If “Halo” was the biggest game of the last 10 years, Bungie, the game developer behind that iconic sci-fi shooter, hopes to dominate the next decade of gaming with a new adventure called “Destiny.”
Bungie released the beta version of “Destiny” for PS3 and PS4 users who pre-ordered the game (it will also be available on Xbox 360 and One), but the game is only available until Sunday night. That means gamers only have just a few more days to test out “Destiny” before it launches in retail stores Sept. 9.
I downloaded and installed “Destiny” on my PlayStation 3 Wednesday night, and after playing the game for five straight hours, I can honestly say this is one of the best games I’ve ever played. (Mind you, I don’t think I’ve ever played a video game for five straight hours in my entire life. It’s really that good.)
To start, you choose your desired skillset (warrior, assassin, or warlock) and customise your character by choosing your race, gender, and other physical characteristics like hair and scars. There are three races to choose from: Humans, a humanoid alien race called Awoken, and a race of robots called Exo.
I customised my male Awoken warlock with grey skin, grey lips, white eyes and a shock of dark purple hair, but I could’ve honestly spent hours creating characters. (I almost did.)
Once the game starts and you’re thrust into the storyline, a floating robot called Ghost serves as your guide. Ghost is played by Game of Thrones‘ Peter Dinklage, who also narrates your journey and keeps you on track with missions and side quests. After playing this game, I wish Peter Dinklage narrated my life.
The first thing you’ll notice about “Destiny” is the stunning art direction. Expansive vistas are aplenty, but Bungie clearly put a lot of effort into making sure everything you look at along your journey, even if it’s small or minor, is beautiful. One of the most memorable images, to me, was walking along a dirt path and looking at an abandoned building with a large mass of fluffy white clouds in the background, which were backlit by the sun and the light blue sky. It honestly looked like a painting.
Everything in this game was crafted with a great deal of love and care. This is no more apparent than in the story missions, where you always know exactly where you need to go and what you need to do thanks to subtle markers that show you enemies and mission objectives. (Believe it or not, the vast majority of games have trouble showing this information in a clear and concise manner.)
“Destiny” achieves a unique balance I’ve rarely seen in games: Just when you’re getting tired of shooting aliens, there’s something else to do that feels fresh and exciting. The game features the best of almost every game genre to keep things interesting — there’s adventure mechanics like exploration, role-playing mechanics like upgrading equipment and levelling up, and shooter mechanics like unique weaponry, headshot rewards, and even magic abilities that make you feel like a Jedi. But what’s truly impressive is how seamless this combination feels, and how addicting it truly is as a result.
The quests, like the game itself, are pretty epic. You’ll fight wave after wave of enemies, which range from zombie-like bug monsters that rush at you to more deliberate alien races that try to snipe you from afar. There’s no right or wrong way to play or fight, but it gets even better in specific missions that involve other online “Destiny” players. For example, my last mission involved me and two strangers taking on a giant spider-looking tank, and then a giant purple ball that could teleport and shoot massive laser beams. The bosses are difficult, but luckily, you’re given plenty of tools to succeed.
“Destiny” is a huge game with tons of other features, and I can honestly go on and on about my impressions of this game — and I did last night, as my brother and I texted each other for hours on end about its merits and how deep the rabbit hole goes, particularly when you start getting into the side quests and random group events that often take place in the game.
I was a “Halo” fan, but “Destiny,” as my brother said to me, feels like Halo-plus. This is the kind of game you can’t wait to run home to. Everything about the older sci-fi franchise has been improved and polished for this latest adventure, and months ahead of its final release date, I am totally ready to embrace Bungie’s “Destiny.”
If you can’t play the “Destiny” beta this week for any given reason but want a taste of Bungie’s upcoming game, check out this gameplay video from one gamer who screencast his entire experience to YouTube: