Destiny beta hands-on

Note: So, the Destiny beta ended earlier this week. And the end date snuck up on me sooner than I expected so this preview isn’t as in-dept as I’d have liked. I didn’t really get much online play done but did do a fair few of the story missions. Read on …

Destiny-screenshotBefore the Destiny beta I had little interest in playing the new game from Bungie, the game development studio known best for its Halo series. It just seemed like it was Borderlands but prettied up for the new console generation.

After playing the beta for the past few days on PS4 (it ended today, it seems),  though, I’m now more interested in the game. Perhaps not interested enough to buy the full version when it’s released in September, but my interest is piqued. I was pleasantly surprised at what I played.

Those that know me, know that I like single player campaigns first, online component second. And Destiny’s story mode doesn’t come across as anything special: An alien race called The Fallen have invaded Earth, bringing with them some other alien forced called The Darkness, and humanity has only one stronghold left. It’s up to you – Yes, you – to defeat the Fallen and save humanity. Frankly, the story is ho-hum and little more than an excuse to drop the player on a decimated Earth, face off against a powerful alien race and save the galaxy.

I played as a Titan, which is sort of a run-and-gun soldier by the end of the Beta I was a level 5 Titan, but had I had more time I’m sure I would have made it to the Beta’s level cap (which I think was level 8)

Destiny has a central hub called The Tower, where players can wander around, dance, emote, sit down and generally just hang out. I saw players dancing in front of each other and saluting each other. I also saw players trying to jump over a barrier fence onto what seemed like outstretched aerials. They failed, plummeting to the depths below. I tried it – and failed. I plummeted to the depths below, re-spawning back in The Tower.

You can make your avatar sit down. So I did. Several times. Generally, I sat down every time I arrived at a new location – during the weekend Bungie opened up a story mission set on the Moon – and took a photo of it using the PS4’s share function (then posted it on my Twitter feed).

The beta had four story which were relatively straightforward: follow markers to your objective, defeat the enemy, move on but an interesting thing about Destiny is that when you tackled a mission there could be any number of players there with you. Those players might help you take out the Fallen as you complete your objective or just bounce around doing their own thing (as some of them did when I played). Apparently, Destiny isn’t an MMO but it’s an interesting world where you’re single player game can be populated by other players from around the world.

The game’s tutorial opens with the player lying dead on Old Russia cosmodrome on Earth, and being revived by your Ghost, a flying AI voiced by Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage. Apparently, Dinklage’s voice work is better than it was in the Alpha. I didn’t play the Alpha so I can vouch for that but at times I still thought the voice work was a bit lacklustre.

The story missions weren’t long – I think one mission took me around 9 minutes to complete  – and you can ride a vehicle called a Sparrow about the world and explore, but the story missions didn’t blow me away and tended to follow tried-and-true shooter conventions, which was a little disappointing.  One mission even had a  “hold off the advancing enemies until your Ghost hacks an alien computer” scenario. I really hope that Bungie are able to create a deep and engaging narrative that rivals that they achieved with the Halo series.

The Destiny beta has a lot of great things going for, one of them being how great it looks visually (remember it’s in beta so it’s still going to get some polish), but I still have some questions before I’ll commit to buying it when it comes out, especially in relation to the story missions. Also, while it’s great fun, I don’t think it’s the great revelation and best gaming experience ever that some gaming sites are saying it is.

So, did you play the Beta? What did you think?




4 thoughts on “Destiny beta hands-on

  1. I have also been sucked into the Destiny world…have it on pre-order and have attacked the beta to get my Hunter to level 8 (capped). I’m like you Gerard and enjoy singe player games I can get into at my own pace, but Destiny surprised me. I enjoyed the gameplay, particularly the team mission where I joined two random players in getting through 3 major challenges…I was just frustrated when together we couldn’t defeat an onslaught of Fallen (all 3 of us would die), and would have to start again. But I was completely sucked into the world and refused to leave the PS3 – even when my wife advised me that we had to go out – so that that I wouldn’t ‘let down’ my unknown teammates!

    I was disappointed with my foray into ‘Crucible’ multiplayer – just felt like an online massacre as I was repeatedly destroyed by other players way more skilled than me – don’t think that part of the game will appeal to me in the full version.

    I’ve heard some people moaning about the lack of a map system on the beta – and I agree. Often I found myself wondering where I was and how I was going to get back on track.

    The other thing Im wondering about is the size of the game? Bungie stated the beta formed around 10% of the content – and I played the beta through in a day, so I’m wondering if there’ll be enough in the full version, and will the story hold me?

    There are a lot of unknowns in this one…but I did enjoy it. It felt like a cross between Borderlands and Mass Effect.

  2. Thanks for this update. I haven’t yet pre-ordered so missed out on the beta entirely. A bit like you I’m unsure if the game is for me or not – I didn’t really enjoy Borderlands but liked Mass Effect.
    I have been ho-humming over it for a while now, but will probably get sucked in

    The other thing holding me back is that I literally have no PS online friends! It seems like this game would be much better when playing with mates in a fireteam.

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