Destiny Alpha Impressions

I am going to start by saying that Destiny from Bungie will be this year’s Game Of The Year. Now for those of you who might not know, Bungie held a special closed Alpha for Destiny only on PS4 and I was among the lucky few ones to get access to. Everything I saw and played in the short Alpha left me speechless.

Starting from the gorgeous presentation with incredible graphics, slick UI, fantastic looking environments and character modes to the insanely good gunplay and overall feel, I believe Destiny will be something truly special that we will talk for generations to come. But I believe just talking about it will not do it justice, you, everybody has to play it to understand what I will try to explain in words down below.

Destiny or better say the small part of the game that I played, is the best FPS game I have ever played till now. Yes, that might seem like a bold statement, but in Destiny’s case that’s the complete truth. The gunplay feels AMAZING! I know that the gunplay of the Halo franchise felt great, cause I played all three of them excluding Reach, but the one in Destiny is even better. The recoil, the kick, the *Umpf of the guns feel amazing and sound even better. You actually feel like you just fired the gun and what an arsenal is at your disposal. Assault rifles, burst rifles, shotguns, fusion rifles that need to be charged to unleash a devastating barrage of elemental bullets, hand guns or cannons, sniper rifles and freaking bazookas, all feel even better than they look. They are so accurate that most of the time you will shoot from the hip, no iron sights needed.

destiny screenshot

No comment needed

But what is there to shoot? Well, in the Alpha there were The Fallen and The Hive, but since I don’t really know the story behind them, the why and whatever, I can’t delve deep in any story details about them. I can say that the character models looked great and there was quite a variety of enemy types as in AR/shotgun enemies, melee rushing enemies, drones, armored and badass enemies, flying wizards, invisible snipers etc. But what really amazed me was their AI. I have never seen enemies behave like that in a video game before especially in an FPS game. They moved around a lot, jumping from cover to cover, throwing grenades, some tried flanking me, melee enemies attacked me in packs and run back to cover once I started shooting them, drones sneaked up on me while the invisible snipers and armored captains kept emptying their mags on me. I have never experienced a firefight like that in a video game, it’s unbelievable how real and natural it felt, wow!

At the beginning of your Destiny experience, you must choose your character. In the Alpha, you had three options or classes to choose from. Don’t worry too much about your choice, as you can level multiple characters at any time you want. My personal choice was the Warlock who was able to throw like a gravity orb/bomb thingy that damaged the enemies over time, had a melee attack that was like a force push and as his super attack he would jump in the air and launch ,a lets call it, spirit bomb like in Dragon Ball that disintegrated everyone caught in the explosion…yeah he was a fu*king badass. But I also tried the other two classes, The Hunter and The Titan and although there isn’t really any big difference between the three in terms of movement or weapons, they change when it comes to their special abilities and the upgrades. So the Hunter as a Super can conjure a golden gun with limited ammo that cause a ton of damage while the Titan will execute a devastating ground pound. Oh and I almost forgot, I have to say that you can play as either a male or a female character, before you go an bitch about that “lack of feature” on Reddit or whatever.

Now I spoke of the abilities and I mentioned upgrades. Yes, Destiny has a cool skill tree type of system. Although we have seen this system in many games already, Bungie does something new with it. New skills or better say upgrades unlock the more you play and do stuff. For example if you melee most of the time, you will unlock a new skill to add on top of the melee attack and the same goes for the super ability, the grenades and the weapons. The more you use them the more stuff you unlock making them better. For example if you “level up” your super ability as the Warlock you can launch not one but three devastating spirit bombs or if you use an AR, you will unlock “attachments” that change the rate of fire, speed, damage etc. But you are not stuck with any of the upgrades you unlocked. What I mean is that you can switch back and forth between the unlocked upgrades as many times as you want and at any time you want, no strings attached. It’s a  twist on the mechanic that will keep the gameplay fresh for a long time.

The loot system is a large part of the game. If you complete a quest or mission or bounty, you will unlock new gear, primary/secondary/heavy weapons, but also armor as in helmets, chest/leg armor and gauntlets each with different defense points plus unique bonus stats and as I said, the more you keep using it the better it will become. You also can unlock new ships, items and other cool things, but those weren’t present in the Alpha. Another way to get cool gear is finding them as loot drops from defeated enemies or by finding hidden chests spread out the, let’s call them, planets.

In the Alpha the only planet you could go was Earth with just  two locations, the Tower and Old Russia. To get to one place or the other you had to use your spaceship. Although I would have loved to be able to pilot the spaceship, that’s not possible. Instead you just hover the cursor over Earth and select where you want to land, The Tower or Old Russia. If you select the Tower, you will immediately go there, but if you select Earth a map will appear with all of the possible locations to land/missions to tackle. Since it’s Alpha, meaning early stages of development, there were only three possible choices: A mission were you had to eliminate a Hive Wizard; A Strike Mission were you and two other players were tasked to find and eliminate two extremely powerful bosses; And the last one was a lets call it an Exploration mission where you could do whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted.

