Well, it’s over. Console owners spanning both generations finally got their hands on Bungie’s Destiny last week. Our next taste of Destiny won’t come until September 9. Finally, an end to the summer gaming drought.

Bungie seemed to have a hard time explaining what exactly Destiny is, but the beta did give everyone a better idea of what to expect come September 9.

Destiny has been compared to many games. Borderlands meets Halo seems to be the most popular comparison. Destiny actually reminds me more of Defiance than anything else. Granted, it’s about a million times more polished than Defiance, but the two share several similarities.

Both were shooters in a pseudo MMO environment. Both had public events that encouraged players to team up to take out an objective. Both had vehicles that could be instantly accessed. Both had loot from the story mode that carried over to multiplayer.

There’s a lot in common between the two titles. There’s also a lot that’s not in common. For one thing, Destiny feels incredibly polished already. Plus, Bungie’s gunplay is nearly unmatched in the console shooter space. Bungie’s trademark 30 seconds of fun from Halo makes it’s return to Destiny.

The Destiny beta showed a lot of good. It also showed Bungie has a few things to work on ahead of its launch.

What’s Awesome

Gunplay. I touched on this above – Bungie knows how to create a solid base for a shooter. They may misstep in some areas, but the core gameplay usually isn’t one of them. Each gun feels great from the single shot scout rifle, to the auto rifle and hand cannons. The average shooter fan feels right at home in Destiny. Snipers feel like they were ripped straight out of Halo and are wonderful to use.

Loot. This is probably what will keep Destiny in my console the most. I’m a sucker for a loot game. Borderlands and Diablo 3 (post patch) are two of my favorite games. I would like to see the bosses from the strike missions drop loot. Right now, it feels to random. You can kill all the tough enemies just for a low level Dreg to drop a good piece of equipment. I want to see the Spider Tank from the strike mission or Sepiks Prime drop gear as well. I can’t wait to see what kind of gear will drop in the later missions and the raid.

Destiny

Strike Mission. I had a blast playing The Devil’s Lair strike mission. The strike mission was broken up into three distinct portions. The first portion where you defend Ghost always felt like it lasted too long, but the other two portions were great. Limited respawning keeps players on their toes. Once killed, you can be revived by another player, or you have to wait 30 seconds to respawn.

I would have liked to see the bosses (spider tank, Sepiks Prime) drop loot though. Feels weird beating a boss that doesn’t drop loot in a game where loot is a primary feature.

PvP. PvP feels like a mix between Halo, Call of Duty and Shadowrun. I threw Shadowrun in there because the abilities remind me of it a little bit. Destiny’s class-specific abilities are offensive in nature though, compared to Shadowrun which were mostly defensive.

Like any PvP game, the more friends (or good players) on your side the better. I’m not sure putting an objective-based mode in the beta was the best idea since console shooter fans tend to gravitate towards death-match modes. But, I had a good time playing Control (domination mode).

Limiting grenades was a smart move on Bungie’s part. The last thing people want to play is a game filled with grenade spam. Plus, the grenades can be upgraded to have a damage-over-time effect. Having multiple ones would completely break the flow of the maps.

Gear from the story mode does come with you to PvP. A solid auto-rifle with good upgrades is about the only gun you needed in the beta. This and a couple of other issues with the PvP I will tackle below, but there are more positives than negatives in Destiny’s multiplayer.

Explore Mode. Destiny’s environments are just begging to be explored by you and a couple of friends. I did tire of Old Russia, but that probably had more to do with me dropping dozens of hours on the alpha and beta on one area than anything else.

Bungie did open the moon up for a few hours over the weekend giving everyone a chance to scope out a new area. I spent nearly an hour exploring the moon’s depths and still didn’t see it all. Some areas seemed to be closed off by giant doors. Hopefully so, since there are reports that there is only one area per planet/moon in the final game. (go to 1:49:30 on the video)

Shaking My Head

Voice Acting. This was one of the biggest complaints by the gaming community following the Alpha. So much so that Bungie ended up removing the infamous “That Wizard came from the moon!” line and others. I’m still not digging Peter Dinklage as Ghost. The new voice sounds better than the alpha, but I’m still not a fan. Also, I’m not a fan of the PvP announcer. It’s been growing on me a bit, but it just sounds so bland.

Destiny

PvP. I praised the PvP above, but there are some issues with it. Mainly weapon and vehicle balance. Granted none of these are really an issue when you have a good team, but the multiplayer should feel balanced no matter who is playing it.

Auto rifles dominate the multiplayer. Sure, you can get kills with the other weapons, but auto rifle users had a clear advantage in multiplayer. I don’t think they need a major nerf. Maybe add a bit more recoil onto them like the pulse rifle has. They are just too good at close-mid range combat, which were the range firefights generally happened besides the moon map. I ended up using the scout rifle for most part on the Xbox One beta. RNG was not kind to me for auto rifles. It worked fine for the most part. But, an equally skilled player with the best auto rifle will trump a scout rifle (or other primary gun) player nearly every time though. That’s what Bungie needs to fix.

Vehicles are another area Bungie should look at addressing. The Pike is fine. I think the Interceptor needs to be toned down just a bit, though. There’s no easy answer for taking it out. You either need to be near heavy ammo when it spawns or wait for your super. Or, tag-team it with your team and hope for the best. Bungie could lengthen the time between rocket shots, or tone the damage down a bit.

Gear rewards seemed a bit off. I’m all for dishing out loot to everyone, but shouldn’t the top player get something pretty much every time?

Explore Missions. This isn’t that big of a negative for me. These missions are scattered around at beacons that you can do while exploring. They are your standard fare such as killing a certain amount of enemies or gathering certain items. They are meant more as something to do while exploring than major missions. Still, I would like to see a bit more variety in them in the later areas.

Final Thoughts

Destiny’s beta was a blast. Playing through all the story missions, strike missions and multiplayer was some of the most fun I’ve had on a current gen game yet. Destiny is shaping up to be a winner for Bungie. It helps they are at the front of the holiday deluge of games.

There are a few things that need to be addressed such as PvP balancing and some of the explore missions. But, past that, I was impressed. The only potential pitfall I see for Destiny is content. Content is king. Players will leave if there’s not enough of it.

Played the Xbox One and PS4 versions of the beta. Leveled multiple characters to 8 and played about 60 multiplayer matches.

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