E3 2014: Our First Hands-on With the Destiny Alpha

An encounter with Destiny.

"It's very Borderlands," my colleague Martin Gaston said after watching me play some of the Destiny alpha. It was a sentiment that was echoed by others, too. The way that, as you shoot enemies, numbers indicating the damage you're doing appear. The way you level up and unlock new skills depending on your chosen class. The way you find chests of loot in the world. Of course, Borderlands didn't invent these ideas--it just applied existing concepts, from action role-playing games like Diablo to first-person shooters. And Destiny is bringing at least a few innovations of its own to this subgenre. You see other players in the world, for instance, aside from those you might be grouped with. And there are public events that you have the option to join, such as cooperating with other players to take down a formidable spider tank. There are loot and experience rewards for participating in these events, but you can also safely ignore them and do whatever you want to do.

The serious, sad, yet hopeful tone of Destiny is also a far cry from the backwoods comedy of Borderlands, and potentially from most shooters, though it's hard to get a strong sense of this from the very limited slice of the game the alpha gave me access to. As I entered a zone in Old Russia, my little floating technological companion, voiced by Peter Dinklage, commented poignantly on the area's history. His words were supported by elements in the landscape, like the towering rockets with multiple space shuttles strapped to them, relics from a time when humankind was able to venture into the stars in great numbers. If Destiny is able to pull me in when the full game is released, it will be because it successfully creates a universe I want to explore.

That's not to say that the gameplay component of Destiny is bad. It just feels standard and expected, and I'm concerned that enemy AI may not have the complexity that made encounters in Bungie's Halo games feel so tactical and rewarding. Playing as a titan striker (a melee-focused subclass), I was often able to walk right up to enemies who made little attempt to evade me or fight back and just clobber them, which felt good because the striker's blows feel so powerful, but I wanted encounters I had to think about more. My companions and I did encounter more challenging enemies, but the challenge largely stemmed from the fact that they were higher-level than we were, so they dealt more damage and absorbed more damage.

In between excursions to Old Russia, I spent time looking around the tower, the social hub where the camera switches to a third-person perspective, and where, as in many massively multiplayer online role-playing games, I saw other players putting their dance emotes to the test. Here, I was able to pick up bounties that awarded me for completing specific challenges, both in PvE play (kill 100 enemies with precision damage) and in PvP play (defeat 20 guardians with your melee attack). I visited the crucible to engage in some PvP combat. In the alpha, all PvP play has teams fighting for control of points around the map. Level 8 is the highest level you can reach in the alpha, and PvP play had players of any level from 4 to 8 fighting with each other. Since you bring your weapons and your abilities with you into PvP, it's not clear how the action might be balanced to prevent higher-level players with more powerful gear from having an unfair advantage.

Bungie is showing off Destiny here at E3 2014, so we'll be bringing you more about the game very soon.

See more coverage of E3 2014 →

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Discussion

103 comments
colbster
colbster

Numbers appear showing damage? That's weak. Totally takes me out of the experience.

bouff
bouff

I'm not a FPS fan (I used to like it many years ago, but just stopped liking it). But I got my hands on the Alpha key for this and though "Its free, why not?". I got to say, its the best FPS I have ever played (like i said I'm not a fan of FPS so I have not played them all)


from the size of the map (I've been playing for 3 or 4 days and there are still places I didn't know about (I managed to find the way out of the city this morning, and found a load of cars on a freeway), to the social implications, having trouble? ask someone to help, leave it be and just join a group that are fighting the fallen.... 


I have already pre-ordered Destiny, thanks to Bungie giving me the Alpha key, other wise I would have missed out on this amazing game. Can't wait to play the Beta.



Does anyone know if the Alpha progression will carry over to the Beta, then from Beta to Retail?

starhowl
starhowl

  1. No documents, terminals, texts, whatsoever.
  2. No switch between single shot, burst and auto.
  3. No identities, faces, names.
  4. A logo that looks like a vagina.
  5. Coincidently tanks scattered all over the field have parts attached to them which resemble female breasts.
  6. Absolutely no - whatsoever - music / soundtrack.
  7. Enemies always the same without any kind of exciting design.
  8. Surround practically not existent, and I got the best.
  9. No story.

The game is gonna flop hard.

Mommas_b_o_y
Mommas_b_o_y

concerned about the poor ai. if it is poor

Bread_or_Decide
Bread_or_Decide

Big Yawn. All this hype for DESTINY and for what? Borderlands 3. 

darran05
darran05

im really despairing at the moment with the whole video games industry. .their just pumping out sh@te!....can we have some bloody originality please?

ricku1967
ricku1967

watching the multiplayer yesterday it seems the turning and aiming is very slow and robotic, moving side to side to shoot enemy's....oh, thats right, its only on console,what a shame...it does look good though, still might get it for PS4, which i never do for FPS games. ill try the beta to see how it is

swimbearuk
swimbearuk

Using a levelling system like that of Borderlands is going to put me off this game. The problem with that system in Borderlands was that areas go from impossible when enemies were too high a level, to easy when my character had levelled up sufficiently. I'd much rather have enemies throughout the whole map which differ in difficulty because they are more skilful, or require special tactics or co-operative gameplay to beat. I'm not saying levelling should be removed completely, but just don't use it to overpower the character. Use it instead to unlock abilities or weapons (but not super-powered weapons which kill the enemies you've already encountered in one shot). 

PlatinumPaladin
PlatinumPaladin

Hmm. So far it's sounding very average. Praying that it's still just early days for it.

oflow
oflow

Sorry Destiny I'm rolling with the Master Chief Collection.

Its not you, its me.

