We remember our favorite experiences throughout Destiny‘s alpha test (a very early pre-beta version), detailing our impressions on the skills, missions, weapons and more.
As someone who poured quite a bit of time into Destiny‘s alpha test, I can honestly say that Bungie has hit the mark with incredible accuracy. The alpha was meant to be a preview, a bite-sized look at what Destiny has to offer when it ships this September–but in actuality this First Look alpha was more than just a glance: it opened our eyes to the majesty of Bungie’s new franchise.
Join us as we venture into the remnants of a shattered Earth to fight the shadows of our past. To conquer these Fallen, we’ll need to be brave–but that comes easy to Guardians.
Reminder: This preview is focused on the alpha version of Destiny, and it’s important to remember that these game mechanics can (and probably will) change over the next few months. The content written below doesn’t reflect on the final version of Destiny.
The Journey Begins
The Destiny alpha featured featured the three different classes that will ship with the final version: the heavily armored Titan, the swift and agile Hunter, and the arcane-infused Warlock. Players were allowed to customize the race (Exo, Human or Awoken) and gender of each class, all while customizing their facial features, hairstyles, eye-color and more.
After I crafted my Exo Titan, I was sent into the frosty wastelands of Russia, one of the many zones across Earth that have been rendered N0-Man’s Land. Right away I encountered Fallen, which serve as one of the enemy factions in the game, and engaged in my first firefight.
The FPS mechanics are incredible in Destiny. Bungie has crafted a game that takes all the best elements from Call of Duty and Borderlands to create something extremely entertaining from start to finish. To discuss how firefights work, we must first highlight our Guardian’s Heads Up Display, or HUD.
The HUD is decidedly very Halo-esque, featuring a replenishing Shield bar that serves as your main health. How fast your shield falls is dependent upon your Armor rating as well as your overall Defense, which is tallied up by your gear.
The real magic of your HUD is the radar, which in all honesty is the best radar I’ve ever seen in a video game. The radar is separated into quadrants with outlying sectors for the express purpose of telling you the proximity of enemies–farther enemies are on the outer edges, whereas near enemies are represented smack-dab in the middle of the circle.
Now that we’ve covered the HUD, let’s talk about the basics of battle. Every Guardian has a jet-pack like lift function that can be used by holding X. Every class has a different lift–Hunters do a double jump, Titans do a powered jump, and Warlocks have a floaty, awkward lift that can hurt more than it helps.
Not only can we lift to advantageously avoid enemy fire, but Guardians can also do a slide maneuver when running. This is extremely useful and can often by the difference between life and death when things get too hot.
Using strafing, sliding and lifting in tandem give players a huge advantage over even the most powerful of Fallen Ultra Captains or Spider Tanks–but even still we’re not invincible. Players will need to use cover quite often to reload or regen their shields, and this plays as a huge part of the game.
Another major asset players are given is their classes superpower. Each Guardian is infused with the power of Light by the Traveler, and taps this immense power to deliver a devastating attack.
The Titan’s ability is called Fists of Havoc, which is best-used on a clump of baddies. The Titan leaps in the air and slams his fists down, sending a Light-infused shockwave that annihilates enemies on the spot.
Since Destiny is first and foremost an FPS, headshots make all the difference in the world. Headshotting a foe deals critical damage and often decimates them with a one-shot kill.
Enemy AI is pretty impressive at first; baddies will often run behind cover and juke out of your fire in evasive maneuvers. There are two main factions to take on in the alpha: the Fallen, which are the more orderly and disciplined group, and the Hive, which are animalistic and more feral.
Each faction has its own different grade of commanders and higher ups, all of which have some specific abilities and weapons. Interestingly enough the Hive and the Fallen hate each other as much as they do Guardians, and often you’ll see them exchanging heated plasma–taking advantage of this is sometimes necessary for survival.
After headshotting a group of Fallen Vandals, I jumped on the back of my Sparrow and sped off to my mission destination. The Sparrow is another amazingly fun addition that allows players to get from Point A to Point B with speed, and the best part about the Sparrows is that they look, sound and even maneuver like a speeder bike straight out of Star Wars.
My journey across Old Russia proved to me that Bungie has become a master of open-world environments. The sheer level of detail expressed in these breathtaking expanses and vistas literally blew me away, and many times I’ve simply watched as the moon drifts upward, shrouded in the eerie blue-green shades of the aurora borealis.
After slaying the dreaded Fallen Wizard Eir Spawn, I decided to visit the Tower, which is the last safe bastion-city on Earth and is the home of the Traveler. The Tower is the main social hub where players can interact with one another, decrypt their found gear, put items in their vaults and stock up on new artillery.