Destiny Beta Impressions

Aug 4, 2014

On July 18, 2014 I embarked on a journey. Throughout this eight day journey I logged 95 hours of gameplay between all three Guardians in Bungie’s upcoming game Destiny. You might be wondering why I logged so many hours.  Please read on to find out why.

I started playing as a Hunter to familiarize myself with how this class actually plays in the game. When I played the Alpha I only spent around two hours with this Guardian. Once I reached level eight, which was the cap in the beta, I had unlocked eight abilities and was working on an additional seven more.

27 total upgrades for this subclass.

27 total upgrades for this subclass.

These abilities are unlocked based on the amount of experience you earn in all game modes.  After reaching level six, there is a place in the Tower where you can pick up bounties. Upon completing these bounties you can turn them back in to earn experience, Vanguard reputation, and Crucible reputation. Earning reputation increases your ranking which allows you to earn higher level gear. I found this most helpful when progressing to unlock more abilities. Everything can be upgraded. Uncommon weapons, uncommon armor, and the abilities associated with the subclasses for each Guardian.

Venturing out into this brave new world Bungie has created is a great adventure. Fireteams of 1-3  Guardians leave the Tower by sending their ships into our Solar System to explore these beautiful worlds. Seeking to become legend we fight back against the invading enemies and dive into the depths in the hopes of earning special loot in the form of gear and weapons. We also search for the secrets that are yearning to be found. I say yearning because if you listen close enough there are subtle noises when you get close to a loot chest.  Even though I was always exploring  Old Russia during this beta I never felt that I was grinding to increase my level or earn better gear. I’m not that kind of gamer. I am an explorer so I search for every secret location and kill enemies that interrupt my exploration.

The amount of activities in the world of Destiny is just what I have wanted in a video game.  In my mind Bungie knew that Guardians from all corners of the world would spend hours and hours playing Destiny once September finally arrived. There is an activity for every type of gamer. If you just want to experience a great story in solo mode or with two other Guardians then you can do that. If you want to free roam on Earth, Venus, Mars, and the Moon you can do that as well. Whatever you choose to do make sure you keep a look out for a brand new feature I’ve never experience in a game before playing Destiny. I am referring to Public Events. These events occur at random and will always feature a goal that several Guardians, regardless of whether they are  Fireteam members or just other players in the world, can join in and eliminate a target, or protect an item from enemies. Public Events are rated based on your successes or failures. Whoever participates in these events can earn one bronze star, two silver stars, or three gold stars. Check out one of the Public Events I participated in with two other members of my Fireteam.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3qkXpKZRNU?rel=0]

As you can see I was attempting  some Sparrow stunts when suddenly the Public Event became prevalent.  After the other two members confirmed that they wanted to attempt this we stopped what we were doing and raced to take on the challenge.  These events are 100% optional, in fact other members of the Fireteam are not required to join you should you decide to enter the Event. I didn’t participate in all of them. If you do earn a gold star rating you earn special rewards that couldn’t be earned any other way. When you do earn the highest rating make sure you and your Fireteam returns to the Tower so you can redeem your reward. Note that you can only get a reward one time per day as long as you have successfully completed at least one gold star rating.

The Crucible Arenas in Destiny are pretty cool. I’m not a big fan of competitive multiplayer games, but because I’m wanting to experience everything this game has to offer I decided to attempt this mode. Bungie has given Guardians a reason to enter the Crucible. Earning Crucible Marks is key to unlocking the high level gear needed to become legend. Level 20 weapons and armor are going to be necessary to survive the onslaught of PvE enemies that don’t even have level numbers next to their health bars. The only Crucible game mode I got to experience in the Beta was Control. Communicating with your Fireteam in this mode is a good idea. I was somewhat frustrated that you could not talk with all six members of the team via the in game chat. The only way you could talk with all six members were if they were in the Fireteam you formed in orbit before entering the Crucible. Sometimes doing that backfired though when a member of your Fireteam was disconnected and rejoined but was on the opposite team. While sometimes it was fun to talk smack after killing that member, I felt that we couldn’t talk about where we were headed.  I’m really hoping that this doesn’t occur in the game come September. The four arenas I played were on the Moon, Earth, Mars, and Venus. My favorite was Venus because of the beauty I saw. Lush vegetation, concrete structures that created good cover spots, and small caves that created shortcuts from zone to zone. My least favorite was the Moon mainly because a vehicle called the Interceptor was always killing me. Bungie has already stated that tweaks are being made to this Guardian killer and that when the full game releases we will see a big difference on the Moon. Even though I died well over 600 times during 11 hours of gameplay as a Titan, I still enjoyed playing this game mode.  I am committed to getting better. During the Beta a special event known as the Iron Banner happened six times during the final weekend.  Guardians were invited to challenge other Guardians in the Control game mode. The only difference between Iron Banner and regular Crucible play is this: Level advantages are not turned off so Guardians are encouraged to come wearing their best gear that they found when playing the PvE portion of Destiny.  I found this to be extraordinary.  Playing this was just as fun as playing regular Crucible . Granted I still died a lot, but I was able to earn legendary weapons and that got me excited! I streamed two hours of one Iron Banner event.

