Destiny ALPHA testing was amazing! This was the whole of my weekend. I made the sacrifice for all of you. I know I’ve been on a soapbox, advertising how great this game is going to be, and now I can say with complete confidence…I was right. I totally mean to toot my own horn about this. There was little about the experience that didn’t feel like the investment of money, time, sweat, and tears Bungie has put into it was all worth it. That’s just for the ALPHA!
I don’t want to give too much away at this time as this was just the Destiny ALPHA testing. Considering the fact that a lot of what I saw may not be the finished product, there is a slim possibility it is a lie to bring me in and then crush my dreams later. Destiny ALPHA featured 3 different pieces of the game you could experience and a level cap of 8. As said, the experience was mostly through the weekend, so if you weren’t a PS4 owner, it was sad panda forever on you.
Visually, this game looks stellar in native 1080p rendering. There wasn’t ever a degradation of graphical quality. It consistently looked clear and clean. The draw distances were identical to what they have shown us in previous footage. Elemental effects weren’t something I noticed much of in terms of dust in the wind, but the water effects and shading were well done in many of the underground area’s you run through. Foliage moves with the breeze and gives the world more life.
In the Destiny ALPHA, you start at level 3 and open in a story mission. You get an immediate taste for the visual prowess that Bungie is boasting in their new baby. Enemies are challenging as you level–boss enemies are more so. The degree to which the difficulty changes is pretty big and sometimes surprising. Enemies take critical hits when shot in the head, but bosses are all about finding the weak point to do the most damage. Even with 3 players trying to tackle a boss, it was stress inducing, but we all had a common enemy and goal after the 3rd or 4th time dying.
Outside of the story mission provided in Destiny ALPHA, you could go to an exploration stage. This was the same area as the story mission, but you can pick up missions and travel all over the area. We travelled all over, and I do mean all over, the world. There were only a couple of areas I ran for and hit an invisible wall, for which I plummeted to my death, Wiley Coyote style. If you didn’t want to partake in the Exploration mission, you could also take up the Strike mission. In Destiny ALPHA, strike missions are the equivalent to a dungeon. Strike missions are indeed challenging and you very much need to work together as a team to conquer them.
Destiny ALPHA also gave us an opportunity to play a little with PvP (Player vs Player). Those of you who play FPS games would recognize this as just a standard multi-player map. The only mode we could play was a Capture the Flag/King of the Hill type mode. It was engaging and lots of fun. The fact that you get to go into it with any gear you’ve picked up through Strike, Story, or Exploration modes was great. Even though you could do that, it never diminished or made a match feel out of balance.
As you level your Titan, Warlock, or Hunter in Destiny ALPHA you will gain access to different abilities. This can be attributed to a similarity with skill trees in most MMO games. The classes balance well and it would appear that you can continue to gain abilities after reaching level caps. I don’t know if that will be the case in the full version of the game or if it will balance more to levels. Switching gear is easy and you have a separate inventory for your equipment.
If the Destiny ALPHA gameplay is anything like the final product, we have a lot to look forward to. It’s a captivating piece of work and the mechanics balance well. I will also partake in the Destiny BETA in July. So you’ll just have to wait until then to see if there is anything new about this game. Keep following me and Destiny as we gear up and get closer to its release.
Update: Sadly, I don’t have a whole lot to add about the BETA. There were 2 key differences between my BETA and ALPHA experiences. First, players start off from level 1 at the beginning of the Destiny storyline. This was a nice change from the ALPHA where we didn’t have any kind of a real story opportunity. Players were allowed to participate in four different story missions that laid a solid foundation about who the Guardians, Ghosts, and the Traveler are and how they are connected.
The other major difference has been the occasional chances to play a different multiplayer experience. In both the ALPHA and the BETA, players are able to participate in a multiplayer match that pits all players against each other on even terms. Level advantages don’t effect you or anyone else. In the BETA experience, there is another identical multiplayer mode, but the change comes with players having their level advantage. I thought this mode was nice for players that want to pit themselves against the odds, but it’s definitely not for the low-level player. You will get ground into dust by those with higher abilities. There were also some significant balance changes made with the classes since my ALPHA experience. Look forward to this game in September and if you still haven’t reserved it, you really should.