My Experience with the Destiny Alpha

Jun 17, 2014

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This morning when I woke up, I began thinking about how fun it would be to play Destiny made by Bioware. I had been skeptical after it’s reveal in E3 2013, but after the previews and gameplay in this year’s E3, I was wanting to give it a go and signed up for the chance for Alpha access. Checked my email first thing and there was an Alpha invite sitting in my email inbox, waiting patiently to surprise me. I immediately redeemed the key and began the download on my PS4 and gave it about an hour or so before it finished downloading. The title screen appeared with a Press X to Play, and I couldn’t wait to begin.

When you start the game you immediately get to a character creator. First you pick one of the three classes: Titan, Hunter or Warlock. Titan looks very “Master Chief”. It described the class as super strong and wearing heavy gear, so it can get into the fray and deal some damage in the enemies face as well as being able to use heavier weapons. One ability the Titan class has, you may have seen from the new E3 preview, is a wicked charge up slam that obliterates enemies around you. The second ability was a shield you could use to take less damage. Hunter is exactly what you’d think it is based on the name alone. Stealthier, better with a rifle at long range, and they get a special knife that can be used to stealth kill and fight off enemies when they get too close (this knife is currently OP). Their special ability is to summon a pistol made of solar energy that disintegrates any non-shielded enemy it hits in one shot. Think golden gun, literally and figuratively. Last is the Warlock class. Warlocks are blessed with special powers by someone called the Traveler, and these powers allow them to cast out huge Voidwalker nova blasts from their hands. At level 15 they also get an ability that revives players around you and enhances everyone in the areas abilities for a short time, unfortunately Alpha only allows players to access up to level 8. Warlocks can also use guns even though they have this amazing space magic, don’t worry.

There are three different races to choose from after picking a class. A standard human, some pale skinned white eyed space vampire looking humanoids called the Awoken, and lastly the kick ass robots you’ve seen in all the screenshots of this game. They are called the Exo. The character creator is surprising broad for this type of game. It’s no RIFT or Skyrim, but there are enough options to make you feel safe enough to not find someone that looks just like you in every social hub. On my Exo, I could pick from ten different faces, ten different head “attachments” like antennae or other stuff you’d find on a motherboard, eye and mouth color, which gave about twenty different shades of various colors, and then coloring for two or three other features. Overall Destiny gives players enough customization to make their players feel unique, then like in a lot of games, covers up all of that customization with gear and masks.

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In the end I chose the Hunter class, because I love robots with sniper rifles, simple as that. You enter the game in a beautiful snowy area outside what use to be Russia in an area around something called the Cosmosdome. Immediately I see how stunning the game is. I skipped a generation of consoles, and haven’t had a top grade computer, so to me these graphics blew me out of the water. The sun casts beams of light everywhere and there is more lens flare than in a J.J. Abrams movie. You start to move around and Tyrion Lannister’s American cousin (but really still Peter Dinklage) begins talking to you. He takes the form of a small floating Rubik’s cube, and begins to tell you the situation you’re in and gives you a waypoint of where to head. After getting the controls down and inverting my Y-axis, I begin to creep towards the waypoint. It’s a long ways away, I’m a wuss and there are a lot of enemies to be fought on the way.

I specifically picked Hunter because I love being stealthy and sniping in shooters, and at first I was pretty terrible at sneaking around. The AI in Destiny seems smarter than any AI I’ve encountered in a long time. Either that or I’ve just been playing way too much Watch Dogs. If you can see the enemy, they can see you. They may not be facing your direction, and you may get away with stealth tactics, but if they are turned towards you, you can be half a mile away and be spotted. If you snipe one of the enemies in the head from a ways off, the rest of the enemies in the area actually hide. I don’t mean you can see their heads bobbing from behind boxes, I mean they run into a nearby structure and plan on staying there for a while. You can’t just wait for these guys to reset back to default positions, they just don’t do it. Sure they’ll lose awareness and begin to carry on with whatever it is they do, but they know exactly where that sniper shot came from and won’t wander around out there again for a while. Not to say that the AI is flawless in this game. I did end up killing the first boss (after several deaths, he was tough to fight legit) by sitting halfway down some stairs where I could hit him, but he couldn’t hit me. Things like that will hopefully be tweaked as the game moves into Beta, and then Live. Also, without spoiling anything, there is a second type of enemy in the Alpha that I encountered, and they had me more frightened than back when you first encounter the Flood in Halo: Combat Evolved. I won’t be playing this game alone at night. Dead Space fans might enjoy enemies called the Hive.

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I almost forgot the game was an online game when I first started playing, but as I got overwhelmed by several level 5 enemies, two other players swooped in (on swoop bikes from Star Wars) and saved my hide. The online team play is very much like Warframe’s, except that Destiny feels more open as a game than Warframe does. The zones (well the one we’ve seen in Alpha) is huge. I’ve played for about 4 hours and not seen it all. There are social hubs to go to and hang out with your friends, buy new gear and sell loot, and it’s easy to connect with friends and just voice chat while playing. For the first time in my experience, they’ve managed to give a first person shooter the feeling of an MMORPG.

There’s the typical rainbow of loot to be found in chests and on enemies, white is starter trash, vendors sell purple epic gear that require special tokens to purchase, and the end game gear makes you look pro. You can purchase faster and better looking speeders and space ships, and upgrade different powers with different types of in game currency. They even have an unfinished subclass system being put in. I’d love to see way more classes come to Destiny before launch as well and that can be resolved by adding several subclasses. The bosses I’ve encountered really gave me a beating and were actually tough, making it very fun for me. You get the feeling of accomplishment that usually isn’t there in a FPS RPG.

I think this game has a ton of potential that has only just started to show. It’s an Alpha and everything can change. Who knows, maybe by launch this game will have dumbed down AI, be running at 900p and be repetitive, but I really hope it just keeps getting better. This is the first perfect blending of Online Multiplayer/FPS/RPG and if it does as well as it should do, we’re all in for a treat. Alpha really is the new closed Beta, and if you pre-order Destiny there is a chance to get into the open Beta version as well. I’ll probably do this, because if Destiny’s Alpha version is anything to go by and it’s just the start of what they are going to offer us, then I’m in.

 

–Everett Harn

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