The Destiny beta had much to reveal compared to the alpha. Players were treated to an open cinematic experience and cutscenes in between missions that gave meaning to what the Guardians were doing there — what my Guardian was doing there.
I was dead until my Ghost found me. It’s a bit jarring to think that people lost to the ruins of a once great civilization can be revived years later. But here I am, and the Tower where the Guardians reside and the mysterious Traveler had plans for me. Destiny doesn’t pin your Guardian into a legendary hero role that needs to save the day. I never much cared for the status Master Chief had to carry in the Halo franchise. Destiny’s tone was much more my speed, feeling like my Guardian was a part of something bigger.
I wasn’t alone — if I needed help, other Guardians were there to help me in the fight for humanity’s survival. There’s far less macho hero-type stuff going on here, however, and it was gratifying to see a fellow Guardian pinned by some Fallen, take them down, then ride off into the sunset on my Sparrow. But I’d be lying if the reverse didn’t happen to me more than once.
These kinds of interactions brought me back to the days when I played Star Wars: The Old Republic. There was a community out there to assist, but players were free to treat it like a single-player story. The MMO aspect of Destiny doesn’t feel as cluttered and goofy as other MMO like World of Warcraft (save for the dancing and gestures other players regularly spam one another with.) The lack of voice chat and any form of chat option out in the world helps keep it that way. Nothing ruins a sunset in Old Russia more than some kid flying across your screen, screaming over chat “F*ck you n0000b!” Or even seeing a constant stream of banter pinging the left corner of your screen in type-chat. It seems like an unrefined way of doing things after playing Destiny.
The interface and menu systems are beautiful and simple. Everything’s streamlined, the inventory system in particular requires little effort to navigate and dispose of your wares. There’s no trading with vendors — just hold a button and you’ll receive compensation for relieving yourself of a dated item. While some enjoy pouring over upgrade trees and menu systems, most will enjoy being able to upgrade quickly and get back to the action.
Players can go it alone through the entire story, but if a sudden need of companionship overcomes you there are options to create a Fireteam of friends and/or strangers to enter a mission. Multiplayer Strikes added some variety to tackle bigger foes. Destiny automatically pairs you with two other teammates, so you don’t have to go around the Tower desperately looking for a group. I mostly preferred going the lone wolf route, but having company on the occasional mission was a nice change of pace.
Bungie has done an excellent job of keeping you in the game. I never felt bored, the man travel menu has every need right there in the open. Do you want to play PvP matches in the Crucible? How about a Strike mission or maybe hang around the tower? There’s no backing out of the story to go to the main menu in order to select “multiplayer”– it’s all right there. This setup soaked up my evenings and weekends teetering back and forth between all the different distractions Destiny offered.
By the end of the beta, I had capped out a level 8 (Bungie hasn’t revealed how high players will be able to go in the full game yet) and played every story and Strike mission available. The last bit of content, which was on the Moon, was only open for two hours on Saturday July 26, but this last trial left quite a cliffhanger. I can understand why Bungie saved it.
Ghost reported a Guardian who went to the Moon and never came back, and after finding his body I looked up to see a mysterious Guardian staring down on me from a cliff, just watching. She vanished before the Hive awoke. After defeating the swarm, we found the Guardian’s dead Ghost, but his memories showed that the Hive is preparing to invade Earth. Apparently taking the Moon wasn’t enough for the Hive.
There’s more questions than answers left at this point, but this beta has revealed just enough to make me want to see more of Destiny. If Bungie can keep me entertained for several days with only a handful of missions, multiplayer maps, and a level 8 cap, I want to see what they can do when it’s all open and available. September 9 can’t come fast enough.