Destiny Screenshot

Destiny, A First Impression From a Halo Veteran

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.

Destiny Characters
And I didn’t even gush about the character design and creation which are both glorious, though I’d like to know what the racial choices determine.

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.

Destiny Screenshot
No one can deny that the shooting is smooth, fluid, and fun.

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.

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  • I didn’t even notice different classes do different damage to different enemies. Interesting. I actually prefer their loot system to Borderlands’. In that one, every mission fills your inventory up with guns, guns, and more guns that you have to sit there and compare and decide whether the damage boost due to being a higher level warrants replacing your current faves. Then you constantly have to decide which ones to throw away because they just keep piling up until you can’t hold any more. Destiny actually give you time to enjoy (or hate) your current weapon before throwing more at you, plus there are several other categories of armour; not just endless guns. The Cryptarch aspect is cool too because it’s like opening a Christmas present after a mission. I prefer to wait until after a mission before I sort through my loot anyways.

  • Owl

    Destiny’s mechanics and gunplay are poor. Worst part of the game actually. It’s designed to be an aim down the sights (ADS) twitch shooter. Yet, it’s only running at 30FPS. Remember how Battlefield 3 felt clunky on last-gen consoles? Well, Destiny is of that mould. Bungie does a good job trying to cover-up for it, but it’s there. Try running and turning before shooting. Halo worked last gen at 30FPS because it was a point and click (not aim down the sights) shooter based on steady shots, consistency and slower kill times (not twitch). Destiny’s PVP mechanics in general are extremely generic. If you played COD and Destiny every day, then you would get extremely bored as the gameplay is ultimately the same thing.

    I was so hyped to get this game for almost 2 years. I thought Destiny would be one of the last FPS shooters I have to play for the next 5 years. After playing the Alpha, I realized I had delusional expectations and had set the game up to fail. The co-op will be fun while exploring planets. But I wonder how long the game will stay popular though. Before I figured it could envelope a huge cult following, like Halo did. But with Destiny being such a generic shooter in the way it plays, I see the same COD syndrome here. Not to the same extent though. For casuals, Destiny will be fairly popular for 4 months after release. Then it will become stale. COD usually has 2-3 month life expectancy per release nowadays. Do people really want another game that plays like Call of Duty? No. It will take 4 months for people to shake off the brainwash and propaganda.

  • Heya just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few
    of the pictures aren’t loading correctly.
    I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue.

    I’ve tried it in two different browsers and both show the same

    • Savannah Winter

      Oh wow, thanks. I’ll see if I can get in touch with one of my editors and see what we can do.