Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Road to Destiny... Pt.2: Who you are and where you gather...

The Future. Touched by the Light of The Traveler, we have braved the Stars. But an ancient Darkness is coming to end us all...

Destiny...The Place you will end up. Whoever you are...

With more and more info constantly dropping on Destiny (like the Trophy/Achievement list), and the Beta, only two weeks away (on Playstation, a bit longer sadly on Xbox), expected to present many more people with a bigger part of the game, let's take another look at what the Alpha already showed us. And let us being with the setup, and the social stuff:

The Races and Classes:

Destiny features three Races:
Human, Awoken (who may or may not be Alien-Human-Hybrids) and Exos (who may be Sentient Robots or things wearing a robot-like Exo-Skeleton that makes them look like Sentient Robots).
Both genders are featured for each race, but the races, and their numerous customization features themselves, are only cosmetic in nature - and differ in their dance moves. Those features are quite extensive, with different faces, hair, colors for everything, and even the, almost obligatory by now, Face Paint. Or Tattoos. Or maybe the Exos have Etchings. Or something.

It's not as deep as other games', bu it is still quite fun to create your character. And the chances that you will see someone running the exact same face are really not that high.

The Three Classes, on the other hand, that's where the RPG elements come in. Each Class has different abilities (double-jumps, melee attacks, grenades and "super powers") and different basic stats: The Titan has more armor, but is slower, the Hunter has less armor, but moves faster, while the Warlock can recover from injuries much quicker.

Each Class has its own Ability tree, with additional abilities and ability upgrades to unlock, and it works (or worked in the alpha) by leveling up, then using the ability to upgrade it. Upgrades were not of the passive, permanent variety, though. To explain, once you gain the ability to double-jump, you will eventually unlock three different upgrades (more distance, more speed, more control in the air, etc) but only one upgrade could be applied at a time.

The most "interesting" ability are of course the "Super Powers" - Supers, in short. Once you unlock it, you charge the ability by killing enemies or just waiting for a long time (in the Campaign), or generally earning points (in "The Crucible" Multiplayer). But since Destiny is all about working together with your fellow Guardians, those life forms touched by "The Light" and chosen to fight against "The Dark" (yeah, it`s quite original) in a semi-Utopian Future, there is one more way to quickly charge your Super: Wait for someone else to use his and be effective with it. 
Every time you successfully end an enemy's existence with your super, you will generate "Orbs of Light". These pick-ups are not for you, but for every other Guardian on your team (which are all Guardians during the Campaign, but only your, well, team, in The Crucible). It's a small, but very clever way to encourage sticking and playing together.
When you are "Super Charged" - little, cute side note: the Super Charge Bar turns yellow, when filled; and so does your PS4 controller's LED light - each class can unleash it's own special brand of "Super". There are actually two different Supers per class, but in the Alpha you only had access to the first due to the Level Cap.

The Titan's Super "Fist of Havoc" has him slamming down his fists in good old "Hulk SMASH!" style to obliterate anything around him. His second Super, not unlockable for the Alpha, will see him create a bubble shield around him.
The Warlock's "Nova Blast" sees him jumping into the air, then firing an arcing"artillery" shot at what he's aiming at, similarly obliterating anything around the point of impact. The second Super, which we didn't see, "boosts the effectiveness of all his abilities" by infusing your Warlock with the Power of The Light. Whatever that means.
The Hunter's "Golden Gun" is a bit more difficult to use, but it offers you three extremely powerful shots from a Golden Handgun - powerful enough, to kill any enemy in Multiplayer with one shot. The Hunter's second Super, "Bladedancer" seems to also infuse him with light, but that light allows you to run around really fast and stab people to death. 
And I will unashamedly admit, that I very much dread this one, because it so eerily reminds me of "Marathon-Lightweight-Commando with the Tactical Knife", the most annoying thing to ever come out of Call of Duty.

Some might already have seen this vid in my first Destiny Alpha post, but it shows the three classes and races in Campaign Action (albeit only the female of each, but they are known to be the more deadly, anyway):

The Tower:

The Social Center or "Hub" is called "The Tower". And lo and behold, there is a tower at its center. The Tower is where you go to purchase weapons and new gear, decode "Engrams" (i.e. Blueprints) for weapons and new gear you looted from fallen enemies, upgrade your jump ship, your speeder bike, and much more.

Gear and weapons, as you might expect, will play a central role. The better the gear, the better the... well, gear, but better gear also comes with bonus perks, like faster reloads, more ammo, or quicker recharge of your abilities. The Tower also features a Vault, through which you can share your equipment between characters - and thankfully, it has 20 slots each for Armor, Weapons and Resources. Take that, Clap-Trap Vault. Presumably, you will also get missions here (more than just the "Do this and get stuff for it"-Bounties), enroll in a faction for PvP for more access to different gear, get mail (whatever that means), and possibly even more stuff. Or just... well, you know. Be social. (And please excuse the commentary.)

The social aspects still seemed a bit stunted, with emotes and chatting with strangers apparently the only option you had, but the Alpha really only showed a small part of what we expect to see and have available for us in the full game. And let's be honest, that whole social MMO thing is still pretty new on consoles. Console players lack the ease of impersonal communication a keyboard provides - and who wants to start chatting with some squeaky 10-year old, by mistake?
One thing you couldn't do from the tower was launch a mission. Which was weird, and, coupled with the pretty long load times, a bit aggravating. No, to launch a mission - sorry, an "activity", you had to go into Orbit. At least, if you had joined a "Fireteam" (.i.e. Party), once the Leader triggered his exit into Orbit, you automatically came along.
From Orbit, in your nifty Jump Ship, you could launch your activities -  or first gather friends, and then launch your activities.

On which I will expand (copiously) in the next posts :)

For Part 3 of my Destiny Blog Series, click here: Destiny - Things to do, Things to Kill...

For all your Playstation or Xbox or PC Gaming needs, especially the European needs, head over to Amazon UK - best deals in Europe (mostly). For TV or Movie Streaming needs, as well. Yes, I do buy there myself. Exclusively. Unless I find a better deal, elsewhere... 

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