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Destiny Is Something Special: Thoughts and Impressions From the Destiny Beta

Destiny

I said I would refrain from posting my Destiny Beta impressions until the beta went offline, and sadly that time has come. So it’s time to begrudgingly write that piece and reflect upon many hours spent as an Awoken male Hunter.

Despite saying I would spend more time with all three classes in the beta, I didn’t actually do that. I leveled up a Warlock to a measly level three and didn’t even bother with a Titan. I played the entire beta really with the same Hunter and had him fully maxed out (including all the extras you could upgrade after hitting the level eight cap) within the first day and a half.

I didn’t need to play the other classes. I was already strongly leaning towards Hunter after the Alpha, and by the time I had hit the level cap in the beta my mind was already completely made up of which class I’d be rocking as my primary in the full game… the Hunter. I love the double jump (can’t wait to get the triple jump), the throwing knife, and of course the Golden Gun. Plus the Hunter’s cloak/cape is great.

I totally loved the Alpha, but the Beta I enjoyed even more.

For starters, we got to experience the very beginning of the game this time around, and I liked that. Starting from the beginning allowed a somewhat deeper connection to the character you’re playing. He was dead, and then the Ghost brought him back to life. It allowed the player to really see the first steps of their character, before you even got a gun. There were four story missions playable throughout the entire beta, and a fifth story mission (on the moon) available for two hours on Saturday.

I’ve seen people talk about how the story seems poor, but I disagree. I think it’s off to a good start. It’s possible some cutscenes were cut out of the beta version or whatever, but I doubt that. The missions themselves seemed a little short, but they managed to increase my interest in wanting to see the next mission. The final mission, on the moon, has made the wait for September even more unbearable because I want to see what happens next.

The bulk of my play time though was dedicated to exploring Old Russia and battling it out in the Crucible. I loved firing up Old Russia and hitting up my favorite spots to kill continuously respawning enemies and doing little side missions and completing bounties. I was able to rank up with the Vanguard and the Crucible, and because I loved doing glimmer farming runs, was able to get my Crypto rank up over 10.

Speaking of glimmer farming, it’s funny to read people online ask questions like “how do I get glimmer” and complain about getting very little glimmer even though they’re killing tons of enemies. But then you watch people play out in the world, and they’re mindlessly running from enemy location to enemy location shooting them… very little exploring being done. A thousand plus glimmer being left behind in the process. Even when helping to kill a Knight and pointing to a chest hidden in a room, people would just blow right past.

Call me crazy, but when I’m out in Old Russia exploring and someone starts pointing while I’m nearby, I’m going to go see what they’re pointing at. It appears most people don’t care, and that’s too bad because glimmer was really the best way to get the best gear available in the beta (that’s why my Crypto rank was so high).

During one farming run, I did have one person come up to me wave and start dancing after I pointed out a loot chest. I then ran to next spot on the loop, pointed out a treasure, and waited on the person to show up, which they did. This person then proceeded to follow me on my farming loop for almost two hours; during which point he or she sent a friend request (which I accepted) and I invited the player to my fireteam so we could leave Rocketyard and I could show them other spots around the map. It was one of the few fun times I had with a random person out in explore mode.

On the Crucible front, I have to say that I truly haven’t had this much fun with a competitive first person shooter since MAG back in 2010. I love the PVP in this game, and that really is a rarity for me as I generally don’t play competitive FPS games.

That’s not to say that the Crucible is perfect of course. Bungie really needs to straighten out their netcode, come up with a better set up, or something because the lag in the PVP was horrible. There were severe delays before kills would register, getting shot through walls (apparently, but it was actually because of the lag I guess), getting awarded kills that you did not do (for example, one of my bullets hit a dude and then I died… while waiting to respawn a teammate hit a Titan Smash on the guy, and I got awarded the kill with the Smash… and I’m a Hunter!), and other similar unpleasantries.

I cannot begin to count the amount of times I stabbed someone twice, and then would throw my throwing knife only for the person to finally fall down dead from a melee. Stop making me waste my throwing knife Bungie.

