After recently starting Mass Effect 2, it’s safe to say I’m on something of a space-travelling high. Considering that, the Destiny beta couldn’t have arrived at a better time. Having acquired a beta key from one of our sources, the beta went F2P anyway. Still, that didn’t stop me from playing this slice of intergalactic pie on its last day for PS3 and PS4, in this case on PS3.
Was it worth distracting Playstation fans like myself from Mass Effect, or is it just a painful reminder that we’ll never have anything as good as Halo?
The premise of Destiny is that of an intriguing sci-fi. You play as a Guardian, following in the foundations laid by the Traveller, exploring the big bad world of the universe in an attempt to fight the oncoming Darkness. In my hours of playing, the narrative pace wasn’t quite as quick as series like Halo and Mass Effect. Being an MMO and, better yet, a beta of that MMO, it’s to be expected.
Still, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t engaging. Cutting-edge, third-person cutscenes, as well as some decent voice acting (yes, even your principle character talks. He/she’s no Shepard, but at least has more charisma than The Vault Dweller), satisfy me enough to hope that the story of this game is enough to keep me exploring. Also, having only confronted two forgetful enemy races, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for some cool alien races to take the shared crown from Star Wars and Mass Effect.
Yet before I put my space boots on and travelled across time and space (actually, just space), I first had to create my character. Think of a mix between Knights of the Old Republic and The Sims, and you have Destiny‘s customisation system. Firstly, you have to choose between three classes: titan, the ‘engine of war’; hunter, the ‘master of the frontier’, and warlock, where ‘the universe bends at your will’. Each one comes with a unique set of abilities, so choose wisely at risk of, well… choosing the wrong one.
Character creation after that is divided into race/gender, face, hair, and marking. Nothing you’ve not seen before, kids – Destiny ticks all the right boxes on the MMO customisation front. Those who spend their time making a severely obese character for bants, however, you may be disappointed.
Of course, Bungie‘s game isn’t just an MMO, it’s also a FPS. An MMO-FPS hybrid, if you will. After toying around with Destiny for a good few hours, this appears to be its USP. The gameplay system is something of a greatest hits collection of its two parent genres. You have the solid FPS mechanics, reminiscent of PS3 classics like the Resistance and Killzone series; and you have those classic RPG elements, such as level progression and item collecting, seen in titles such as The Old Republic and Dawn of War II.
To my surprise, it really does work; not just in a gameplay manner, but in the way you go about the game. Destiny has been expected to have a 10-year shelflife according to publisher Activision. How do they do that? By appealing to the single player and multiplayer geeks in all of us. The beta showcases how this works.
As you level up in the game (where XP is gained from killing enemies and general badassery), this unlocks more levels in its campaign. Simultaneously, the game acts as an almost open lobby, where other players in Destiny can join you in those missions, as well as on the game’s hub worlds. I’m not much of an MMO player myself, but giving my single player experience an MMO spit and polish encouraged me to not just be in it for the narrative.
Some difficulties I encountered in the beta were on a technical note, really. Whilst the FPS mechanics and game physics are solid, I encountered several invisible walls during my playthrough, suffered from long loading times and was disconnected about four times from my session. It was tolerable, and Bungie assured me that it was just last-day-beta shenanigans, so I’m sure that I can sleep at night until the game is released.
Having played few MMOs, having never played Halo, and having spent far too much time on Mass Effect, I knew from the bat that I wasn’t Destiny‘s target audience. Still, that didn’t stop Bungie from reeling me in and leaving me impressed with the hours that I spent with the game. If it can work on its buggy issues, as well as assure players that the single player narrative is worth sticking around for more than mere XP and voice acting, then I may just be one of the players reaching Destiny‘s shelflife goal. Actually, maybe five years max – I’m a bit of a gaming nomad.