Gamescom 2014: Destiny Hands-on Preview - The Final Countdown
Written Monday, August 18, 2014 By Lee AbrahamsView author's profile
Unless you have been sequestered in a heavily fortified cave with absolutely no means of communicating with the outside world then you may well have heard that Destiny will be out soon. It’s a little known first-person shooter developed by Bungie. You know, those guys and gals that had a hand in that novelty title called Halo that helped shift ten squillion Xbox and Xbox 360 consoles. Sound good? Well, you’re probably right.
As anyone who spent any time with the recent beta will know, the game is striving to tick all of the right boxes with its launch just around the corner. We got one final chance to go hands-on with the game before it disappears into the ether ready for everyone to get their sticky little mitts on it come September.
The developers were especially keen for us to get a bit more time on the Moon (home of noted wizards, apparently) and to take part in some Strike missions. The Strike missions see you team up with some of your like-minded Guardians in a bid to tackle particularly tough areas and foes. As you batter waves of enemies, you can’t help but think of it as a glorified Horde mode, though at least you have the satisfaction of taking down a boss at the end of it. Most of the Strike mission foes are just rank and file enemies, but the end fight cranks up the tension and need for good co-op play making all that came before worthwhile. Plus, you get to kick the crap out of a four-legged Devil Walker tank and then rush in to grab the spoils. What’s not to like?
It helps that combat in Destiny is well-balanced. There are a range of guns and abilities for you to use, with each having the usual strengths and weaknesses. It’s great to see that Bungie still has room for brutal shotgun action, and they're still as meatily satisfying as ever, plus sniper and burst rifles offer you superb long range control. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before, especially if you spent any amount of time in the beta, but Bungie has promised to keep their finger on the pulse as the game rolls out in a bid to make ongoing tweaks and changes so that everything is spot on.
The Moon itself is a dusty wasteland that you may have experienced if you were online for a few hours when it went live during the beta. If not then you can expect to fight off scavengers picking over dilapidated bases and mining operations. Our first mission saw us sent to investigate a sinister valley, replete with an ominous chained up door at the far end. Any sane person would leave well alone, but we were feeling feisty (and had nothing else to occupy us at the time) so went ahead and opened it. A horde of foes poured out to try and overwhelm us, with melee fighters rushing mindlessly forward, while gun toting minions took to the ledges above and behind us to rain down fire.
It’s impressive to see just how clever some of the AI can be, and it means that every fight offers a fun experience rather than just seeing you steamroller your foes. Of course, if you fancy picking on the little kids you can always head back to earlier missions once you've levelled up and obtained better gear, and then stomp the lower level scum with ease.
Thankfully, we managed to dismantle the oncoming horde and then head inside to do battle with their master, a rather decrepit lich who seemed inclined to blast us back to the stone age. No chance of that, as we pummelled him from afar to knock out the shield and then rushed in close to finish the job when he tried to take cover and regain health. TAKE THAT, NEFARIOUS EVIL DOER! Well, I assume he was evil. All of the text and voice work was in German so maybe I just took out the King of the Bunnies, who really just wanted a hug.
Regardless, it's plain to see that the beta had the desired effect and Bungie is still hard at work to iron out any last minute tweaks and bugs. Combat is satisfying as you would expect and the game looks and sounds fantastic. At the moment it's shaping up to be unlike any other FPS to date, and is all the better for it, and with the weeks ticking away until launch it looks like Destiny could well be the next big thing. Bungie has a lot to live up to, but expectations seem to have been met and then some.
Look out for our upcoming Destiny interview, where we chat to Community Manager David 'DeeJ' Dague, and get the lowdown on Bungie's aspirations for the title.