Gamersledge Video Review – Destiny First Look Alpha (PS4)
Take to the stars.
by EIC Balth / Mark Bohdanyk
So we’ve never reviewed an Alpha before, and there was internal debate amongst the editors whether we should. For all intents and purposes, this is neither an ‘Alpha’ version of software, nor is it a stress test since invitations were limited. We see it for what it is: a clever marketing demo. But considering the limited access, and the amount of traffic the site gets regarding our Destiny stories, it seemed like this would provide people with an in-depth look to an eagerly anticipated game.
There has been a lot of confusion over what Destiny is and is not. When it was announced and the first trailers shown, most people thought it looked like a serious Borderlands, or a Star Wars-esque Halo. After finally allowing most of the Gamersledge editorial staff hands on time with the game, we can say it is neither thing. It is that rare and elusive thing – all of the above that just feels right.
If you have ever played Halo 2, then you’re going to feel right at home with Destiny. It’s a bit tighter in terms of response, but the floaty jump (or double — or even triple super high floaty jump depending on class skills you opt to take) is there. There’s no falling damage, so jump away. Shooting has weight and each gun feels and acts differently. There are basically three classes of weapons: Standards (Assault Rifles, single shot Scout Rifles, etc), Secondary Weapons (Shotguns, Sniper Rifles and Pulse Rifles) and Heavy Weapons. Seeing as the Alpha maximum level is 8 and you need level 9 to utilize a heavy weapon, we obviously can’t discuss those at this point.
Players can coop with up to a party of 2 other people (total of 3) to progress through the story missions in Destiny. There are two different types of enemies in the Alpha, and one of our biggest fears has been assuaged: NeoSapian and I had seen some previous Alpha footage, and to say that the AI was stupid is an understatement. No fears, however, as the AI in this version is incredibly smart. I found myself several times looking for an enemy I had just shot at only to find it had gone around an obstacle to flank me. Clever girl.
Players can also jump into PVP matches, the only one in the Alpha being a 6 on 6 zones type game, where there are three flags and whomever controls them the most over a timed period wins. What was interesting was that they gave us two different maps to play on — Earth and the Moon. Gravity did work normally on the moon, but you did get unique vehicles and turrets to play with.
Three classes of characters are offered: Titans (Tanks/Characters who suck up a lot of damage), Warlocks (Area of Effect damage dealers) and Hunters (Single Shot precision killers). Each has its own special abilities, and progressing skill tree to unlock. Any character can use any weapon, but the more you use it, the more it levels up as well, unlocking new skills and abilities. Your armor levels up also, unlocking new perks and abilities, like the ability to store more ammo of a certain type. Then when you add in collectibles, grimoire cards, faction points, collectible ships and speeder bikes and more — anyone with even a HINT of obsessive compulsive disorder will immediately be lost to this game forever.
Character creation was surprisingly deep, with more choices than we were expecting. I ended up making a slightly alien Trent Reznor of the future, while Ydarg went for the last Targarian. Friend of the site K0wb0y_B33b0p went for a robot character. There is quite a bit of diversity.
The last item I want to cover in this section is something I personally thought would be jarring – the transition from first to third person when you activate your special ability. Bungie has said in interviews they wanted you to see this transformation happening to your character, so they transition between the two views. It’s actually fairly seamless, and mentally I just ticked the box that says ‘allocate 2 seconds when activating power before being able to use it.’
We don’t know much of the story, even with this glimpse into the game. We know that man made it to Mars, and that’s when the Traveler showed up in all its orbiting orby glory, ushering in a new dawn for mankind that saw him (or her) leave Earth behind to colonize the stars. For a hundred years, everything was peachy in space. But now, a darkness — the yang to the Travelers’ yin is coming. And only a few (and by few we mean everyone that buys the game) people can harness the power of the Traveler, making them known throughout the lands as Guardians. A mechanic sidekick named Ghost who sounds eerily like Peter Dinklage from Game of Thrones (hint: it’s really him) accompanies you and tells you what needs to be done to save humanity. And that’s all we know at this point.
Usually, when a developer says ‘Alpha’ they mean placeholder graphics, placeholder sounds and music, and unfinished gameplay elements. Alpha in coding terms means ‘first stages.’ Bungie, as we’ve expressed at the beginning of this review, has not presented an Alpha. This is a beautiful, feature complete (meaning everything that’s going to be in the game is in the game), orchestrally scored game with voice acting, finished AI and polish. The graphics are quite breathtaking, especially in space. Character models on the aliens are rather impressive; we get to see two species during the Alpha – The Fallen and The Hive. The music is beautiful, and you can tell it was composed in the same vein as Halo – rich, deep and cinematic.
Bungie has presented us with neither stress test nor Alpha; instead we have a demo that gives us a glimpse of an exciting new connected online game with vast possibilities for customization and gameplay styles. While its mechanics are simple enough for anyone to pick up and play, its depth will keep players engaged for many, many hours. It is beautiful, engaging and a hell of a lot of fun to play with friends. This reviewer can’t find a single flaw in something that’s supposed to be ‘early stages’ of the game. And that means come launch day, everyone wins.
Final Score: 10/10 Glimmer
The music in this video is produced by Traffic.
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Download all his music here: http://www.youtube.com/trafficofficial