lengthy stay with the alpha -- I can't wait to see if it'll hold my attention when the final version drops. I will say though, the MMO influences are really working to its advantage, and I see lots of long nights storming dungeons for loot in my future.





Bungie explains that they're still working on Destiny's DLC, it's not on-disc photo


Bungie is finally fixing the awful Cryptarch trolling in Destiny photo


There's a replacement for Destiny's Loot Cave photo


Sad day: Bungie nerfs Destiny's loot cave photo


Destiny's 'Queen's Wrath' event is underway, here is what it brings photo


Destiny's vehicle heavy 'Combined Arms' playlist starts today photo


Destiny is the same gameplay experience on last-gen, but looks pretty rough photo


Playthrough: Destiny's Mars has cars, but not a single hot dog in sight photo


Review: Destiny photo
Review: Destiny
12:00 PM on 09.16.2014


Destiny's first raid, the Vault of Glass, opens today photo


Destiny Updates, Screenshots, & Videos







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Destiny



4:30 PM on 09.29.2014
Bungie explains that they're still working on Destiny's DLC, it's not on-disc

Over the weekend, it was uncovered due to a bug that Destiny had some placeholder content built into it. Two more raids and a number of Strike and Story missions were found, leading people to believe that some of it was ...more



5:45 PM on 09.26.2014
Bungie is finally fixing the awful Cryptarch trolling in Destiny

It took a few weeks, but Bungie is finally getting around to addressing one of the major problems with Destiny -- the first thing on the table is loot. Currently, the "Cryptarch" NPC deciphered unidentified items in an incred...more



3:00 PM on 09.26.2014
There's a replacement for Destiny's Loot Cave

In its update for Destiny that put an end to the oh-so-effective Loot Cave, Bungie noted that "shooting at a black hole for hours on end isn't our dream for how Destiny is played." That well-known spot is now less desirable ...more



3:30 PM on 09.25.2014
Sad day: Bungie nerfs Destiny's loot cave

Bungie's grand social shooter Destiny has boiled down to an interesting and repetitive formula for a lot of players lately: fire into the darkness of a cave and hope some interesting gear drops. No world exploring, no co...more



8:00 AM on 09.23.2014
Destiny's 'Queen's Wrath' event is underway, here is what it brings

Bungie is currently running a special event in Destiny that basically consists of extra bounties and an extra faction to interact with. It'll run from September 23rd through October 6th, and will allow you to earn r...more



10:30 AM on 09.19.2014
Destiny's vehicle heavy 'Combined Arms' playlist starts today

If you're looking to play Destiny this weekend, you can take part in a limited time multiplayer playlist in The Crucible called "Combined Arms." It basically features increased heavy ammo drops as well as extra vehicles....more



2:00 PM on 09.17.2014
Destiny is the same gameplay experience on last-gen, but looks pretty rough

[Screenshots shown here are not the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 versions.] The marketing for Destiny would have you believe that the only place it makes an appearance is on the PlayStation 4. But no, it certainly made its way t...more



9:00 PM on 09.16.2014
Playthrough: Destiny's Mars has cars, but not a single hot dog in sight

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12:00 PM on 09.16.2014
Review: Destiny

It's been a small journey reviewing Destiny, but now I've experienced every facet of the game and I'm ready to make my decision. As mentioned previously, the story and setting leave a lot to be desired, but the gunplay is ver...more



9:00 AM on 09.16.2014
Destiny's first raid, the Vault of Glass, opens today

Today the first six-person raid opened up in Destiny -- the Vault of Glass. It's one of the events in the game that has no matchmaking function, so you'll have to use any number of third party tools to find friends, or d...more




activision

5:45 PM on 09.26.2014
Bungie is finally fixing the awful Cryptarch trolling in Destiny

It took a few weeks, but Bungie is finally getting around to addressing one of the major problems with Destiny -- the first thing on the table is loot. Currently, the "Cryptarch" NPC deciphered unidentified items in an incred...more



3:30 PM on 09.25.2014
Sad day: Bungie nerfs Destiny's loot cave

Bungie's grand social shooter Destiny has boiled down to an interesting and repetitive formula for a lot of players lately: fire into the darkness of a cave and hope some interesting gear drops. No world exploring, no co...more



1:45 PM on 09.24.2014
Not a lot looks changed in Call of Duty's 'Power Changes Everything' trailer

For a trailer that boldly suggests that "power changes everything," Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare sure looks pretty similar to past installments in the franchise. I guess the guys jump higher before using their mega-de...more



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