I played all three of them multiple of times and every time I went through them, it felt fresh. The first mission where you have to kill the Hive Wizard is short if you want it to be. You could run straight towards the factory, find him, kill him, end of mission. Or you could go explore the big big map to find cool loot and other secrets. That’s what was extremely satisfying for me, being able to explore the map at my own pace. Old Russia is a very very big map, full of hidden caves and buildings, underground stations and sick jumps to perform with your badass hoverbike. Yeah, if you pressed the touchpad on the DS4, Ghost, your friendly robot helper voiced by none other than Peter Dinkleage, would appear. He would talk about and show your current objective on the hud, but from there also you could summon a hoverbike if you hold the square button. Now I have to say it, the hoverbike is one of the most satisfying vehicles I have ever driven in a game. You controlled it by using the left analog stick, much like the vehicles from Borderlands. I have never liked that type of control scheme cause you don’t really have much control and I hated it in Borderlands or even the Warthog in Halo, but here it’s perfect. Riding it and traversing around the map was very smooth, very responsive and the boost or NOS the hoverbike had made it a heck of a lot of fun. Again, explaining how great it felt in words is very difficult, but you’ve got to believe me.

Going back to the exploration aspect, I noticed something that I didn’t really like. While exploring the map, I found an underground station and I could see a loot chest from far away, so I naturally headed in there to collect it. But three big enemies blocked the way so I started shooting at them (remember I had a level 8 Warlock with some sweet weapons). I kept shooting, emptying entire clips from my AR…nothing. So I switched to my fusion rifle which caused a sh*t ton of damage and started shooting at them…nothing. Naturally I switched to the heavy gun that I was carrying and I fired it delivering a 1HP damage…WTF? It kinda pissed me off so I decided to use my last resort, the Super badass ability and…nothing. One of the enemies cornered me and just one hit killed me with his giant axe. F*CK! I went back to the station and the same thing happened again and again. I went onto Twitter and asked about this and someone replied saying that you can’t really do anything towards them, at least not until you are close to their level. Yuck! The same thing happens while you are fighting one of the bosses present in the game.

Destiny is a new genre in gaming that fuses MMO and FPS together to create something special. How everything is going to work on the long run remains to be seen and experienced, but seeing how these aspects, the MMO part where you met other players in the map that might or might not had the same mission or objective as you worked perfectly in the Alpha, makes me incredibly hopeful for when the game fully releases.

During the Strike mission, you have to fight two bosses, one being the giant spider tank you have already seen in the gameplay videos and the other one is some sort of giant orb-looking flying robot. These two have an insane amount of health and when I say insane, I mean “20-30 minutes of continuous direct fire at them using high damage weapons from 3 different players” health. Now that’s just stupid, in my opinion. Ain’t nobody got time for that. I wish they lower their health cause it got boring and annoying really quickly and scavenging for ammo was another big problem. 250 bullets went quickly and so did the 20 special green ones for the secondary and the 3-4 purple ones for the heavy weapon. We kept dying over and over again cause we were using the melee attacks to damage the boss. Please Bungie change that!

Mars

Mars

The other location you could visit was the Tower. While there the camera would go into a third person perspective so you can see your full character and interact with other players/vendors/guest givers etc. Think of the Tower as a sorta hub world, were you can buy or sell gear, take up missions and bounties and chill out with the other players. Since it was only Alpha, there wasn’t much to do.

I believe that’s all for PVE, now let’s talk PVP. There were only two maps to play in 6v6 capture the flag matches and it was a fricking blast. Even though it was Alpha everything felt amazingly balanced. The weapons, the abilities, the vehicles and the maps layouts were really good. Since Destiny is a sort of MMO-FPS, your singleplayer and multiplayer progression is the same, meaning what you unlock in singleplayer, you can use on multiplayer and vice versa. Again it is very difficult to explain how well it played and how balanced it felt with words, but just go with me.

There are also a ton of other features I could talk about, but I am tired after writing this 2000 word impression piece. I could write about 1000 more words trying to explain how fantastic the whole presentation was, how beautiful it looked, how much the map changes when the weather changes, how gorgeous the Traveler looks during sunset. I could spend hours talking about how clean, slick, minimalist and cool the UI looks and how everything is super easy to understand, read and how the player feedback is perfectly laid out to you. But I am super tired playing Destiny and watching the World Cup till 2AM, so please just bear with me and I am sorry for all of the grammar errors and also if you have any question about the game, leave a comment down below.

I am going to conclude this Alpha impressions by saying that Destiny is destined (no pun intended) to be something truly unique and special. And seeing how fantastic and almost perfect everything is even in the Alpha stage, the full game is going to be a masterpiece. The universe Bungie is trying to develop is immense, the lore is extremely interesting and the gameplay is top-notch. Yes, this is definitely going to be a masterpiece.  Bungie, you guys ROCK!

Thanks for reading!

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