There was also a problem with damage and hit boxes. Many times you’d get a kill and not even be close to hitting the person, while other times you could stick a shotgun in someone’s back and it not even make a dent (seriously, I came upon a Titan on one map trying to take a control point and put my shot gun right at his back for what should have been a one hit kill, and it did zero damage… he turned around and one shotted me with a shotgun. And I was on the other end of that as well, where I would hear gun fire, turn around and quickly take someone down when they were close enough and firing away but I wasn’t taking any damage.

Now the lag was around in the Alpha, but it didn’t really start getting downright horrible until the flood gates were opened for everyone without a code. The final nights of the Iron Banner was just a mess. It’s pretty frustrating when you activate the Golden Gun, shoot someone, and then they not die until about two seconds later (usually just as I’m firing a second shot, which means the second shot gets wasted).

The lag absolutely needs to be fixed in the full game. I can tolerate it in the alpha and in the beta, because I genuinely found the PVP to be fun most of the time despite the lag. The PVP will quickly lose its appeal once the full game is released though if the lag issues aren’t resolved. Get that under control Bungie.

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And then of course there’s the vehicles on the First Light map. There isn’t much that needs to be said about this since Bungie has already spelled out how they’re nerfing the vehicles, the interceptor in particular, in the final game. But I really do hate First Light. I’d much rather that map be shrunk down and the pikes, tank, and turret removed; it’d actually be a good map then.

As much as I hated First Light though, I absolutely loved Shores of Time (the Venus map). Of the four maps we’ve been able to play, I like Shores of Time the best. Now having said that, if you start on the side closest to C (I believe it’s Alpha team) then you are also closest to B. A good team who understands the map and how points work will just lock down B and C and forget about trying to take A. Now don’t misunderstand me, Shores of Time isn’t unbalanced, but if you’re on C side you should definitely have the early advantage; a good team on the A side can easily take over B and C though because it is a pretty well designed map.

The same cannot be said for the Mars map Blind Watch, which was only available during the Beta during limited time Iron Banner events.

I like the map, I really do, but this map more any other was absolutely infuriating to play with randoms. Blind Watch is terribly unbalanced. If you’re on Bravo team, you can get to B before you get to C… they’re really right at one another.

Nothing in the entire beta made me angrier than starting on Bravo team, getting B and C and beginning to crush Alpha, only for the rest of the team to try and push forward and take A (which they did unopposed). That got Alpha team spawning in Bravo teams original location and Bravo spawning by A, which quickly allowed Alpha to take B and C. Usually they’d have enough sense to lock down B and C, which is super easy to do for anyone who is semi-decent at the game and knows the map (and isn’t retarded enough to try for A).

If nothing changes with this map in the full game (and I have to believe changes will be made), here’s a note to everyone who didn’t have enough common sense to see it while playing in the beta: DO NOT GET ANYWHERE NEAR A. AVOID A AT ALL COST. Even if you start on Alpha at A, ignore it and immediately run to try and take B and C; let the one idiot on the opposing team take A for the measly 75 points and screw up the spawn for Bravo. SERIOUSLY, YOU DO NOT WANT TO CONTROL “A” ON BLIND WATCH. If you’re spawning near A and the opposing team even remotely knows how to play, you’re going to get slaughtered because the advantageous positions are on the Bravo side.

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It’s because of Blind Watch, more than anything else, that I really hope Bungie adds text chat to the full game. I understand why they don’t have proximity chat or any chat at all unless you’re in a fireteam; and even if they did allow it I’d probably mute most people. But this game really needs text chat. I should have some way of communicating with my random teammates in the Crucible so that I (and others with common sense) can politely inform them to stop being idiots and leave A alone. You only need to control two points, stop trying to take all three… especially on Blind Watch.

If they can get the lag issues under control, the PVP will probably end up being a giant time sink for me once I complete the story in September. I’m looking forward to seeing all the different maps that we haven’t gotten a taste of, and the different modes. It does appear that there are a lot of 3v3 modes in the full game, and well I generally prefer more players. To me 6v6 is low; I’d like to see 8v8 at the very least.

