Continuing 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.
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.
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 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.
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.