Destiny blew my mind the second I fired up the alpha. I’m not much of an FPS gamer, but Titanfall‘s fast-paced blend of platforming and shooting sold me on giving the genre a shot. Destiny starts with exploration and dumps you right in the middle of the action after making your character. Given that this is an alpha, it’s impressive just how many options you have to customize your character’s appearance. You can pick between three different character types, each with their own jumping and melee attacks. This brings an RPG element into things that is furthered by the third-person perspective the hub world. There, you’ll meet characters that are somewhat underutilized in the Alpha, but will clearly be important in the full game – like the bounty issuer, or people who will put you on basic missions. You’ve got three separate parts of the hub to go through, and that absorbs you more in the world as you spend more time in it.
You’ll eavesdrop on conversations and get little glimpses of the people who inhabit the world. Unlike so many First Person Shooters, the folks who just occupy the world actually seem like characters. The overall look of them bears more than a passing resemblance to the Mass Effect series. It’s surprising how close the characters feel to that universe when you would naturally figure they’d take after Halo. Halo’s influence is definitely apparent in the graphics though, as the levels feature the same kind of realistic-looking terrain and sci-fi architecture. This makes the game seem very familiar while also seeming quite new. The all-new world and storyline is interesting, even with so few things go to on. Occasionally, your character will effectively narrate the goings-on in the world, and it makes the game’s world seem very lived-in. Like Titanfall, there’s clearly a lot that has happened to put things in such disarray, and you definitely want to fight out why that is. Hopefully, Destiny delivers more on that than Titanfall did. While that game’s multiplayer campaign was different from the norm, I wouldn’t call it good by any stretch, and for something labeled as a campaign, there was shockingly little storytelling or character development in it.
I love the different character classes, but the Warlock is closest to my heart. You can jump and float with that class, and use a longer-range melee attack. Hunters get a short-range knife attack that does a lot of damage and can be combined with some jumps – expect the jump-stabby stabby to be this game’s equivalent to Titanfall‘s jump kicks in multiplayer battles. The classes felt different enough to stand out, but benefit from their similarities as well. The transition from one class to the next is fairly seamless, and within a couple of play sessions, I was able to figure out which class I preferred. The key benefit to this in-game is that you can get used to any character class quickly, and there isn’t one class that absolutely rules over the others. The XP system ensures that the only thing that will really give you an edge is actually playing the game and earning a ton of kills.
While Destiny is being billed as an MMOFPS, the alpha made it a little difficult to figure out how that would work. We at Hardcore Gamer played a few games together and voice chat was nice and clear while we all had a lag-free experience. However, we never really had more than a handful of people in our game. It seems like the co-op play is going to be a bit like Journey where it’s drop-in/drop-out and you’ll be able to get some help at just about any point in the game. This is a godsend for folks who get stuck at a boss – like I did. The initial wizard boss battle was too much for me as a level 3 hunter, so Matt Whittaker signed on and helped me demolish it. The end result was an increase in XP for both of us and slight progress being made in the adventure. There seems to be a main campaign as well as a ton of bounties to ensure that no two players will have the same experience. I enjoyed staying on the beaten path, but Matt found exploring to his liking and wound up discovering some cool areas. There was one setting that was filled with higher-end enemies, resulting in a tough battle. However, it was incredibly-rewarding to get through this section to test our mettle and get even more of an XP gain for facing tougher foes.
Destiny‘s alpha, much like Titanfall‘s beta, has sold me on the final game. Even in an early form, no one at HG ran into any bugs or glitches. Despite it being an FPS, the third-person view in the hub area looked fantastic, and made Fallout‘s running look even more hilarious by comparison. The game retains the fast-paced feel Bungie’s games are known for, but greatly expands the in-game world beyond anything in a Halo game yet. I was amazed at just how good the game looks so early on. Despite being a multi-platform and cross-gen release, it truly feels like a game made with the next-gen hardware in mind. The draw distance is the best I’ve seen yet in an FPS and jaw-dropping views are a fairly frequent occurrence. Destiny went from being a game that I was somewhat looking forward to into a day one buy in a few months thanks to this alpha. It looks and plays like a top-shelf game, and could be a fantastic gateway into the FPS and MMO genres for those who don’t play one or the other.