Written by Derek Smith
After numerous hours of gameplay and exploration, I’m glad to share my experience in one statement: believe the hype.
Destiny is here! Well, almost anyway. At their E3 press conference this past week, Sony announced that they were partnering with Bungie to bring PS4 gamers an exclusive first-look at their potential blockbuster by way of an “Alpha” that runs through this weekend. I was fortunate enough to gain access to an alpha code when they released via email on Thursday. After numerous hours of gameplay and exploration, I’m glad to share my experience in one statement: believe the hype.
The alpha gives you a small slice to what the game has to offer by way of two of the game’s modes. The first is an MMO-style exploration mode that offers missions that can be tackled solo or as part of a team. Destiny gives you three-types of upgradable characters that you can play with, each with their own special abilities: Titans (soldier), Hunters (tactician), and Warlocks (mage). You play the first mission being the only person on the map, serving as an introduction to the game. Afterwards you can re-explore the area with the possibility of running into other players in the server. The second mode is your traditional PvP multiplayer match called “Control”, a zone capturing competition similar to Domination from Call of Duty.
The first thing that jumped out at me about Destiny is that it screams “Halo”, with many similarities in the look and gameplay. For example, when I found out that my playable character, or Guardian, came with a jet pack that temporarily suspended me in the air, I couldn’t help but be reminded of one of my favorite Spartan abilities from Halo’s jet packs. Even one of Destiny’s protagonistic alien races called the “Fallen” make similar sounds to Halo’s Covenant race.
I was afraid that the Halo similarities would damper my experience, but it was actually the exact opposite. From what Bungie is allowing us to see, I’m impressed that they’ve found a way to create their own vibrant world while using past inspirations. In a way, I guess Bungie gets a pass for using many similarities to a franchise that they created. If this were another developer making this game, then I probably would be annoyed. Destiny also reminded me of Borderlands with similarities of how experience points are earned and damage is dealt. Depending on the damage that is dealt, numbers bounce from hit markers as shots are landed upon your enemies. I actually enjoy this aspect of gameplay because it helps me focus more on my accuracy. Even with these similarities, the new world that Destiny opens to you manages to stand on its own as an independent experience.
The maps you are able to play have a solid balance of being open with multiple entrances and exits, while providing plenty of obstacles that give cover.
I have been thoroughly enjoying Destiny’s PvP “Control” mode. The maps were very complex and multi-leveled. With the jetpack, maps are easily maneuverable with multiple vantage points. The maps you are able to play have a solid balance of being open with multiple entrances and exits, while providing plenty of obstacles that give cover. Each gun was enjoyable, although I have preferred the semi-automatic assault rifle. There are also vehicles and turrets scattered throughout the map, including an awesome Star Wars-esque speeder that I have found to be quite exciting.
Even with a yet-to-be-finished product, I thought the alpha ran very smoothly. Where betas like BF4 had very raw visuals, I was very pleased with Destiny’s high visual grade. The only problems I’ve experienced have been the occasional connection issues with Bungie’s servers. As they become more stressed, I imagine they might see future issues, as almost all next-gen titles have. However, I have had so much fun and I am more than excited for this game to release this September. I could see myself spending many nights over Destiny and all it has to offer. Now that I have tasted a slice of what Bungie has in store for us, I know as soon as the alpha ends, I will be eagerly waiting for Destiny’s release. I am all aboard the hype train. I believe you should be too.