Destiny Day Two – Levels 9-15

DestinyI talked yesterday about my experiences with the early game content in Destiny with two characters getting to Level 8. After posting yesterday, I spent a good chunk of time with my Warlock, playing in both the Crucible and moving forward a bit with the story missions. With that in mind, I thought I’d talk a bit today about some of the new things I was able to play that weren’t in the Beta at all.

First of all, one thing that I’ve noticed as it comes to the gear that can be equipped starting around Level 10 is the really noticeable jump in quality. Even common gear has a major rating boost from level 8 gear, to level 10 gear. The upgrades and stat boosts that tend to come with uncommon and up gear make those jumps even more noticeable. That trend also seems to continue at level 15, which might explain why the level 20 gear features such large numbers compared to early gear – it doesn’t seem like it’s a smooth increase over the levels. I already mentioned that I saw a greater variety in the gear from the beta, which makes perfect sense, but one thing that I’m liking so far is that even with gear that has the same name, for example my Warlock’s Logic Singer armor, different numbered gear can have the same stats, but the numbers have different looks. This is totally a personal preference, but I always like in RPGs the cosmetic appearance of my characters armor. So having different armor that is matching in name, but different looks is good – it lets me still have a matching set (not that I’ve seen any boosts for that) but still make my character look good.

Destiny Moon Concept Art

The other major thing that I was able to really get some time with that wasn’t in the Beta was running around on the Moon. Once I finished up in Old Russia, excluding the Strike, which I learned can’t be played solo; I headed up and ran through two story missions on the moon, as well as a couple patrol missions. In the Beta, the Moon was only available for a couple hours, and only had one story mission to play. In running around yesterday I feel like the Moon has a lot more going on that we may have thought in the Beta. Old Russia is very much an outdoor area – a lot of the action is outside, with a few interior sections that house the instanced mission areas. On the Moon, instead of being in structures, it looks like the missions will all be under the surface, in massive labyrinth halls. The design of the halls for the Hive enemies really stands out – there’s a really strong Gothic architecture influence there that really gives those halls an added sense of dread. It’s a great design choice for that specific enemy group – the Hive are already the most “horror” themed enemy, and “Gothic” anything has always been associated with horror. My plan is to head to Venus and Mars here in the next day or two to see how much they vary too, and also to see the last two enemy types in the Vex and Cabal.

Destiny Tower

Lastly today, I want to talk about one little tweak from the Beta that I noticed really quickly on the Tower. In the Beta, bounties, weapons, engrams and just about everything else had relatively long times for the vendors to update their inventory. So far I’ve absolutely noticed that is no longer true across the board – bounties update much quicker, the weapons are just about always relevant, including weapons that are for upcoming levels, engrams are reworked a little too. What it means for gameplay is that it’s easier to get gear that is great for where you are as a character. Where things haven’t really changed is with gear that doesn’t really need quick turnarounds – the cosmetic items, and most of the legendary items have slower reset times.

Advertisements

Let’s Take a More Detailed Look at the Destiny Beta: The Crucible

DestinyAll week I’ve been running through my thoughts on the beta for Destiny, starting with an overview, then going through the classes and yesterday the locations. Today I want to hit the other major portion of the game we were able to experience, the Crucible, or Destiny’s PvP arena. With a game like Destiny I was a little uneasy at how Bungie would approach PvP – they’ve always done a great job with competitive multiplayer but I was worried how the leveled gear would impact it. Luckily, Bungie took that into account and created the Crucible to suit their ideas for PvP.

CRUCIBLE BASICS
To help even the playing field for guardians, Bungie took a smart approach to the Crucible. It doesn’t actually unlock for players until they reach level 5, and even then, all the level advantages are turned off, meaning that the playing field is a level as possible. Some upgrades are still in play, in particular it looked like weapon and armor and class modifiers all still worked, but the actual stats were evened out for all players. Beyond that, it’s easy to get into the Crucible, just set the playlist you want to play as your destination from orbit and you’re off. The other nice thing is that once the Crucible is unlocked on one character, the other two characters on a profile can access it as soon as they reach the Tower. This makes it easy to try the other classes in PvP quickly, albeit most likely not at full power yet.

