‘Destiny’ PlayStation 4 Alpha – Collaborative Impressions
The excitement of E3 has finally ended for another year, major announcements were made, excellent games were showcased and players got their chance to enjoy the latest adventures gaming has to offer. One of those experiences was Bungie’s upcoming MMO first person shooter, Destiny.
During E3 it was revealed players around the world would be able to experience the Destiny Alpha on PlayStation 4. The Alpha (as you would expect) contained a small portion of what gamers can expect to encounter when Destiny releases September 9. Several Analog Addiction editors were apart of this Alpha, racking up many hours of gameplay, many fallen enemies, and many dance moves.
Our PlayStation editors Jamie Briggs and George Sinclair, alongside PC editor Ryan Livingstone have now gathered to give their analysis of the Destiny Alpha. What did we think of this early version of Bungie’s latest? Let’s find out.
Destiny’s Alpha only offered a handful of missions, letting us taste Story Mode, Exploration Missions and a singular Strike Mission. How did you feel about these different types of missions? Did they succeed in providing variety and challenge?
Jamie Briggs: Destiny’s missions on offer throughout the Alpha were typically hit or miss. Explorative Missions felt like your usual collectathons, or defeat a certain number of enemies, which we have seen done countless times. Without a doubt my favourite mission was the most challenging, which was the only Strike Mission on offer.
This mission put myself and two random players together to take down an abundance of enemies, and a few boss fights along the way. These battles were an absolute challenge, forcing all of us to play cooperatively. Whether it was helping a fallen comrade, or simply distracting your opponent from a fellow team mate, the Strike Mission emphasised teamwork and I loved it. I haven’t felt this way regarding cooperative multiplayer since Borderlands 2, which rewarded me for playing as a team. Destiny is certainly striking an excellent cooperative beat, one that I hope is seen throughout every Strike Mission.
George Sinclair: I felt the mission structure in the Alpha had no direction at all. I found missions but it was a lot of “go here, kill that” and any story missions I did do were really unclear as to what I should be doing. I did a mission with two other people which threw hordes of enemies at us. Normally it’s fine but this felt so incredibly unbalanced that I eventually just gave up after 5 attempts. And remember, there were three of us and a never ending army of them. And the mission markers are broken.
Ryan Livingstone: I didn’t get a chance to do the Strike mission, but the other missions I found relatively enjoyable. The Story mode quest lead you to a Hive in which you had to clear it out and take down their Queen which I found quite challenging. Obviously having the voice of Peter Dinklage guiding me along definitely made it a little bit more enjoyable. As for the Explorative Missions, they were nothing special. Obviously there main objective is to open up new areas for you to explore which I really enjoyed doing. Having those explorative missions to me simply seemed like a bonus for experiencing a new area.
Destiny is a third person shooter at heart, so how did you feel about the combat? Did each class have enough variation? And how did the AI and gunplay feel?
Jamie Briggs: I want to focus on one aspect of combat within Destiny, which is the enemy AI. Though we only were showcased two of the enemy races, I found myself constantly impressed by the AI’s ability to provide a challenge. Enemies will dodge, use cover, flank, and even take advantage of the numbers game to take you down. I found myself overwhelmed many times taking down some of the minor enemies on offer. If the rest of the enemy AI is up to this standard, we are going to be in for a challenging task come September.
George Sinclair: Each classes feel quite different once you get the hang of their special abilities and how they’re meant to be played. My major gripe with the gameplay is that there is no standard melee button, only your special melee. I got swarmed by a load of Fallen on one mission and I found it so annoying that I couldn’t just bash them with my rifle when reloading.
Ryan Livingstone: Unfortunately I only had time to play one class, the Warlock, which I found quite fun to mix shooting with spells. As for the enemy AI, I quite enjoyed how diverse the enemies were in their actions. They were constantly on the move to try get the advantage when in groups, and the stronger mobs proved quite a challenge. The shooting isn’t anything we haven’t seen before, it’s really simple and most people will be able to get straight into it, especially if you have played Halo before.
