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The much anticipated Destiny beta has come and gone and from what I’ve been reading, it was a huge success for Activision and Bungie. While I was unfortunately away on vacation for the majority of the access period, I did manage to squeak in some time with it. Below I’ve compiled some updated thoughts on the experience.
Rather than rehashing my experiences here, I’ve decided to focus on the new elements to the beta and maybe even things that Bungie managed to fix/update from the alpha version. If you want a basic rundown of Destiny and how it plays, definitely have a look at my Alpha impressions from June first then make sure to come back here to see what’s new.
If you’ve read my Alpha post, I mentioned how I felt like Destiny was an experience that was more of a slow burn in the fact that it required some time to get used to everything before you started experiencing the joy of it.
What I found interesting is that the beta managed to completely shatter that line of thinking for me. The beta proved to be (what I felt) easier to understand in concept and in gameplay. I was no longer struggling with certain things about the game and features that were once a little confusing, now made sense. Could it be because I played the alpha version first? Maybe. Things just felt tighter, more focused, and in addition to now having a story to prop up the gameplay certainly helped the overall experience. I rolled a Titan this time around, having used a Warlock and Hunter during my time with the alpha version. I will say that I enjoyed playing as all three classes, each feeling powerful in their role. It’s going to be a tough decision which class to create first once September rolls around.
What I Liked/Surprised Me
Like Pavlov’s dogs, I’ve been conditioned by games such as Diablo and Borderlands to feel a visceral thrill opening chests and other containers and seeing items pop out of them. When a game promises loot, I expect to be over burdened with chests, gear and places to plunder. The Destiny alpha let me down in this regard, but the beta actually featured more items and even a few chests to open. Granted, the game doesn’t go crazy with items, you’re gaining loot at a decent pace to the point where you’re constantly upgrading your character. It’s probably for the best because who wants to have five cracked boots in your inventory at one time? At least the content in Destiny is meaningful and beneficial to your current character level.
One of the newer additions to the beta were these “Darkness Zones” which typically cropped up during the last sections of the campaign missions. Upon entering the area, it added a layer of challenge to the mission where dying meant you’d have to tackle this section again from the start. No respawning here, you’d have to play it safe if you wanted to make it out alive. I found it to be an interesting twist and one that definitely altered my playing style. With regenerating health, you can typically run, gun, and take chances but in these Darkness Zones, doing that will more than likely result in restarting the zone. I am curious to see if this feature was just being tested on a wider scale or if it’ll really be in every story mission like the beta. I can also see it being a pain point for solo or inexperienced players so I’d have to imagine that it wouldn’t be a constant feature.
While the alpha was focused more on gameplay, the beta gave folks a greater glimpse at the final Destiny product complete with cut scenes, plot points, and overall a stronger narrative to sink your teeth into. While I already knew I enjoyed the gameplay, seeing the story elements play out was a nice added layer and really made me want to see the whole package. The cut scenes look great, your character actually has a voice, and the universe that Bungie has created seems like it’s going to feature a number of interesting twists. While I can’t quite comment on the story overall, the beta did a great job of giving me a taste of things to come and really kept me wanting to see more. There’s a lot of stuff going on between your character, the world you’re in, and the Traveller and I can’t wait to see how it all ties together in September.
Yes, the much maligned “The Wizard Came From The Moon!” guy has gotten a make over so to speak for the beta. While the Moon Wizard line is removed completely, his voice has also been enhanced with a sort of distortion filter over it which helps him sound a bit more robotic and A.I. like. Overall I never really had an issue with his voice work, but the difference in the beta is noticeable making his character more enjoyable.
If you’re a parent of young children like me (or a parent in general) then this aspect may drive you a little up a wall. Unfortunately, you’re not able to pause the game at any point, so if you have a screaming child, you have to decide right then and there what to do. Now, I understand the reasons behind this. It’s an online game with multiplayer elements, so it would be like trying to pause a game of Team Deathmatch in Call of Duty or something. It’s just not possible, though when you’re on a solo mission, you kind of feel like it should be.
I was also going to write about being tired of exploring Old Russia and its Cosmodrome considering the zone had been featured in both the alpha and beta tests. My initial concern was that this would be the only Earth based zone, but after doing a little digging, I found out that the retail version of the game actually has a lot more of Earth to explore including places like the European Deadzone and Old Chicago to name a few. I’m pretty happy at this news which doesn’t even count all of the other planets and moons you’ll be able to travel to as well. Destiny promises to be a massive game in scale, probably bigger than we can even imagine.
If you had a chance to run around in the beta, let me know what you thought down in the comments.