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Destiny: A Preview

Destiny is a game that everyone has heard about and if you haven’t by now, then there must be something wrong with you. The online sensation will be hitting next-gen and current gen consoles on 9 September this year. So is Destiny all that it’s cracked up to be?

I was lucky enough to receive an early beta key for Destiny on my PlayStation 4 and at risk of being last in the news, wanted to make sure I played the game thoroughly before just putting up what many see as a “general consensus” rather than my own, personal feelings about the game.

First off, props to Bungie for getting Peter Dinklage involved. For those that may not know, Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones) voices the Ghost, your floating robot partner that narrates everything and basically tells you all that you need to know. At first I was a bit skeptical of Bungie for cottoning on the actor at the height of his popularity but can honestly say that he does a fantastic job. In fact, when Morgan Freeman stops doing as well as he does at narrating, Dinklage could easily became a replacement. Actually, David Attenborough should watch out because this is some really expert stuff here. His ability to sway conversations to a serious or comedic tone as well as create memes instantly is pretty much unparalleled. Anyways, you didn’t come here to read about how good Dinklage is, so moving along swiftly…

Destiny is described by the Wikipedia entry as an “online multiplayer action role-playing first-person shooter” in a “mythic science fiction open world setting”. I’m not entirely sure how that could have been more descriptive, but aside from it being a mouthful, it works.

After having played many games in my lifetime, I think the best way to describe Destiny would be a “mix of everything that has been good” in many different games. There is art direction that rivals that of Borderlands, deep-space exploration and wonderment that rivals the Mass Effect series, subtle humour that could take on the Monkey Island series all enveloped in a rich and expansive world that could shatter the beliefs of hardcore World of Warcraft players. Moving on from the Halo series, Bungie most certainly had a task on its hands by creating what some think is easily the most anticipated game of the year. Bungie is able to do this by creating such a fantastic balance in the game that it keeps you wanting to play more and more. As long as your Internet connection is stable and holds up, you should be able to put countless hours into the game because there is always something to do, even in the beta. It hits this unique tilting point of immersive gaming where as soon you get bored of shooting the same aliens, you are presented with something new and dynamic to fill up your time. The reason that the Wikipedia entry description is so long is because the game has a bit of everything for everyone.

After playing for a fair amount of time and going from being a complete sharp shooter to boosting around stabbing bad guys in the face to bouncing grenades off walls to take out batches of enemies, I still wanted more of what was there. There is no way to fight things and no secret path to take in order to tackle specific situations, everything can be done in any way you want. The game offers the players a huge battleground in most occasions and a plethora of tools with which to accomplish the tasks set out before you. Interestingly enough, I was never a Halo fan, partly because I haven’t played much of it and partly because I like to avoid mainstream consumerism. Having said that, I want to go back to finish the entire Halo series to see what I missed out on from Bungie.

At the very beginning of the game, you choose your skillset and customise your character. This time around, I chose a titan and decided to pick up an Awoken. Unfortunately I thought it would be too boring to be a human and the Exo robots looked so cool, I figured I best avoid them. From that choice, you head straight into customising your appearance where you are given more options than The Sims which I thought was a neat touch. Aside from the fact that it doesn’t really make much of a difference apart from having players create an individual identity in a shooter where facial focus isn’t really key, it worked. In the beta as you head from mission to mission, you slowly gain XP and level up. With level ups come powers and the ability to kick some major butt. Each class has a selection available to them in the progress tree and are mostly really powerful weapons that take a while to recharge.

Aside from all the shooting and action play styles, you can find loot and upgrade your gear and weapons and bring in new specialties as you keep going. It brings in an MMO style of play too with reportedly having end-game raids as well as a bunch of strikes that players can play co-operatively. Thankfully, this doesn’t mean that you need to turn into a social butterfly to play the game because the solo game is offered to everyone and works really well. As you go around doing different missions and completing goals, you may run into a player every now and then who will probably wave at you and ultimately be rather friendly. From there though, Bungie will encourage players to team up because the game offers events that players can take part in which will have them work towards a common goal.

To be completely and totally honest, Destiny feels like a really good game. Granted, I was only able to play in the beta and there is still some way to go for the development team to spruce things up a bit. It’s easy to pick up, easy to play and exciting to follow. It has a strange sense of familiarity about it where gamers from all walks of life should be able to jump in and instantly come to grips with it.

Making these kinds of statements are really tough to showcase exactly what a game is about though. Some seasoned gamers may find that Destiny is just a rehash of other games all thrown together with slight improvements in certain areas. Other gamers may feel that Destiny is the best game to ever come across their console. It’s really difficult to judge off just a beta alone and I feel that Bungie know they are offering gamers a familiar experience with a revised set of parameters. Perhaps they are banking on the huge universe and lore to push the game through to the final top stages in order to captivate its audience… Who knows?

The bottom line then is that I thought Destiny was pretty awesome. It works really well and it plays like an absolute dream. Strangely, I wanted to play more of other games after my little stint in Destiny was finished. I’m still not sure whether that’s a good sign or not for the game though. Be that as it may, if Bungie continues to go the route it is going, there is definitely a game of the year here and while it’s able to keep your attention for a really long time, it may bring resurgence in older games moving forward. The resemblances between other games are striking and once you have had your Destiny fill, you may find yourself treading familiar waters.