Until Tomorrow: Destiny post-beta Impressions
By Terry Randolph and Domenic Dalpez
Last week, Ryan and I spoke of our impressions on the highly-touted Destiny beta that you can read here. The beta just ended on Sunday after opening up a mission on the moon for a few hours, and a special event that lead to items you keep for the full retail game from playing it. We’ve also had a few days to take in the experience and develop a stronger opinion. How good was the beta overall? Did it end strongly, or on a whimper? Here are two opinions; one is based on the Xbox One version (Dom), and mine (Terry) on the PS4 version.
First Opinion (Xbox One) by Domenic Dalpez.
After playing the Destiny beta on Xbox One, I decided write down what I thought about it in terms of what I enjoyed and what I felt was a little lacking in it.
First, I would like to say that putting Destiny on both the Playstation and Xbox consoles, and expecting them to run at 1080p 30fps for both Playstation 4 and Xbox One is a solid decision by Bungie. Being on both consoles gives all players a chance to experience this game. Unfortunately for PC gamers there isn’t an announced PC version. So let’s get right into what I enjoyed about the Destiny Beta. The first aspect I admired was the smoothness of joining a friend’s game or them joining you. Destiny‘s social features are even greater when you can join other people doing the same tasks as you, give a hand to other players in need, or vice versa. The game emphasizes playing with other people, but it’s still ok to be a lone wolf exploring the world on your own. If you are wondering about the loot system, all the loot is individualized so no one can steal the items that you earned in battle.
Loading screens, something generally overlooked in video games, can be cumbersome if handled incorrectly. Like the smoothness I spoke about regarding joining in and out of other player’s worlds, the loading screens were pretty short jumping to different locations. Usually loading screens can make or break a game. This very issue is something that troubles me about Ryse: Son of Rome; not only can you leave and go get a snack and a drink, but once you return the loading screen might still be finishing up. Patience may be a virtue, but when it comes to gaming that flies OUT THE WINDOW! As I drew near the end of the story portion of the beta I felt a little sad as I was left wanting more. Wanting more…story…yes, definitely story, that’s for sure. Bungie did not let me down on what an epic story Destiny could be in the final game. September 9th cannot come fast enough.
However, once I started playing the multiplayer it left a sour taste in my mouth from what was otherwise a good meal. When I started playing multiplayer, I had maxed my Titan to the level cap of eight and felt that I had decent weapons after having finished all the story missions. Sadly, that was not the case. For the first few minutes I was doing ok, mainly dying from opponents’ supers (individual class abilities); it was my first match and it is to be expected. However, as I played a few more matches, I came to the conclusion that the primary weapon was useless and the secondary weapon was the one shot kill weapon in most cases. I learned this the hard way as my opponents would run up to me, shotgun me once, and I would die instantly. The secondary weapon also uses special ammo, which you start out with and can pick up more of as it appears on the map. It SERIOUSLY made my primary weapon pretty much useless! Wouldn’t it be annoying playing a match in multiplayer and you started with the pistol in your hand everytime you spawned and had to switch to the assault rifle? That’s what my primary weapon felt like, a pistol. No, I wasn’t using the Hand Cannon (which is a primary gun and a pistol), I was using the Auto Rifle. I started using the Pulse Rifle (my secondary at the time) and once I aimed and charged the weapon the enemy was nothing but a pile of dust in one or two shots. For example, one time I ran in with the Pulse Rifle Rambo style, threw down a flash grenade, blinding the three guys in the room, got behind cover and proceeded to pick them off one at a time with three charges of my Pulse Rifle. I tried to using my primary weapon, but it couldn’t do the damage I needed in face to face gun combat.
Some moments of greatness did happen. I got a few triple kills, but most of the time I felt like I had to shoot my opponents in the back to kill them. So, during a lot of the matches that I played, I just ended up switching to my secondary right for most of the match, only switching to my heavy weapon once heavy ammo dropped. Before playing multiplayer, I usually like having a friend or two join me to make the experience a little more enjoyable. After all, there’s nothing like killing with friends…or your friends for that matter. This time fellow Last Token Gaming staff member Chris Medrano joined me for this wonderful multiplayer experience. We were pumped! We were ready! Fresh from playing co-op in story mode, we were excited to try the multiplayer! Oh my god, were we in for a s*** storm as all that excitement went away almost immediately. Chris and I were getting slaughtered left and right on our first match. Most of the time I was laughing from Chris cursing and eventually gave up on the multiplayer a minute into it. Looking back, there wasn’t a match that I played with Chris where he didn’t give up on life. One one occasion where he gave up, he ventured to a corner of the map and proceeded to dance until the match was over, while he played Clash of Clans…that was the darkest of them all, but boy did he dance. In his words: “Compared to Halo this multiplayer blows.” indeed it does Chris.
