Last updated on August 7th, 2015
“We looked out at the galaxy and knew that it was our destiny to walk in the light of other stars…”
With E3 now behind us, bringing with it the first public alpha test of Destiny, we are now getting a clearer picture of what we can expect from Bungie’s first non-Halo title in 20 years. And how does it look? Damn fun. Space-faring, grenade-chucking, laser-blasting, rocket-dodging, hover-bike-riding, alien-massacring fun!
To me, the game seems phenomenal. A smörgasbord of action, sci-fi, guns, spaceships and exploration in a universe steeped in a complex story with a depth and scope you’d only expect from a company like Bungie. I only had the opportunity to play the Alpha for about 2 hours (spread about equally between the story and the 6 vs. 6 multiplayer), and even as a massive fan who has been looking forward to this game for years, I was impressed.
The gameplay was solid and compelling, the shooting was crisp, enemies are challenging enough considering the low level of the content, not to mention the often astonishing visual elements, the alpha build appeared very stable and ready to build towards its release in September.
But just what exactly is Destiny? You would not be alone in asking this. With Bungie being as tentative as usual about releasing details of their project, many people are in the dark about what to expect from this title.
Is it an arena shooter in the style of Halo or a Call of Duty game? Is it a gun collecting, loot based, free roaming game something like Borderlands? Or does it follow more closely the direction of traditional MMO games like World of Warcraft or Star Wars The Old Republic? The answer to all of these questions seems to be: yes, basically.
While it will have a seemingly very well polished multiplayer versus mode (or PvP to you MMO fans) which could stand alone as it’s core gameplay, up until E3 this aspect of the game had hardly been mentioned. Bungie preferring instead to focus our attention on the storyline (campaign or PvE as you may know them) aspects of the game, or rather the living universe they are attempting to create.
You see, Destiny isn’t just an arena shooter, it isn’t just a loot collecting open world shooter, and it isn’t just a story-driven, Massively Multiplayer Online game; Destiny is trying to take what is best about each of these things and combine them into a seamless combination that is something much more than just the sum of its parts. Destiny is hoping to combine the world of shooters, role-playing games, and sci-fi adventure into a futuristic world, comprised of a level of detail, scope, and graphical fidelity never before been realized.
Perhaps it’s because this game is just so obviously gorgeous, or perhaps because we’ve just been spoiled by E3, but I don’t think enough can be said about the graphics in this game – certainly enough hasn’t been. The game is filled with breathtaking images of a broken and burned out earth, half covered in glacial ice, with only the Traveler to keep watch over the last bastions of humanity.
The dark, rich, and enveloping setting of Destiny’s future Earth begs to be explored, and the dazzling visuals do more than create a simple backdrop for an average sci-fi game. Players will travel throughout our solar system, visiting derelict spacecraft and spacestations, Mars, Venus, The Moon, or the moons of Saturn. And the load menu for traveling between these worlds isn’t some screenshot of the game with a bar that slowly fills up, and some tip about the game you either always knew or wish you had read 2 months ago. Instead the selection screen has you circling Earth in high orbit, thousands of feet above the clouds, in a one man inter-planetary space jet, ready to choose what part of the planet (or the galaxy) you want to dive into with your spaceship to explore and save with your space magic!
Which is why I’m so bummed out when I hear people trying to compare it to the last 10 years of games. Sure, it has a more typical arena shooter mode with competitive, balanced and dynamic gameplay. It also has MMO elements like leveling, a persistent world, raiding, crafting, and questing. It has randomly generated guns like Borderlands. It has shields like Halo. It has guns like Call of Duty. It has vehicles like Grand Theft Auto. Your character jumps like in Mario or Banjo Kazooie. The protagonist has feet like in Harvest Moon or Final Fantasy (though significantly better drawn). There is gravity just like on Earth, and presumably the characters are made up of atoms with various forces acting upon them… But does that make it just another shooter/MMO/story driven game?
HELL NO, this is Destiny!
What it does, it does well. Exceedingly well. And what does it do? A whole lot. There’s something for everyone here, from the die-hard shooter fan, to the casual MMO player, to the hardcore raider and back again. If you like Sci-Fi this game is for you, if you like games with great graphics and visuals this game is for you, if you love tricking out your character in dope loot this game is for you, if you love story driven gameplay this game is for you, if you love exploration this game is for you and most importantly if you just want to waste a few hours having a great time traveling the galaxy and kicking some alien ass with your friends, this game is for you!
This video begins with a basic playthrough of some early content, if you have already seen this skip to 10:35 in the video to see more story driven content and developer commentaries.