There’s currently no plans to have Destiny release on PC in it’s projected ten year life cycle, which seems a little odd for an always online FPS, but, you know, I get it. The game’s core narrative is supposed to be fundamentally influenced by the players, and the events which unfold naturally through gameplay, so that not even Bungie will always know what’s going to happen. It’s a novel idea, and, if it works, it has the potential to be quite literally game-changing; putting that much significance on player agency isn’t conducive to the PC platform, where hacking is fairly rife and can be hugely detrimental to the games purpose.
PC MMO’s often have hacking issues, and it’s not always such a big deal for them. They can roll back the effects, ban players, whatever the situation calls for, and impact to the player experience will usually be minimal. These sorts of fixes would be really disruptive to player immersion in a game world that changes through player actions, not to mention the behavior leading to them in the first place; the only thing more jarring than having the Juggernaut Class USS Dick-More screeching into view, would be its sudden disappearance. Restriction of the franchise, at least for the moment, isn’t such a bad thing: the game still plays smoothly, the controls are responsive, and being console bound won’t stop the universe from being massive.
Imagine the wall poster of the in-game world(s).
I got to play across three different worlds: “Earth” (specifically in Old Russia) an open world area in which the campaign/skirmish missions took place; “The Tower”, which is a social area and restocking/mission gathering hub, and; “The Crucible”, a point-control PVP map and the only available mode from what looked to be at least six other multiplayer types. These were the only open areas, but I still wasn’t able to fully explore everything the Alpha offered, with the time I had. If this is only a small fraction of what’s the come, which I really, truly hope involves more lasers than it has thus far, then the sheer scale of Destiny is going to be epic in every sense.
I get the feeling that Bungie was playing a lot of Borderlands while designing Destiny, because the game is basically Borderlands with a Halo theme. Don’t misunderstand me, this isn’t actually a bad thing, and it’s not presented in a way that it feels like a rip off. There’s even a robust, if perhaps simple, stat and armor management system to provide a bit of depth to the games combat. This is probably my favorite part of the game, because your loadout remains the same for PVP or the Earth “Campaign” areas, making the effort you put into armor selection and stat choices worth it all around. It also means that I don’t have to manage two loadout profiles, and that appeals to the slack gamer in me. Destiny understands that, like no other game does.
If I wanted to risk having strangers screech profanity directly into my ear, I’d take more hours at my day job.
Playing the campaign missions in a shared online world isn’t quite the same as something like, say, WoW, or Star Wars TOR; the grounds of Old Russia weren’t teeming with players, though they would fade in and out of existence occasionally based on my skill level. If I was near a mission that might need other players, or could have other players in my fire team to assist, it would pop similarly leveled players into my game so that we could team up together. It’s a neat idea in theory, but I’m not fond of playing online with total strangers and that’s always been kind of a barrier for me in most MMO’s. You could end up with someone who is like minded and eager for a fun time, sure, but you can also just as easily have some social misfit who broke the caps lock on their vocal chords around the same time they discovered Urban Dictionary.
The random, public events were fun to join in with, especially when a group of players will just appear from nowhere and begin firing on an enemy that’s just swooped down from the skies. Likewise, exploring the map totally independently of the missions held its own rewards and teased at upcoming secrets. You could possibly find an old installation in the side of a cliff that leads to a room full of Fallen, with great loot to be found therein. Or you might stumble into a cave, down some stairs, through a long shaft and into a cavernous warehouse of sorts filled with things whose names I can’t recall; I was distracted by the glowing question marks where their levels should be, my quickly dwindling health, and running as fast as I could back to the surface.
I can’t imagine what might have put me off of online multiplayer matches in the past.
There was plenty of fun to have on ones own, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t try everything that the Alpha had to offer; to that end I played some PVP in The Crucible towards the end of my time with Destiny, and was surprised when I wish I’d spent more. I’m not particularly skilled at FPS games, scoring kills only as often as I absorb them, though I came out of each match, if not the victor, then at least not near the bottom. Classes really do make a difference in how you fight and, since the “single player” AI has been significantly improved since Bungie’s Halo days, the skills you refine outside of PVP still help. I’m really excited to see how PVP matches will tie into the rest of the final game, how they connect to the story, and how they’ll impact the in-game world.
Instead I spent much of the time playing with our very own Will Kirk, and the multiplayer experience is pretty great. Respawn times are increased, enemies become a little bit stronger, overall the challenge increases and playing with friends is always going to be good times. We ran into issues when trying to use in-game chat, however: The game essentially deafened us to one another. It was a frustrating bug and eventually we had to switch over to PSN party chat just so we could talk; It’s early days, as this an Alpha build after all, so perfection can’t be expected and bugs absolutely should be. It still sucked, but, you know, I get it.
I’m glad they’ve kept the freakish, morphing player character at the beginning, but disappointed that there’s no NPC to behold it and be traumatised.
And really, that’s the biggest thing that I’ve taken away from my experience with the Destiny Alpha: For an unfinished game, it’s looking pretty damn amazing. The game is far from completed, with bugs still present and content still missing, but for the most part is doesn’t feel like an Alpha. I’ve played Early Access games on Steam, which I’ve paid for, that are in Alpha status which couldn’t hope to have the same level of refinement that Destiny does. This might seem obvious to many, given Bungie’s a huge publisher, but I’m not referring to the “polish” on the game; If you’d thrown a few more levels into the campaign, and added the other multiplayer modes besides Point Capture, this could have easily been mistaken for a finished game. By today’s standards, it almost is already.
That might be a sad indictment of what the current standard of AAA gaming and, by extension, our expectations, have become, but it also means that that the hype surrounding the game was(is) actually justified. I was already looking forward to the release of this game and now, having had a taste, it’s definitely got my pre-order: Christmas is in September this year, and Destiny’s stuffing my stocking… EDITOR’S NOTE: Ew.