DawnBlue
DawnBlue

@boodleout Well, since we don't exactly have that many details about the story beyond it's premises or about the enemy. In fact, it's name is NOT darkness. The narrator of the trailer says "a darkness".


You could as well say "Halo series is disappointing with it's apparent cliché enemy... I mean, come on... aliens? an infestation?" because damnit, that's true if you want to look it that way: Covenant races are "aliens" and the Flood is "an infestation", just like this new enemy WE KNOW NOTHING ABOUT is "a darkness"


The fact that they are keeping the details of the enemy a secret only intrigues me more. If they just went and told everything about it where's the sense of playing the story out myself?

blueboxdoctor
blueboxdoctor

I'm a Halo fan so this has me interested.  It may not be as revolutionary as initially expected but if it's a fun game then I'll probably be picking it up.

Jestersmiles
Jestersmiles

pfft wow what crap, s h i t look just like Halo LMAO..

djpetitte
djpetitte

to me It looks like it could still go either way.

Cillerboy
Cillerboy

Will be waiting for reviews before buying.

pezzott1
pezzott1

I'll give it the benefit of the doubt since i like what i've seen so far but this article made me not preorder until i get to try the beta. 

boodleout
boodleout

I love bungie but am disappointed with the apparent cliché enemy and story...

I mean, come on... darkness? great villain... never heard that before


BravoOneActual
BravoOneActual

Yeah, yeah... Typo.  But for a second I thought a lootling was a small, gremlin-like, thieving class or breed or something.  It kind of works in a D&D sort of way.

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

I neglected an important question. How do players come together in Destiny? Are they just the people who happen to be on the same server at the same location, or does the game actually dynamically bring different groups together when the situation calls for it but otherwise keeps them separate?

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

I have strong criticism to random players intruding on my game for no particular reason, but if Destiny is nothing more than a better looking, lore rich version of Borderlands, I'd buy it. I love playing BL with my chums; I'd love it more if we can play in a more gorgeous environment. And I love individual loot streams. I guess my original point remains: don't just mash game concepts together unless there is clearly beneficial reasons to do so. Otherwise stay with what works.

amdreallyfast
amdreallyfast

I hope the AI gets better.  Still, I'm kind of looking forward to it.


gibson-les-rick
gibson-les-rick

Seriously, what is up with the videos on this site? They NEVER play properly no matter what.

Williams0907
Williams0907

lol and they compared this to SW and LOTR. 

d_kell411
d_kell411

@bouff Alpha progression will not carry over, however, Beta progression will to the full game.

wheres_my_phone
wheres_my_phone

you're just disappointed cause you were hoping for a weiner logoーa big floppy one. there's nothing wrong with a vajina tho. it's where we all came from when we were born. as long as it's shaved that's all that matters

starhowl
starhowl

@darran05 I did not eat anything for more than 2 days. Tsk tsk tsk...

ringringabel
ringringabel

@ricku1967 increase the look sensitivity? that's what most people do if they can't turn around fast enough...i play titanfall w/ a controller on PC and actually do very well against those w/ mouse and keyboard. however, that's more for titanfall as in CS it's the complete opposite XD

ringringabel
ringringabel

@swimbearuk that's kinda how it is, even in PVP I didn't notice much of a difference facing players higher level than me. also w/ the strike missions you can increase the difficulty, making it as difficult as about Legendary difficulty from Halo. It's only alpha, but it seems very balanced already. Even at level 8 if you're not careful you can still get overwhelmed and killed by lower level enemies.

Sevenizz
Sevenizz

It's Borderlands with a cleaner aesthetic and without the humor.

With multiple classes - who's the hero?

Foppe
Foppe

@Jestersmiles Exactly what did you expect from the makers of Halo?

A Mortal Kombat FPS?

DawnBlue
DawnBlue

@Jestersmiles Now give me your honest opinion, what exactly did you expect from THE MAKERS OF HALO?

Sevenizz
Sevenizz

You mean paid reviews from corporate websites like this one? Who do you think pays their salaries?

Good idea!

ringringabel
ringringabel

@Unfallen_Satan it's actually hard to say, i noticed that most of the people who showed up in my game were similar leveled to me. sometimes they weren't in combat, but most of the time they were when i came up on them. but it's hard to say as you'll be playing and suddenly you'll notice someone's PSN id pop up on your HUD, most of the time a bit farther away. i never noticed anyone suddenly popping up in my field of view unless it was one of my friends joining my fireteam. it seems very seamless and unintrusive, and every time someone came up on me i was grateful for the help.

wheres_my_phone
wheres_my_phone

hopefully with a half billion dollar budget they provide those types of options

PayneKiller
PayneKiller

@brett_reynolds I believe this is why devs are hesitant to even show alpha/beta gameplay to the public. People watch a work in progress and feel they have to form final opinions based on what they saw.

ricku1967
ricku1967

@Sevenizz LOL "paid reviews"?? so, if a review doesnt conform to your opinion on a game or gives a game you think sucks a great review, the reviewer has got to be paid off the developer of the game?? yeah...ok smdh

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

@ringringabel That sounds promising. I believe in playing with others in a game like this, but I have had bad experiences where other players take my kills and loot, not even to grief me, so I look out for that. Thank you very much for sharing your experience!

Sevenizz
Sevenizz

Someone needs a google lesson.

tom2750
tom2750

@Sevenizz there is no proof game spot is paid off i don't think there is any real conclusive proof any major gaming site is paid off and if so go on prove it and game spot is owned by CBS i think so i assume they get money from CBS also they would make most of there money from there sponsors and advertisements

Sevenizz
Sevenizz

Did you google like I told you? This site alone had an ex employee sing like a canary.

And the 'sponsors and advertisers' are mostly what here? They are game related in case you need it spelt out further. Can't really bite the hand that feeds you.