Destiny Crucible

CONTROL BASICS
In the beta we only had access to one gametype – Control – which functioned like a domination gametype, but one where kills also added to the team score. Because they added in that feature to the scoring, the score limit needed to be high enough to make the games still last long enough to feel satisfying; but at the same time, teamplay is still rewarded and capturing the points is still the best way to raise your teams score. One thing that I noticed was very important was managing ammo for special and heavy weapons. I ran with a shotgun and HMG for my special and heavy weapons, and found that they each were capable of turning a point defense in my favor quickly if used correctly. Add in managing grenades, melee and super ability cooldowns, and it’s a much more mental shooter than Halo or Call of Duty is. I found that the Warlock and Titan were both better suited for clearing control points, while Hunters were great for providing overwatch, as it relates to their super abilities.

CRUCIBLE MAPS
We only had two maps to play in the beta, one that was set on Venus, The Shores of Time and one set on the Moon, First Light. Of the two, I enjoyed Shores of Time much more so, I think just because First Light is a bigger map, and my Titan build was designed more for close combat than long range fights. First Light also featured vehicles, including Pikes, personal Sparrows and the Interceptor – which during the beta was clearly over powered, to the extent that Bungie has already addressed it for the retail release. Shores of Time played to me much more like a classic Halo map – frantic, with lots of close range action punctuated with spots of sniper fire. The locations of the control points on Shores of Time made it very easy to start running circuits for both defense and offense, meaning that there really wasn’t ever a break in the action. First Light on the other hand felt almost too spread out, especially based around a couple of the spawn locations, which just felt too far from any particular map feature. Spawn locations are one of those things that are always being tweaked with any online shooter though, so I expect Bungie to be working on those throughout Destiny‘s lifespan.

Destiny Lord Saladin

THE IRON BANNER
The other aspect of the Crucible that we got to see was the Iron Banner, a timed playlist that turned on level advantages, meaning that the stats and levels of you character and gear mattered. I’ll admit I was hesitant to head in as early as my fireteam did, just because at that point I was using a Pulse Rifle that I wasn’t super happy with, and my shotgun actually became my primary weapon. However, there were two new maps, Rusted Lands, set on Earth and Blind Watch, which was set on Mars that were exclusive to the Iron Banner. Both these maps felt good, closer in scale to Shores of Time than First Light, with good sight lines, and plenty of choke points. Of the two, I think I preferred Rusted Lands a little, mainly because the Control Points were easier to navigate between without prior map knowledge. I also felt that as the game plays at this point in time, using an Auto Rifle or Scout Rifle is really the only way to go – the recoil patterns on Pulse Rifles make it difficult to hit multiple Criticals, while Hand Cannons have small clips and long reloads, making it less likely for you to come out on top of longer fights. As for gear, going in with green, or Uncommon, gear seemed to be the only way to go, since most green items have some kind of upgrades associated with them.

CRUCIBLE TWEAKS
Overall, I think Bungie has a good way of approaching the PvP aspect of Destiny on their hands with the Crucible. I like that in order to unlock multiple playlists, you have to progress in level, encouraging players to play the story, strike and explore modes and not just sit in PvP the whole time. That said, there are a few little things that I hope to see Bungie address for the final retail build. First and foremost, the spawns – in general I felt that the spawn locations were alright, but in a few instances, I spawned either right next to an enemy, or in one game, twice in a row with an enemy looking right at me with his weapon ready to go; but as I said, spawns are always being tweaked online. Second, I’m a little wary of how the Iron Banner will go when the full game ships – whether it will be a timed playlist, and more importantly, whether matchmaking will take into account players’ levels. I think that the second point is much more important, I can’t imagine going in as a level 5 character and matching up with level 20s being any fun at all. Finally is that I’m just curious as to how the other gamemodes will work, as well as the final map count. Bungie has a history of having a really strong map list throughout the Halo series, so I feel pretty confident that will still be the case here. Once again though, I’m stuck waiting until September to find out – only one month left to go.

Let’s Take a More Detailed Look at the Destiny Beta: The Locations

DestinyContinuing from where we left off yesterday, today I want to take a little bit closer look at the different places we got to explore in the Destiny beta. I’m just going to focus on the locations available outside of the Crucible – I’ll hit them tomorrow when I talk about the Crucible in general. Instead, I’m going to look at the different aspects of Old Russia, The Tower and The Moon.

