Destiny. There is deep meaning behind that word. And Bungie seems to bring this depth in the latest game of the same name. Luckily, I’ve been granted access to the First Look release in their Alpha version (which is basically the version before Beta… obviously. And on all accords, this game is amazing. Bungie, known as the developers for their previous famous series Halo, has finally left Microsoft and along with publisher Activision has brought us their next epic saga. Though the game will be available on all platforms, i’m happy to see that Sony had first dibs on releases and options, such as this Alpha version. I had access for a weekend, and was suppose to report any bugs I found. I’m surprised to say though, that I found none. Despite being the rough draft before the rough draft that is the Beta version, despite it’s lack of official storyline, despite it’s narrowed availability of customization and option, this game still exceeded the majority of FPS games I have ever played. So here is the gist… For starters, Destiny is an open world First Person Shooter (though it pulls back to 3rd person for certain scenes), of the science fiction nature, in a post-apocoluptic, dystopian type of setting (that takes place 100’s of years in the future). By open world, it seems they are areas you can go, and you get to choose which one to go to and what mission to take part of. After playing through it, it sort of felt like Fallout meets Boarderlands meets Battlefield meets Halo. And if you know any/all those games, then you realize what an amazing combination this is. Bungie didn’t like to define the game as an MMO, but more of a “shared-world shooter”. The graphics are amazing, which is surprising for the Alpha version… does this represent the final quality? At first I would say probably not… as other Beta’s (ie, I had the chance to play the upcoming Battlefield: Hardline Beta) have the graphics tones down… like it hasn’t finished buffering… the softness increased and the sharpness decreased, eliminating all the fine details that makes these games so realistic. But with Destiny, the graphics are some of the best I’ve seen. If they stay like this, I’m one happy camper. If they actually get better, then we’re are in for one of the most beautiful looking games ever. Sticking to the visual side of things, the atmosphere is perfect. Great music, and the colors/layout of the boards (which are huge in size) really give you the sense of being in that world. And considering this is a post-apocolyptic/dystopian world, (with enormous structures), I found myself just staring at the surroundings and letting them sink in. We’re lucky as a human specious to not have brought ourselves to live in this type of world (yet that is), so when a game can take you there and let you visually experience it, through the game, then it’s an amazing (and captivating) feeling. Controls are excellent. Holding your weapon feels good, and bring it up to aim feels accurate and comfortable (something that’s always questionable in FPS’s). The addition of the powers you get to develop adds an extra element that makes you feel… well… powerful. they take time to charge, but let loose on them and BAM! And that’s only the little I got to play (basically up to lever 6). I can even imagine how many skills you can develop and how powerful you can become. Throughout the game, you are guided by a sort of floating cube that is voice by the awesome Peter Dinklage (aka Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones). I don’t know about you, but embarking on a long and expansive game with this guys voice on my side helping and guiding is something I look forward to! Looks like the game is set as mission based… something of a mixture between Fallout and Boarderlands. And it hits closer to home with Boarderlands, because you can go on these missions while other players can join and help (or just go on their own way). In fact, the multiply player was like a combination of Boarderland and Journey. I saw someone just standing there (clearly, another player testing out modes and options), but this games doesn’t seem to “pause” when accessing that menu (at least not in the mode i was playing). So when I saw enemies starting to attack, I immediately ran by him and tried to cover him until he got out. He must have recognized what I was doing after that, as we followed each other around for the rest of that mission, taking out baddies and assisting in certain objectives. It was a great feeling… two of us who don’t know who were are, working together. It differed from the feel of Battlefield, where everyone who is actually a player is an enemy to shoot, and differed from Boarderlands where… even if you’re on the same mission together, you find yourself more interested in just fighting/blasting enemies, then you did exploring and covering for each other. It created a connection that seemed more interesting than other games. There was not much of the story, as the missions where more “defeat enemy” or “find this loot” type of missions. Obviously, there are saving the deeper, more epic story for when the game is actually released. It is clear that the main story will be something great and epic (and I’m not overusing that word for this situation, but you really need to see this game to understand that), and I cannot wait for September to starting being part of that. Other options was what seemed to be like a fighting arena, where instead of story/missions, you just get to play against other people (aka Call of Duty / Battlefield online gaming). So you get that as well. And then you can always visit the main city. This works very similar to Boarderlands, where you have the main town to shop, accept new missions, and basically re-organize your character. So what the game really excels in, is the customization and options. Narrowed down to smaller selection for the Alpha version, I was still astonished at everything that comes into play. From the beginning, between who your character is (Human/Alien/Cyborg) to the customization options within that (face/hair/colors), you really get to create who you are. I am hoping there are even more selections by the time the games comes out, as despite having a bunch, this will be a game thousands of people will be playing – so the greater the selections/options, the more unique “your” character can be. But customization doesn’t stop there. Probably the greatest area in selections is the armor. From helmet to gloves to boots to chest, everything you get has a look. And every look can be altered (i.e. color). You need points/in-game credits to do this, but that seems to be part of the game. Rewards for surviving and completing the story provides options to get what you want and look how you want. And the options all look amazing. It’s not like Boarderlands, when only the “ninja” (Zero) actually looks cool, while the rest seems like some cookie-cutter options (i.e. the army dude, or the death-metal chick). Here, outfits are straight out of a science fiction environment – and the dystpopian genre makes things even better. The fact that your character is part of the “guardians” that serve to protect, is reflected in the outfits, giving them a more mystical appearance. Weapons and items are also in the multitudes, from plasma guns shooting blasts of energies to good old classic rifles, unleashing bullets galore. Even your spaceship (which feels like it does in Metroid, with the occasional shot of it flying taking you from one place to another), can be changed to whatever spaceship you want. (not to mentioned personal land vehicles that also seem to have options for).
If there was anything I would hope to change would be some of the display options. I understand the usual need for health and power bar, ammo, and the such, but they also have the enemy health bar and numerical damage each of your hits appear on the enemy (so when you’re using an automatic rifle, you get a stream of numbers popping up indicating the damage). This is similar to Boarderlands (and I think Dead Island if I remember correctly) and it’s good to have – especially when you want that arcade feel to it. But I also like to immerse myself in these game… especially FPS; really make myself feel like I’m there. So seeing those bard and digits (and some of the extra “HUD” displays) pulls me away from everything else they work on to make it real.
The only other thing would be the weapon selection options. You have 2 or 3 main weapons you can easily toggle between which is great, and you have a larger selection of weapons you can switch as your toggle weapons; but switching those is through a sub-menu, and a little awkward. In the heat of battle, when you realize you need another weapon (especially in any mode that does not allow pause), this might become a bother.
All in all, if this Alpha version had anything to show us, it’s this… Destiny will be one of the greatest games out to date, and possibly one of the biggest. It seems Bungie wanted to give the players something that includes the best of many things, all put into one amazing game. Here, you can create a character that looks like you want to look, fights like you you want to fight, and choose to either blast away against others like you, or be part of the greater story. It’s important to keep in mind that any lack of options, customizations and modes are clearly due to the fact that this is the Alpha version. And considering how much it had, I’m excited to see what the end result will be! So, fo all you gamers out there… prepare yourselves for something great. I hope to see you roaming around out there. The game is due out September 9th. Until then, I leave you with the trailer below!