Two things surprised me at our hands-on PvE preview today of Bungie's new MMO darling, Destiny. In the first case, I was astounded by how well the game played and looked in its alpha state. In the second, I was astonished by how I well and truly CRUSHED AT IT.
Our preview began in a hub area used for socializing with other players and checking out your own character's good looks. Unlike the other areas in Destiny, which conform to what we've come to expect from Bungie's games in being comfortably first-person, the hub lets you to wander around with a third-person perspective. A quick tap of the PS4 touchpad allowed Garrett and I to launch our strike party into orbit and on our way to Earth - one of several planets planned for the release version of the game - and into one of Destiny's PvE areas.
Spending as little as two minutes playing Destiny will make absolutely clear that it's indeed a Bungie game, and that it draws inspiration from what have now become hallmarks of the MMO genre. It's a first-person shooter that offers several weapon loadouts and vehicles, with buttery smooth gameplay that feels like a natural evolution of the Halo series. It has several different classes to choose from and progress in, each offering numerous strengths and abilities. It also pits you against several different mission types in its variety of PvE content, and provides a platform for all kinds of PvP tomfoolery (which Bill will tell you about in a forthcoming preview).
After spacing into our scenario, we spent some time learning our characters' abilities by not using them correctly and laying waste to some NPCs. I played as a Warlock, equipped with a semi-auto and a rocket launcher, as well as the special abilities to chuck an energy grenade that deployed a DoT AoE, and to utilize a kind of force lift-stun-thing on mobs. We spent a good amount of time not doing our quest objective and riding around aimlessly on our spawnable vehicles, until a dynamic event began that allowed us to join forces with other Alpha players and take out several handfuls of dropshipped baddies.
We then decided to get back on track and traversed through the scenario's extremely detailed and vertical terrain to a dungeon-type area, which was filled with alien monsters and dark enough to make me think of DOOM 3 or F.E.A.R. It was at this point that I hit my stride, channeling years of playing various Halo titles and playing beat the clock to complete the dungeon before our hosts kicked us out. You'll have to ask Garrett about his experience being revived repeatedly by his new favorite action hero, but suffice it to say that I somehow went toe-to-toe with the pretty nasty boss at the end of the dungeon and managed to take him out just as Bungie ushered us out the door.
I'll have to take a much longer look at what's on offer with Destiny as more content is revealed over the coming weeks and months, but I can say that our preview has put the ever-enticing PS4 purchase squarely in my crosshairs. We'll see where Bungie takes the game on the road to beta and launch.
Som Pourfarzaneh / Som has been hanging out with the MMORPG.com crew since 2011, and is an Associate Director & Lecturer in Media, Anthropology, and Religious Studies. He’s a former Community Manager for Neverwinter, the free-to-play Dungeons & Dragons MMORPG from Cryptic Studios and Perfect World Entertainment, and is unreasonably good at Maze Craze for the Atari 2600. You can exchange puns and chat (European) football with him on Twitter @sominator.