Michael Leparc On July 31, 2014 at 1:20 pm

destiny logo smallDestiny is a game that carries a lot of hope from gamers, developers, and publisher alike. It’s Bungie’s first major title out from under the shadow of Microsoft and the Halo juggernaut they constructed with them, and Activision has bet large on it being a hit (though maybe not quite the half a billion rumored a while ago). It’s little surprise that the beta has arrived and gone over the past week with such fanfare, but the question remains whether the enthusiasm will carry over to the release a little over a month from now.

It’s hard to look at the game and describe without mentioning the peers it borrows its ideas from. Even Halo kind of factors into the feel of things, with all the player characters hidden behind helmets that obscure everyone’s face much like the Spartans (granted they remove them in the Tower hub, but that’s about it), and the floating robot buddy reminiscent of Guilty Spark. Beyond that though is the Borderlands style co-op, where up to three of you can join a fireteam to progress through the story, exploration, and strike missions. Story missions are rather straightforward, while Exploration mode is the most MMO-like, allowing you to explore the entire map and pick up quests along the way, with random people in your instance able to chip in as well for big events like a giant walker landing in the middle of things. Strike missions require a fireteam which will be matchmade if you don’t have enough friends with you, and are basically a series of large boss battles sandwiched by a bit of horde mode type action.

Loot randomly drops from enemies but can also be purchased or unlocked back in the Tower hub, which will remind you a bit of Phantasy Star Online. While the weapons aren’t as zany or as random as the aforementioned Borderlands, there’s a variety to support your playstyle, from spray and pray burst firing assault and plasma rifles to deadly accurate but sparing in bullets scout rifles, as well as special weapons like sniper rifles, rocket launchers, and machine guns. Gear can be especially attuned to take advantage of specific weapons, like increasing their ammo or decreasing reload time, so you can really specialize your build. There are three classes to play: Titan, Hunter, and Warlock. I managed to level up the latter two classes. Hunter had the advantage of really upping your damage with the special ability provided you had good aim, while Warlock could do a massive amount of damage with its grenade and special abilities but trades it for being a little squishy compared to a Titan, for instance.

Speaking of squishy, PvP was quite a struggle that seemed to favor the higher level, higher geared characters a bit too much, making it far less balanced than the brilliance of Halo, IMO. Hopefully there will be some tweaking to the matchmaking or something, because it’s not much fun getting one shotted while only doing a quarter of the damage to your rivals in return. Still, I managed to get by with my abilities and manning turrets for the most part. All we got to see was the standard control point mode, however, nothing too groundbreaking there.

In the end, Destiny is a gorgeously executed game, but I fear it doesn’t do enough to stand out from the games it borrows from in order to really last beyond the first month of hype. The story already feels forgettable barring some unforeseen twist, and if you don’t have friends to play it with, it’ll probably feel like a weaker imitation of Halo. We’ll see how the full game looks in September, though!

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