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More Going On Here Than Meets the Eye

David Jagneaux Posted:
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After I made my way through this area, killing dozens of enemies, I found myself deep within an underground complex. As I entered the darkness, my flashlight switched on automatically (no room left on the controller, I suppose) and silence ensued. I quickly noticed that Destiny is game that wears many hats, and this time, it was emulating a survival horror atmosphere.

Scratches and growls in the distance echoed in my headset as I creeped through the blackness of the complex, waiting to be attacked. Eventually a swarm of Hive enemies came running at me in a large group – a perfect opportunity to use my grenade ability. The AoE DoT grenade made quick work of the swarm, with my shotgun mopping up the remaining stragglers.

Once I reached the end of this area, I faced off against another large group of enemies that surrounded a flying wizard-esque enemy. He was able to quickly glide through the air, hovering above the ground, and he could even teleport if my advanced became too much to stand. His abilities included a forcefield, as well as launching large bursts of energy that shook the screen and exploded in the environment. Once the foe was defeated, I beamed back up to my ship for the post mission summary.

The most important thing that the alpha taught me you can’t learn by watching gameplay videos or scripted presentations is that Bungie really has created a large and thriving world. That entire mission was full of all different kinds of thrills –an entire game that was based on those types of missions would be great in its own right – but Destin has so much more to offer. The entire game isn’t a giant open ended persistent space like Planetside 2 or most MMOs I’ll note, but it has plenty of MMO features to remind you that this isn’t just a normal shooter.

Once I beamed back to my ship, I was free to travel to the Tower, the game’s MMO-esque capital city hub. Here, the game switches to a fully third-person view and I can interact with shop keepers, quest givers, and other players freely. Players will surely visit the Tower quite often while playing Destiny and the developers expertly created a station that feels both vast and convenient. I didn’t find myself having to run for 10 minutes just to get from the armor merchant to the gun merchant, everything seemed to be laid out very smartly.

Once I perused the area and took care of some errands, I hopped back into my ship to see what else the game had to offer. Now, I could pick from a few different areas on Earth. I could of course replay that same story mission for extra XP and loot (even changing the difficulty to make it more of a challenge) or I could take on a free roam version of that same area. In this mode, I was able to hop on my hoverbike to quickly traverse the area, interact with beacons for waypoints and short quests, and in some areas even randomly run across other players to fight alongside.

Eventually, I wanted to try my hand at the competitive side of the game, also known as the Crucible. The menu for this portion clearly shows a large amount of potential game modes, but the only one available to me is Control, which works just like a standard Domination style game. There are 3 control points, each of which must be captured and maintained to accrue points for you team.

I found myself actually surprised how well the exact same character I played with in PvE was so well balanced for the PvP aspects of the game. Fighting other players introduces dynamics that you don’t experience when facing off against the game itself – jetpack traversal, unpredictable human players, multiple weapon sets, and competent team mates – and I found myself quickly addicted. I played several matches in the Crucible, winning some and losing some, even with just a handful of maps to choose from at this time.

Finally, I topped off my time with the game by looking at a Strike mission – Devil’s Lair. The game matched me up with two other players of the same character level and we headed off in our ships to assault the enemy base. It started off with us facing a few waves of enemies – incredibly difficult waves, might I add – in a small cramped room. The combat was fast, fierce, and intense with tons of bullets and energy beams flying all over the place.

After working through those enemies, we traveled to a large open area. A small militia of enemy forces appeared, with a giant tank at the back of the area for their reinforcements. The fight that followed was long and incredibly intense as the tank was positioned in such a way that it could pick each of us in one fell swoop if we weren’t careful. Unlike boss fights in most shooters I’ve played, this battle was almost like something out of a Zelda game. We had to destroy each of its individual legs in order to reveal the weak spot to do the most damage.

Once the giant tank was defeated, it was a short walk to the final area of the Lair. We were in a medium sized arena with a giant eye-orb monstrosity hovering in the middle. After we entered, it appeared to wake up and lock its gaze on us. The orb teleported and floated all around the area, making it nearly impossible to hide from its powerful blasts of energy. We slowly chipped away at its health bar and I leapt into the air to deliver a final super charged Vortex grenade to defeat our enemy. The three of us gathered in a circle and danced – because that’s what you do in MMO-style games.

This weekend was only a brief glimpse into what Destiny has to offer. So, is it a shooter that borrows a lot from Halo, or is it an RPG with loot, levels, and XP? Is it a competitive multiplayer game with tons of modes to keep you busy, or is it a cooperative first-person dungeon crawler? Is the game a story-driven first-person shooter, or is it an MMO with thousands of other players to interact with? Well, it’s all of those things. It’s hard to say how the final game will turn out, but this alpha left a great taste in my mouth and now I’m hungry for more!

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David Jagneaux

David Jagneaux / David is a freelance writer and full-time nerd. He loves to play, write about, talk about and think about all things gaming. It's dangerous to go alone, so follow him on Twitter at @David_Jagneaux