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At A Glance: Roundup 15th-21st September 2014

Author:
Brendan Griffiths
Category:
Features
Tags:
At A Glance, Game news, Game previews, Games reviews, Gamescom 2014, News Roundup, Weekly Roundup

At A Glance: Roundup 15th-21st September 2014

Seeing as the whole team has been playing the pants off Destiny this week, it wont come as a surprise that our features are dominated by Bungie's $500 million title. We have multiple videos, a Strike guide, Matt talks about his journey to Lv.20 and is also prompted to talk about review scores in the wake of Destiny's 'mediocre' scores.

Other videos include looks at Hyrule Warriors on the Wii U and The Masterplan on Early Access. With the FIFA 15 demo landing this week, Matt sees if EA's claim of additional emotion is being backed up. We also take time to examine Notch's decision to sell Minecraft to Microsoft which has been big news this week, especially if you live on Twitter. Rounding up the week, I take a look at next week's release lineup and point you towards the net's cheapest prices and my Sunday Seven has tips on how breeze through Destiny's Strike missions.

After a few quiet weeks in the Reviews department, we have verdicts on no less than seven games this week. Big console titles include Destiny and Hyrule Warriors. There are plenty of smaller titles to check out too including, Murasaki Baby, Fairy Fencer F, Iron Fisticle, Fantasy Life and Heavy Bullets. So folks, enjoy the links below, have a great week and I'll be back soon with coverage from the upcoming EGX expo. Excited!

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The Sunday Seven: Destiny Strike Tips

Author:
Brendan Griffiths
Category:
Features
Tags:
Destiny, PS4 games, Strategy guide, Survival Guide, The Sunday Seven, Tips, Xbox One Games

The Sunday Seven: Destiny Strike Tips

I’ve had Destiny for a week now (thanks to Royal Mail’s usual shoddy service) and have been hitting the modes pretty hard to level up my gear enough to take on the upcoming Raids that are only open to level 26 and up. So, we imagine that you too are going to be putting a lot of time into Strike missions to get in some essential practice for Destiny’s tougher journeys. Well Guardian, you’re not going to last two minutes in the Raids if you don’t take these tactics into your Strike missions.

The Sunday Seven: Destiny Strike Tips

Carry elemental weapons

Between your secondary and heavy weapons, it isn’t hard to have a few of each element. These are essential for chewing through the coloured energy shields surrounding smugger enemies. Unlike RPGs, you don’t attack with an ‘opposite’ element; instead you attack with the same. So, any orange shields will wilt against sunny solar, blue will fry against arc and purple will pale against void weapons. Any weapon will damage shields, but these are the quickest ways to get into an enemy’s soft bits.

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Destiny PS4 Gameplay | Combined Arms

Author:
Carl Phillips
Category:
Features
Tags:
Activision, Bungie, Destiny, Gameplay

In today's Destiny video, Carl and Matt investigate the new playlist of Combined Arms, touted as bringing vehicle-fuelled carnage to Bungie's title. However, as our duo found out over the course of the two games they played, that really wasn't the case. Watch the video above to see why they were so disappointed with Bungie's latest addition to the Crucible.

Resoundingly Mediocre? - The Trouble With Destiny's Review Scores, and Metacritic Bonuses, and Idiocy

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Activision, Bungie, Destiny, Fallout: New Vegas, GameRankings, Metacritic, Review aggregation, Review Scores

Resoundingly Mediocre? - The Trouble With Destiny's Review Scores, and Metacritic Bonuses, and Idiocy

Do you consider 7/10 to be a bad score?

Have a real think about that one, and while you ponder that, here's a further, qualifying question to fit into our consumer-oriented editorial remit.

If you were looking forward to a game, would you be less likely to buy it if it received a 7/10 score or equivalent?

Converted mathematically into a star system, 7/10 equates to three and a half stars. Suddenly, it doesn't quite seem so bad. Hell, even 6/10 starts looking fairly attractive at that point. Put into pictures, the idea of suggesting that 7/10 might be something negative becomes an almost laughable notion. Sure, it isn't top marks, but it isn't bad. It's isn't even average. One certainly wouldn't call it mediocre.