OLD RUSSIA
The only place in the beta where missions and Strikes took place, with the exception of one limited time mission on the moon; Old Russia is an area that I think players will be very familiar with come September. This is where your Ghost finds you and brings you back, it’s where the first chunk of missions happen, and it’s the first free-roam area as well, allowing you to delve into all sorts of caves and buildings. In the beta we were able to really go through a few different areas in the Cosmodrome – the Steppes, the Divide, the Moth-Yards, the Forgotten Shore, the Rocketyard and Skywatch. They all are basically the same interconnected area, but they do manage to have different feels to them. The Steppes, which is the first area that you will really get the chance to explore, are fairly wide open, with a couple peaks with hidden caves hiding chests or enemies. I was also able to come across a couple of high level enemies tucked below the Steppes that couldn’t be hurt by anything I had in my possession, even at level 8, which makes me think that there’s plenty more to see here.

Old Russia Map

The Moth-Yards will be the next major area to explore, a section of hills and cliffs strewn with destroyed planes from the Golden Age that contain Fallen as well as possibly some chests. This was my preferred spot to grind out some experience early on, right around level 3/4 or so. There are some level 11 enemies here to give level 8 characters something that could drop good engrams. This area also connects to both the Skywatch through the Lunar Complex, which is where you will first encounter the Hive; as well as the Forbidden Shore, which is a ruined area filled with ships that have run aground. Skywatch was a great place to complete missions in Explore mode, while the Forbidden Shores were perfect for bounties. The last of the major areas in the Cosmodrome is the Rocketyard, which is the starting area for the Devil’s Lair strike. This was probably the best high level area to be, since most of the enemies were level 8 or 9. Overall, I think Old Russia will end up being a really cool area to run around, tackling raids and strikes – the team at Bungie has done an incredible job creating a game world that looks about as beautiful as possible, especially the sky boxes.

THE TOWER
The Tower might only be a social zone full of merchants and other players loading up for adventure, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an important area. It’s important that Bungie was able to make the Tower feel like a place that is filled with life, albeit a tired life, but life nonetheless. Little touches like the soccer ball that can be kicked around, the larger rubber balls and a number of A.I characters going about their daily lives gives the Tower a sense of life, and a spark of hope. It’s also important that the layout makes sense for navigation – which, even though it might take a few minutes, I think it does. The more important merchants are right in the main courtyard, while the other merchants and faction representatives are throughout the Tower. I think a good way to tell that Bungie really felt like the Tower is a full, unique area is that they added in a couple hidden dead Ghosts to collect for the Grimoire.

Destiny Moon Concept Art

THE MOON
Even though we only got a very small taste of the moon, I think it was good at giving us a sense of what the moon is going to be like in the full game. It feels similar to Earth, which makes sense from a gameplay mechanic – both are Human worlds, they should feel similar, at least in architecture and tone. Bungie has been playing a lot of their cards close to their chest when it comes to any real details involving story elements and locations, but I think we got a nice tease of where we can expect the missions on the moon to go – under the surface. The end of the moon mission in the beta featured a pretty difficult fight with a huge number of Hive enemies of all sorts of different classes. What I found most impressive was the numbers of little details Bungie put into making the moon feel like a different world – looking up into the sky it was possible to see satellites flying by, or perhaps even shooting stars. That said, the most impressive detail was looking at Earth and watching the clouds move and how the light interacted with the planet off in the distance.

Bungie said this week that Earth, Mars, Venus and the Moon would be the only places to visit in Destiny. However, Bungie has a habit of keeping secrets, especially big details like that, so while I do believe that, I am holding on to hope that there’s more than that, especially when the Grimoire had cards in it for Saturn and Jupiter. Perhaps we’ll only see those planets in the Crucible, only time will tell.

Let’s Take A More Detailed Look at the Destiny Beta: The Classes

DestinyEven though the Beta for Destiny ended this past weekend, it’s still right at the front of my mind. I was thoroughly impressed with the product that Bungie put out there as a Beta, and it really solidified my belief that Destiny is a strong contender for game of the year. I thought that the rest of the week I would go over in a little be more detail some of the things we got in the beta, as well as touching on some of the new info that Bungie has released this week for the full game. I want to start by looking at each class individually today, then diving into the different locations we got tomorrow, before finally specifically talking Crucible.

Underneath the armor your Guardian equips, there are three other stats – armor, recovery and agility – each impacting the base behavior of your character. Armor determines how much health your Guardian has, which determines how durable he or she is once their shield is broken. Recovery determines how fast your grenades, melee and shield recharge during combat. Agility covers your Guardian’s speed, and I believe your jump height as well.

