Saturday, August 9, 2014

GAMER GIRL WEEKENDS: Destiny Beta

It’s been a bit since the Destiny Beta ended, but E and I certainly had fun while it lasted. We played it a bit on the PS3 and then again on our Xbox Ones. September 9th’s launch date for the actual game approaches quicker than I expected, but such is the nature of summer. So what did I think?

While not highly customizable I was able to choose a female character with race options of human, awoken, and exo (robotic like). I could choose a hairstyle, skin, eye, and hair color as well as markings. I chose the Awoken who kind of remind me of Mass Effect’s Asari with the skin palatte of pastels. They also have glowing eyes, so I went all Dune style and chose some glowing blue eyes. I was satisfied with my character though you really only see what she looks like in the Tower, anywhere else she is covered in her armor.

There are three classes: Hunter, Warlock, and Titan. I chose Warlock as I am totally into the space magic thing. E played all three classes, but I did not have a chance to play the beta nearly as much as he did. Warlocks specialize in combining tech magic with the weapons. They wear long coats and have an arm band on their upper left arm (that is my customization option beyond the armor…other people get capes and such that you can noticeably see a change in…sigh). The super ability was a Nova bomb which you sling at your enemies and disintegrate them (whee). Now while there are three classes to choose from it is interesting that they aren’t your typical classes such as Healer, Tank, and so forth. As far as I know there don’t appear to be any more classes that will be available for launch, but perhaps there will be later (such as in Mass Effect multi).

Once I made my character and went through the tutorial (by the way you need to have the ability to skip scenes especially if you decide to replay with a different class) there are a few different modes of the game. Story mode is self-explanatory and furthers the overall story of the game. It can still be played with two other players though they are not necessary for its completion. I didn’t know what to make of the story as it capped at Level 5 for the Beta and I was unable to get a real sense of what was happening. Like most story modes you have a boss battle at the end of each chapter. Strike mode pairs you with two other players either of your own choosing or through a matchmaking process. There are three waves of enemies, each more difficult than the previous. Explore mode allowed you to go find mission markers and complete small missions. It is essentially grind mode, but there were special events that occurred that were kind of nice. In this aspect it reminded me of Defiance a bit and what things I liked about that game (though ultimately E and I did not play it together as he has a Japanese xbox and so they were putting him on a server on the other side of the world) where certain mission required a hell of a lot of strangers gathering together for a common battle. I do hope there will be more of these ‘events’ and ones that may require larger numbers of people and some strategy. Finally there was the Crucible which is pvp which I personally am not into all that much (I prefer Mass Effect’s co-op far more), but we will see as I don’t mind CoD when playing with friends (but rarely feel the need to go in and play by myself).

We spent a lot of time either doing Strike Mode (easier to level up and more of a challenge) or Exploring (the special events happened in this mode as I said earlier, plus it was fun just to explore as the game is quite pretty).

The Good.
The loot system is great. Almost everything except is ammo is pretty rare so you don’t fill up your inventory with stuff you won’t use really quickly. Weapons and armor can either be standard (White), uncommon (Green), rare (Blue), or legendary (Purple). I managed to end up with a couple of blue items but they were all above my level cap of 8 and so I was unable to use them in the beta. Your gear can also level up so you tend to stick with individual weapons for longer. You don’t fight over loot and who gets what which is nice.

The AI is great. Perfect no, but I do like that there is a little strategy with them. Fallen would respond to where my shots came from (though I could stealthy move away from that spot and snipe them elsewhere) and would regroup and look for cover. They would search for me as well so I couldn’t just bank on hiding and hoping they would go away (such as sitting outside of a cave waiting for my health to regenerate). However, like most AI they did have their ‘Doh’ moments. But overall I liked it.

This game really is gorgeous. In fact I wouldn’t mind having some of the background scenery as desktops. I look forward to exploring more worlds.

The Meh.
The UI is a bit weird, seemingly made for PC instead of game consoles where you have to hover over areas and then click on them with your controller (as you would a mouse). Seems like an odd choice since as far as I know there is no move for it to be a PC game right now.

How big is the game? I know with the Beta we only had a few areas to choose from, but I wonder how much replay value there is. I am not sure how many planets or other solar system stops there are and how many story levels are on each…I guess we will see.

The Bad.
I love you Peter Dinklage, but I will have to pass on your voice acting. It’s not that your voice isn’t great or that you are a bad actor because I have many favorites that would say otherwise (The Last Station), but you don’t sound like AI. For my ghost I am expecting Terence Stamp, Paul Bettany, or even Bill Nighy’s Speaker. It’s the lilt of their voice. Unless of course your Ghost turns out to be something different than AI.

For a social game, it kind of lacks the social aspect. While I appreciate wanting to keep things nice for all involved, not being able to chat with your new friends at the Tower didn’t stop the trolls. I still had guys greeting me by crouching in front of my lady character (really? *sigh*) or doing the typical follow you around and get in your face whenever they are able. This is going to happen and as a gamer with a very lady moniker who plays lady characters whenever she can it doesn’t surprise me. I’m used to it.

What does surprise me is how limited I am to making new friends. With Mass Effect and even CoD, I have made a lot of friends I game with just by meeting them in the lobby or finding them on my team and having a kick ass match with them. But it’s also nice to be able to point out things such as loot in this cave, or I’m going to go and try and take out this level 20 boss, anyone want to join me in the free roam levels and as of right now I can’t do that unless you are already part of my fireteam. I found the lack of social happiness particularly annoying when everyone is at the Tower, the seemingly big social place for the game. Other than kicking around a beach ball or soccer ball, having a dance party, or playing some leap frog that is about it. I couldn’t in game message anyone or see if they wanted to go head off on adventures.

I also want my team of four. This is what I am used to. And yes I already have my team of four. Rawr. This what gamers are used to in recent years when it comes to multiplayer experiences (Borderlands 2 for example) and what we have come to expect for future games as well (the new Assassin’s Creed).

The Verdict.
Whoo hoo, a game E and I can play together with our friends. Yes it’s a FPS meets dungeon crawler without the witty snark, but I am okay with that. Is it perfect…no. But few games are. It is a gorgeous game that I enjoyed playing for a few days and found myself missing when the beta ends so that has to say something. I think it has potential like many games coming out this Fall. We will see how the final version turns out, but I will at least be buying it in September.

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