At E3 this week it was clear that Sony has gone all in with Bungie’s Destiny, and after getting some hands-on time with the game at a private booth in Activision’s E3 HQ, I think Sony has its eggs in the right basket. Halo comparisons aside, Destiny is an ambitious title set to take advantage of the power of the new consoles, and it’s clear that Bungie has been diligently working to make it one of the studio’s best titles to date.
A Bungie developer guided the demo I played, which was a bonus because he was able to offer up commentary and direction about what we were playing on screen. We were paired in two’s to fully flesh out a Fire Team, which in Destiny consists of three players with one being the designated leader. The leader ultimately has control over joining the team to the various mission types available in Destiny, which can range from explore missions to story missions, and strikes. Due to the low rank of the characters we were assigned we couldn’t join a strike mission, but we were able to check out one of the game’s story missions.
Before starting one of the various missions you and your fire team must head to the Tower, which is the main gaming hub in Destiny. The Tower is full of life and other players hanging out in-between matches, and there are also NPCs to be found who either work shops, or are your character’s mentors, who are high-level masters of your character’s particular class.
Speaking of which, the demo offered up three classes to choose from. I was assigned the Warlock class, which afforded me magic-like abilities to use in battle, while my teammates took control of the Titan and Hunter classes. Speaking to your mentor on the Tower can yield new items to use and sage advice, but your ultimate goal is to one day level up enough to overtake even your own mentor’s skill set.
After we all checked in with our mentors and equipped the goodies they gave us, our fire team leader led us to our first mission, which was one of the story-based affairs on Earth’s surface. Once the leader selected the mission we were automatically pulled into it, so we didn’t all have to make it to a certain door or mission start location to get the ball rolling. Upon touchdown on the surface we were shown how to use the Ghost, which is a cross between Cortana and 343 Guilty Spark from the Halo universe. The Ghost, voiced by Peter Dinklage, narrates the story to you, but he can also open locked doors, and provide you with vital mission information. While using the Ghost you can also press the square button to have your sparrow (speeder bikes) materialize at your location for faster travel.
The sparrows are quite fun to ride around on, and their Star Wars influence is clear. We zipped over to a map marker to investigate an odd occurrence, and en route we encountered enemy soldiers, which allowed us to get our first taste of Destiny’s shooting mechanics. It’s hard not to think about Halo while engaging in a firefight in Destiny, but that’s a great thing considering the gameplay pedigree of that franchise. Outside of the typical weapons found in most FPS games your warrior will also have a unique melee ability based on class, and a Super move, which requires a power meter to fill up before releasing a devastating attack. I found that mixing in gunplay and grenade tossing worked quite well with the melee moves and devastating Super attack. Traveling in a fire team of three allows you to make quick work of these random enemy encounters, but once you enter an indoor setting you must all rely on each other to ensure success.
We ended up heading into a run down structure to investigate a disturbance our Ghosts alerted us to. Eventually we came upon one of the game’s enemy classes, the Hive. These humanoid aliens have no love for Guardians, so they attacked our party with hatred and fervor. Within the various enemy classes there are also tiers of warriors, so you will run into common cannon fodder, as well as more advanced soldiers that pose serious threats to even a skilled fire team of three humans. During the skirmish one of our soldiers went down, but luckily your teammates can be revived without losing their loot or XP, so as long as at least one member of the fire team remains standing, the team should succeed, but if all three warriors die then the game ends and reloads a checkpoint.
Through the use of our Super moves we ultimately won the day and learned a bit of information about the Hive, which would have led us to the Moon if we had more time in the demo to keep playing through the story missions. Due to a lack of time we weren’t able to pursue the story, so our mission ended and we were presented with a mission summary screen that broke down our mission stats and how our skills/perk categories changed due to the most recent mission. These skills and perks can either yield equipable powers or persistent buffs, and they get fleshed out based on how you play, so if you do a lot of demolition work your skills in that area will increase quicker than others. Just like Wolfenstein: The New Order, players will be able to play the way they want to play and craft a warrior that suits their own style of play.
By the end of the Destiny demo it was clear to me that Bungie has another epic franchise on its hands that could very well dominate the charts when it releases on September 9, 2014. Destiny looks beautiful, its world is gigantic, the gameplay is tight and enjoyable, and playing alone or with friends is a blast. Nothing concerned me from the demo, so I still have high hopes that Destiny could possibly be one of the best, if not the best video game released this year. If you’re a PS+ member and have a PS4 you can now play the Destiny Alpha, so I highly recommend doing so. If you don’t own a PS4 you should be able to get in on the much larger beta that will kickoff July 17th for the other platforms. If you want to be the talk of the town you should consider pre-ordering the newly announced Destiny White PS4 bundle, which will ship with the game this fall.
If you have any questions in particular please use the comment section below and I’ll do my best to get back to you with an answer if I have one.
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