Reaction Time: 2 hours of Destiny Beta

By Joe Strange


 

I’m not usually one who gets in on betas or alphas, my list of games to play is usually long enough without play testing the ones I’m inevitably going to get anyway. But Destiny was an exception for two reasons; the first is that, in case you couldn’t tell by the amount I’ve been reporting about it on Coffee Time News, I’m really very excited for it, and two, today the beta was opened up to anyone until it runs its course this Sunday.

The first thing I noticed when booting up Bungie’s new Sci-Fi multi-player shooter was just how epic the title music was and in fact, the soundtrack so far in the two hours that I’ve played has been atmospheric, varied and really accompanies whatever’s going on in the game very well. This title music sets the tone for the game brilliantly; it makes you feel a part of something huge, epic and worthwhile, and there I’m talking about the saving of humanity, not play testing a game.

Since I’m cheap, and I’m actually waiting for Destiny and Evolve before I shell out on a new console, I’m playing the beta on a 360, and even on a last gen console the game looks great. The hub world, the last city on earth, looks really shiny, clean and organised, so it’s really great when you jump down into the ruins of Russia to rusted cars, dilapidated buildings and churned up roads. This juxtaposition works really well and shows off the games aesthetic ability.

But Joe, I hear you say, how does it actually play? Well when I first logged in and watched the quick world exposition I realised that I didn’t know the controls at all, but luckily Destiny plays like pretty much every shooter out there; A is jump, X is reload, LB is grenade once you unlock them, RT is shoot etc. Really, shooters today are like watching a final destination movie, you’ve seen one, you know how they’re all going to go.

The controls are solid and responsive, they don’t feel washy at all, and the guns have a real sense of feedback and kick. They feel like you’re firing bullets, not just pointing at something and watching the health go down. I picked the Hunter class (mostly for that bitchin’ scarf) and so was gifted with a Sniper as a special weapon. It feels great to fire and the scope doesn’t take half an hour to pull up. The feedback on the Shotguns, I’m told, is just as good, and you really feel like you’re blowing something to pieces.

One thing I hope they don’t change between now and the release is the radar system. Instead of the usual red dots to signify enemies, the radar is segmented, and each section will light up if there’s an enemy there. This means that you’re aware of threats, but have to actually look for your target, and I really like that.

The missions I’ve done so far have been nice and bite-sized, and at the end of each one you’re given the choice to go back to the hub to buy new gear and have a break, or carry on with the story. This does lead to quite a few loading screens, and they’re not exactly brief on the 360, something that I’m sure will be dealt with later.

I had one connection error early on, actually when I went to hand in my first mission, and obviously that didn’t fill me with a lot of hope. Luckily that hasn’t happened since, but it’s a possibility.

The last mission I did gave me the speeder bike, known as the sparrow, and let me tell you; these things are fun. Fans of the Podracing in Phantom Menace will love whirring around on them since the sound is very reminiscent. They’re quick, easy to control and very easy to spawn, being only 2 button presses away at any time.

Having played for 2 hours I’ve reached level 4, and I believe level 5 is when the competitive multiplayer opens up, so I’m looking forward to that. I really only wanted to play enough to get an idea of the game thus far, and to finally get a hood for my robot hunter.

Check back next week when James and I will do a joint recap on the beta, and give both our impressions, but until then I’m going to find some wizards from the moon on my space bike.

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