Destiny Alpha Impressions: Destined For Great Things?

Destiny Alpha Impressions: Destined For Great Things?

How do you follow up creating a pop culture phenomenon? That’s the question Bungie has to answer following their hugely successful Halo series. Their first work after Halo was always going to receive instant hype given the pedigree that Bungie has earned over the years. It comes with no surprise that Bungie has been keen to keep Destiny at the front on people’s minds, with various press releases and videos, for example. E3 2014, during the Sony conference, Bungie surprised us all by announcing that the Alpha would be going live that week.

It’s been a few days since the Alpha went live, and ample time has been spent investigating Bungie’s latest creation. Bearing in mind this is an Alpha build of the game, things already felt tight and technically accomplished. After a somewhat limited character creation process, the first environment is opened up to the player. There’s a sense of slick confidence in the controls, the movement is on point, everything feels oddly familiar. The whole gameplay experience is distinctly Bungie-crafted–a product of clear dedication to the craft.

 BqD7WdrIYAAKV9E.jpg large

This dedication is shown throughout the Alpha: combat feels engaging and rewarding;and the environment captures the imagination and feeds into the notion that the player is a part of a huge universe. It’s a little overwhelming to take in at first. In fact, there are often times the when the action takes a back seat to the spectacle on display. The rolling landscapes, littered with relics of the past, all make for fantastic imagery. While harping on about imagery and visuals may seem out of place in a Beta impressions post, it’s hard not to be caught up in the visual drag net.

Destiny’s three classes don’t play all that differently. Given the Beta is capped at level 8, it’s not really surprising that the core differences aren’t obvious. In terms of their identifications, Titan’s fill the tank-like role, while Warlocks and Hunters fill the traditional damage roles. The three classes are separated by armour type, with the former using heavy gear and the latter using lighter equipment. The only real difference is their skills. The Warlock and Hunter feel far more rewarding to play as given their abilities feel more controlled. The Titan’s ability of jumping towards the enemy and slamming the ground is a little ‘go hard or go home’.

 BqAvDIVIgAABrqG.jpg large

The classes will undoubtedly gain an identity in the higher levels of the game. It seems unrealistic that Bungie would craft three classes and allow them to all play the same from level one to the capped level in the full release. Hopefully the Titan skill becomes less of a risk. In its Beta state it feels like a liability compared to the Hunter’s and Warlock’s skill.

The Alpha does a pretty decent job of introducing players to the core values of the game. Each area has a mission, or multiple missions, dotted around for the player to complete. Completion rewards the player with experience points, glimmer (Destiny’s in-game currency) and loot. For the most part it’s a pretty standard mission/quest format of reaching a certain area or killing a certain enemy. It’s nothing truly thrilling. But given it’s a small Alpha beta, large-scale quests weren’t to be expected. There’s an unfortunate amount of quests that do little to compel the player. There’s a suggestion from the Beta that these kinds of quests will appear in the full release, most likely as padding quests in between new areas.

 BqLad-wIYAAsS8q.jpg large

Along with a handful of areas with quests, there’s a dungeon-like mission complete with boss battles. For the most part, this is a simple case of shooting through everything to reach a point where the team holds out and shoots everything yet again. It’s a pretty repetitive experience that becomes a grind towards the half-way point. Thing’s aren’t helped by dull events and boss battles that feel overly prolonged and barely challenging. It’s still early days, but if this is the framework for how most of the team-based dungeons pan out, then things could become very repetitive quickly.

Aside from the PvE, there’s also the option to jump into Destiny’s PvP offering known as The Crucible. The mode on offer was a simple cookie cutter domination type, set across two maps. Both maps are fairly well designed and host the action to a decent standard. The only real criticism in terms of the maps was the lack of options in how the player could approach objectives. Both maps feel very simple and linear, almost designed with too much structure. While they’re aren’t bad, they do feel a little lifeless to play.

 BqLWeysIMAALpL-.jpg large

The key issue with the PvP is a matter of balance. Gear and level plays a large part as they are directly carried over from the PvE side of the game. There’s a gulf between players holding the fancier items and those with the basic. Players who have invested time into grinding drops from enemies dominated the PvP. It’s an issue that could easily be fixed by creating separate PvP gear or by simply boosting everyone to a baseline stat. While it was frustrating in the Beta, there’s plenty of time to remedy the problem or tweak to a more balanced state.

The Alpha Beta hints toward Destiny being a highly polished title that could be rewarding, as long as the current issues don’t appear too often in the full release. The padding quests could easily reduce Destiny into a repetitive mess, rendering the interesting world irrelevant. The core gameplay is satisfying, but the skills feel a little tame. Given the level 8 cap in the Beta, it’s fair to assume the more interesting skills are saved for the higher levels. Solid, beautiful and enjoyable, the Alpha Beta build of Destiny shows signs of a game that could grow into the next big thing. There’s a few problems that, if left unaddressed, could hinder the overall product, but Bungie are known for their ability to take on-board feedback, and hopefully this ability is alive and well and will allow Destiny to thrive.

 

Here’s a few screenshots taken directly from the game:

BqAvDIVIgAABrqG.jpg large BqB-kjvIIAAl_Yv.jpg large BqCAZS2IcAEJXZL.jpg large BqCDHwSIcAAtzHv.jpg large BqD7WdrIYAAKV9E.jpg large BqLad-wIYAAsS8q.jpg large BqLRipDIAAAChIV.jpg large BqLWeysIMAALpL-.jpg large BqLx0QUIUAAd11I.jpg large

Sean Halliday


2 Comments

  1. Dirk
    June 24, 2014, 12:50 am

    This is an alpha release and it is supposed to have these sorts of issues by definition.

    • Sean Halliday
      June 24, 2014, 9:02 pm

      so that means…we can’t mentioned them? I’ve said a number of times it’s a Alpha so issue are to be expected, come on.

Leave a Reply