Destiny – Beta Impressions and Analysis
By Dan Maurer
Destiny is shaping up to be one of the year’s biggest games. It is an interesting experiment, blending elements of massively multiplayer online games and first-person shooters for an experience that will be both immediately familiar and also foreign to fans of each genre. After playing 15+ hours so far in the beta and exploring/teaming up with fellow players in the Destiny universe, here are my impressions below.
The character creation tool offers a great deal of customization options. There are three races to choose from as well as a multitude of color options when it comes to skin, hair, eye, lip and markings color. While not as detailed as games such as “Skyrim”, it still has its own flair and presence. It’s also pretty simple to dive right into the game as well if you don’t care about the look of your character. The volume of loot is relatively high for the typical FPS game, there’s a massive amount of storage available and getting rid of items is a simple as “dismantling” an item at any point in the game. Thankfully, you don’t have to visit a vendor to sell off excess junk or old gear. It only takes a couple seconds to dismantle an item and the player is paid a little bit of the game currency (referred to as Glimmer) for the trouble.
Here’s where Destiny really feels like Bungie revisiting Halo. Guns, physics, and enemies are all very similar to their Halo counterparts. There are a few important changes though. The most notable is that gear is dropped much like loot in Diablo or Borderlands. There is even magical loot known as Engrams that you have to identify at the appropriate vendor. Unlike Borderlands though, every weapon has a distinct kick and feel, and fighting enemies never feels like a slog. If you go up against enemies that are stronger than you, it becomes immediately apparent that you have to find better gear or change your tactics, rather than the traditional Borderlands slog of every single even-leveled enemy being a bullet sponge. Enemies that are bullet sponges are clearly marked with yellow health bars and much more intimidating models as well.
You’ll see other players traversing the world with you and join small three man parties to take on objectives together. Mix that with Halo style FPS shooting, both as you explore the open world and in PvP matches, and you have an idea of the mechanics at play in the game. This is a key innovation in the genre. MMOs often have archaic combat systems, where the strategy comes from the depth and repetition of its systems. Destiny has the combat systems of a AAA action game. It is a truly unique pairing. That is all exciting, but it isn’t what makes Destiny great. What thus far makes it something special is the beauty of the game. A lot has been said about the game’s alleged $500 million budget. Be that looking over the Traveler from the hub of the game, The Tower or just exploring the secret nooks and crannies of the BETA’s only explorable map, the Cosmodome. Destiny is the closest I’ve ever seen a game come to living up to the often beautiful concept art we see in behind the scenes art books. I haven’t been this taken by a sci-fi setting, simply by the implementation of its environments since the Mass Effect series.
That being said, based on the Beta so far I will definitely say this is a must own game for any FPS fan and I honestly believe this will be the game of the year on many gaming websites lists. Everything about the game feels right and makes me want to play more and more. It’s an addicting experience and a rewarding one. I look forward to the full retail release later this year and would highly recommend it to anyone.
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