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

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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.





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Destiny Updates, Screenshots, & Videos







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Destiny



7:00 AM on 07.23.2014
The Destiny beta is having issues on Xbox One

The Destiny beta kicked off yesterday on Xbox platforms, and it seems like Xbox One owners are having some issues. Most notably, there's a problem with party stabilization -- thankfully Bungie has responded to the issue ...more



7:00 PM on 07.22.2014
Destiny beta is back online a day early, opened up for Xbox

Destiny's beta went down for maintenance yesterday. It was meant to come back on July 23, but it's back up right now, giving you something to do tonight. Me, I'm making ramen. Like, actual ramen, not an instant, 10 cent salt ...more



5:00 PM on 07.21.2014
Take a field trip to Destiny's Vanguard Armory with a pre-order

PlayStation owners: How's the downtime in the Destiny beta treating you? Itching to get back in? Xbox players: Are you struggling to contain your excitement until it goes live for you in two days? If you've fallen prey ...more



3:45 PM on 07.21.2014
Bungie shuts down Destiny beta for a couple days

You might want to cancel any plans you may have made to battle the Fallen over the next couple days, as the Destiny beta will be taking a respite until Wednesday.  "We are beginning the process of taking the Destiny beta...more



10:30 AM on 07.18.2014
So what's new in the Destiny beta?

I haven't had all the time in the world to play the Destiny beta, but I did manage to get in for a while and check out what's different compared to the alpha I tested out recently. For starters, you're going to get more ...more



11:30 AM on 07.17.2014
Destiny will run at 1080p on Xbox One, but not during the beta

According to a report from an IGN livestream with developer Bungie, the Destiny beta will not run at 1080p during the beta, but it is aiming for a 1080 resolution when it comes to the finished version. Apparently the gam...more



11:30 AM on 07.15.2014
More info is here on Destiny's companion app, coming with the beta

The cat is out of the bag so to speak on Destiny. Although we knew next to nothing about it just a few months ago, we've since seen the PS4 alpha, and now pretty much everyone and their grandmother is going to get in on the b...more



10:00 PM on 07.08.2014
Destiny's Limited Edition and Ghost Edition detailed

Destiny is getting multiple versions because that's just what gaming companies do nowadays. This latest video here details the differences between the Limited Edition and the Ghost Edition. The Ghost Edition is the big one, ...more



12:15 PM on 07.07.2014
Destiny beta hits PlayStation on July 17, Xbox on July 23

We've known for a long time that there would be a Destiny beta this summer, we just didn't know any specifics about it. Now that information's available, and the dates are rather imminent, with PlayStation owners gettin...more



11:30 AM on 06.30.2014
Bungie speaks on the fabled '$500 million' budget for Destiny

Last month, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick made an off-handed remark about the budget of Destiny reaching "$500 million dollars," which led to a discussion on the long-term viability of AAA games. But Bungie COO Pete Parson...more





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Bungie

5:00 PM on 07.21.2014
Take a field trip to Destiny's Vanguard Armory with a pre-order

PlayStation owners: How's the downtime in the Destiny beta treating you? Itching to get back in? Xbox players: Are you struggling to contain your excitement until it goes live for you in two days? If you've fallen prey ...more



3:45 PM on 07.21.2014
Bungie shuts down Destiny beta for a couple days

You might want to cancel any plans you may have made to battle the Fallen over the next couple days, as the Destiny beta will be taking a respite until Wednesday.  "We are beginning the process of taking the Destiny beta...more



10:30 AM on 07.18.2014
So what's new in the Destiny beta?

I haven't had all the time in the world to play the Destiny beta, but I did manage to get in for a while and check out what's different compared to the alpha I tested out recently. For starters, you're going to get more ...more



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