Taking your character through Destiny will see them evolve along the way, with new armour, upgrades and more. What did you think of these elements? Did the upgrade system satisfy?
Jamie Briggs: When I first began Destiny my character was outfitted in the bare minimum, but when I hit the Alpha’s level cap I noticed the drastic evolution my character had received. As I continued to increase in level my Guardian became more intimidating, more bulky and more visually spectacular. The visual evolution of my character was something I really appreciated, which gave all my victories a sense of worth.
Since the Alpha only provided us the ability to reach level 8, there are many skills that I haven’t experienced. However the fact each class has their own specific special Super Charge ability, certainly showcased how playing as each class could provide a whole new gameplay experience.
George Sinclair: It seems like a rather complex system with some weight to it. However, while I really do see this as a good thing it felt a bit too dense for the Alpha with a level cap of 8 in a game where it looks like you can level up quickly in those early stages.
Ryan Livingstone: Since the level cap only reached to level eight there wasn’t really enough to be able to notice my character improve visually. Usually the low-level armour in these types of games are all very simple in design, with the most aesthetic gear coming later in the game. There did look to be some cool offer in the vendors though, so I’ll be looking forward to that.
Destiny is one of the biggest games coming to next generation consoles this year, with that comes an expectation for visuals. What did you think of Destiny graphically? Did the day/night cycles impress? Or were you left wanting?
Jamie Briggs: From the small Old Russia environment on offer within the Alpha, it is hard to tell exactly how varied Destiny will become visually. Old Russia itself does look gorgeous, which is attributed to the excellent lightning within the game; which becomes even more impressive during the day/night cycle. The contrast between light and dark offers a new perspective on each area, which also helped emphasise the scale and length of your exploration.
Destiny certainly looks great, though I don’t expect many players will be blown away by what’s on offer; in my opinion Destiny is a gameplay focused experienced and the fact it provides some nice visuals is an added bonus.
George Sinclair: Destiny looks great. I was particularly impressed with the lighting in game in dark areas.
Ryan Livingstone: Once again, I was impressed by how good quality this was for an Alpha. I think the light effects definitely helped in showcasing off the areas, but even if the graphics didn’t improve, I would still be happy. If they can combine solid gameplay and good visuals, it’s definitely a win.
Destiny has a strong emphasis on social interaction. How do you feel the social features implemented effected your experience? And does Destiny seem like an experience that benefits from cooperative gameplay?
Jamie Briggs: The social features here worked well, joining missions with friends or random players worked easily, and I was never waiting long before finding more company in this world.
Teaming up with two random players to complete the Strike Mission on offer in the Alpha, only to end it by celebrating with an impressive dance-off, is still one of my favourite moments during the Alpha. Destiny is in its element when multiplayer is in effect.
George Sinclair: I think Destiny’s cooperative gameplay is probably some of the best I’ve ever played. I never cared for Borderlands so this will be my very first foray into dedicated co-op gameplay. It’ll definitely benefit you to have a chat headset though.
Ryan Livingstone: Destiny definitely benefits from cooperative gameplay, as most games do. It’s always more fun when you can group up with your mates and explore the world or do some PvP and it was done really well in Destiny. Even when you are going solo the cooperative elements are still there when you encounter other random players who for the most of the time will help you. Obviously there were only limited amount of players so it’s hard to really see how well it will play out with full servers, but from what we saw, it’s definitely on the right track.
Alongside the cooperative world Destiny provides are PvP options, which were slightly showcased in the Alpha. What did you think of the two maps that were available and how did the multiplayer competitive experience compare to the cooperative aspects?
Jamie Briggs: One thing that stood out during my time on both PvP maps, was diversity. Rusted Lands was a small, focused map that had players constantly moving and utilising their jetpacks. While the second map was set on the moon, giving a completely different mindset to combat. Using your vehicles was a genius way to get the jump on your opponent and help neutralise enemies.
As someone that doesn’t find themselves attached to PvP multiplayer often, Destiny’s multiplayer suite was easy to comprehend. However mastering your characters abilities to take full advantage of the maps on hand, will definitely showcase the best from the rest.