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Playing Strikes with two other friends is extremely rewarding and fun. I love the fact that its not a mode designed for just killing a ton of enemies to earn cool loot and gear. While this mode has enemies, a mini boss, and a big boss to fight against and eliminate, the aspect I enjoy the most is the teamwork and communication among the three members of the fireteam. At the end of the Strike we get to see stats. I also love this aspect because it encourages me to keep playing the Strike to see if I can get more kills, die less, and try to finish the Strike in a faster time. If you would like to see the footage of the Strike available during the beta then click here.

The Story missions I experienced in the beta were a blast. There were a total of six story missions: five on Earth and one on the Moon. I tackled the Earth missions several times with friends and by myself using all three Guardians. Going into the beta I already knew about being able to visit different planets during the full game. After completing the fourth mission it became surreal to me because of what my Ghost had found. Without going into spoiler territory I will just say that my mind began wondering about what would be experienced when I progressed deeper into the story of Destiny. I suspect some interesting plot twists will occur. Bring them on Bungie, My Body is Ready! A special treat was given to Guardians on Saturday, July 26, 2014. Bungie opened up the Moon for two hours. Plans were made and at 2pm Pacific time I entered orbit with two friends and proceeded to this new destination. What happened next was awesome. Watch the 45 minutes of video here.

activate your upgrades & switch out your gear in this menu

Activate your upgrades & switch out your gear from this in game menu.

Bungie also tested out the mobile companion app during the Beta.  By using this app you could bring your Guardians with you wherever your journey took you.  Using this app was pretty cool. Equipping your Guardian with the right gear so that you can immediately jump into one of the game modes once you launch the game is just one of the features available on the app. The only complaint I have about the app was that I was never able to actually see the 3-D version of my Guardians even though I was connected to the internet via a WiFi connection. Its not required for you to be connected via WiFi to experience this feature, but I changed my settings to keep from incurring extra data usage charges. Whether or not this feature is a phone issue or a Bungie issue I’ll be using this app on a daily basis when I’m not playing the actual game on my PS4.

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There are a ton of stats being tracked. Kills, hours played, K/D ratio for PvP and PvE game modes, Grimoire card progress and other things.  I earned over 150 cards during the beta. Killing a certain amount of enemies in both PvP and PvE game modes unlocks these cards as well as finding dead Ghosts scattered across the universe  and activating them. The worlds Bungie created will be explored. The beauty and wonderment is meant to be seen by all.

 

One other thing I will talk about is the community surrounding this game. Bungie has incorporated the formation of Clans into this game. They have also given these Clans the ability to form Alliances with other Clans. While not much else is known about how Alliances will work in the actual game, its an interesting idea that I hope to explore come September.   There is a social aspect of this game that I have never experienced when playing other FPS games or even RPG games.  Sure I’ve interacted with other gamers on Twitter and Google Plus, but I believe my Destiny experience will be more legendary because I have joined a Clan by the name of Travelers Watch Guild.  A few members shared their thoughts about the Beta and they are all excited about what September will bring.  Two things that stood out in these thoughts were the size of the game world being less than was originally expected in terms of exploration. Some of us thought the exploration area on Earth would be the size of  Skyrim. Another thing was the fact that while we could form Fireteams and explore we couldn’t have other friends form another Fireteam and explore with us even though they were exploring  the same space at the same time.  So Bungie if you are reading this please find a way to incorporate this into the game. Even if we have to be in the same timezone or within a certain distance from each other in the real world, I’m sure Guardians across the globe will be grateful.

If you want to truly escape from the combat then head to the Tower. Its a cool area filled with other Guardians and citizens of the last safe city on Earth. While there you can visit your vault to equip a weapon you may have stored there while playing as a different class.  Even the Tower has secrets. During the Beta there were doors that weren’t open.  Every time I saw those doors I couldn’t help but think about September 9th. One more thing that was a ton of fun to do while in the Tower was dance. Plenty of times when I entered this space I would see groups of Guardians dancing.  At the end of the beta I decided to get my groove on as well.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccLvj144LxY?rel=0]

 

Beta Stats according to Bungie. Whoa!

Beta Stats according to Bungie. Whoa!

According to this Wall Street Journal article, Bungie had over 4.6 million people playing over the course of this beta event. All in all I was very pleased

with the Beta. Yes there were connection issues, ill timed glitches during PvP gameplay, and bugs.

Those things didn’t cause me to rage quit and throw my Dualshock 4 at my TV. Its a beta and I was expecting those things.  I’m confident that Bungie will have all of these things fixed before release.  I’m as excited for this game as I was back in 2013 when the first gameplay footage was revealed at E3.  My preorder is almost fully paid off and September 9, 2014 can’t come soon enough. As Bungie employee Josh Hamrick said on Twitter once I get the game it won’t be taken back.

 

 

Below is a slideshow of PS4 screenshots that I took while playing this amazing game. Hope you enjoy. If you played the beta regardless of which console you chose then please comment below on what you enjoyed the most and/or least. If you didn’t get to play or have yet to preorder this game let us know if you are now thinking of joining Guardians across the Globe to push back The Darkness.

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