Bungie is well known for their first person shooters. The Marathon series was regarded as one of the better shooter franchises of the early ’90’s. They’re also fairly well known for the Myth strategy game series, and they’ve done a few one offs that did fairly well. So it’s really great to see them doing another shooter, and one with such an ambitious scale to it. Their newest title, Destiny is in closed Alpha, and from what I’ve played so far, it’s going to be a real winner.
Destiny is a cross between a first-person shooter and a massively multiplayer online RPG. The concept itself isn’t anything new, but Destiny executes on it with an elegance that few games can come close to. Let’s get the obvious comparisons to Halo out of the way: Yes, stylistically, Destiny feels very much like a Halo game and setting aside the game’s RPG elements, Destiny‘s gameplay feels very much like Halo. The weapons have a similar weight to them, the game’s pacing is very similar, and it retains that mix of wide open vistas and corridor crawling that Halo made famous. That’s pretty much where the similarities end though, as Destiny hones and expands on absolutely every element that Bungie laid down with Halo.
Visually the game is absolutely beautiful. Landscapes are vivid and colorful, and you can see a long ways away, which gives the world a sense of scale that you rarely got in Halo. The power of the next-gen consoles is very much being leveraged to great effect.
Bungie is also well known for their superb sound design. Destiny doesn’t disappoint here either. The weapons all have a solid punch to them, the enemies you’ll face off against sound as menacing as they look, and the dynamic music that ebbs and flows with battle adds a great sense of atmosphere to the game.
It sounds like I’m gushing all over this game, and with good reason, but I have run into a few issues. First of all, the way enemies respawn in areas you’ve been to is really annoying. I’ve never been a fan of this mechanic, and I hope there’s a way to turn this off in the final game. If I get lost and have to backtrack I don’t want to have to fight my way through a bunch of aliens again. It’s a minor gripe, but it does get irritating when you just want to get somewhere quickly.
On the technical front, it’s hard to believe that this is still Alpha code. The gameplay was solid and I had no connectivity issues at all. There were some instances where the alien AI just kind of stood around while I walked up to them and punched them in the face, but I’ll chalk that one up to the game’s Alpha status and hope that will get sorted out as the game gets closer to release. I’ll also mention that the game has some pretty long load times. Once you get planetside things are fine, but moving from place to place will require 20 to 30 second load times. It’s not the end of the world, but it is worth mentioning.
I haven’t been much for first person shooters lately, so I went into the Destiny alpha with a little hesitation. I have to say though that I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Destiny is a game that feels great to play. It looks and sounds fantastic and is a game I’ll seriously consider buying now. If you’ve been wondering how Bungie will do without Halo, the answer is “They’re doing fine, thank you.”