Destiny: Post-beta thoughts

It’s been a few days since the beta for Bungie’s Destiny came to an end, and now that the experience has had time to sink in, I’ve been thinking back over it and trying to decide whether or not to pre-order the game.

I had enjoyed the alpha test a few weeks back, but because I hadn’t pre-ordered I wasn’t guaranteed a code for beta access. Fortunately, Twitter buddy @Nemesis_7T4 had some going spare and was kind enough to let me have one.

Generally speaking, I really enjoyed playing the beta. I even went to the trouble of streaming a few hours of gameplay directly from my PS4, and editing the resulting Twitch archive to show a few missions in full, from beginning to end. That’s quite an unusual step for me, and if you somehow didn’t get to play it and want to see something more in-depth than a highlight video, you can watch a few missions below.

Since the beta ended, I’ve been reading the opinions of several others, whether it be brief comments on Twitter, posts on Google+, or even ‘professional’ articles on various gaming websites. While most have been fairly impressed (myself included), many feel that there are aspects which on current evidence will prevent it being a true classic. In many cases, I agree with their reservations, particularly Sammy over at PushSquare – and the net result is that I still haven’t pre-ordered the game.

As much as I enjoyed it, and with the full realisation that it was ‘just’ a beta, it simply didn’t seem to provide the sense of epic scale that I – and apparently numerous others – had been expecting, especially after the impressions given by the early press and publicity. In fact, Bungie’s own comment on the content of the beta left me feeling a little disappointed:

“We’ve revealed everything that you’ll explore in the first version of the game,” said community manager David ‘DeeJ’ Dague. That means that, potentially, you’ve already seen a good quarter of the release.

Source: PushSquare.com

It certainly doesn’t seem that the game is going to be the massive title (in terms of scale, not sales) that first impressions suggested. Perhaps that’s my own fault for setting my expectations too high, but the initial details certainly seemed to indicate something approaching an MMO, with a large number of places to explore. Once you knew what you were doing, it didn’t take that long to get through the beta missions on subsequent play-throughs, even without the higher-powered weapons available to you as you levelled up.

On a few of the missions, the bulk of the time taken to complete them was down to bullet-sponge bosses like the Devil Walker (see video) and Sepiks Prime (see video) taking an absolute age to kill, even with 3 people playing together. For me, there’s some concern that the game will consist of masses of multi-wave gun battles, padded out with drawn-out boss fights, and little else.

Some may say that the Crucible’s competitive multiplayer will be what provides the longevity, but to be honest, competitive multiplayer FPS isn’t something I personally enjoy spending a lot of time on. Mostly because I suck at it, as a quick look at my beta stats will tell you. That’s partly why I had high hopes for Destiny – I was hoping for a large universe with lots of different locations to explore with friends in co-op mode; I would probably barely touch the competitive side of things.

Of most concern (to me, anyway) is that Bungie refer to the initial release as “the first version of the game”. This leads me to suspect there may be a lot of DLC on the horizon, milking ever more cash from players, and that only with the DLC will we get a game approaching the scale that many people seem to have been expecting from the vanilla version of the game. If that proves to be the case, then it’s unlikely I’ll buy.

So what it basically boils down to is that I’m waiting for reviews before I decide – not for the scores, but for the extra detail they’ll provide about the full release. Hopefully they’ll be able to shed more light on the size of the main game – what it includes, what it doesn’t, and just how much Bungie plan to add via DLC and at what cost.

How about you?