1. Destiny Alpha - Dive in with GP

      written by Ray Benefield
      Sorry folks keeping an eye on my indie game Aggro, but this weekend I had to take a break. For good reason. Most of you know that I was very involved with the Halo online scene. Halo 3, Reach, and Halo 4 were a large part of 5+ years of my life. That is a pretty good chunk. Needless to say Bungie has my heart. Hell my kid's C-section was done on Bungie Day (7/7) of '11. Yeah crazy... so I'm sure you'll understand when I'm given the chance to participate early in the Destiny First Look Alpha. ;) HUGE THANKS TO YOU GOOD SIR! You know who you are. Here are my thoughts for the world to see.


      Let's start with a simple disclaimer. I am in no way directly affiliated with Bungie, they pay me nothing. So bias that may be present is of my own accord. Just saying. I love the way Bungie carries themselves, and the approach they take to developing their games. One of my favorite parts has been the Bungie Foundation, a little part of Bungie that gives back to the world through charities like Make a Wish... the best part is that they don't feel the need to publicize it. That is one of the many things that allows me to remain a fan.

      SOOO with that out of the way. I will have to say this. I did not have faith in Destiny. It was cool looking, but as a game aside from its developer it felt like a souped up version of Halo. It felt like it might be result in more of the same. Like experientially the same, obviously it is a different game. If you watch Extra Credits regularly, you'll know what I mean. Destiny looked like another Sci-fi shooter, and I don't get along with Sci-fi. Most people know I'm more of the fantasy type, as I'll choose Pathfinder and DnD over Shadowrun. That is just not me.

      With that said, I think I've fallen for Destiny. I gave it the chance it needed, because it was from a developer that I trusted. Bungie has that going for them, and I know they know that. IMO that is why Activision is backing them for the next 10 years and sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into a brand new IP. That is quite the risk, but with a company with a track record like Bungie I can see where they are going. My overall impression of Destiny is that of pure gold. It scares me. Why? I'm in the middle of developing an indie game. Destiny is another priority that I'm going to have to squeeze into my life. Bungie is a cruel, cruel entity. But who cares about the overall impression. Let's go into details.

      Jumping In

      So when I first dived in, I whipped out some pencil and paper. I wanted to keep track of things as I went. The first impression of the title screen and soundtrack felt wonderful. So that's nice, I press 'X' to start and we jump into selecting a character "class". But not really a class... Warlock, Hunter, and Titan are known as subclasses. And I vaguely remember reading the details on this whole class system a while ago, but I can't track it down for the life of me. So my first class I had already decided was going to be Warlock. I'm not a tanky type player, so no Titan for me. The world was going to select Hunter first because of the slick cloaks and awesome stealthy/sniper type class. So I've decided to align myself with the true magic users of the world.

      The first issue I noticed, which is understandable considering we are playing an Alpha, is the little detail of when reading the description of the Hunter class a lot of the description was overlapped with my profile info in the top right. I had to maneuver things around to really read it properly. Small detail, but User Experience is a thing folks. Never forget. So I marked this down on my paper for me to write about. Being an alpha tester is exciting. :) I love the ability to help improve the gaming industry in any way I get. So this is exhilerating folks.

      I created my character (a Warlock) race, head, etc., which was a bit of getting used to the cursor based interface. You have a cursor rather than a classic move between options system. It gives them more flexibility with the interface and the ability to do interesting things with it. And crazy idea, the chance of a PC port is made that much easier... just a thought. Anyways, after creating my character I get dropped into this beautiful loading screen of my ship flying (if I remember correctly, it has been a couple days). Then a drop into the location of Old Russia... after listening to Peter talk me through some stuff, I actually discovered that I could go to orbit... so I did. For those that don't know being in orbit is pretty much your main menu. You can set a destination and travel there. I decided to head to the great Tower... the social hub.

      I explored the social hub for some time. Found some fancy starting gear from the vendors and also ran into a soccer ball at one point... that was amusing. I got acquainted with the options in the vendors and read the descriptions of the abilities. I'm a read the manual kind of guy, so when you actually pop up help text over something I'm curious about, I REALLY appreciate it. Thank you for that Bungie. All the stats on gear and in the menus all have neat little help text. Love it.

      Taking on the Story

      So then I headed back to orbit and check out the map. There are three options, a story mission, an explore mission, and a strike mission. Also the Crucible on the side, which is the PvP aspect. So I decided to jump into the story as I assumed that is where the initial drop put me before I jumped the gun and went to the tower. Getting the hang of shooting was fun, I tried out a couple of the weapons and I stuck with the pulse gun... which is kind of battle rifle esque. Enjoyed that for many sessions... then switched to the trusty Scout rifle which is DMR esque. The feeling of firing the guns is oh so satisfying, they did a great job of empowering the act of firing weapons.

      So I dived into the story, running into little mobs here and there on the way. Learning and moving here and there. My favorite part is being able to slide, it is a small detail but makes all the difference in smoothing out the combat movement. My other favorite part of basic movement is unlimited sprint and boost in your personal vehicle. Small details.... make ALL the difference.

