Activision’s beta for Bungie’s upcoming FPS/MMO hybrid adventure, Destiny, finally became active yesterday after a day of downtime, and it wasn’t long before a couple of Popzara’s most curious editors dove in over the last few days to bring you our assessment.
My colleague – and fellow Destinner – Cory Galliher was brave/crazy enough to join me on an epic battle against the Fallen, the Hive, and other enemies of the Crucible to bring you the answers to five burning questions. Let’s get to it.
1. If you played the Destiny alpha, how does this compare so far?
Cory: It’s definitely a more complete experience. I feel a lot more confident about the direction the game is going after playing the beta. While I was iffy about the alpha, the beta’s polished everything enough that I’m right back on board.
Josh: I loved playing the alpha, but now that I’m seeing more of the MMO-ish aspects of Destiny with large-scale raids and such, I’m actually a little more hesitant. I love playing the game with friends, but it sure feels lonely running it single-player…single-player is my traditional mode of choice.
2. What do you think is the best improvement in the beta as compared to the alpha?
Josh: I love the additional item customization on special equipment and weapons. It seems minor on the surface, but it adds a fantastic incentive to use one weapon/armor set over another even if the one is stronger in its base statistics. I also really like some of the little touches, like how game chat voices echo when you talk while walking in a cave…the details really make the game pop.
Cory: This one’s easy: the improved voice acting. It’s a little amazing how much a relatively minor detail can affect my enjoyment of a game. The voice acting in the alpha build was bad enough that it was putting me off of playing altogether! I also feel like the additional narrative context for the content you play through does a lot to help the player get into the game.
3. What do you think they still need to fix before the final release?
Cory: I think a little more in the way of tutorials and guidance in the early stages of the game would be very helpful. Sure, it’s a shootymans space marine game and those tend to be fairly straightforward, but the character progression system (for example) is unusual for the genre and a little more direction wouldn’t hurt.
Josh: The V/O. Please…the Ghost. I know people have talked about the improved voice acting (sorry, Corey), but I still feel pulled out of element every time I hear the Ghost speak. Either re-record, or give me a good excuse for why the Ghost feels so dull and lifeless…a reason better than “it’s a ghost.”
4. If you’re planning on buying Destiny when it comes out, how long do you think you’ll play it for? A month? A couple months? A year?
Josh: I plan on picking up Destiny at launch, if for no other reason than I think that is when the community will be largest. I feel the magic the most when in a fireteam with a couple of buddies, coordinating attacks and bragging about new weapons. I’m sure I’ll put at least a month into it, but maybe it’ll be my first serious MMO if the community is strong enough.
Cory: I do plan on picking up Destiny at launch, but I don’t tend to play any given game for very long because there are so many to get to. Still, I can see myself sticking with Destiny for a month. A lot of this relies on how much my friends (and people at large) end up enjoying the game. I’m definitely more interested in cooperative play than anything, so if a community builds up around the game to support it that will help it last for me.
5. What could Activision still do to make this game a real blockbuster?
Cory: As a game that relies heavily on cooperative play, I think it’s vital that Activision continue to promote Destiny and get the word out there. This game’s success relies heavily on a large initial buy-in from the gaming community. Without enough players to support coop, Destiny’s going to be in trouble.
Josh: Make the story pan out, for one. Many successful MMOs build their community’s excitement with quality lore, and the Grimoire (along with its access via the Destiny mobile app) really give players a way to get into the narrative of the world. Other than that, I think it’ll be about providing content players think is worth playing after they’ve level-capped their characters (which will happen quickly). If people feel like they’ve beaten the game, they’ll move on.
Rest assured, here at Popzara we’ll be putting in more time with Destiny over the next few days. Activision announced they’ll be stress-testing their servers this coming Saturday, as well as rewarding all players who log in with a prize to use in the game’s final release. It should be fun and check back for a Destiny beta post-mortem and more fun as the game’s release approaches.