Xbox Live Gold members finally got the chance to try out Destiny’s beta build over the weekend – myself among them.
I spent quite a few hours since Friday night leveling up a warlock class character and checking out one of the most anticipated games of the fall.
While this is by no means a comprehensive review (seeing as this is a beta and not a finished game), here are five thoughts I had about Bungie’s new game while I neglected my social life.
It’s pretty damn fun
Forget about mechanics, graphics and technical prowess for a second – at a basic level, Destiny is just fun to play. The integration of traditional gunplay and pseudo-magic powerups works well, and the combat is brisk and entertaining.
It doesn’t feel revolutionary, but Destiny does play like a top end current-gen shooter. Anybody who’s a FPS fan will find a lot to like here. Halo fans especially will feel right at home.
Matchmaking is a dream
It’s ridiculously easy to pick up Destiny and start playing with your friends online. So much of the game revolves around team based objectives – and while you can just play with randoms online, it’s much more satisfying playing with a friend.
That’s been a pain to do in the past, but not here. Case in point: while playing one of the first missions in a burned-out Russian city, a friend of mine just showed up and started helping out. No screwing around, no matchmaking process – he was just there, seamlessly.
And when I was later dropped from the mission because of connection problems, I was back in just seconds later with no restart necessary. We’re a long way away from the original Gears of War here, people.
I should also say that was the only time I was dropped from a match over the entire weekend. If the beta is this stable, I have high hopes for the finished product.
I didn’t give a shit about the story
My all-time favourite games are almost always the ones with an engaging story to go along with solid gameplay. While I’m not expecting a Last of Us level opus here, I was hoping for more than generic sci-fi tropes and throwaway characters.
Take Mass Effect – there’s a great sci-fi story with engaging story and relatable characters.
This is no Mass Effect. When the primary villain in the story is called “The Darkness,” you know you’re running into some trouble.
Very little of the story stuck with me, and I honestly couldn’t tell you anything about any of the characters – least of all my own. Not a good sign.
There are some big names here, but they sound bored as hell
The voice acting in this game has some pedigree, but the actors don’t sound all that enthused about being here. Game of Throne’s Peter Dinklage plays your AI companion, but he sounds bored and uninterested the entire time. If there was ever a case of a guy showing up just to cash his cheque, this is it.
The Wire’s Lance Reddick is here too, but he doesn’t sound much better. I’d much prefer unknowns putting in some effort than famous actors who sound like they don’t give a shit.
The graphics make me want to upgrade
I played Destiny on my Xbox 360, and there were some definite issues. The textures were flat and popping in and out during different scenes, and the character models seemed jerky and lifeless.
But I think that’s a symptom of a game that simply can’t perform as well on an underpowered system rather than shoddy design. All of the screens I’ve seen on next-gen consoles seem markedly sharper and much better lit. I’ve been waiting for an exclusive on a next-gen console to convince me to upgrade, but Destiny might be the game the forces me to plunk down a few hundred bucks on something new.