REACH FOR THE STARS.
Note: The following feature is SPOILER FREE!
Unless you have been living under a rock recently, you’ve no doubt heard about Destiny. PlayStation 4 users with beta access were given open access yesterday afternoon (after a long wait for beta code releases and server crashes). I can honestly say Destiny is a blast. The controls are fluid and responsive. If you play shooters on a regular basis, you’ll get the hang of Destiny in no time. The first thing you’ll notice is the cinematic and audio work. The intro sequence gives you a nice breakdown of the Human race reaching out to stars well beyond their galaxy during their “time of miracles.” When you look into the abyss, however, sometimes something looks back and wants to kill you for it.
Thus the premise of Destiny reveals itself. You are a Guardian, and your job is to protect the last civilizations by traveling to other planets and gathering information and technologies, and killing alien and robot drones… lots and lots of alien and robot drones. The running and jumping is fluid, and there is a point where you level up and unlock a sort of jetpack feature that lets you get some extra height and distance. There are several items on the skill tree that can be leveled up, and I can’t help but start to obsess on maxing out everything I can as fast as possible. Also, the Sparrow is essentially the Speeder bike found in Return of the Jedi, but in a good way, making travel across the longer spans more fun and efficient. Once unlocked, you can summon Sasha (I named mine) from your menu screen and instantly ride her to war and glory.
There are three classes and three races to choose from. It is a beta, so we can’t be certain how much fuller the character customization will become upon the full release. You can pick head shape, scar tissue, and the color of your skin, eyes, and hair. This seems like it’s just a starting point to get us in the beta with a lot more on the way. The menu screen is responsive and easy to navigate and set a solid foundation for the full game to rest on.
There are a few Star Wars-like moments that kept catching me by surprise. Destiny is working really hard to emphasize a new world and give you several breathtaking landscapes to feast your eyes on. Even for a beta, Destiny is a very pretty game. The only time the graphics drop a bit is when you launch to a mission. You’ll see your ship (and up to three others if people join you) soaring above clouds that look a little better than mashed potatoes or grits. As appealing as everything else is in the game, that load screen drops back quite a ways. When you’re in orbit on your ship picking your mission, however, those graphics are phenomenal and make me feel like Superman patiently watching over his home planet.
Destiny is open world. As such, at any given time you’ll see several people running around clearing out the aliens alongside you or off in the distance. Missions are split by difficulty with Normal being the best suited for your level and Hard being three or four levels above you. Enemy bosses will be that much harder to kill and the experience rewards that much greater if you make it out alive. It makes the most sense to find some friends, invite them to your fire team, and take them on missions so you’re all linked together. While you can definitely go it alone and have a blast, there is that gamer unity of leveling up, then going back to help lower level players make it through the harder sections of the game before striking back out on your own.
Bungie has a lot riding on this game to succeed. If you’ve been into any video game retail store or informational website, you’ll no doubt be inundated with references and comments about how important it is that you must pre-order Destiny. While a beta can’t tell you everything about a game, it has calmed my concern that this is another game fallen victim to the hype machine, and I look forward to taking Anna (my ship) to the farthest reaches of space to uncover the secrets of the universe, and hopefully, shoot a few aliens in the face along the way.
How do you feel about Destiny as a whole at this point? Where did the wizard come from? Let us know in the comments below.
*This feature on Destiny is based off playing a digital download of the game on the PlayStation 4 console.
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