      Anyways, eventually I make my way into the darkness. Peter instructs me that he can open the door and all the sudden I'm in the dark with trusty Peter lighting my way. I'll admit I was in the groove at this moment, I was fully immersed as I was very careful walking through, especially when Peter tells me that there is a lot of movement ahead. And all the sudden, HIVE EVERYWHERE. These initial little Hive mobs jumped at me like crazy and BOY did I run... I slid away and whipped around putting bullets where they could fit. Then the hive acolytes took their careful shots as I slowly picked them off. And then it was up the stairs to the next goal.

      IT WAS A WIZARD HARRY! And more aggressive little hive dudes. Those guys are agile and like to duck and weave under your melees. You have been warned. I took my time with this fight as it had the weight of a boss battle. So I took my time, luckily there didn't seem to be a forever spawning minion mechanic, so clearing out the room was actually useful. Then I took on the Wizard, this dude had a shield that would not go away. You needed to peck and peck until it finally collapsed and then just pound the life out of him. And then it was done and I was congratulated and a countdown timer for returning to orbit was in effect. I tried to find some looting secrets around, but nothing.

      The Wrap-Up

      Finally the story wrap up screen gave me the details on how I did, lots of enemies killed, somewhere between 60-100 if I remember correctly. Told me what upgraded, and small details of my kills. It was kind of nice. Then I was put back into orbit.

      That my friends was my first real experience with Destiny... and I LOVED it. It brought me in and taught me to love the world slowly. Every enemy felt engaged and different. There were times where I felt extremely empowered, and other times where I was put in my place and made to quiver in the corner. The most fun I've had in a shooter in a LONG time folks. I think Bungie has something wonderful on their hands. And I knew I was getting into something great.

      A bit more

      It's been a day or so since I wrote what is above. Since I've spent countless hours of my free time on this game, dedicating the weekend to it. And I am not disappointed. I have maxed out all 3 classes (level 8 in the alpha) and have tried them all out in various circumstances, except the Titan in the Crucible. I've explored the depths of the continent, found high level areas that I shouldn't have been in and beached ships on a Forgotten Shore. I love the expansiveness and even with an alpha there is always something new to find. If you have had your doubts that this is another generic shooter, I would like to put those doubts to rest. I kissed another shooter, and this time I liked it. It has been a long time since I've felt like I could lose my life to a game... thank you Bungie for your hardwork and keep it up.

      Tomorrow I'll start posting up details on actual mechanics, classes, gear, tips, etc. Lots of little details to prep everyone for the alpha this weekend if they get in, and for the beta for those of us who pre-ordered. Looking forward to it. In addition keep an eye on my youtube channel starting NOW. I have 40+ videos to upload over the course of the next few weeks and will be collecting more. I've gotten a lot of experience with the system already and am open to questions and requests. Just use your voice in the comments of my blog and my videos. ;)


      Doc1777 said...

      ..I wish I had the money for Destiny right now, and an Xbox One.. Curse you college.

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      GodlyPerfection said...

      Well you have until September 9th. And I'm on the PS4, not xbox one.

      Doc1777 said...

      I would get a PS4... but Halo.. I..must.. play it!! The stupid "console wars" and their exclusives make it a little difficult to enjoy consoles anymore. Though it helps them stay competitive. I want to be able to play Halo 5, Little Big Planet 3, Gears of War 4, and The Order: 1886. But that requires a massive investment of around $800.. which is just frustrating and of course Destiny has some extra things on the PS4 (which I don't mind as much).

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      Randy 355 said...

      Great to see you're still using your site, Godly! I'll have to catch up on your articles. I figured you'd be looking into Destiny, and your review adds more promise to an already promising game. I'll be on XB1, but maybe when I get a PS4 I'll use it to play as another class or something.

      So hopefully, see you starside.

      GodlyPerfection said...

      Tsk tsk on the Xbox One side... oh well. lol. It is a wonderous game and I do still use my blog. Just constantly working my ass off towards some kind of success. I actually just posted an article and saw that you commented less than 5 minutes prior to that. What a coincidence.

      EXEM said...

      Any plans on having another Destiny blog post soon before the public beta, about how we might organize a PS/XB RP group/clan (try and bring together the AC/Halo folks around Destiny's activities)? I know we tested it out a little with the alpha.bungie.net features, but is this something you'd like to contain to bungie.net as much as possible? Do you/we have a group presence there? IDK as I haven't been very active on b.net for awhile, and haven't been on RP long enough to have to reset my Disqus and Nabble passwords...

      Speaking of Halo and Armored Core, I feel like there's plenty in Destiny to attract both groups of players that have been active here in the past - from spec'ing/running different character builds for different objectives/modes, to map strategy and balance discussion for PvP in Crucible or even lore discussion. I can also tell that, at launch especially, this game is going to make a b.net ID a must-have for players that want to extend their console experience. It would seem to make sense to utilize their group forums, even if they're less feature-rich as far as posting.

      Curious to hear your thoughts, and the thoughts of your blog followers.