Destiny Titan

THE TITAN
The Titan was the first class I selected for the beta, originally because my fireteam of friends had picked the Warlock and Hunter already. In the broadest sense, the Titan acts as the tank in a fireteam, using the base character stats as the basis for classification.  Just using those stats, the Titan has the highest base armor rating, which lets you get away with a little bit more reckless tactics with no shield. In the Beta we only got to play as one Subclass for each of the primary classes, and the Titan’s was the Striker subclass. Striker let’s you act as even more of a close range tank by granting the Fist of Havoc super ability. Using this power, your Guardian will hammer the ground with both fists, creating a pretty good size explosion of Arc Light, great for clearing out swarms of lower rank enemies or dealing some massive damage to higher rank ones, as well as being a fantastic option in the Crucible for clearing off control points. The only major downside is that even during the Fist of Havoc, you are still vulnerable to incoming damage, which can be mitigated a bit through the Unstoppable ability modifier upgrade. The other direct upgrades for Fist of Havoc are Aftermath, which creates a field of Arc Light that persists after the initial strike, Death from Above, which gives you more control over your aim after jumping, and Shockwave, which gives the attack a shockwave that travels on the ground.

Titan Fist of Havoc Gameplay Clip – Crucible Control – Played by Me:

Each subclass also offers three different grenades to choose from. The Striker initial grenade, the Flashbang Grenade, despite its sound as an attack with no damage, does indeed deal decent damage, but also has the benefit of stunning/blinding any enemy it hits and doesn’t kill. The Flashbang is a great option while playing with a Fireteam, allowing your other teammates to get in a few free shots while the enemy is stunned; while also working well in the Crucible to stun enemies long enough for follow up shots. The second grenade is the Pulse Grenade, which explodes on contact, and then produces a few more pulses of damage in the blast radius. This grenade is a better pure damage option, but takes a little getting used to since it’s a contact grenade. It’s great for area control, putting up a damage field for a few seconds, and works well in conjunction with the Aftermath ability modifier to extend it’s duration. Finally, the Striker unlocks the Lightning Grenade, which acts similar to the Pulse grenade, except that is sticks to any surface, and jets out bolts of lightning for a period of time. This is another good area control grenade, especially since it can be put in spots that a player might not expect, or where A.I. will walk through.

Finally, each subclass has a melee ability that boosts the base melee attack. The Titan has Storm Fist, a more powerful melee attack, that deals some serious Arc Damage. Going down the Storm Fist upgrade tree we first get Overlord, which has a chance to instantly reset the cooldown, Discharge, which gives it area of effect damage, and Illuminated, which makes kills with Storm Fist greatly reduce the Fist of Havoc cooldown. There are also a few other good upgrades on the Striker tree – including Headstrong, which makes Fist of Havoc’s leap longer if activated while sprinting, Transfusion, making kills with melee attacks trigger health regen, Shoulder Charge, giving you a unique melee attack after sprinting for a distance and Juggernaut, which grants you a protective shield after sprinting for a bit.

Titan Melee Kills – Crucible Control Gameplay Clip – Played by Me:

While playing the beta, we could also take a look at the level 15 subclass for each primary class, but nothing more. Titans gain access to the Defender subclass at that level, and looking at the super ability and upgrades, this looks like a primarily defense oriented class, along with a few other buffs for teammates. We’ll have to wait till the full game to see exactly how many subclasses exist for each primary class, since you can carry up to 3 total.

Destiny Hunter

THE HUNTER
If the Titan is the tank of the group, the Hunter would act as the ranger – a mid-long range specialist with high speed stats, with a super ability that is focused on precision attacks that deal massive damage, along with a powerful unique melee weapon in case enemies get too close. In the beta, we only got the chance to play as the Gunslinger subclass, focused around the Golden Gun super ability. The Golden Gun only has 3 shots after you activate it, and only lasts for a few seconds, or those 3 shots are used. Each shot deals a huge amount of Solar damage, which could ignite enemies. While it might deal a ton of damage, there are a few downsides to it – first, when activating it, the Hunter is really vulnerable for a second or two, which could be fatal; add in the fact that you only get those three shots, hit or miss, and that they don’t cause critical hits, and against some enemies, the Golden Gun might be more trouble than it’s worth. That said, once you get the hang of it, it’s got the potential to be a really powerful ability, especially in the Crucible, killing in one shot. The upgrades for Golden Gun include Deadeye, which greatly increases the accuracy of the Gun; Combustion, which makes enemies explode if they are killed with the Gun; and Gunfighter, which reduces the cooldown, making it available more often.

