It’s hard to feel bad about England’s early stumble in the World Cup when we’ve been able to play the Alpha test of Destiny all weekend. In short, it’s been tonnes of fun and it looks like Bungie are onto a winner. Naturally, there’s a lot to like about the new shooter (like being able to aim down the sights right, Bungie!), but we’ve also comes across a few things we’d like to see sorted by the time the full release touches down in September.
We can forgive the melee strike being assigned to R1 instead of R3, because it’s oh so satisfying and often takes off a generous chunk of an enemy’s health bar. Each class is able to use a charge move too such as a shield-troubling smash, a psy-blast or a deadly knife throw.
The Super Charged attacks are a rare treat too. They take an age to recharge, but they can be vital in taking out a group of baddies when you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. We’re loving the Titan’s Fist of Havoc move the best as he leaps into the air to unleash a huge ground pound attack. Be sure to activate it from the peak of a jump for extra effect and infinite cool points.
Missing Titanfall on PS4? Don’t worry, Bungie have you covered with an awesome double jump move that allows you to float back down to the ground or drop sooner with an extra tap of X. It makes exploring an absolute joy and adds a fantastic degree of verticality to combat in terms of attack or even as a defensive measure when you are swarmed by the enemy. The Warlock class lets the team down a little by having a longer floating move instead of a double jump. It’s rubbish for exploring and you will be left behind.
Being able to summon a hover bike out of thin air anytime you’re outside is just fantastic. There’s no waiting, it just materialises and you’re away. The sweeping handling model is so relaxing and makes cornering a breeze. In this Alpha test, they had no weapons; but that all changes in the PvP multiplayer where the bike has rapid-firing lasers assigned to where the air-brake button is in the single-player (take that road-safety!). A larger Devastator vehicle has slow but powerful rockets to make defending bases a fun prospect that saw this ham-fisted player rack up an MVP award. Frankly, whenever I lost my vehicle, it felt like I was running around without any pants on.
It’s a bit Fallout
Whilst exploring these haunting landscapes I got such a Fallout vibe. The part of Old Russia included in the Alpha is huge and I was able to pick a direction and just go. Along the way, I found hidden caves with loot, random missions, underground bunkers with enemies that were way to powerful for the max level achievable in the Alpha and countless scenes where I’d simply stop and take in the view. The day/night cycle gives the environments a fresh look too. Fallout 4 may be years away, but Destiny could well be the game to scratch that itch in the meantime.
The competitive multiplayer modes seemed to be lag free experiences, which is very encouraging at such an early stage. I think I’m going to be playing more of the game’s non-competitive modes though. I like how you’re free to go about things on your own or you can just happen across another player and join them on their quest, chatting along the way or forming a silent bond in similar manner to the ‘multiplayer’ in Journey (an odd comparison I’ll admit). Playing co-op makes tougher assignments much more manageable too as buddies can revive you rather than getting shunted back to a checkpoint (why are they always before a lengthy door-opening sequence too damnit!). Revives are vitally quick too, meaning it’s worth risking your own neck to get to a downed partner. If they don’t come for you though you could be sat there for 30 seconds before you’ll respawn a short trek from the fight.
Things that need fixing...
Give us a weapon wheel!
You can only map two guns to the controller, despite being able to carry many more in your inventory. The primary slot only allows you to carry one assault, pulse, handgun, plasma or scout weapon and the secondary slot forces you to choose between shotguns, snipers and charged weapons. To change anything in this slot you need to hop into a menu, while the game continues in real-time in the background. There’s a simple solution, let us hold Triangle and put at least four weapons on a weapon wheel.
Where’s all the ammo?
Each secondary weapon (shotguns, snipers etc) uses rarer secondary ammo and you never begin with a clip full when swapping them, meaning you have to take out some enemies and hope they drop some. Standard ammo is in reasonable enough supply when exploring and taking on standard enemies. However, when on the longer Strike missions (like a raid) and facing bullet-sponge bosses I frequently run out of primary ammo and had to wait until the boss summoned some minions so I could melee them to death and swipe some ammo.
More loot please
We know this is more of a stress test for the servers so Bungie can work towards a smooth launch, but we seriously hope there’s more loot in the final game. Armour/weapon drops are very rare from defeated enemies although I managed to find a few loot cases hidden in locations off the beaten path. There’s a gun with blue homing lasers that most of the Fallen seem to use against you, and it’s maddening that you can’t nick it from their cold dead claws.
Can’t take on multiple side-missions
Side-missions are available when exploring if you can find a beacon with the info. These usually involve collecting items from defeated enemies, scanning a certain part of the map or taking out a leader at a distant location. Very standard XP fodder at this stage, made a little bit staler by only being able to have one on the go at a time. It doesn’t make sense and can involve a lot of backtracking in and out of the same industrial buildings.
Classes are too similar
Level 8 was the level cap during the Alpha for each of the three classes and we have to say, there’s not a lot between them. The skill tree is bound to expand in the final game, but at this stage, they all felt a bit too similar with slight variations on the grenades (daze/fire/vortex) or super charge move being the only differences. Well, as mentioned earlier, the Warlock doesn’t have a double jump. It’s a bit annoying that you have to log out to swap characters too. This could be awkward in the full game if the classes do become important and you want to balance your team before heading out on a Strike assault.
The best thing about most of our dislikes about the game so far, is that there’s every chance they’ll be fixed by launch. Well, fingers crossed they will. With huge explorable environments and some solid netcode running through its veins, Destiny really is looking like a winner. If you managed to get your hands on the game over the weekend, we’d love to hear your thoughts.
*All images captured on the PS4 via the Share button.