We’ve been playing Bungie’s latest and greatest for a week now. Curious as to whether it’s worth your time? Read ahead to find out…
Four years. Four long years. It has been this long since we have had our hands on anything created by the masterminds at Bungie, who we haven’t seen come from their shell since the last great Halo, Halo: Reach, hit store shelves on September 14th, 2010. Since that day, many years ago, much has changed: Bungie has relinquished it’s control over Halo, passing the torch to Microsoft and 343 Industries, allowing them to move on to bigger and better places. Not confining themselves to, shall we say, the clouds above.
This is true with Bungie, the most ambitious and creative of all developers is finally back into the fray, and with them they’ve brought a game that will define generations of games after is. As Bungie did with Halo, Destiny takes everything you love from all of your favorite games, improves upon them, and then spits them back at you in a manner that is so graceful, so perfectly what you needed that it will make you feel personally insulted that developers before haven’t done such things with their games!
Destiny’s world, at least for the alpha, is split up in to three very unique areas that will each give you completely different experiences.The first of which is The Tower.
The Tower is the beautifully crafted social hub where you’ll spend a majority of your time buying items and gearing up for the journey ahead. The Tower is where you’ll see most of what makes Destiny’s groundbreaking concept come to life, as all around you you’ll be surrounded by any number of other guardians, all going about their own lives. While Bungie has chosen not to allow you to chat with other players in Destiny’s world (unless they’re a part of your 3-6 man fire team) you can use four different emotes to communicate through waving, dancing, pointing, and sitting. One thing is for sure: Dance Parties are a frequent thing at The Tower, and five to ten Guardians shaking their groove things while the look on over the Last City of Earth, with the all powerful and omnipotent Traveler above.
The Tower is the first true look into the hub of an MMO that us console gamers have ever had, allowing you to meet new friends, purchase new guns, upgrade your spaceship and land-bikes (Sparrow, Robin, Pike – all the vehicles in this game are named after birds, something small that I love,) and accept messages and bounties that will reward you for your play style.
While The Tower is the main social gathering for Destiny, that’s not to say you won’t be getting social anywhere else in the game. Far from it – Destiny is a game that at it’s heart wants you to have other people to play with.
Down on the scorched remains of Old Russia, over the red barren dirt that used to be the worlds pathway to the stars, you’ll take your place among other Guardians in looking to reclaim the once great bastion of hope that was Russia. As you embark on the Alpha’s sole campaign mission, your Ghost – voiced by Game of Thrones’ Peter Dinklage – will talk with you about how beautiful the area once was, and how it is now overtaken by The Fallen. The Fallen are a group of extraterrestrial beings that we don’t know much about. Their multi legged appearance gives them a parasitic look, while their yelps and screams are reminiscent of Halo’s Jackals. They come in different classes, from Vandals to Dregs and as far as the powerful shielded Captains. Each enemy is Destiny comes with its own skill level, which typically vary based on the location they’re in.
As you advance through the story we learn a harrowing detail – The Hive, an evil and mythical creature that we thought to have sealed away on the moon – is back, and it is as powerful as ever. Our Ghost tells us that he senses a Hive Wizard in the area, and that we should ensure that it is dead. The Wizard is the most powerful area you’ll fight here, being that is has the ability to summon other Hive spawns to attack you.
This mission, however small, gives us our first real glimpse at the story of Destiny, and it is very promising. The Darkness is consuming the world and it is up to you to reclaim it. Can we Guardians save the world? Can we fix what has been wronged? We’ll have to find out.
The next portion of old Russia is the Strike Mission. Strike Missions are co-op mandatory pieces of gameplay that pit you and two other members of your strike team against a harrowing waves of enemies. In the Devils Lair Strike Mission that we play in the Alpha, you and two others are trying to fight your way through to the Devils Lair, the only problem being the hundreds of Hive and Fallen that stand in your way. As you progress you’ll hit free roam sections, a horde area that makes you defeat three waves of ever strengthening enemies to advance, and finally the most challenging part, the boss fights, being a Devil Walker Tank and a Servitor, a huge floating Traveler look alike that shoots laser beams of death. These missions are great fun and a true test of your co-op teams strength. While it’s possible to go in to them with randoms, a lack of team work will put all of you in to an early grave.
Finally, we have Free Roaming. When you choose to free roam, the game simply drops you in to the world of your choosing (again, being limited to only Old Russia in the Alpha) and lets you do whatever you please. While there are waypoints scattered throughout the world that you can get missions from, they’re fairly easy tasks that involve killing enemies for their randomly dropped loot, “scouting” an area by standing at a specific point for a few seconds, and defeating a certain enemy. They’re little more then easy ways to mix up the gameplay. This isn’t to say it’s a knock on the free roam, as it is still in Alpha, this just gives you something to do other then randomly wander. The free roaming is an amazing feat – after spending a little over eight hours exploring Old Russia I’d thought I’d seen everything, but I was still finding hidden caves and crevices that had new enemies, new chests, and new environments to explore. It is in this way that Bungie holds true to their promise of providing a world three times the size of the entirety of Halo: Reach, because it certainly is. Just the small sliver of gameplay we’re given is easily larger then the entirety of Halo: Reach, and every inch of it is packed to the brim with hidden stories and uncovered life.
This is where you really see the magic Destiny is made of; as you explore Old Russia, you’ll randomly encounter other players doing the same thing as you – exploring. You can team up, invite them to your fire team, gain their help in a public event, or simply part ways and never see each other again. It’s all up to you, but it all happens seamlessly and organically in a way we’ve never seen in gaming before. Everything is organic and feels like something you should expect out of every game from now on.
The Crucible is where you’ll go to hone your skills against other Guardians, across two maps – a worn down industrial complex housed on Old Russia and a dilapidated lunar base on the surface of the Moon – you’ll play a game type known as “Control” (it’s Domination) where you fight 6v6 for three control points, with your score rising for each one you have captured. Playing on Old Russias factory map felt cramped and quite frankly boring. The gameplay on this environment came down to one shot kills and the upper hand being gained very easily. The Moon on the other hand, is a complete blast to play allowing for encounters both horizontal and vertical as well as both long range and short range. Playing Control on the moon is some of the best multiplayer experience I’ve ever had, and yes, to answer your question – it doesn’t feel anything like Halo. Bungie has managed to successfully migrate themselves from Halo in every way, giving you a whole new experience you can’t get anywhere else.
Bungie has managed to create the best game I’ve ever played, quite frankly, and it’s only in its Alpha state. I have never felt as sure about a game as I have with Destiny since I played the Halo: Reach beta back in 2010. Those who play the Alpha and Beta in the coming weeks are going to be playing the most beautiful, most advanced pieces of a game we’ve seen to this day.
The games industry is about to be shaken up for the better in a way we haven’t seen since November 15th, 2001. Destiny is here to revolutionize the world of gaming, and it is doing so in full force.
Destiny’s PlayStation 4 Alpha was played on a retail PlayStation 4.
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