The beta ran as silky smooth as one would expect a released title to run, which wasn’t surprising considering the alpha also ran silky smooth. The only issue I encountered other than lag in PVP was empty towers and a lot of times only seeing one or two other players running around in the explore mode. In the full game I hope it gets fixed up to where the world always feels filled with players and more (and harder) public events happen even in Old Russia.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 30 something hours I put into the Destiny beta. There are many games that I’ve bought at release for $60 that I didn’t put 30 hours into; so between the alpha and the beta, I feel like I’ve already gotten my money’s worth out of Destiny and it hasn’t even been taken yet. I can see this game ending up sucking more hours out of me than Red Dead Redemption did (which was well over 400 hours over a couple of years).

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The initial E3 2013 gameplay reveal sold me on the game. I liked what we had been hearing, but seeing it in action then confirmed to me that Destiny was going to be a special game. A lot of folks seemingly didn’t like that demo or didn’t understand the game from it, but I “got” the game then and knew right away it was a day one purchase. Playing the alpha in June only let me get first hand confirmation that the game was definitely going to be special. Playing the beta has only gotten me even more pumped and excited for the game’s full release. September 9th seriously can’t get here fast enough.

I would have gladly spent more time running around Old Russia, doing glimmer farming loops, killing the same enemies, and jumping into PVP hoping to get Shores of Time only to be disappointed by getting First Light. The alpha was excellent. The beta was excellent, and that brief tease of letting us play on the moon for two hours Saturday was brilliant. I have no doubts whatsoever that the full game will be infinitely better than what we’ve seen so far, and that’s going to be excellent.

Now I’ll have to watch the over 40GB’s of Destiny beta footage I have saved on my PS4 (and am slowly transporting to my PC for eventual upload to YouTube) just to try and fight the withdrawals.

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So long Destiny Beta. This screenshot of my male Guardian and a female NPC was taken seconds before the servers went offline.

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About Gary Smith (839 Articles)
I'm Gary Smith, aka "PatriotPaine." I'm the Editor-in-Chief of VortexEffect.net. I'm usually posting news and reviews, and doing all the back end stuff as well. I like to play games, watch movies, wrestling, and college football (Roll Tide Roll).

4 Comments on Destiny Is Something Special: Thoughts and Impressions From the Destiny Beta

  1. As someone who’s down for proximity chat and happens to be sitting on this giant “proximity chat” bandwagon, your review is the first I’ve discovered that isn’t too keen on the idea. Any particular reason why? Maturity levels? Would rather not have the million conversations going on in your ear? Just because? I’m genuinely curious.

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    • I don’t have a problem with proximity chat so long as I can mute people. I’d rather the option be included than not have it all.

      I will typically mute anyone who has a lot of background noise going on, kids hollering/crying, people talking trash, or folks who won’t shut up talking about something other than the game they’re playing.

      And I don’t like it if I’m not playing with headphones on. I hate hearing constant noises from people coming through my TV speakers when I’m trying to play. For me it stems from hearing too many people repeatedly clear their throats, swallow, hip hop music playing in the background, or trash talking everyone while playing free roam in RDR.

      I’d be fine with chat in the PVP section (so long as mute is still an option) because it makes sense there. But if I’m out doing my own thing, I don’t want to hear a bunch of people talking/making noise. Someone chiming in to tell another player to shoot the legs on the devil walker is fine, someone talking about the latest episode of Game of Thrones is going to get muted.

      I imagine something like proximity chat in the Tower would be a mess. I think text chat is the best way to go; allows people to easily find someone to group up with for a story/strike/raid/whatever without having a bunch of people talking over one another.

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      • It’s funny – it wasn’t until I mentioned it in my original comment that Proximity Chat in populated areas would definitely be a mess. Hadn’t considered that at all. I’m thinking you’re right that it should be something restricted to PvP or Co-op modes. And I’m also on board with an ability to disable or mute specifics.

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        • Of course nowadays, party chat has just about killed online chat anyway. There was already very little online chatting during online games on PS3, and it seems most who would chat on PS4 are just doing it in party chat.

          They definitely need something for the PVP and co-op areas though. I favor text, but anything is better than the set up they had in beta of not being able to communicate with randoms.

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