And yet that's exactly what this industry seems hell bent on doing.

Resoundingly Mediocre? - The Trouble With Destiny's Review Scores, and Metacritic Bonuses, and Idiocy

Part of this has to do with the pervasive and ever-growing power of review aggregation sites. The shadows that Metacritic and, to a lesser extent, GameRankings cast over the industry have been well-documented. There has been much talk of corruption in the past few weeks, but in amongst the personal attacks on industry figures, the howling banshee noises from various entrenched factions of the internet, the slandered "gamers" and the harassed journalists, and everyone caught in between, let's take a look at something simple and clear and easy: bonuses should not be predicated on aggregated review scores when the entire scoring system is broken.

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Game Night | Destiny - Dealspwn Vs Phogoth

Author:
Carl Phillips
Category:
Features
Tags:
Activision, Bungie, Destiny, Game Night, Gameplay

In today's episode of Game Night, the team jump into Destiny and attempt to do The Summoning Pit on Hard. Watch as Carl, Brendan, and Matt try to survive the many moon Wizards before taking on the final boss Phogoth. Highlights include the creation of another sport, Carl demanding Matt calls him a hero, and Brendan dying in the most inconvenient places.

FIFA 15 Demo Impressions | Let's Talk About Our Feelings

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Demo, EA Canada, EA Sports, FIFA 15, Football games, Games previews, Sports Games

FIFA 15 Demo Impressions | Let's Talk About Our Feelings

The FIFA 15 demo has been out for around a week or so now, and I've been dipping into it in amongst swathes of Destiny, Hyrule Warriors and Bayonetta 2 (do check out Carl's review of Bungie's FPS, and my appraisal of the Zelda/Warriors mashup). As per usual, EA Canada have been showering us with buzzword-heavy promotional sentences largely devoid of any real meaning, and the biggest of the lot for this year's release has been "emotion" -- that is to say player and crowd reactions, presentation tuned to deliver the theatrical and entertaining, and a boost in dynamic atmosphere when it comes to the in-game environment.

Has it worked? Are all of the footballing feels writ large upon this new, super-shiny canvas? Here are a few thoughts are several hours spent playing the demo:

Emotional behaviour is a thing: FIFA's always been a rather emotional game for me, in much the same way as any multiplayer game that you love can be. When winning and bragging rights amongst your friends (or the rest of the online community) are onthe line, matches mean more, and the peaks and troughs of a game matter more than they really have any right to. But this is now reflected on the pitch. In one game where I was playing as PSG, Lucas skipped past several defenders, Ibrahimovic shook his man, but I wanted to get the winger a goal so I ignored the Swede and promptly ballooned a sitter over the bar. Ibra then launched several unintelligible insults Lucas' way.

Players will shove and barge more than they used to, they'll clamour and cheer when you do something awesome, but they'll also let you know when someone's been an arse. After unclean tackles, if those involved are not injured, they'll leap to their feet and start mouthing off and pushing one another. If anything, FIFA 15 has most gloriously captured the notion that footballers are whinging prima donnas, who'll get uppity about anything.

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Opening Scenes | Hyrule Warriors - First 20 Mins Gameplay

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Action Games, Gameplay footage, Hyrule Warriors, Nintendo, Omega Force, Opening Scenes, Videos, Wii U games

Opening Scenes | Hyrule Warriors - First 20 Mins Gameplay

I can't get enough of Hyrule Warriors. It helps, of course, that I'm quite a fan of the musou genre, but Omega Force have quite outdone themselves with this hybrid mashup. I spent much of yesterday listening to the game's outstanding soundtrack, which mainly consists of epic, widdly, J-rock variations on an abundance of Zelda themes.

Much like the OST for Pacific Rim, it instantly makes whatever you're doing seem more awesome than before.

