Reflecting On Our First Adventures In The Destiny Beta

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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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31 Comments

  1. Some good thoughts there, I pretty much agree with all of it apart from the graphics. They’re OK, functional, but hardly amazing. The cut scenes look good but all of the gameplay graphics seem very much like they’d easily be possible on ps3. I really do how they allow us to continue our progress into the full games, like you all said above I really don’t want to play those same missions for a third time.

    • You sir, are utterly mad. It’s gawgeous!

    • I don’t think the graphics are anything amazing either. In fact the whole game isn’t anything amazing, imo. Far from a bad game, but really can’t see what people are so hyped about.

      • Thats pretty much what I said yesterday. I’m not saying the game is terrible or anything, but I can’t help thinking it’s way over hyped.
        In fact, after playing the Destiny Beta and getting used to the graphics, then jumping on BF4, BF4 all of a sudden looked amazing.

    • The PS3 version itself looks wonderful for a last-gen game so if the PS4 game is just the same but shinier I would be happy with that.

    • Bungie have done an amazing job on the PS3 version, but I think Destiny is the best looking thing on PS4 right now. It’s just so polished, even the Alpha version.

      I played in the Alpha and I’m onto my second character in the Beta. I wanted to try all the classes before the full game came out. I played through a couple of early story missions with a friend who was level 8, whilst I was level 3, and there was a good mix of enemies so we both had fun playing through them.

      My only concern is about the size of the full game and if we will have to continually grind missions to level up our characters. Do we know if earth will have other locations besides Old Russia at launch? I’ve head rumours of other locations but nothing has been revealed yet. Mars, Venus and the Moon all look smaller than Old Russia.

    • The graphics look amazing to me. That article comparing shots shows the difference is massive too IMO.

      • I agree there is a difference, but picking which is ‘better’ isn’t so straight forward (for me at least).

  2. I’ve loved every minute I’ve played so far. I can sort of see what you’re saying about having to play the opening missions again. But I was well aware that I’d be in the same situation if I joined the beta. I thought long and hard about it before finally diving in.

    Time will tell if the final release has the same limitations in missions for exploration mode. But I do hope they keep adding PvE content over the life of the game rather than focusing on PvP stuff. And I’m also keen to see what bungie have in mind for the end game “grind” that will keep us all hooked once the level cap is reached.

    And I assume like most other mmo style games. What we play when the game first releases will not be fully representative of the game in 6 to 8 months time.

    I haven’t really touched the PvP side either.

    But all in all. What’s on show in the beta is solid, smooth, and polished to a high shine. And (as long as shooters are your bag) if that’s not enough to convince you to go for a day one purchase, I don’t know what is.

  3. I found the Beta a bit boring to be honest. I was playing it solo though so perhaps co-op would be fun.

    • Honestly, if you can, play in a fireteam. I played the Alpha and hated it, because I did it solo, but in the beta tried it with friends and the game has gone from “meh” to “amazing”.

      It really made a difference.

      • I’ll try and find some people to team up with, thanks!

  4. I really enjoyed what I played of the beta, Doms summing up pretty much echoes my own thoughts. I’ve been playing pretty much solo, but the random hookups that occur through the events and even just meeting someone at the same point in the story is really great and adds a lot to the game. Temporary co-op works well for me, cos I’m fickle like that :)

  5. Starting to actually put this on my radar. Haven’t really been interested in it up until this preview. Think the fact it seems fine to play on your own for the most part is what is peaking my interest. I’m a loner gamer by nature. Not sure why but usually not that fussed playing with other people.

    • Agree with you, I’m not a MP gamer myself and the MMO side is what originally put me off, but its quite accessible as a solo player.

  6. I think it’s rubbish. The players float in the air, it’s not clear on where you meant go

    • Use your ghost sir. Sometimes you don’t need to be told where to go, its all about exploring.

      • But I only like exploring good games with beautiful places to look at. Destiny is a junkyard that’s not worth exploring but instead rather go & get to the point.

        I wouldn’t recommend this game to my worst enemy

      • fair enough if you don’t like it. i think its one of nicest looking games around. It’s not the best to look at but the ghost gives you loads of different missions all the time if you ever get lost.

      • It’s a bit annoying having to bring up ghost every 30 seconds.

  7. Played the Alpha = didn’t enjoy it as I played solo
    Played the Beta with friends = Absolutely loving it and can’t get enough of it.

    I have never had so much fun so far on the PS4. The graphics, the guns, the enemies and the depth the game has astonishes me, and its only the beta. I can see this game being huge. I wasn’t even interested in it up until trying the beta. I can see this being the biggest seller not only of the year, but possibly this generation. Bit like COD4 was.

    • Bloody hell, Bilbo. As someone who is rightfully cynical/jaded to many a franchise, to hear you like this is really quite something. I have to admit, this article (alone) has piqued my interest. I’m hoping to pick up a PS4 in the coming month or so and it’s interesting how this has now crept onto my radar.

      Enjoy! :-)

  8. Team Kev? Sounds good to me :)

    In fairness though, Kev and I didn’t just run into each other, I saw what mission he was playing from the in-game friends list and joined his ‘fireteam’.

    Worked pretty seamlessly too!

  9. Watching a friend play, at first I was not so tempted. But later on I sat down myself and played for quite some hours. My opinion shifted.

    I really liked the PvE parts, but was quite unimpressed by the PvP. Why does so many games just boil down competitive multiplayer to a simple deathmatch? By now, in 2014, we know that you can make the PvP experience so much more than just about shooting the enemies.

    I hope Bungie step this up and make objective based PvP for real. The one shown in the beta was laughable. If you only get a killing points bonus for owning objectives, then it is still deathmatch. If you have no supporting roles and just roles for offense it is still deathmatch. And the deathmatch genre has been around since the first FPS went multiplayer. Nothing major has happened in that genre in the last decade, nor do I think much will. Also, deathmatch is a very unforgiving and ruthless introduction to competitive multiplayer for new player, probably one that is going to scare them off forever, leaving it for the die-hard hardcore fans. Only rewarding kills (and assists to a very small degree) makes it excruciatingly boring to try to advance through that.

    In other games that rewards reaching the objectives over plain killing, it is possible to be at the top of the leaderboards and win a game for the team without firing a single shot. So I hope that more companies realize that competitive multiplayer != deathmatch.

    Apart from that, it seems to be a solid game and I really enjoyed the parts I got to play. I hope to see many of you in the PvE section.

  10. Haven’t had time to get stuck into the beta beyond the intro due to work commitments – hoping to tonight and tomorrow though ;)

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