Epic first person shooter in a consistent massively multiplayer online world – who else could do this better, than Bungie with the Halo fame behind its back. Destiny is one of the most ambitious gaming experiences ever done, and while it’s still far from being finished we could already try out the beta of the game since 17 July.
Take a bit of the good old Halo, mix it with World of Warcraft, then add a bit of Diablo and Doom, spice it up with some Borderlands too and voila: you have Destiny, the next masterpiece of Bungie. Of course it is a bit more complicated than that, but basically that’s the very essence of Destiny: a first person shooter with MMO and role playing elements.
It’s about you
Since it’s a role playing game, it’s not about the Master Chief or some other pre-generated hero but your very own character. You are a Guardian, one of very last bastions of the human society in a post-apocalyptic world after the end of the “interstellar golden” age. We don’t really know what happened in this age, but one thing is certain: at this moment everything is chaotic: different fractions and creatures are fighting against each other and we have to prevail with a self-made hero in this world. There is an actual plot in the Destiny, but not the same kind you can find in single player games. It’s more about creating your own character and shaping him the way you want. For that you need to choose a race and class like in any other role playing game. In the beta there were only three classes: the good old humans, the Awoken, who reminds you of the elves and the Exo, who are rather sentient robots. The differences are rather cosmetic , to be honest, and doesn’t affect gameplay or stats at all.
Class is more important however since each has its own skill trees and special capabilities. Titans are your vanilla warriors, who are both pretty good at close combat and at range, hunters rather excel at a scout/ranger kind of role, and warlocks are a bit like high-tech sorcerers.
Ghost recons you
After the character creation you are instantly thrown in the game, with a chatting floating robot, Ghost at your side. Ghost is voiced by Game of Thrones actor, Peter Dinklage, but honestly there’s a slight chance you will notice it, or rather care about it at all. Ghost is basically serves as a tutorial robot, telling you the basics of the game and also helping you at various instances. When you first enter the depths of an abandoned vast building you will encounter your first enemies, the semi-insectoid space pirates: the Fallen. Bungie has indeed a gift to create very unique enemy types from basic shock troops, to sharpshooters and grunts all the way to the beefed up, all muscled, huge captains. At first killing those troops doesn’t differentiate much from the basic gameplay of Halo or in fact any other FPS. Exploration of strange and exotic worlds however is more pronounced here but the combat itself is the same with many types of weapons at your disposal and ferocious fights against hard enemies which require the same tactics as in Halo: when you running out of health or shield power, you have to hide to replenish it.
The only downside to Destiny beta, that so far in this version the AI seems to be a bit lower than in the Halo games, but Bungie has still time to fine-tune it.
It’s an RPG after all
Aside shooting guns the same way, there’s a big difference between classes concerning special abilities, armor, movement speeds and melee capabilities. Like in any RPG killing, exploring and finishing missions rewards you with experience which lets you level up and get special abilities. Some of those skills are for everyone, others are class-specific attacks. For example, if you reach level 5 as a hunter, you will learn to conjure “magical” golden pistols in your hands which packs quite heavily, but only for a few seconds. Warlocks have a weird energy grenade attack, which creates a half-sphere vortex throwing any enemies within its reach backward. You can play the missions solo or with the help of other players. Sometimes the game puts you together with another player automatically, sometimes you have the choice to either play alone or invite friends. Playing solo isn’t really hard or difficult, and if you feel alone, you still have your trusty Tyrion Lanni… uhm I mean, Ghost (Peter Dinklage) to keep you company. The basic solo gameplay feels actually a bit old school FPS, with Doom-like corridors and chambers, bloodthirsty monsters, floating wizards and other such Doom/Half Life/Halo like moments. It has nostalgic and new vibe at the same time.
The Tower (not the one in London)
After the initial missions finished we are taken to The Tower, which may sound similar to the one in London, but it has nothing to do with it. The orbital HQ of the Guardians serves as a home base, where you can buy and sell weapons, upgrade your armor and identify others. Some of them are level-locked which means that you have to wait until you reach the required level. World of Warcraft players may be also familiar with other possibilities here: you can meet your class specific “trainer” (who rather provides you with some cool weapons and gives you missions instead of giving you skills and perks). The Tower isn’t so big than Orgrimmar in WoW for example and the game doesn’t really encourages you to stand here all day either: when you are done with all of your businesses here, you are politely told that you can move on, if you wish so. So I did.
Old Russia looks wonderful
When I was back in to another level I had the chance to admire the world of Old Russia, which looks great on the PlayStation 4. It’s almost as gorgeous as Battlefield 4 or Killzone: Shadowfall, it has actually a similar visual world to the latter. The environment looks eerily lifelike with huge abandoned deserts and cliffs, crumbling huge buildings and damp, corroded, very S.T.A.L.K.E.R.-like interiors. You really feel the need to travel and explore your environments which sometimes can be done with the floating bike, highly reminiscent of those in Halo, or Star Wars: The Return of Jedi. The bike has also different types which you can have later in the game as you progress or on some maps the PVP multiplayer game.
Guardians fighting amongst each other
While there aren’t different enemy fractions or races to choose from which can fight against each other there is of course a player versus player part in the game with several maps and gameplay types. In the beta we could try out the Crucible and Iron Banners, which are more or less vanilla capture the flag kind of maps. There are tactical aspects to the gameplay but it’s basically very fast and furious in the PVP, you need to have extremely good reflexes. It’s actually reminded me of Quake 3: Arena with added cool weapons and possibilities.
The next big Halo?
Perhaps Destiny will be something even more. With lots the RPG leveling and the MMO-like features blended to the solid sci-fi shooter gameplay it’s complex and simple at the same time and especially engrossing. Yes, there are still some issues to solve, and lots of content to be added, but what we have seen so far in the beta is very promising. Yes, if had that amount of money, I would positively pour 500 million dollars in this game.
+ Solid FPS gameplay from the makers of Halo
+ Strong MMO concept blends well into the whole game
+ Tons of content already, more will be added + Gorgeous graphics on the PS4
Not sure about:
– Some beta missions are a bit boring
– A little more diversion in the missions would be nice
– Story could be a bit stronger