The whole concept of “betas” like we’ve been seeing over the past few years is moderately grating. I mean, I get it, you don’t want to release a demo because if something doesn’t work then you feel like it has a negative impact on the game. That makes sense. But we’ve seen a lot of games get “betas” instead of demos when they really are just glorified demos that we are told the company washes its hands of any potential problems featured in it. It’s basically a marketing move and we all buy into that.
Now that I have that out of the way, the Destiny beta really did kind of set a new bar for betas. The Destiny beta let us do a lot, explore a good deal of the game, get a feel for it and it made everyone just want more of it. I gotta admit, I’m pretty bummed that I can’t log in and play right now, but that just makes the next six weeks all the more exciting; Destiny will be returning.
Here is what the Destiny beta did right.
Hours of access to the main story – This could turn out to be a good thing and a bad thing. I’m not sure that I’m entirely a fan of having to be a level five to access competitive multiplayer, especially considering how long it takes to get there. That being said, my god, for a sneak peak at a game they sure gave us a lot to do, huh? It was all in the same general vicinity, sure, they didn’t “give away” a ton of the game, but it was more than what we are used to getting. I started off not into it, then got more into it as it progressed.
I found myself helping friends to blow through some of the missions and to level up so that we could play the competitive multiplayer and it wasn’t much of a chore, it was fun.
The two extra beta keys thing was brilliant – So to gain access to the beta you needed to either pre-order the game or have a friend who is willing to cough up one of their two additional beta codes to you. This only leads to having more people to play the game with and I gotta say, when I logged into PSN there were always at least one or two people I knew playing the game.
This just made the Destiny beta feel like sort of a gaming “destination,” a thing that everyone had to try out or be a part of.
The random interactions – When I played the alpha I noted how almost no one was interacting with each other online. Everyone in the Tower was just dashing from one vendor to the next and randomly pointing, dancing or waving wasn’t accomplishing much. In the actual levels it was even worse, you felt like you were there, other people were there, and sometimes you were doing the same exact level. Why won’t they do it with you? Why are they just meandering around?
This time around I’d find myself pleasantly surprised to have random backup in some of these missions. A friend and I even walked into a random public event, which was kind of cool. If the alpha felt barren and that no one was playing together, the beta — which just had more players — was the opposite.
Balancing was done since the alpha – Some of this was bad, admittedly. Warlock’s Nova Bomb feels hilariously overpowered in competitive multiplayer, the Hunter’s hand cannon was moved from special weapon slot to primary and so forth. That being said, it’s clear that things HAVE changed since the alpha, which wasn’t that long ago. By the time Destiny ships I expect there to be even more balancing done.
They seem dedicated to making this game work for everyone and be fun. There might have been some frustrations at points, but they are going to be working to make everything right (or as close to right as they can).
We’ve only scratched the surface – What’s crazy to think about is that there were hours of main missions and then two maps for the Domination mode (I refuse to call recoloring the same map on a different planet as another map) and you can very clearly see all of the other modes that are locked up. This game is going to have a ton of stuff to do in it and Bungie has made it very clear that they want Destiny to be a game (and series) that will last a very long time.
September 9th can’t come fast enough.