The Gunslinger has a pretty unique selection of grenades, not really sticking with one prevalent theme along the course of the three choices. The initial grenade option is Incendiary Grenade, which acts just like you would expect. I will say it takes a little bit to get used to it – it’s behavior when it’s thrown as well as the timing on the explosion and blast radius all are a little off the norm I would say. That said, since it’s an Incendiary Grenade, it also offers damage over time to enemies that survive the first explosion, and I’ve found is really useful against Hive enemies. Secondly the Gunslinger unlocks the Swarm Grenade, which explodes on contact, releasing a number of smaller explosives that seek out any nearby enemies. The Swarm definitely takes a little time to get used to as well, learning that the child grenades are the main damage source. It is good for groups though, as it spreads the damage around and makes mopping up easier. Finally, the Gunslinger unlocks the Tripmine Grenade, which again acts just like it sounds. It’s explosive damage, not Solar, so no DoT, but can be used to help control the direction that enemies have to come from.

The Gunslinger has, at least in my opinion, the most difficult to use, but satisfying melee ability of the three subclasses in the beta – a Throwing Knife. This lets the Hunter throw the knife to hit enemies at a distance, while still dealing the full melee damage. However, it’s a precision attack, and has a real long cooldown, regardless of whether you hit or not. This can make for some real “make-or-break” moments in the Crucible. Now, you don’t actually lose the knife for regular melee attacks though, which is a mystery to me, but I’m glad it’s the case. In regards to the upgrades for it, the melee tree itself offers the usual 3 upgrades: Circle of Life, which makes it so killing an enemy with the Throwing Knife while Golden Gun is active extends Golden Gun’s duration; Incendiary Blade, which add Solar damage to Throwing Knife attacks, and Knife Juggler, which makes precision kills with the Throwing Knife instantly reset the cooldown.

There are a few more upgrades spread across the trees that affect the Throwing Knife or the Golden Gun. Scavenger makes it so any ammo you pick up reduces the cooldown of the Throwing Knife, which is a nice boost to have. Keyhole makes the Golden Gun shoot through targets to hit multiple targets that are lined up. Gunslinger’s Trance is a skill that stacks up to 3 times, doing so with precision kills, which increase weapon stability. Chain of Woe is another stacking skill, again with precision kills, this time increasing reload speed, also up to 3 times. Over the Horizon increases the range of Golden Gun and Gambler’s Dagger grants you an addition Throwing Knife.

The Hunter’s knife plays a major role in the level 15 subclass, Bladedancer. Again, we couldn’t actually play as it in the beta, but based on the upgrades, which we could look at, it appears to be focused more around stealth and chaining melee attacks together.

Destiny Warlock

THE WARLOCK
Going with the traditional classifications of Tank (Titan) and Ranger (Hunter), the Warlock acts closer to a Mage, one that is focused around dealing damage, not healing. It’s a bit of a glass cannon, since it can dish out damage, but with a low armor stat, can’t necessarily survive long with no shield. However, it does boost a good recovery stat, getting it back in the fight quickly. We saw that with the Voidwalker subclass we got to play as, especially with the super ability – Nova Bomb. The Nova Bomb is essentially a super powered grenade, dealing a ton of Void Damage and having a pretty good size blast radius. Using it properly takes a few minutes, just to get used to jumping into the air to fire it and aiming it well. Once you have the hang of it, it can be a great crowd control ability, as well as a great PvP power too. The upgrades along the tree include Vortex, which grants a damage over time field; Shatter, which splits the Nova Bomb into 3 projectiles; and Lance, which makes the Nova Bomb travel farther and faster. It’s a powerful attack, but like the Fist of Havoc, you are open to attack while aiming it in the air, so it’s good to be quick with it.

The nice thing about the Voidwalkers grenades is that, since they’re the first ability you unlock, you get good with them quickly, and they behave similar to Nova Bomb. The initial grenade, the Vortex Grenade, acts as a mini-Nova Bomb, with a DoT field and Void Damage. The Scatter Grenade, which splits up almost immediately into lots of little explosives to cover a bigger blast area, I found to be relatively ineffective ultimately. Granted I didn’t have a ton of time to get used to it, as the Warlock was my last class I played, but it seemed like it was limited in effectiveness. Finally, the Voidwalker gets Axion Bolt, which acts similar to the Hunter’s Swarm grenade, but deals Arc Damage.

