For the past week, I’ve been dipping into Bungie’s Destiny beta — just like the rest of the gaming world, it seems! Although I’ve only had time to play for about five hours so far, I’m already hooked and eager to see what else the game has to offer. Here are my thoughts so far…
New Science Fiction IP
As a huge science fiction fan, I’m always on the lookout for new sci-fi worlds to explore. That’s why I’ve been so eager to see what Destiny is like — it’s a brand new sci-fi IP!
If I had to compare Destiny to one other world, I would say it reminds me most of Star Wars — yet it’s totally unique. There’s some mystery to Destiny‘s world, and the presence of the Traveler — a massive sphere in the sky that enables people to colonize other planets in the solar system and equips some with special powers — reminds me of the “magic” of the Force.
Destiny has an intriguing science fantasy world that leaves a lot for players to explore and unravel. I’m very happy that it is a world with warmth, which makes me want to spend time there. There are some post-Apocalyptic landscapes, jumpships that add to the sci-fi flavor, plenty of tech, and some special powers that feel almost like magic. It’s a unique blend that I talk about a lot on my blog here.
Destiny lets you customize a character — an automatic win for the role-player in me. You can choose from one of three character classes and one of three races, each with male and female options. I chose to play as a female Exo warlock. The Exos are a robotic race, while the warlock class is the equivalent of the mage class in other games (or, like, an Adept in Mass Effect).
The character creator itself gives plenty of attractive options without going so far as to allow customized noses and jaw lines and all that. You choose your gender, one of several face shape options, your skin color, eye color, hair, and tattoos or headwear. Those are the main choices, and they’re all designed to give you a unique, good-looking character with minimal fuss. I played around with the engine creating characters for a while before finally settling on my Exo!
Toned-Down MMO Style
When it comes to games, I like to immerse myself in the single-player experience. The biggest issue for me is that the “gaming” aspect of playing with other people is very distracting from the role-playing and worldbuilding. That’s why I don’t typically play MMOs.
Destiny offers an experience that feels MMO-ish without overloading you. Some parts you play solo. Other times, you’ll be able automatically grouped with a couple of other players — but the game doesn’t shout this at you. Instead, you’ll just spot the other players hanging around the area with you while you do your thing. And having a limited number of people with you means you won’t bump into others all the time or feel the crush of the MMO crowd. Of course, you can choose to play with others during these times, too — I just haven’t yet.
I appreciate that the MMO experience is toned down, but I’m still not a fan. It breaks the immersion to see other players’ usernames floating above their characters’ heads, and it’s distracting to see other players jumping around the Tower and approaching quest givers alongside me. However, I’m sure I’ll get used to it, and so far, Destiny has been enjoyable (and totally possible) to play solo.
There’s a problem for me as a sci-fi video game fan: Most sci-fi games are shooters, and I’m terrible at shooters. I just don’t like them all that much. I find it much more engaging to try out different kinds of weapons, such as the daggers, bows, and battle axes in fantasy games — or better yet, throw some magic around. There’s nothing I like more than freezing an archdemon in Dragon Age. It is awesome. And that’s why I enjoy Mass Effect so much. It’s a perfect blend of science fiction polish and special powers (tech powers and “biotic” powers).
The good news is that Destiny offers fantasy-style character classes while still letting you hold a rifle. You can hunker down and shoot in a typical FPS style or play to your more unique skillset. Titans are heavy armor and weapon specialists, Hunters take advantage of speed and stealth, and Warlocks channel energy from the Traveler to cast special (almost magical) powers. The diversity of these classes offers something for everyone, and I can tell I’m going to enjoy the Warlocks’ “magic.”
Last Thoughts. . .
All of these elements create a very unique game, but it’s nothing if it doesn’t have the right energy. You might mix all of these features together and come out with a game that feels cold or methodical or slow — but Destiny feels right. You launch your jumpship from one location to another to take on missions in order, with the Tower always available to you if you need to grab supplies or upgrades in between. Having a little companion in my “Ghost” — a floating AI — is a perfect, personable touch. And even though it’s very early in the game, I already feel a sense of exploration as I land on these wasteland planets and start scavenging for supplies, fighting menacing enemies everywhere I go.
I have a feeling playing the full game is going to be a blast.