Destiny is in alpha right now, and VG247′s Dave Cook continues his playtest with a look at co-op Strikes and the gauntlet that is the PvP Crucible.
Missed part one of this article? You can check it out here for fresh insight in Destiny’s campaign, classes and more.
Strike me baby one more time
What Destiny bears in common with traditional MMOs more than anything is that you’re never really playing alone. Sure, you can play through all of the solo missions without ever actively teaming up with another soul, but they’re always there in your world. They’ll help you out in fights, speed past you on their hover bike and if you’re lucky, unleash their dance emote all over your face. It’s just friendly like that.
”Coming from the team that created Halo, you’d like to think that Destiny’s competitive multiplayer is something quite special indeed, and for the best part I found that it stands up just fine, but it hasn’t exactly blown me away.”
But if you really want to get waist-deep in multiplayer, you can form a Fireteam of up to three people and co-op your way through the story and side-quests, or engage in Strikes. These are similar to MMO raids in that your group enters an isolated area designed specifically for cooperative play, and once there you’ll attempt to complete an objective.
If you haven’t got any friends to hand Destiny will match-make you with other Guardians out there in the world before dropping you into the Strike area. The mission offered in Bungie’s Alpha takes place in Old Russia, amid the ruins of an old Cosmodrome colourfully referred to as The Devils Lair. The alien enemies inside have been drawing power from their leader Sepiks Prime, and your job is to execute him with prejudice.
So off we went, sprinting right past a whole area of enemies who – for some reason – didn’t chase us as we ran past and inside the Cosmodrome. That was particularly weird, seeing as my experience of Destiny’s AI in part one of this article was positive. Typically cunning and aggressive enemies just sort of stood there watching us win, but this is an alpha test of course, so it’s possible there was some kind of hiccup on the server end. Either way, it deflated the urgency of gameplay.
”There was only one mode available in the alpha. Control is essentially Call of Duty’s Domination, in which both teams try to capture and hold three flags strewn throughout the environment.”
But that complacency didn’t last long. Leaving the twisted shuttle wreckage and glistening snow of outside behind, we ventured into the dungeon’s dark, stony interior only to be set upon much tougher foes. We blasted our way through packs of aliens, and I even scored a few kills with my newly-unlocked throwing knife, which is as hard to get on target as Call of Duty’s hurled blades. Hitting your mark is just as satisfying though.
In fact, most weapons in Destiny have a chunky kick to them without feeling sluggish. It’s a neat balance between heft and fluidity. Since my first Destiny blog, I’ve acquired a third gun slot which is reserved for special weapons. I’m currently packing a Cyrus-C machine gun which does 59 attack with burning flame damage. I also have a Tengoku FR2A Fusion Rifle in my secondary slot. It requires a charge, but once filled spews out a rapid volley of energy that pummels opponents. It’s slow, but I like it.
Back to the Strike, our progress was eventually blocked by a laser fence at the mouth of a mine shaft. To proceed, one of us had to use our Ghost – which is Destiny’s map device and AI guide, Cortana without personality basically – to hack the fence controls. This triggered a Horde mode style defence meta-game that saw us fending off three waves of alien attackers that quickly became brutal. Standard Hive zombies gave way to four-armed, sword-wielding badasses that cut through us in just a few hits.
”You can summon your Sparrow jet-bike at any point during battles and zoom across the terrain at speed. If it happens to get destroyed or you’re looking for something with firepower, you can commandeer one of the neutral Interceptor hovercrafts lying around.”
Every time one of us got downed by one of those sword troops or a blast from cloaked enemy snipers – they really hurt – we revived each other a few times until eventually, we all got killed and failed the Strike. Thankfully, we were able to retry from the first horde wave but we just could’t pass the third tier. We eventually all backed out after realising that we simply weren’t levelled up enough. It was disappointing but the action in that meta-mode was really intense, fast paced and required great teamwork.
After leaving the Strike I did some more side-quests in Old Russia and tried to complete a bounty I had acquired from a vendor in the Tower, which is Earth’s last city. You can try to complete bounties one at a time or stack them for greater rewards. Right now I’m trying to earn 9,000 XP without dying which, on completion, will earn me 2,500 XP and 50 Vanguard Honour. These little side challenges are a neat way of giving you more to aim for.
When that isn’t enough, there’s always PvP to master…