Impressions: Destiny Alpha

Hey Kaushik here, and this week I’m covering a video game. During their E3 conference last week, Sony announced that an alpha of Bungie’s upcoming title Destiny would be available to play for PS4 owners. I was already somewhat looking forward to this game, so I had to jump on it. Destiny is supposed to be a first person shooter RPG, releasing on September 9th on consoles.  It’s developed by Bungie of Halo fame, and has been something of a highly anticipated game for next generation consoles. From the earlier trailers and gameplay shown, people have surmised the game to be something of a Borderlands and Halo crossover, and playing the game last weekend, it’s a fairly accurate assessment. There are some differences though.

Destiny Alpha Cover

My Destiny alpha playing experience was a lot of surprises, nearly all of them good. Don’t let the term “alpha” fool you. The game is incredibly expansive, featuring 2 raids (one for PS+ members only) and one large open world area. In addition there’s a hub world for purchasing goods and meeting people, and finally a full online battle arena where you do some fun FPS combat with other players. All-in-all it’s a pretty comprehensive experience for an alpha, and definitely convinced me to pre order the game to get into the beta coming out later this summer.

When you start the game of Destiny, you are thrown into a fairly simple character select screen. The plot for the alpha is basically nonexistent, so the various races and classes you have access to have no context, but exist purely as a gameplay choice. The three classes essentially fulfill the Warrior/Rogue/Mage archetype, and it remains to be seen if there will be more options in the future. After you set up your character, you are essentially dropped into the large open world area, and given a basic objective to complete. You start with weapons depending on your class, and abilities as well, and just move out. You can move into orbit to visit the hub world or PVP arena at any time (as long as you’re not in combat), and you can even summon a vehicle at any time that’s basically a ghost from the Halo series.

Character creation, class selection

Character creation, class selection

The gameplay for Destiny is pretty simple. It’s pretty much borderlands, a gear-based RPG carried on a first person shooter engine. The major difference I find with Destiny is that the FPS elements are stronger, allowing for more player skill. There are still certain situations where not having strong enough gear will lock you out of fighting certain stronger enemies (mostly due to damage inflicted), but even so due to elements such as enemy AI and your own abilities, the gameplay to Destiny can be fun and interesting. Enemies in Borderlands felt like bullet sponges after a while, depending on the strength of your weapons, but enemies in Destiny feel more varied and have many different actions they can perform, leading to a dynamic combat experience. 

Destiny Gameplay

There isn’t much to the gear system so far, but it looks like there’s definitely room for expansion as this was just an alpha. You have 3 guns. A primary weapon, a secondary weapon, and a heavy weapon. Then you have 5 pieces of armor, a headpiece, chest piece, arms, legs, and a class-based armor. That’s mostly what will influence your statistics throughout the game, besides passive bonuses you get from your skills as you level up. It doesn’t seem like there’s a strong statistical focus so far; instead some armors will modify your statistics which will do things like reduce cool down on certain abilities. Besides that, there are lots of customization options for things like your subclass, which you pick abilities for every time you level up, and weapons which upgrade with sufficient usage.

Destiny Multiplayer

The multi-player arena is an interesting beast. It can be very difficult to balance something like that in a gear-dependent game, but it seems like matchmaking is primarily based on your level (as level will lock you out of the more powerful gear) and from my experience worked quite well. There were a few maps to play on, and it seemed like the only objective available was a “control points” match where each team fought to control various areas of the map. I have to say the gameplay is pretty fun, and gives strong Halo vibes. You would think abilities on characters would be kind of broken in a competitive format like this, but because the cooldowns are so long there isn’t actually all that much ability spam. It’s more of a tactical decision that can really turn the tides of combat.

Destiny Scenery

The last thing I’d like to mention are the graphics and sound design of the game. The graphics pretty much blew me away as soon as I started playing. I don’t own very many games for my PS4, so this is one of the first looks I’ve had at a truly “next-gen” experience and it looks stellar. I’m particularly impressed with the environments. The area they drop you in is supposed to be Russia, and it captures this industrial wreckage tundra area really well. One thing that surprised me was the musical quality. The music was a lot better than I’d expect from a game like this, which was great. The satisfying sound design was great too, with good sound effects for firing your guns and running around the map.

Overall I was much more impressed with this game than I thought I’d be, and it’s transformed me into a “maybe pick up at launch” to “definitely preordering,” and I urge anyone else with a PS4 to give this alpha a try.

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Kaushik

I write about anime and stuff. Giant robots are pretty cool, too.

Kaushik

I write about anime and stuff. Giant robots are pretty cool, too.

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