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Feature Friday: Next-Gen/Last-Gen Destiny beta impressions

Ted and Rick B go head-to-head on the recently closed Destiny Beta, as Ted plays through the last-gen version on the PS3 and Rick B jams on the Xbox One edition. Their impressions proved to not be all that different though, and they might surprise you…

Rick B’s take on the Xbox One version

The Destiny beta has recently concluded and it is sure bet this game is going to be a huge hit. What is there left to say about Destiny? The game looks amazing. Characters, enemies and landscapes are all beautifully crafted. The gameplay is great. Walking around the first few levels in Old Russia killing The Fallen is fun. Being able to fight other guardians in the Crucible has that classic Bungie multiplayer gameplay. So why then was I left with this ‘meh’ feeling after playing the beta of Destiny?

There is no denying this is going to be an amazing looking game. Bungie has spent the last five years building the world of Destiny. The first five minutes of gameplay give a great first impression of the wasteland that has befallen planet Earth. Destiny begins with the main character waking up in the back of a dilapidated car. It is during this instance that Bungie really makes a good first impression. The road is littered with old cars that look like they were left over from some kind of battle. The wind whips around blowing dust across the landscape. Walking around the environment really gives a sense of loneliness. After being introduced to the world of Destiny, the story is quick to take the gamer to explore Old Russia.

In the demo there were enough levels to showcase the different types of gameplay available. Old Russia contains a handful of story missions that lead to a strike mission. This strike mission is an online mission that requires at least three players and ends with the boss battle for that particular story line. The other area in Old Russia contains the Cosmodrome. This level is larger than the story mission levels and is great for exploration.

The Cosmodrome is home to several side missions, public events and exploration. The side missions consist of finding beacons and completing the task, such as destroying 20 members of The Fallen. Public events, such as Destroy the Devil Walker, occur during open gameplay and anyone in the vicinity can become a part of the event. Players work together to blow up this heavily-armored spidertank. This public event was fun and rewarding and did not become overly contrived.

Several encounters with the Devil Walker produced some great battles and it was a difficult enemy to defeat. Battling the beast one-on-one proved to be a death wish. Teaming with other players provided enough firepower to destroy the spidertank and reap the rewards. Playing the beta alone was fun but the real entertainment came once I got into the strike team and the multiplayer in the Crucible.

The Crucible houses all the different types of multiplayer gameplay. The only available mode was guard and there were a few maps to play. Multiplayer felt a lot like previous Halo installments. There is definitely a sense of familiarity during these matches. Anyone that has spent any amount of time playing multiplayer in Halo will feel right at home. One difference to multiplayer was the ability for gamers to be able to take their character to the battlefields. Meaning, all guns and upgrades earned are available during a match. This brings us to questions about balancing the battlefield. Clearly balancing the battlefield will be taken care before launch but an area of concern was the lack of customization within the character class.

There are three character classes, the Warlock, the Titan and the Hunter. The classes are separated by special moves, types of grenades and type of movement motion. From this point, picking different upgrades and superpower sets will create subclasses. It is similar to Borderlands’ upgrade system, but not as flushed out. There is not a lot of customization in the way of upgrades. At this point with the beta it was difficult to tell the differences between each character subclass. So the sole way to distinguish each guardian apart relied heavily on the different looks of armor.

The different types of armor are what ultimately sets each character apart. Each class gains access to a particular type of armor. The gear is upgradable but during my time with the beta, these upgrades provided little to no boast. A helmet had an increase in pulse rifle ammo or a gun would have decrease in recoil. With these rather simple upgrades I hope the upgrade system is a lot more complex. Bungie has been long claimed the RPG aspect of this game to be like none other. I just hope it turns out to be the best ever and not something that is so foreign it is unrecognizable.

My interest for Destiny before the beta was through the roof. I could not get enough news about this game. I eagerly waited for the release of the beta. Once the beta was released I played it for hours on end. And the whole time I was playing I kept saying to myself, “is this it?” I am sure a lot of these items will be different at launch. But not my interest for Destiny is more wait and see approach. While I believe this game is ground breaking in a lot of ways, I feel as though the majority of the actual gameplay is a bunch of things I have already done.

Ted’s take on the PS3 version

When I was first asked to share my opinion of Destiny I hadn’t played it, from what I’d heard from popular opinion there was an even split for and against. Since then I’ve played all the missions, the forced co-op mission and multiple multi-player vs sessions. Right now it doesn’t deserve the hype machine around it and when playing there are a lot of reminders of other gaming predecessors. As someone who played the PS3 version and doesn’t know if there are any gameplay changes between it and next gen I’ll skip an opinion on that front. I will say the PS3 version reminds me a lot of the Resistance franchise with tracking bending bullets, but there’s other deja vu moments here too.

There’s the on-screen hit stats shown whenever you hit an enemy, a rundown area with branching missions through different routes and group co-op while picking up guns from loot chests. So there are a lot of Borderlands comparisons to be made. From Bungie’s own Halo franchise what remains here are a few enemy types that don’t mix up their attack type and are repeated frequently. Hopefully as more locations open up this will change but the current battle to the end of the corridor then defend for x minutes will get stale very fast. The RPG character modification menu though is the best I’ve seen. It’s ridiculously simple to change weapon and compare stats so it’s finally the way it should be an a benchmark title.

The lack of any environmental destruction from weapons fire is a surprising omission given then even older titles like the Battlefield franchise managed to do it on old gen consoles. Even with the known voice talent the script is terrible and the story given in a throw-away manner. Though I was paying attention I can’t honestly say I have any idea why ‘The Traveler’ is important apart from being there or what it actually did to change things even with the subs enabled the whole time. Mission dialogue is given as exposition only and your AI companion ‘Ghost’ lacks any character not holding a candle to the AI’s in the Portal franchise.

So do I like the Destiny beta version? Yes. It may not sound like it but overall I do. The Vs multiplayer is well done with some decent maps.  I wasn’t able to play one mode during a testing session due to a lack of players (the game even abandoned searching it was so long) which has me concerned for gameplay being unavailable when people move onto the next big thing. Overall I think Destiny is a solid linear shooter, a bit formulaic and certainly not a game changer but a decent gun-play romp through the stars.

About Jason Micciche

Jason's been knee deep in videogames since he was but a lad. Cutting his teeth on the pixely glory that was the Atari 2600, he's been hack'n'slashing and shoot'em'uping ever since. Mainly an FPS and action guy, Jason enjoys the occasional well crafted title from every genre.

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