The Voidwalker’s melee ability might be my favorite one, simply for the boost that it gives the melee attack. Once you unlock Energy Drain, melee will quickly be a major part of combat for a Warlock. Energy Drain makes melee attacks drain energy from enemies and reduces the cooldown on grenades. The upgrades for it increase the effectiveness of it. Surge makes kills from it increase your movement speed; Life Steal makes kills from it restore a large amount of health and Soul Rip turns kills from Energy Drain into reduced cooldown on Nova Bomb. It’s an ability that’s totally built around getting your abilities back faster, allowing you to deal more damage to groups of enemies.

The other upgrades spread in the two ability trees are all about making your Voidwalker even more dangerous. Vortex Mastery increases the range on Axion Bolt seekers, as well as increasing the duration of Vortex for Nova Bomb and Vortex Grenades. Bent Gravity lets you throw your grenades and Nova Bomb farther. The Hunger increases the duration of the Energy Drain effect, making it even more effective. Angry Magic makes the Nova Bomb track enemies, reducing the chances of misses. Embrace the Void makes it so any damage from Nova Bomb or grenades trigger the Energy Drain effect, further increasing its effectiveness. Bloom makes it so any enemy killed by an ability explodes, turning your explosives potentially into chain attacks. Again, overall, the Voidwalker is all about dealing damage as quick as possible, but is pretty fragile as a result.

The level 15 subclass, which we could look through, but not play as for the Warlock is Sunsinger. From what I could tell, Sunsinger is the opposite of Voidwalker, turning your Warlock into a support class, including the ability to revive allies. I think this ultimately makes it a better pick for Fireteams or large groups of players.

Overall, I think Bungie has done a really good job of not making one class clearly better than any other. Each fills an important role in the PvE setting, and they all work well in the Crucible; while at the same time they play differently enough from each other where it takes a bit of time to learn each classes’ behaviors. As I said earlier, I’m curious to see just how many subclasses each primary class will have available in the full game, since there are three slots to fill, but in most cases in games, there’s less inventory space than actual items to fill it with. It’s a long wait till September, but we really don’t have any choice.

Destiny Beta: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Now that the Beta for Destiny has run it’s full course, I thought I’d offer my take on what I thought excelled in the beta, what was rough and some stuff somewhere in the middle. Bottom line though is that I am now even more excited for the full retail release than I already was.

Destiny Beta

THE GOOD

The most important test that the beta had to pass in my eyes was ensuring that Destiny felt totally unique, even though it is drawing on a number of high-profile inspirations. I would describe Destiny as Borderlands/Mass Effect/Halo/WoW all mashed up together – and yet it doesn’t feel or play exactly like any of them. The influences are there for sure, but that’s not a bad thing at all – especially since Bungie manages to tweak them just enough to be unique. Even though Destiny owes a lot to those games, it really manages to stand out.

Secondly, the gameplay has to actually feel satisfying, not just unique. I never really had any doubts here, Bungie hasn’t let me down with gameplay yet. The different weapons each behave differently enough to the extent that players can pretty easily pick a favorite, although I will say that the Hand Cannons need a little attention for the retail release. Each class also feels just different enough so they can fill roles, but similar enough so that a player can switch between classes with no issues. All of the systems in play work, and the work well: the tracker works to eliminate camping with constant pings, but by not directly pinpointing position, stealth still works well, the Sparrows are not only functional to get you from place to place quickly, but are just a lot of fun to boost through canyons and off hills (I would like to see a bit more splatter damage in PvE though), the menus are all clean and easy to read, and I like the use of a cursor instead of just selections.

In regards to the classes, I played each class through the story missions, got them all to level 8, and I think with my personal play style, I have to go with the Titan being my favorite. However, that said, I think that the best way to go about it with a fireteam is to have one of each – the classes each balance each other really well. The Titan can tank well, boasting a high armor rating for after his shields break, plus a great super ability for crowd-control (at least with the Striker sub-class we got to play in the beta), the Warlock is a bit of a glass cannon, able to dish out some serious damage with supers and grenades, but once the shields go, the health isn’t particularly strong, and the Hunter fits well as a longer range sniper – the golden gun ability is wonderful for dropping strong enemies in the three shots, plus a Damage over Time grenade is a great benefit at early stages.

