Saturday, June 14, 2014

Destiny Alpha - First Impressions

At Sony's E3 presentation, it was announced that Bungie's new FPS would be playable within the week of the conference. I've had a considerable amount of time with the Destiny alpha and I thought I'd give you my first impressions, as a longtime Halo fan who was both excited and skeptical before-hand of the game's goals.

New and familiar.

The game plays like you would expect, shoot, run, jump, melee, and it all feels very responsive and tweaked to near perfection. What struck me with the most happiness was the fact that it wasn't as easy as I was expecting. There is some serious challenge here and I found it in the only Strike available in the alpha. Damn, was that hard. In a Strike, fight through hordes of enemies and eventually fight a boss. I never got to the boss. 

It's easy to pick up and understand, but it seems like there are advantages to really practicing. Supers aren't really that easy to pull off and while they are very powerful, they do require a uniquely great sense of timing and precision. 

The world is massive and this is only the Alpha, which only lets you explore Old Russia and the Tower, the social hub of the game. I was playing on a friends PS4, so he's had considerably more time with it than I have, and we managed to come across several areas that neither of us had seen before, in the hours of gameplay online or first hand gameplay. We found caves with unique enemies, hidden chests with money and guns, and buildings that took us to dilapidated highways and abandoned shipyards. The variety in the environments are remarkably enjoyable and they all feel like they belong. It's a big game.

The world is massive and that means you'll need to traverse quickly. The inclusion of the Sparrow, a speeder hover bike mount that you can summon at anytime outdoors, is a wonderful inclusion. It's really fun to drive and it's incredibly useful in competitive multiplayer.

Speaking of competitive multiplayer, the Alpha ships with only one mode: Control. This is a typical, stay in the area and control zones, type of game, but the style of gameplay really switches it up. The inclusion of magic, summonable vehicles, and a vertical movement mode really make the game feel unique and though the game mode itself might be familiar, it's new and fun enough to warrant a many binges. 

There are other vehicles available too, including a Fallen Pike, which is essentially, your Sparrow but way more powerful and way more satisfying to fly. It's got guns and an ability to strafe left and right on a quick dash. This vehicle controls like no other vehicle I've ever driven in any game. The way it sways through the air is immensely satisfying and I wish I could drive it forever. 

The ability to emote is another thing that makes this feel really great. It's a hybrid MMOFPSRPG. You will encounter players on their own missions as you explore the world of Destiny. The world is a matchmaking lobby and it's seamless and satisfying. 

Public Events breathe life into the world, especially when several of you team up for a unified goal. It's such a satisfying experience, I can barely form the words to describe it. It's Halo meets Borderlands meets Lost Planet meets Shadowrun. It's friendly to the familiar and inviting to the unknown. Anyone looking to experience a unique game this year really needs to check this out. Destiny exceeded my expectations in every way possible and it did so in only one map. 

What's difficult is that Destiny isn't really easy to explain. Hearing about it doesn't do it justice and neither does watching gameplay of it. It really is something you need to play and immerse yourself in to believe. Fortunately, this alpha is a free way to do that for people looking to give it a chance and the beta coming July 17th can be accessed just by pre ordering the game.

There are several ways to experience Destiny for free, is what I'm saying, so if you can, try it out. You've got nothing to lose and everything to gain. 

If the game turns out to be a more lush version of what I've seen today, I'd gladly buy this game for every console I own. I believe this has the power to be a game changer and I'm excited beyond belief to get my hands on the beta this summer. Hopefully, I'll see you there.

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