Destiny Beta

Just this week, the beta for the upcoming title Destiny was opened up to everyone on PS3, PS4, XBox 360, and XBone, so I figured I would give it a shot. While the beta certainly highlights the potential of the game, it also shows why it may not deliver.

Destiny is an online first-person shooter RPG (MMOFPSRPG or whatever you’d prefer to call it), and it feels like a cross between Borderlands and Mass Effect. While gameplay from E3 and what-not the past two years suggested that this was an FPS with RPG elements, it is thankfully very much an RPG. Players have plenty of options for weapons, armor, and maybe class customization (but that’s not really a part of the beta).

Screenshot 2014-07-27 19.05.54

On the other hand, this brings up a significant issue. For the most part, the three available classes do not play very differently. They all have access to the same guns and armor, and their class-specific skills really aren’t that diverse. Once again, this may just be something that doesn’t manifest in the beta.

On a technical level, the game is very good. Graphics look pretty good on PS3, so I’d imagine it looks very good on PS4 and XBone. The framerate was consistent, even during crazy firefights with space magic flying left and right. I would have preferred that the music were more subtle at times, but it at least sounded pretty good. The voice-acting was nothing special, but I’m at least happy that it wasn’t cringe-worthy.

Level design is very reminiscent of Borderlands, especially the interior hallways of the old Russian buildings. Unfortunately, while Borderlands and its sequel (and presumably its upcoming pre-sequel) had plenty of very large areas to travel between, the one area in the Destiny beta is not very large, does not have a map, and requires that the player repeatedly cover the same ground. The class abilities are reminiscent of the tech and biotic abilities from Mass Effect, but without the diversity and practicality. This is an FPS first and foremost, so guns will be the main method for taking out enemies.

Character mobility is a bit odd. When turning or aiming, it seems like the turn speed follows a curve. When you begin turning, it’s very slow, but if you keep going, the turning speed will increase. While this may just be me doing something wrong or having a dumb setting enabled, this is extremely annoying. Turning corners is not nearly as fast as it should be, aiming down the sights is a hassle, and it is generally unnecessary.

Screenshot 2014-07-27 19.06.46

The story appears fairly straightforward at this point, but the history and lore are mostly unexplained. There’s a “grimoire” which updates with some information, but the origins of the Traveler and aliens, the reason for the apocalyptic event, and various other details were barely touched upon and seemed mostly irrelevant to the plot. There isn’t really much NPC interaction either, which is how this kind of information is commonly dished out.

PvP (player vs. player) in the game is okay, but since it generally isn’t my cup of tea to begin with, I didn’t spend much time participating. My biggest issue is that different players will have access to better skills and weapons depending on their level, and while everything is supposed to be evened out, it can give them an advantage. In addition, since different classes have different jet-boost functionality, maneuvering can be very different.

One of my main issues with the game comes during menu navigation. Rather than using the D-pad or analog stick to switch between different on-screen topics, the game uses a computer mouse-style cursor. This wouldn’t be so bad if it quickly snapped from selection to selection, but it just moves so slow and serves no purpose. Ironically, the game isn’t even going to be released on PC.

Similar to this, rather than simply pressing a button to initiate something, you have to hold it down for a second or so. For example, to talk to a shopkeeper, you need to hold down the respective button for a bit before you can begin perusing their goods. When ending a mission, you need to hold down a button for a while in order to exit. When going to your ship to travel, you need to hold down the button for a while before leaving your current location. I fail to see the point of this mechanic, and I hope they get rid of it.

Since this is a beta, the servers go offline every once in a while. Whether this is the result of being stressed over capacity or simply for “maintenance” (whatever that entails), I do not know. However, because this is an always-online game, I hope that the issue is completely resolved by release. Of course, server strain is a big reason for the beta even existing, so it shouldn’t be an issue when September comes around.

Screenshot 2014-07-27 19.09.54

Following up on that idea, I need to reiterate that this is an always-online game. Unlike most other console games, where there are at least distinct single and multiplayer game modes, there is no separation here. When you play the game, you are online with other people, even if you don’t participate in missions with them. And if you have a spotty internet connection, you will suffer for it.

Recommendation: If you have any inkling of an interest in the game, try the demo when it becomes available. The beta just ended today, so I lucked out with my timing.

While some things from the beta have drawn my attention, there are also many issues I’ve taken with it. The game is not as fun as the ones it reminds me of, and with plenty of other fun-looking games coming out this year, this one will simply end up on the backburner. I’ll be waiting till well after release before I consider buying it.

These changes to the post editor totally suck. I want my scrollbar back!

All screenshots were taken from a playthrough on PS4. I think. They’re from YouTube, so the quality isn’t as high as what you’ll actually see when playing for yourself.

2 thoughts on “Destiny Beta

  1. Looks nice, but not my cup of tea. I just cannot get into FPS games, not even ones with RPG elements like Borderlands.

    1. Even compared to something like Borderlands, Destiny feels more like a “typical” FPS. I definitely prefer the ones that lean more towards RPGs, because I could never get into the multiplayer focus of most contemporary shooters.

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