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Destiny Hands On Preview

Tales from Old Russia, and Beyond.

Upon landing in the baron, vast and alien infested land of Old Russia, I realized that though I had an objective before me, there was a lot more in store for me than a linear story mission. I walked over a cliff, and a batch of enemies spawned. Using familiar shooting controls, I was able to dispense of them rather quickly. Not too soon after, I turned around only to see another adventurer, who happened to be a friend of mine. Destiny began to click with me at this point, as I realized just how seamless the matchmaking process was. I called my friend over, and we created a fireteam - or a party - and continued to explore the land. As we did, we witnessed another group, fighting off their own group of enemies. One of them fell in battle, and I asked my friend, “Should we go and help them out?” These are the kinds of scenarios that make Destiny one of the more interesting games coming out this year. However, this aspect is only one of many different reasons why I was hooked during the E3 weekend Alpha. 

Bungie’s latest aspires to be the hub of many different kinds of player experiences, all under the condition of remaining, at its core, a traditional first person shooter. Destiny borrows many elements from MMORPGs in order to round out the experience. In the Alpha, I was given only a small piece of what the game has to offer, but I was able to experience a couple story missions, a dedicated free roam area, mission-based strikes, and some of the competitive PvP multiplayer. When all was said and done, the hub world known as the Tower was where my friends and I would regroup and relax. 

Story wise, the details were quite slim, even in the story-based missions. These missions took place in designated areas on Earth, specifically in Old Russia. Apparently after “The Collapse” brought mankind to the brink of extinction, one last remaining city and some of Earth's inhabitants were saved by The Traveler, a giant, mysterious white spherical object that hovers above humanity’s remaining stronghold. The Traveler also gives those who populate it special abilities using a power known as “The Light”. 

Based on what I played, the story seems to deal with civilization fighting back against alien forces that have occupied humanity’s former strongholds ultimately trying to prevent the extinction of the human race. The story is mostly told through the player’s companion AI known as Ghost. The Ghost, voiced by Peter Dinklage, is useful in regards to finding objectives at the push of the touch pad, or giving background information to various locales. Unfortunately, Dinklage’s performance is rather flat - even for an AI. 

The first person shooter gameplay of Destiny would be standard affair if it wasn’t for the class system that helps diversify play styles. I decided to pick the Warlock class, which is based on long range damage and boasts singularity grenades and a powerful ranged attack known as the Nova Bomb. The warlock is one of three classes, the others being the “tanky” Titan, with abilities based on getting into the front of battle, and the Hunter who has abilities that allow for quick and silent kills. Each class also has unique ways of getting around. The Warlock has a glide, which helps get around from place to place while other classes, like the Hunter have a standard double jump. 

As mentioned earlier, Destiny contains many elements that liken it to an MMO. One light example is the use of emotes, like waving and even dancing which add a nice bit of personality to the game. Along with those simpler elements, other aspects regarding loot also carry over. Loot is individual, meaning that players don’t have to worry about fighting over specific items, but rather they just concern themselves with what they obtain. I did wish for an item trade or exchange system, but at least in Alpha, the feature wasn’t available. 

Though loot isn’t given to you in huge quantities like Borderlands, it is still plentiful enough to retain an impact. Upon getting new weapons, you can easily compare them to previous items, and swap out equips based on preference. One problem I did have was that getting new loot wasn’t always clear. I would check my inventory to find that I had acquired a couple of new guns, though it wasn’t extremely apparent that I did due to small acquisition icons. I did find however that some items had different rarities and upgrades. Like MMOs, some items need to be appraised before being able to be used. 

Appraisal, among plenty of other things takes place at the Tower, the game’s primary hub. Here, players can buy and store items, customize gear, take on personal tasks, and class-specific quests. More importantly, the Tower is the place where players can gather, and interact in a very friendly and non-hostile manner. Here you also get a stunning view of the Traveler, which was the set piece of many screenshots. 

After upgrading gear at the Tower, my friends and I spent a lot of time exploring Old Russia. I was consistently surprised by the worlds many nooks and crannies. While many of the moment-to-moment side quests are similar - ranging from killing enemies to collecting items and activating beacons - I always felt like the reward was well worth it. Public Events also added to the excitement. Public Events are random occurrences that any player in the immediate vicinity can participate in. When paired up with the right amount of people, these events can be both hectic and fun. During the Alpha, there were times that Public Events would spawn and only my solo fireteam would be close enough to engage. In those instances, the events became extremely difficult, but they encouraged a lot of teamwork. However, I could tell that they were balanced with much more than three players in mind. 

Once we were done exploring the vast, yet small section of Old Russia, we attempted a Strike mission. Strike missions are limited to three players (or one fireteam) and are based on multiple objectives and boss fights that are a good source for experience and loot. They are also quite lengthy, with ours taking upwards of 40 minutes to complete. Regardless, the strike was action packed. Many of the bosses required tactical input from every member of the fireteam. Utilizing the strengths of each class was key to victory. One boss during the strike required taking out its legs to stun it, which gave us an opportunity to hit its core for big damage. 

When all was said and done, there was competitive PvP. In this mode, most stats are normalized to create more balance between characters. Weapons do retain their special effects, so acquiring unique items in single player can still aid you in PvP to a decent degree. The mode, known as Control, is your standard capture game type where players fight for control over three different flags. The map that I played on the Moon offered up many different vehicles and turrets. Without too much adjustment, I was able to hop in and have a good time. It should be no surprise that Bungie knows how to do multiplayer. While I feel like PvP won’t be the thing that I come to Destiny for, it’s more than competent enough to feed those thirsty for some competitive sci-fi shooting. 

Destiny is a game that shows a lot of promise. Before playing the game, I felt like most of those promises were just a little too lofty. However, I really feel confident in Bungie’s ability to pull this one off. My concerns lie mostly with the narrative beats as I feel like Bungie really hasn’t showed me what motives I have to defeat this alien force other than the typical “save the human race” plot. From a gameplay standpoint however, I can already imagine myself pouring hours into exploring, doing missions and upgrading my character. Destiny goes into Beta this July, and releases on September 9th for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, and Xbox 360.


 

Comments

Matt Snee Staff Writer

06/25/2014 at 07:28 PM

I'm still waiting and seeing on this one.  Seems like it would be a lot of fun with friends though. 

KnightDriver

06/27/2014 at 02:03 AM

Sounds interesting. It could be a good balance between solo exploring and MMO type mutiplayer stuff. I could find myself playing a MMO without really intending to. I like the three player fireteam missions you mentioned. The different classes you can choose is neat too.

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

06/27/2014 at 03:57 PM

The game def has a nice balance. Still, i feel like if you like games like Borderlands, you'll enjoy this. best played with friends of course

KnightDriver

06/28/2014 at 02:19 AM

Borderlands meets Halo does have a nice ring to it.

xDarthKiLLx

07/08/2014 at 06:54 PM

got my Beta code today.  On the 17th....it's ON.

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