Aside from that, my only other concern is the balance of vehicle vs. ground troops. The vehicles in Destiny are way overpowered, especially the tank. As I was playing against opponents using vehicles I recalled an IGN first look video where a member from their staff was getting a closer look at the Moon multiplayer map. In the video, someone asked the question, “Why can’t we board enemy vehicles?” The Bungie employee responded with something like, “You are so mobile and fast in Destiny that you are harder to hit than you were in Halo. Plus, you have supers and grenades as well as heavy weapons that can take out enemy vehicles easily and the vehicles are open on both sides. So, since there are so many ways to dispose of your enemy in the vehicle we thought it would be overkill to add something else.”
My response to that would be that: 1) heavy ammo takes time to drop in between being slaughtered by the vehicles, and 2) grenades don’t even do that much damage to a vehicle and don’t come back fast enough. Supers are one hit kills (based on my experience with the Titan) and can destroy the vehicle in one hit as well. I guess you can kill the driver from sides if he/she doesn’t notice you shooting them. However, by that point they turn around and insta kill you. In my experience it was easy for the drivers of these vehicles in the maps to sit back and kill fresh spawns and be the MVP of their team just from using the tank the entire time. Although the multiplayer experience wasn’t what Chris or I thought it was going to be, I am still excited to play the full game if just for the story.
Second Opinion by Terry Randolph
For me, I stand by my thoughts last week; it feels like a blander mix of Halo and Borderlands with bland, similar maps. If I would’ve gotten a chance to play the Moon mission (which I’ve read shook up the formula a bit), my opinion could’ve been swayed. However, I did get to play the time-exclusive final boss mission in Old Russia. Much as I’d like to say it added to my experience, I actually felt like it took away from it. Why? Bullet-sponge bosses. They’re a chore to beat because: A) they’re given an insane amount of health to take bullets like candy, and B) have repeat movement patterns. I don’t remember the name of the boss that I faced, all I remember is being incredibly happy when it was all over. For multiplayer, the only game variant available was “Control”; take control of certain spots with flags and hold onto them for as long as possible. Overall, I enjoyed multiplayer a bit but the issues I had made it equally frustrating. Granted, I’m not the greatest at multiplayer; I’m not going to light up the boards like “The Online Gamer”. However, what I didn’t enjoy was the overkill on vehicles that tipped the hand too favorably to the team with the most vehicles. Vehicles are a nightmare to try to take down and can feel nigh impossible unless you take it on with two other teammates minimum.
Also, classes are imbalanced which will be a major problem down the road. The class that’s the most powerful in multiplayer is the warlock. Bungie needs to find a way to make it a little more balanced with slight advantages for each class. Otherwise, it’s going to turn the whole experience south and have lesser of a shelf life than they anticipate. In the end, Destiny is a game that relies on co-op and teamwork to have a memorable experience. When I did play with friends, or worked with teammates, I had a great time playing the game. The frustrations of the game no longer apply, and instead the challenges Bungie has set in each level become fun to take on. Learning to communicate on the battlefield, learning which abilities to use with what weapons, and running around the map are a lot of fun with friends. It made the beta far more enjoyable.
The ultimate question: Is Destiny going to be good? Probably. Bungie is good at creating stellar FPS experiences as evidenced by the likes of the Halo and Marathon series. I’m also intrigued by the mythos and story of Destiny. Lastly, I think the co-op is going to be fun with friends. I just hope that it’s going to be more than just the same maps with slightly different variants per each country. Is it going to be revolutionary like they claim it to be? No, it’s like plenty of other games out there. I admit that I have a bias with Bungie in that I hold them to a high standard. To me, Destiny is a fine example of a studio overselling their product, not something I’d expect of Bungie but expect from Activision. Hopefully I’m proven wrong.