Destiny beta review
The Destiny beta is now finished. As with the alpha it ran almost a day longer than it was supposed to and, in the end, was open to everyone. Although there’ll probably be some kind of new preview at Gamescom next month that’s the last most people will see of the game until it launches for real on September 9. It was a substantial beta, but even though a lot of the content had already been in the alpha it still worked as a very comprehensive preview of the final game. But it didn’t answer every question…
All of which is a polite way of saying that it’s very easy to be disappointed by Destiny at first sight. It is ‘just’ a shooter and technically Borderlands have already done the FPS meets dungeon crawler shtick before. But the only thing Destiny really feels like when playing it is Bungie’s own Halo. And even then it’s far from a clone or spiritual sequel, with Destiny’s extravagant art style doing an excellent job of forging it a distinct personality of its own.
That’s where the beautiful comes in, with even the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions looking far better than many might have assumed, but not everything else in the game is such an unequivocal triumph, or at least not yet…
Arguably the biggest draw for Destiny is its social options. Although most of the game can be
played on your own that really is missing the point. Whether playing with friends or meeting
up with total strangers Destiny is excellent at portraying a persistent game world where other
people are going about important business all around you, and who you can choose to help
or ignore exactly as you please. There’s no fighting over loot, the voice chat is limited only to
those that choose to be part of a Fireteam, and there never seems to be a shortage of
players for the co-op only and competitive stages. Once again it’s essentially just a case of
the game working as promised, but in this case not just technically but conceptually.
The Tower is meant to be the social hub of the game but at the moment it’s a bit of a ghost town. There’s only two or three times more people there than in a hub area, and nobody seems to be talking to each other. That means The Tower just becomes a slightly tedious 3D menu system, where it’s very easy to miss important merchants (and thereby whole chunks of the game’s upgrade system) and which forces you to return to it (via a lengthy loading sequence) just to decode an equipment engram or pick up a message. Within a few trips you just end up wishing your spaceship had a web browser and you could do all your shopping and email reading from there.