With the Destiny beta pausing for a period of server maintenance over the last few days, before surprising us all by returning ahead of schedule last night, we’ve had plenty of time to sit back and think on the beta. So, rather than setting just one of us the task of writing a preview and sharing those thoughts, we’ve pulled together our highs and lows from what we saw over the weekend.
Tuffcub was quick to fall in love with the alpha test, when it found its way onto his console during E3, and those feelings have continued well into the beta. “It’s even better than the Alpha,” he said, “although I’m not looking forward to playing through the same set of missions for a third time when the game is actually released. Personally I could zoom about on the hoverbike all day and not even bother with shooting things.”
It’s far from necessary to have played the alpha, though, and Matt noted “how welcoming the game is to all players, regardless of how they wish to go about objectives. I’ve done a few side-missions by myself, and I had a great time. I’ve gone through story missions with my friends, and I had a great time. I’ve played a couple strike missions with two random people, and (you guessed it) I had a great time.”
However, this does bring us to our first concern from the beta, and one which was shared by a few of us, myself included. For a game designed so heavily for co-operative play, it could be quite easy to find yourself playing on your own. Following our first live stream of the game, I decided to start a fresh character on the weekend for next time, but found myself reticent to interrupt and ask friends in established fireteams and with higher levels to go back and play through missions that they had already been through at least once before. Dan J and Aran also found themselves playing on their own quite a bit.
When it does come together, it can be brilliant, as podcaster extraordinaire Kev wrote, “The best moment for me came when I randomly bumped into TSA regular Kevling whilst on a mission, and we carried out the rest of it together, we made a good team too, even though I was only a squishy level 3 character at the time. Go Team Kev!”
He, and almost everyone else, continued to talk about the game’s graphical prowess. “The world looks stunning too,” said Dan J, ” and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve stopped to take a screenshot of the sunset.” Personally, I find that the sunsets take a back seat to the extraordinary array of 80s sci-fi hairstyles.
Matt wrote of how “the world just begs to be explored,” and that he “often just wandered around mission areas without actually progressing because I wanted to see what was on the other side of a building, or what the vista over the next hill looked like. I’m traditionally very objective driven in games, so it’s not often I find a game that just makes me want to explore, but the world of Destiny sure does.”
Dan has had a similar experience, zipping around on his speeder that he found particularly reminiscent of Star Wars. His exploration has led him to new and interesting places, as he said, “Probably the best part for me is when I’ve bumped into a few extremely powerful enemies that are immune to everything I fire at them. I’m guessing these Fallen have been placed there to stop players exploring too much, but I’m still determined to kill at least one of them.”
The world that Bungie have woven is a fascinating one, not just because it tries to tell you a story, but how it wants to let you tell your own stories. Aran relayed one of many which have surely already cropped up:
One of my personal highlights was a public event that cropped out of nowhere. One minute I’m trying to collect things off dead Fallen, the next a huge burst of light knocks my Guardian off his feet as a Warstat module crashes and appears on the ground. In the chaos another player appeared, and without exchanging a word we played together to defend that module until the time was up. Those random Public events will be amazing in the full game.
Having said that, he was a little disappointed that at a degree of repetition in location and mission design. “Two missions yesterday sent me to the exact same location to kill a boss, who was different,” he relayed. “I’m hoping that doesn’t speak for the final product.”
Dom, whose thoughts have mysteriously found themselves lumped towards the end of this article, is more concerned about repetition from alpha test to beta test and on to the final game. “I’m now becoming very jaded towards the Old Russia location,” he said. “After playing through the alpha to the level cap the opening sections of the beta were just a bit dull, and if Bungie opt not to carry experience through from the beta to the retail release we’ll have to play through it all again come September. This will sadly mean a very perfunctory start to one of the year’s most anticipated titles.”
That aside, Dom summed up the beta as a whole best for me:
The Destiny beta remains a genuine pleasure to play, with distinctive weaponry, rock-solid gunplay and some excellent graphics. It’s been nice to see some early cut-scenes, and gain a sliver of insight into the overarching storyline, and though I’m still not sold on the tried and tested floating companion I am yet to have any problem with Peter Dinklage. Bungie seem to have hit upon an exciting blend of Halo’s gameplay and Diablo’s loot drops all wrapped up in a cooperative RPG title. When you meet a group of like-minded players it works incredibly well, though if you’re part of a group of individuals things can become just as frustrating.
If you can’t quite get enough of the Destiny beta, next week’s podcast should be one to keep an eye out for. Kev let slip that they plan to “reminisce about a coop game played by Peter, Lewis and I, so you can hear more of our thoughts on Monday.” Not only that, but Peter and I will be continuing our streaming exploits in Old Russia. This might be sooner than you’d think.