Anyway, our review is already out, in which I gave it 8/10 and called it a bunch of fun, along with branding it as probably the best Warriors game to date:

Hyrule Warriors doesn't pretend to be anything that it isn't. It does exactly what it says on the tin, producing what is probably the best Warriors game to date, and doing so by taking many of the best aspects of The Legend of Zelda and successfully incorporating them into the classic 1-vs-1000 gameplay. The fan service is astonishing, the level of detail very welcome indeed, and the action can be truly satisfying, with the various bosses going a long way to making the repetitive action seem quite refreshing at times. A triumphant mash-up indeed.

Not only that, but we've also gone and captured the game's first battle on Hyrule Field, which features lots of Spin Attacks from Link, and an appearance from King Dodongo.

Hit the jump to see Hyrule Warriors gameplay in action >>

Shrewd Business or the End of Days? - Twitter Reacts as Microsoft buy Minecraft for $2.5 billion

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Microsoft, Minecraft, Mojang, Notch, Twitter Reacts

Shrewd Business or the End of Days? - Twitter Reacts as Microsoft buy Minecraft for .5 billion

No, that title is not a typo.

Let's face it, Microsoft didn't really buy Mojang for, well, Mojang... they dropped $2.5 billion for the privilege of owning Minecraft, and it's fairly easy to see why. It's a time of transition for Mojang, of course. What indie culture existed there is changed forever by this, not least because of the departure of several of the studio's founders, Notch included. It's not about the money, apparently, but rather to avoid going insane.

Given how massive Minecraft has become, for a mild-mannered bearded chap who just wants to go about making little games that interest him once again, I can't say that I blame Persson.

Minecraft is huge, it's gone beyond games to the point where it's now used fairly widely as an educational tool. As Notch wrote in his farewell blog post, Minecraft belongs to its millions of fans as well as Microsoft. There's a lot of love for the voxel-based trailblazer, and there were a range of reactions to the confirmation of the buyout on Twitter, even when the buyout was a mere whisper.

Sorry, Wil.

Some were confused by the amount of money that Microsoft had paid...

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The Masterplan Early Access Gameplay - The Arcade Payday Hold 'Em Up

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Early Access, Games previews, Indie Games, PC games, Shark Punch, Strategy games, The Masterplan, Videos

The Masterplan Early Access Gameplay - The Arcade Payday Hold 'Em Up

The Masterplan is like a top-down Payday in many ways. The Early Access version of Shark Punch's hold 'em up is just a smattering of levels at this point, but already there's something glorious about the whole affair. Much like Starbreeze's criminal FPS, you're given a location, some intel, and it's your job to get and get out with the swag, hopefully before anyone calls the police.

Here's the official blurb:

Drawing inspiration from both legendary tactical turn-based games and classic heist movies alike, the goal of The Masterplan is to put together the right crew, get the right equipment, and finally plan and execute the biggest heist ever.

Set in the early 1970s, the game features beautiful hand-drawn 2D art and an authentic soundtrack recorded by a real band. The gameplay blends a physics-based world and a clever AI system with an easy to approach "real time with pause" user interface.

The user interface is lovely, keeping things simple and allowing players to better survey the area, identify obstacles and issues quickly, and try to plan out the perfect heist. Left-click to select, right-click to move and aim and interact, and there are a selection of useful hotkeys for brandishing weapons and (this is easy to forget at first) concealing them once more. Simple stuff, but when applied to an intricate tapestry of guard patrols, security cameras, a steady stream of potential witnesses, and obstinately locked doors, The Masterplan really comes alive. I have to talk about the music as well, because it's simply superb. The band recordings conducted for this game have brought an aural "crime caper" soundscape into the mix, with the dizzying horns rising and falling as the drama in the level unfolds and is dealt with. It's brilliant stuff.

The Masterplan Early Access Gameplay - The Arcade Payday Hold 'Em Up

It's early days indeed on the content side of things, but the core gameplay works very nicely indeed as it stands. I rather hope that the toolset of your goons expands as you progress, and I'm eager to see what other systems can be brought it to further deepen the options available to players. There's some serious potential here, but it hinges on building upon the solid foundation with some scope and ambition. One of the best things about Payday 2 was the manner in which you could specialise, and the persistent nature of progression. Borrowing those systems wholesale for this wouldn't work, but it'd be nice to see a simple continuity in your goons much like Cannon Fodder or XCOM -- improved efficiency in certain areas through use, perhaps, and (hopefully) the ability to name them ourselves. It's a simple device, but it fosters a surprisingly strong connection.

