The Destiny alpha disappeared almost as quickly as it had arrived. After three days caught in the clutch of competitive multiplayer, the cooperative campaign and simply wandering the wastes aimlessly, I was ready for more, with the prospect of waiting for the beta seeming absolutely torturous. But as the wrought iron doors of Old Russia closed once again, our collective time had ended, the alpha now a mere memory that served only to tell us what we already knew; that Destiny, is something special.
For three days, I immersed myself completely in Bungie’s technologically decadent universe, not once returning to the surface to draw breath. Although much of my time was spent in the burnt fields of Old Russia, I found myself returning to multiplayer via The Crucible time and time again.
My first match within the cosmic arenas of Destiny’s multiplayer was predictably overawing. People were strafing me on Pikes, I was being shot by Titan’s happily bounding about the landscape using jetpacks, and I was completely at the mercy of players lucky enough to have scavenged a sniper rifle. But as my second game began, I slowly became accustom to the much different, yet oddly familiar battlegrounds of Bungie’s next multiplayer endeavour.
There really is a lot of Halo in Destiny, and for those of you who spent months of your life on the hallowed fields of Ragnarok or the golden dunes of Sandtrap, multiplayer quickly becomes familiar as your past instincts begin to rear their head. Halo’s influence on Destiny isn’t overbearing, however. Its essence is at Destiny’s core, but it remains a subtle accent that seeks to guide rather than engross. Multiplayer in Destiny does take some getting used to, but with a distinctive flavour to it that marries Bungie’s new ideas and age-old philosophy, it remains highly accessible and incredibly enjoyable.
In the words of Bungie designer Evan Nikolich “The Destiny Alpha is less than 10% of the game’s content, and it amazes me that people just keep on playing it”. Personally, I took down Sepiks Prime on three separate occasions, and even as the alpha ended I was busy prepping myself for a fourth attempt.
Although we only had access to a handful of missions within a single distinct location, Destiny’s world seemed equal parts teeming with life and hauntingly barren. In Old Russia, rusted monuments to the Golden Age towered over a land littered by skulking Fallen, whilst in the much more vibrant Tower, Guardians milled about earth’s last city tending to their equipment and outfitting themselves for their next mission.
This disparity between The City and the mass of land beyond its walls goes a long way to really emphasizing the role of the Guardian. Following the events of The Collapse, it’s widely believed that everything is in ruin, with our colonies among the stars decimated just our our cities on earth were. And like a scout sent to the borders of an enemy territory, your fateful pilgrimage out of The City is perfectly accompanied by the yearning for adventure, as you ponder just what awaits you in the lands beyond. The grandeur of the Destiny universe hasn’t been lost on Bungie, and if its distant worlds are as distinctive as Old Russia, then the battlefields beyond the stars will likely be just as impressive.
With the alpha having concluded, our collective attention will now inevitably shift to the upcoming Destiny beta. But from what we’ve sampled, Destiny definitely looks in good stead. The game is still fairly unkempt, with many smaller issues having been outlined as a result of an extensive mass play-through by the community, however there remains plenty of time for Bungie to iron out the creases. This may only be an alpha build, but it comes with the unmistakable Bungie polish that has made what should’ve been little more than a stress-test as enjoyable as a full game. And with the beta all set to refine the steadily forming Destiny experience that little bit more, it’s hard not to get excited about the year’s biggest game as we edge closer to its release.