George Sinclair: I’m going to come out and say it; I didn’t really like the PvP at this stage. It felt a little flat and not necessary. I get that Bungie are known for great competitive multiplayer but it’s not why I’m interested in Destiny.
Ryan Livingstone: I absolutely loved the PvP in Destiny. Both maps showed two different sides of Destiny, the Moon map allowed you to use turrets and vehicles on a much larger map, while Rusted Lands was much more confined and relied on only how good you are with your shooting/spells. The Moon was probably my favourite map as there was a bit more diversity and is easier to get the hang of when starting out because you could use turrets and vehicles. Luckily the maps are quite simple so after a couple of rounds you pretty much know what you are doing. As someone who doesn’t really like Capture the Base maps, I found myself really enjoying constantly moving to the next base to try hold it. I definitely look forward to seeing what other PvP options will be in the full game.
With any expansive open world players need a fast way to travel and Destiny is no exception, allowing players to call upon their own vehicle at any time. How did these vehicles handle? And how did the implementation of jetpacks help Destiny’s traversal elements?
Jamie Briggs: Destiny gives players the ability to call upon their personal vehicle, at almost any time. This is a simple idea but it saves players the trouble of having to visit locations to pick up vehicles, instead it is always at the ready. The vehicle at your disposal is called a Sparrow and it is as fun to control as I would expect a hover vehicle to control. The vehicle itself can pull off some impressive speed, shooting you around the map; yet the vehicle itself feels extremely agile and very easy to manoeuvre.
The inclusion of a always on call vehicle and the added jetpack characters have access to, emphasises the free flowing nature of Destiny. Either in cooperative, competitive, or solo, players are constantly moving forward and Bungie has made this forward motion smooth and reliable.
George Sinclair: I will be using the speeder bikes A LOT in Destiny. They felt really easy to control which is something I was surprised at. The vehicular movement in the Halo games is absolutely appalling and I’ve always hated driving in those games. It look Bungie 13 years but they managed to sort the driving out in their games.
Ryan Livingstone: I was really impressed by how fluid and simple it was to call your vehicle and be out of the area within seconds, it was all so seamless. It did take me a little while to properly drive the vehicle properly though, I found myself constantly crashing into walls when I used the boost but it’s one of those things you learn as you go. I absolutely loved how the vehicles sounded though, it almost reminded of Star Wars Podracers.
As for the use of jetpacks, it was a mixed bag for me. On one hand, it is very helpful to be able to jump such far distances without constantly jumping on to objects. But on the other hand I hated how long it took to land after double tabbing the jump button. Particularly in PvP I found myself waiting to finally land, most times dying before I even touched the ground because of how slow it was. It’s really one of the only complaints I have for this Alpha version, and one I can imagine will be fixed throughout the coming months.
Overall, how did you feel about the Destiny Alpha? Though it is a very early stage in Destiny’s lifecycle, did it provide you with more excitement for Destiny’s release on September 9?
Jamie Briggs: Overall the Destiny Alpha has finally got me excited for Bungie’s next title. Watching gameplay really didn’t sell just how fun Destiny can be and I found myself saddened when I found out I had hit the level cap. Having previously doubted what Destiny could accomplish, the Alpha has me highly anticipating losing countless hours in this new universe. Either on my own, or with my friends.
George Sinclair: It’s rough, no doubt about that. I can see the factors that could make Destiny one of the greats but it’s these little nagging flaws like unbalanced AI, directionless missions and a general sense of vagueness in the “here and now” of the narrative that I can see holding it back.
Ryan Livingstone: I was blown away by just how solid of an Alpha this was. Usually an Alpha would be riddled with bugs but I didn’t encounter many at all. Obviously some elements will need to be a lot more polished like the jetpacks, but it’s relieving to see they are taking it in a good direction. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this game, but it’s certainly reeled me in.
Destiny will release for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One September 9, with the Public Beta going live July 17. Analog Addiction would love to hear what you thought of the Alpha, so let us know in the comments below.
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