One gamer’s first impression of Bungie’s upcoming online-multiplayer shooter, Destiny.
So last weekend I spent a good twelve to sixteen hours playing Bungie’s beta for the to be released Destiny. For a beta, there was a great deal of polish and Bungie’s devotion to excellent design shows. I had an amazing time trying out all of the classes and getting a feel for the combat, leveling, loot, and social systems.
Arguably the most important part of the game is the combat, given that it’s a shooter. Arguably. What isn’t arguable is whether or not Bungie knows how to make a good shooter, because their pedigree shines through brightly here. Every piece of combat seems to be fluid and flawless, with great attention paid towards balance of weaponry and accessibility for all playstyles.
Despite this, I found the HUD to be a bit lacking. It’s gorgeous, don’t get me wrong, but certain enemies take more damage from say Warlock abilities, and there is nothing done to indicate this to the player. Now, if you were playing with a group that wouldn’t be a problem, but I typically play online games alone and so I found myself slogging through enemies only to watch a warlock stroll through and annihilate the enemy in one shot. And hopefully there are things that warlocks are less successful at hurting or my initial comments about balance may have been unfounded.
I spent the most time playing the Hunter and then the Titan, with the Warlock pulling up the rear. I’d heard said that the player classes don’t really differ all that much but I leveled up to the cap of eight and even with so few levels I noticed distinct differences. The Titan favors area-of-effect attacks and tanking, the Hunter favors damage and field maneuvering, and the Warlock favors damage and crowd control. When the game releases in earnest, people will be able to specialize their characters and that will give the Titan better tanking, the Hunter better melee and stealth, and the Warlock healing.
So I never got the impression that the difference between classes was cosmetic. The Hunter fits my playstyle, running and gunning and whipping around corners and throwing knives in baddies’ heads. If someone favors other playstyles, there are two other classes for them to choose from, and once they’ve reached level 15, they can choose a subclass that further diversifies play. So initial concerns that the game would just be a generic to everyone shooter no longer need exist.
Initial comparisons to Borderlands, on the other hand, were also wrong. While it would seem initially that there are skill trees, most of the unlocks are mandatory and so there is very little choice for how a character is specced out versus another.
The loot system is interesting, if uninspired. It is very, very similar to Borderlands. In fact, a lot of the gameplay seems like Borderlands-lite, with a more refined pure shooter aspect but weaker skill tree and loot system. This, however, is not necessarily a bad thing. I don’t know off hand the overlap of Borderlands players with players of other shooters, but I’m sure not all FPS players are interested in carefully building their characters and by making it more streamlined, it makes it more accessible to the larger shooter population and that means for both a more successful and longer lasting game (hopefully) and also a broader base for people to play with.
And before stat-shooter elitists rag on the braind-dead Call of Duty and Halo shooters, these people are amazing at what they do and they aren’t going to be losing you strikes or raids.
I won’t talk a lot on the social system since our own Paul wrote a piece on it and I share the sentiment. Destiny does not do social play all that well. I joined a strike with a group of people who did not have mics and it would have been rather helpful if everyone else had. I’m not asking for a text-chat function necessarily (though I do have a chatpad) but something that allows people to mark enemies and things like that so there can be better coordination.
And out of combat, there needs to be ways for people to relate and possibly role-play. The social aspect is so rudimentary at this point and I hope it gets improved upon. The game cannot function fully without it.
As a whole, I really enjoyed my brief dalliance with the Destiny beta. The story was intriguing and the gameplay fun if not necessarily refreshing. While the social system let me down, the game is only a beta and can improve. For a first experience of a new game, and a free one at that, I am beyond happy about what we have so far, and knowing Bungie, I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.