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Destiny Alpha First Impression
I was fortunate enough to get into the Alpha for the game and see what all the fuss was about. Now my experience with early access has only been limited to a few games. I know that character saves usually don't exist and that its going to be relatively buggy and broken. To my surprise and many others this wasn't the case for Destiny.
A few weeks ago at E3, Bungie released Alpha codes to Playstation 4 users that signed up and gave them an opportunity to stress test their servers, break the game in all different manners, and overall give people an experience in Destiny to finally figure out why people who have played the game absolutely fall in love with it.
Missions, Exploration, and Strikes
So right after the download finished I booted up the game and I instantly felt like I was playing Halo, I felt right at home in this MMOFPS. I started creating my character from the choice of the 3 Guardian classes: Hunter, Titan, and Warlock. I chose Hunter because I like sniper rifles and that was the Guardians affinity. As soon as I finished creating my character it dropped me down on earth. The HUD layout was lofty and minimalist and did a good job of not taking away from any of the well rendered environments. The great thing that I discovered as soon as I spawned into my single player mission on Earth, people had already started populating the world. They were dropping in and out, flying all over on their Sparrows (the personal mode of transportation), I was smiling before I knew it. Then a good friend of mine dropped into my match and joined my fireteam without any kind of hitch or stutter in the game. From the first five minutes I knew I was digging into something good.
Continuing with the exploration mode on earth with my friends, we traveled all over the place, from an airplane graveyard, to an abandoned shipyard, to areas that the quests hadn't taken us yet and to enemies we couldn't even hurt. Since the game locked the your guardian's level at 8 you couldn't hurt certain harder enemies simply because you can't do enough damage. Also there was a lot of gear that I found adventuring that was much higher than level 8, so even though you had it or might have bought it, you couldn't use it in the Alpha. So bouncing around the map on our Sparrows fighting Fallen and the Hive in their respective areas, we found that there were a few portions of the map that felt rather empty and it could've hosted many more enemies for us to mow down.
When I say mowing down I should be a little hesitant because there were some aspects of this Alpha that were really hard and posed a challenge that was not only time consuming but demanding of your attention. The key factor about these difficult exchanges is you can't pause the game, you can't take your time. If you're vulnerable in the open you will get killed quickly. That is an aspect they pulled straight from other MMOs, if you are out and about with friends and you leave your guardian unattended, chances are they will be killed by some enemy at some relentless low level enemy, that will do just enough damage.
The most challenging portion of the game was the raid, or what Bungie called a "Strike". In the Alpha only 3 Guardians could hop in and fight together in the Strike. The only one available to play was the Devil's Lair which has been showcased time and time again. However once you get into the fights, you could easily lose control of the situation. I think I personally enjoyed that subconsciously because the chaos and constant stream of enemies barely gave you a moment to relax or let your guard down. Even the bosses in the Strike weren't to be thought of any less, they were hard and constantly kept you moving and if you made one small error you would get killed.
Once you had finished your strike, your time on earth exploring, or murdering other guardians in the Crucible, you would come back to the tower. This was the hub. This is where everyone that was playing on the same server as you came and conglomerated, making friends, dancing, waving, trading, kicking soccer balls all over the place and off the edge. Bungie pulled from other MMOs well, they made it easy and fun to interact with other people that you would otherwise only encounter in PVP or exploring earth (possibly with an already full fireteam) without giving other players a second thought. The one tip I can give in the Tower is to explore. You will find all different kinds of vendors and merchants to buy different things ranging from new icons, to weapons, even ships, you just need to find them peddling in their corner.
The Crucible is the PVP element that Bungie had named in the game that allows you to choose a gametype, take your fireteam of up to six people in (depending on the gametype I believe). They only had one gametype available called control. There were 3 points you had to capture and control and you would get points according to how many positions you had. Just like BattleField's Domination. They had two maps available to play (one on a moon base and the other on earth) and I read in an article a couple days ago that there were over 6 million matches played in the 3 and a half days the Alpha was open. The games were fun and quickly paced and I only ran into lag once or twice. It was fluid and smooth, no one had any sort of an upper hand due to the functionality of the game, everyone was on a level playing field and it promoted some great competitive games.
I do see an awkward situation rising out of this PVP however. In Destiny whatever your character has equipped to them before you enter the Crucible, they will keep that equipment. This goes for guns and armor, anything that you are using in the missions transitions with you. While I don't know if my weapon does more than my opponents it could definitely give an unfair advantage to those who might have amazing weapons to new players who are just trying to learn the game. While I don't know exactly what the situation is with balancing (I assume there has to be some), I didn't notice anyone really outdoing one another solely because of their weapons. More often than not I would see people miss shooting each other, I've done it too, and then the first one to land a hit would win after that.
- Destiny Alpha PS4 Gameplay: Crucible PVP - YouTube
This is a small video I made showcasing Destiny's crucible. I feel like this will give you a more hands on idea instead of just my words influencing your opinion. Enjoy!
Weapons, Gear, and Abilities
The weapons range from heavy pistols to rocket launchers. You have three slots, one for your primary (usually your preferred class based weapon), one for your secondary (your go to when you're in pinch), and one for a heavy weapon (to kill everything in front of you). The setup I went with was a DMR, semi-auto rifle that did a lot of damage with headshots, a shotgun when they got too close, then a heavy machine gun when I get desperate. The weapons range from your standard assault rifle, to sniper rifles, pulse rifles (bursts), fusion rifles (which do elemental damage), shotguns, heavy pistols, rocket launchers, heavy machine guns all with different variations and stats. The more you use a weapon the more you unlock for it. So after an X amount of kills with the weapon you unlock the damage upgrade, then after Y you can get new scopes or new ammunition depending on the weapon that you're using.
The gear that you use in the game isn't only aesthetic but its all class based. So while you may be playing as a Hunter and your friend is playing as a Warlock you may pick up the same item but you will only get it for the Guardian you are playing as. Other than that the armor is pretty self explanatory, the bigger the number the less damage you take.There are a few statistics that determine cooldown times for your ability, accuracy, reload speed, etc that help a little bit. You can upgrade the armor just like the weapons if they have an ability to upgrade to. There is a whole other section for choosing what kind of Sparrow you use, what kind of Ship you have in the loading screens, and your icon as well when people see your name in your fireteam.
Last but not least by any means are the abilities for each Guardian. Hunters have the Golden Gun, which translates into I want that enemy dead now (3 shots to use once activated). Warlocks have this AOE (Area Of Effect) ball of energy, which kills anything it touches as well. Titans get a ground pound or a dash depending on if they are in the air or not, which kills everything as well. through these abilities your character gains certain traits specific to their class, so different kinds of grenades, different jumps, different abilities. The super abilities that I had mentioned come in play in PVP in really big ways and you can usually tell when someone is about to, or is using their super. However it doesn't make them invincible and if they miss, you can punish them just as hard as they would you.
I was blown away by the few hours I was able to spend playing this game. It was fantastic. Granted there were a few hitches, but I would've expected those hitches in a final game that I had already paid 60$ dollars for. The quality control was outstanding and they outshone any competition they had against them at E3. They are now standalone and have a committed audience that I can say I'm a part of. They did a lot of things right, and the few things they stumbled with I don't doubt will get ironed out by the beta coming July 17th. My only hope is that there will be more connectivity in the public events, I ended up soloing some of them because no one else dropped into it at the time, so while I enjoyed it, I wanted to share the experience with other people. At the moment right now I believe "the more the merrier" might be the flagship motto for this game and they are going produce a game we will play for a long time come this september.