Image from Bungie.net

THE BAD

There really isn’t much that I would classify as actually being “bad” that I saw in the beta, but there were a few things that I felt definitely needed addressing before the final release. First and foremost is the Interceptor in the Crucible, the tank that was present on First Light. Far too often I saw the players in Interceptors not engage each other, instead focusing on the squishier guardians, which fell way too easily. Luckily, Bungie has already said that they’ve addressed this in their internal builds and it won’t behave the same way in the retail game.

Still on the topic of The Crucible, there were a few times where the spawns were just terrible. The most egregious example came in an Iron Banner match on the map Blind Watch on Mars. On that map, there is a circular room that overlooks the C control point – two lives in a row I spawned just to the side of that room, on ground level with an enemy looking right at me through the open windows. That in and of itself would be bad enough, but he was able to start shooting me before I actually had control of my character – I spawned and fell over, then did the same thing maybe 50 feet to my left. Spawns are one of those things that are always being tweaked throughout the course of a shooter’s lifespan, so I fully expect these to get addressed.

The last thing that I experienced that I would call “bad” was the way that Hand Cannons behave. As they exist now, they really aren’t an option to use as a true primary weapon. They do have good attack and impact stats usually, along with good accuracy, but they are hampered with small magazines, along with a terribly slow reload speed. I made the mistake of trying one with my Hunter during The Dark Within mission – which was fine, until I got to the first room with Hive enemies. There are just too many Thralls and Acolytes for Hand Cannons to handle – even with grenades and a super I was quickly overwhelmed a couple times (playing on Hard of course). That is just in PvE too, I didn’t dare try one in The Crucible, and I don’t recall ever seeing one being used. I’m not really sure how to fix them, other than really speeding up the reload, but I do think they need some attention.

Destiny Tower

THE UGLY

Again, there really wasn’t anything that I would call “ugly” at all – other than playing it on last-gen consoles the water effects take a big step back. Instead, here I’ll mention some of a few little details that definitely aren’t deal breakers, but I think could maybe use a little attention before the full launch in September.

Firstly, the Iron Banner – as it stands now, I really don’t see how a lower leveled character would ever expect to survive in any Iron Banner matches. My fireteam made it a point of only going in at Level 8 and we still faced some real struggles with people having better gear. I can’t imagine going in as a Level 5 character, with Level 5 gear. I can’t call this bad, because I have no way of knowing if that’s how it will behave in the full release – it could just be a +/-3 Level hopper system. But if it’s just a straight matchmaking system, I really don’t see any point in heading to the Iron Banner until you hit the level cap, which from the Beta seems to be 20.

Secondly, the Hunter class – specifically for solo PvE settings. I think the Hunter actually excels in PvP – the Golden Gun ability lets you get three free kills, that don’t need to be grouped up tightly like the Titan and Warlock’s supers do; plus the double jump the Hunter has is a great, quick option for verticality. However, in a solo PvE setting, they suffer a little bit – their special, being a precision strike, really limits the effectiveness to hitting boss enemies or small groups of them. Add in a grenade that doesn’t have a particularly big blast radius, and a melee ability that has a long recharge, even if you miss with it, and Hunters are at a pretty noticeable disadvantage to large groups of enemies.

One other little thing that I hope we see more of in the retail release is in the character creation. I like the three races, but I kind of want a little bit more control over exactly how my characters look. I don’t need it to be the most in depth creator out there, but I would like a little bit more in the full game.

Finally, I think that the merchants on the tower need a little bit of a tweak. Some of the merchants need a faster inventory reset – namely the Guardian Outfitter and partially the Shipwright. The Guardian Outfitter for sure, since all she offers are cosmetic items – Emblems and Shaders; The Shipwright only partially since the Sparrows actually impact gameplay, but the star ships are purely cosmetic options. As for the other merchants, I think the bounty robot could also stand to refresh a bit more frequently, or have the option after all are completed to refresh. The Gunsmith I think needs more slots to show wares – at least one option for each weapon type. The Cryptarch I think is pretty much fine, maybe similar to the Gunsmith. As for the faction vendors, it’s hard to say at this point since all of their gear was pretty much unobtainable during the beta.

Overall, I think this was about as good a beta as you can have. There were a few server/connection issues, but for the most part it ran smoothly, which is a good sign for the retail release; and most importantly, the game itself plays awesome. I was already pretty excited for Destiny but this beta solidified my belief that Bungie might have the Game of the Year on their hands. We’ll have to wait through the fall to see for sure, but I do know that August is going to feel like it’s going so slowly now.