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Destiny PS4 Gameplay | Taking on The Summoning Pits

Author:
Carl Phillips
Category:
Features
Tags:
Activision, Bungie, Destiny, FPS games, Gameplay, PS4 games, Xbox One

Having completed the story missions on the Moon, Carl & Matt decide to delve onto Destiny's second strike mission - The Summoning Pit - in our latest video dedicated to Bungie's latest. See how the duo (plus a random) get on against the hordes of the Hive, before taking on the end-of-level boss, Phogoth.

Be sure to check out the rest of our Destiny coverage, including our critical impressions vidcasts!

"It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity" - Unpacking Notch's leaving letter

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Game development, Indie Games, Microsoft, Minecraft, Notch

"It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity" - Unpacking Notch's leaving letter

Microsoft have bought Minecraft. Well, they've bought Mojang, but given that three of the studio's founders are leaving, I reckon we can tell it how it is. For Notch, his creation has grown too big. He is now a man with nearly two million followers on Twitter, an industry figure whose musings on social media have become newsworthy headlines.

And it's all become a little too much.

"I was at home with a bad cold a couple of weeks ago when the internet exploded with hate against me over some kind of EULA situation that I had nothing to do with. I was confused. I didn’t understand. I tweeted this in frustration. Later on, I watched the This is Phil Fish video on YouTube and started to realize I didn’t have the connection to my fans I thought I had. I’ve become a symbol. I don’t want to be a symbol, responsible for something huge that I don’t understand, that I don’t want to work on, that keeps coming back to me. I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m not a CEO. I’m a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter."

It reminds me of the departure of the two Doctors from BioWare in some ways -- a situation that's understandable and yet tinged with sadness -- but at least Notch is saying that he wants to keep making games. They'll be smaller, much smaller, but there'll be something freeing about developing without a million eyes or so looking over his shoulder (eventually).

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Destiny: The Road to Level 20 - Disposable content and deferred gratification

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Activision, Bungie, Destiny, FPS games

Destiny: The Road to Level 20 - Disposable content and deferred gratification

A week on from release and I'm still no closer to being able to answer what seems to be a simple question: is Destiny any good? Thankfully, I've exercised my power as editor and given the job of putting a score on the game to Carl, but I was at a gathering over the weekend and three people asked me variants of that very question, and I realised that I gave three completely different answers.

It's a game that still fills me with an enormous sense of ambivalence.

It's easy to see why Bungie warned everyone away from day one reviews. One of the most fun, and quite possibly reductive, activities of critically engaging with The Most Expensive Game Ever Made has been seeing which bits and bobs of gameplay have been borrowed from where. A healthy slab of Halo here, a dusting of Defiance there, left to marinade in a bunch of MMO conventions and practices. It's perhaps the aspects of that last one that have proven a little confusing for the console audience. Here in the land of PlayStations and Xboxes, we know little of power levelling. Endgame content is a term that is confusing and sounds suspicious.

Much has been made of Destiny's fairly bland story missions, most of which take you out of the even more bland expanses on Earth, the Moon, Venus and Mars, and funnel you into some sort of dungeon area. In my opinion, the bits of bespoke content (particularly the Strikes) have proven far more entertaining than the other solo/co-op content. It says much when the best bits of a seemingly expansive title such as this are actually the most narrow and focussed sections.

For console players who've shied away from MMOs, content gating will be a new experience -- the slow introduction to the game's systems and modes anathema to the regular slew of content shooters and action RPGs that deliver the whole package and tell you to run amok. Indeed, it's the primary excuse I've heard from people defending the practice: Destiny takes its cues from MMOs, you grind to level 20 and that's when the "real" game opens up!

My response to that thus far has been simple...

Why?

