And now for something completely different; This last weekend I was fortunate enough to take part in the PS4 public alpha testing for the forthcoming sci-fi FPS game Destiny. This was a pretty bold / confident step by the producers, usually Alpha tests are private, only occasionally are the later Beta tests made public. This is easily the game I have been anticipating the release of the most since I got my PS4 last fall. Although being part of the limited access alpha testing does not exactly make me special, it just means I read an email and clicked to register, hey bonus for reading 🙂
Now, my anticipation for this game is honestly based on not that much. A couple of game play videos and a few articles. I haven’t done any more research than that for 2 reasons, #1, I’m a grown man with responsibilities and a life etc, researching future games is just not high up my list of priorities, I mean, it would take away from my game time. The 2nd reason is that most of the games that I look forward to usually disappoint, not sure why, it just seems to go that way. There are exceptions like Red Dead, or Gran Turismo, but the annual stream of Call of Duty etc has become more a season of dread for what they are going to screw up next rather than anticipation.
So the game Destiny, while eagerly anticipated, is anticipated by me with at least some hesitation, at least that was before this last weekend. After a lengthy download, I first ventured into the game late on Thursday night, a little unsure as to what I was doing, but figuring things out fairly easily (as it should be). The first thing that struck me was that the controls / the feel of the movement felt just right. Not quite as loose as a COD game, but not in any way clunky or cumbersome. The second thing that struck me was the amazing graphics, it is one thing to see it on trailers, but it is not until it is live on the tv in front of you that you can really appreciate what a beautiful looking game they have crafted. The environment is perfectly dirty and gritty, but that is immaculately balanced by stunning lighting effects including a northern lights display in the evening.
The Alpha offered a small sampling from each of the game modes that will be in the finished product; the campaign, explore mode (endlessly generating missions), strike (grandiose co-op missions with crazy firefights), the multiplayer and the social hub where you upgrade your equipment. I began in the campaign section, looking around, figuring out the controls, shooting “the fallen” (bad guys) and generally having some simple exploratory alpha fun. I was not long in to this when something rather unusual happened, one of my PSN friends walked by in the game, in real time, doing his own thing. I called out his name to make sure he was really there & he was, we spent the rest of the evening (and a good chunk of the weekend gaming hours) playing the game together. I found this invite-less social drop in feature to be extremely cool. I’m not sure if there is a way to play non-sociably, other than signing out of the PSN, then again, this is only an alpha release. There did appear to be something of a proximity effect for mic communication when plying this way, so the rest of the weekend we formed a PSN party which worked flawlessly.
The game itself is extremely enjoyable, the freedom to roam and explore is just as you would want it, the skirmishes you get in moving around are enjoyable and can be challenging when the scale up. I only tried MP aspect once, but it worked well if not exactly groundbreaking the game mode available was a domination / capture and hold type affair. One of the funs things is that your created character(s) are available will everything you have equipped them with in all modes, so the time you spend in co-op will help you in MP with more than just practice. The RPG elements of the game were much less intrusive than I had initially feared and will, for me, lead to a good challenge and longevity as you try to build your character(s). I have gone from being hopefully expectant for this game, to being frustrated that I have to wait until September. If it is this good now, what will it be like then? I can see me losing many hours to Destiny in the last quarter of 2014 and beyond. Sometimes a game just feels right, it has that unquantifiable je ne sais quoi, well Destiny has that, more so than any game I’ve played in a long time, that more than anything else is what has me most excited about this game.