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At A Glance: Roundup 8th-14th September 2014

Author:
Brendan Griffiths
Category:
Features
Tags:
At A Glance, Game news, Game previews, Games reviews, Gamescom 2014, News Roundup, Weekly Roundup

At A Glance: Roundup 8th-14th September 2014

I wonder how many postman lost their fingers this week as eager gamers yanked their copy of Destiny through the letter box after waiting for what seems like forever, *again, sorry Pat." It'll come as no surprise then that Bungie's shooter dominates our Features section this week with multiple videos, guides and early impressions chats. You see, there's not much point rushing out a review without playing the hell out of this online-orientated title first, so it'll be ready when it's ready - the way it should be.

Don't worry if Destiny's not your cup of tea, we have plenty more for you to enjoy. Matt's been rooting through the Bayonetta's wardrobe to show off her new outfits in a video for Platinum's sequel on the WiiU. Our previews include early looks at Dragon Ball Xenoverse, The Division, Pillars of Eternity, Act of Aggression and Hearts of Iron IV. Jon's reviewed the new Xbox One FTP space ninja release, Warframe. Finishing up the week I've been through all of next week's releases in my weekly guide, complete with the best pre-order prices. My Sunday Seven feature this week focuses on the best under the radar releases coming in the next few months before Christmas. 

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The Sunday Seven: Under the Radar Releases This Xmas

Author:
Brendan Griffiths
Category:
Features
Tags:
New Releases, The Sunday Seven

The Sunday Seven: Under the Radar Releases This Xmas

The Christmas release line-up has a long tradition of being ridiculously packed every year. After one of the driest gaming summers in recent memory, this is all the more frustrating. The big publishers will often drown out the marketing efforts of any releases that aren’t Call of Duty, FIFA, Halo or other major console branded spots, so this list is for seven games that deserve a little boost and ones we hope won’t get brushed aside in favour of the usual suspects. Keep your browser aimed at Dealspwn as we’ll be aiming to review the lot of them.

The Witness (PS4)

Jonathan Blow’s follow up to Braid is looking like one of the PS4’s must have digital titles and with a bit of luck it will be released this year. The game puts you on a large colourful island with little instruction for the world packed with puzzles to complete to unlock new areas. It reminds us a bit of Myst, but a bit more tranquil than the classic 90s puzzler. Blow has explained the puzzle progression would be taught naturally to the player without words, but by showing them simpler versions at some point in an environment, gradually teaching the player how to complete the 600+ puzzles. It sounds complicated, but the above video does a great job of explaining his concept and sets The Witness out as potentially one of the most innovative titles of the year.

Release date: TBC 2014.

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Destiny PS4 Gameplay | Salvaging the Crucible

Author:
Carl Phillips
Category:
Features
Tags:
Activision, Bungie, Destiny, Gameplay, PS4 games, Xbox One Games

We've already had a look at many of the modes the Crucible has to offer, but yesterday Bungie unlocked the Salvage game type in Destiny. As such, we sent in Carl & Matt to investigate the 3v3 action in our latest gameplay video from the launch week.

Be sure to check out the rest of our Destiny coverage, including our daily critical impressions vidcasts!

Destiny Review Impressions - Part Three | PvP and the Crucible

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Activision, Bungie, Destiny, FPS games, Videos

Probably the most fully-realised aspect of Destiny, today we turn out attention to the Crucible in this ongoing series of review impressions, taking a look at game modes, maps, and balancing.

Check out Part One: Initial Impressions.

Check out Part Two: Customisation.

Destiny PS4 Gameplay | Clashing & Rumbling in the Crucible

Author:
Carl Phillips
Category:
Features
Tags:
Activision, Bungie, Destiny, FPS games, Gameplay, PS4 games, Xbox One Games

We continue our in-game coverage of Destiny by following on from the recent Game Night, testing out more of the Crucible. Carl & Matt try their luck in two rounds of Clash, before going head-to-head in a Rumble match.

Stay tuned to the site for more of our on-going Destiny vidcasts, with the next episode focusing on the multiplayer modes of the Crucible.

"An Incomplete Template" - Destiny, the $500 million work-in-progress

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Activision, Assassin's Creed, Bungie, Destiny, FPS games

"An Incomplete Template" - Destiny, the 0 million work-in-progress

...that reminds me of Assassin's Creed

Destiny reminds me of the original Assassin's Creed.

Wait, come back. Let me explain.

I remember when the original Assassin's Creed came out, and the hype train was a full speed for that particular title. I remember it being the game on everyone's lips, not least in part because one of the core aspects of the way that game handled felt so liberating and exciting. Running and climbing was fluid and intuitive and wildly freeing. I remember local multiplayer nights being replaced by us crowding round a single Xbox, swapping the controller back and forth every so often just as we had years before when the GTA series was in its infancy. This central mechanism, this seamless parkour and vertical freedom from which everything else seemed to derive, was incredibly exciting.

That might all seem a little daft now, but at the time it was extraordinarily exciting, coupled with open-ended assassination missions that gave you the run of the city and empowered you to make your own decisions. The core of the game was fresh and fun and brimmed with promise and potential.

"An Incomplete Template" - Destiny, the 0 million work-in-progress

That's the thing, though, it took Assassin's Creed II to take the franchise to the next level and really deliver on that potential, realising the promise hinted at in that first game. For all of its seemingly breathless originality and ambition at the time, the original Assassin's Creed was also repetitive, clunky, and fell far short of the grandiose ambitions underpinning its structure. Altair was a blank cipher, whose American voice sounded out of place amongst the heavily accented tones of every other character, and although the game around him had some nice ideas, it was mired in content that still had some way to go, its quality diminished by missions of an increasingly formulaic and repetitive nature, and a devolution into endless combat encounters the further along you got.

At the time of release, Electronic Gaming Monthly described it as "an incomplete template based on multiple other games" -- there were some unique flavours in the mix, but it took a sequel for Assassin's Creed to really find its feet and its complete identity.

That quote above could just as easily be applied to Destiny. In fact, it's even more pertinent here.

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PREVIEW | Act Of Aggression brings back the classic RTS with a vengeance

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Features
Tags:
Act Of Aggression, Eugen Systems, Focus Home Interactive, Games previews, Gamescom 2014, PC games

PREVIEW | Act Of Aggression brings back the classic RTS with a vengeance

Some say that Real Time Strategy is a dying genre, but Eugen Systems are having none of it. After shifting a million copies of Wargame, the passionate PC studio plans to bring the RTS back to its roots.

Act Of Aggression may be the spiritual successor to 2005's Act Of War, but judging by what Eugen co-founder Alexis Le Dressay showed me at Gamescom 2014, it's also set to be a spiritual revival of the classic fast-paced, over-the-top and brutal RTS action we once adored in the Command & Conquer days.

PREVIEW | Act Of Aggression brings back the classic RTS with a vengeance

Set in the 2020s, Act Of Aggression sees three factions fighting over real-world locations in the strategic equivalent of a Clancy-esque techno thriller. The US' conventional military might faces off against the shadowy Cartel: a high-tech criminal syndicate who tacitly fund a vast number of PMCs, bringing sleek and futuristic tech to the table. Like the Brotherhood of NOD, perhaps, only eschewing religion for big business and bigger tanks. Finally, the United Nations rely on the Chimera; a hardbitten Private Military contractor empowered to act on their behalf.

The stage is set for epic showdowns on asymmetrical maps, with the time-honoured gameplay pillars of resource collection, base-building, tech trees and high-octane combat between dozens of powerful units and aircraft. However, despite its old-school pretensions, Act Of Aggression is loaded with cutting-edge new features that make real strategy the key to victory.

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Destiny Review Impressions - Part Two | Customising the Experience

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Activision, Bungie, Destiny, FPS games, Videos

Hello there Traveller! Welcome to Day Two of our ongoing series of critical vidcasts regarding Destiny. Yesterday, Carl and I shared our initial thoughts on the retail version of the game, delighting in the game's exquisite gunplay and lamenting the empty feeling of the game worlds. Today, it's all about customisation. We talk about character creation and classes before moving onto equipment, upgrading gear and the economies present in the game, and also assessing Destiny's approach to dispensing loot.