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What’s new in the Destiny beta?

Friday, 18th July 2014 06:10 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Destiny’s beta isn’t just a longer version of the alpha we enjoyed last month. As the resident rabid Destinyophile, I’ve been charged with telling you what’s new, improved and different.

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There are several new story missions.

Oh boy! Hot damn! New content! In addition to the story, explore and strike missions you may remember from the alpha (unless you weren’t there *pitying glance*), there are a couple of fresh missions to tackle, set both before and after the one we saw in the alpha.

All of of the new missions are set in the Cosmodrome, so if you explored this area thoroughly you may be slightly disappointed by not seeing anything new, but the missions themselves include story developments and set-piece battles you won’t have seen.

On top of that, some of the linking paths that were previously closed by over-powered enemies have been opened, so there are shortcuts between the various sectors of the map best navigated on your Sparrow at high speed, occasionally pausing to admire the scenery.

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Peter Dinklage’s voice has been significantly improved.

Some lines have been chopped (yes, “that wizard came from the moon” among them), others have been changed, and a robotic filter has been applied over the lot that somehow makes it all so much more acceptable than just having Tyrion Lannister bleating instructions at you.

I really enjoy Dinklage’s voice and acting in general, but the alpha’s placeholder voiceover was really raw and uncomfortable. It’s unlikely the beta is the finished version either, so we can expect it to improve in leaps and bounds – and it’s already so much better that I’m quite impressed.

Some wags have pointed out that in the future technology should have advanced enough that AI needn’t sound robotic. There are three possible replies to this. The first is to point out how incongruous and unpleasant it sounded to have an unfiltered voice nattering away at us, and ask pedants to hand up their hats on the issue in respect for aesthetics. The second is to argue that even in the distant future the uncanny valley bothers humans so much that they prefer their AI companions to feel at least a little robotic. The third is just to wave your middle finger and go do something productive, like playing the Destiny beta.

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Auto-aim has been toned down a little bit.

In my Destiny alpha report I noted that ferocious aim assist in story and explore modes. I had great concerns about it because if there’s one thing that’s sure to put off really hardcore shooters it’s having their skills downplayed by “console newb” (wince) shooter mechanics. Thankfully Dave’s thorough bashing of the multiplayer proved there was a more sophisticated level of gunplay available.

For the beta, Bungie has tweaked aim assist considerably, presumably in response to feedback, and it’s much better. By better I mean much less forgiving, with snap-to toned down markedly – so it’s going to be less accessible to those who find shooting with a control pad difficult or uncomfortable. That said, I got used to it, and eventually even managed the occasional headshot in between my wild bouts of spraying bullets floor to ceiling. (I’m a mouse and keyboard type, okay?)

I’m sure Bungie is going to fiddle with this some more, but at present it’s struck a pretty decent balance in catering to newbies and veterans.

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You are no longer a bullet sponge.

At a preview event last night, before the servers went live to the public, I jumped into the beta with a level five Exo warlock and I was gunned down minutes later in the first boss fight. Given that the pre-prepared character was kitted out with nice gear and several levels over-powered for the mission, I was shocked.

Paying a bit more attention to what was happening in battle, I realised that my character’s shield was no longer as robust as it had been in the alpha, and the amount of damage I could take between my shield going down and death had been significantly reduced.

I don’t know if this applies to warlocks alone, or to every class, but on reflection I think it’s probably for the best if Bungie wants to keep skilled shooter fans on board.

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Progression has changed.

I’m going to need to take a longer look at this with my own characters, but the pre-prepared warlock I was supplied with was light on skills. I first noticed this when I was attempting to utilise the brilliant floaty double jump each class has a variant of, and petered back to the ground after a disappointing little “pfft” of air time.

Peeking into the upgrade screen, I saw that the second tier glide skill had not yet been unlocked. I’m almost certain I had this skill by level five in my alpha characters, because not having it changes the game from joyous, bountiful delight to “yeah no it’s pretty good”, and I know I spent most of my time in the alpha with the former perspective.

I’m not sure if this lack of delicious jumping was just because the characters were pre-generated or if it’s been reserved for higher levels, but I did notice that the upgrade screen in general looked quite different, so it’s clear Bungie has been tinkering. I’ll take a closer look and report back in more detail later.

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Loading times have been reduced.

Bungie has done wonders optimising loading times in the short period of time between alpha and beta. Because Destiny takes place in an open world which sneakily loads itself up as you wander about, you almost never encounter a loading delay while playing.

Unfortunately, you do have to sit through a loading sequence between choosing your destination and leaping into the action. They’re quite nice, in that you get to see your little ship – and ships belonging to your fire team – and gaze down on the planet below, but this is 2014 and I have a limited attention span, so the minute or more of waiting in the alpha client drove me bonkers.

The beta client reduces this wait time dramatically; in my experience so far, it’s probably not been longer than ten seconds. That’s good by any standards. Note that I’m playing on PS4, so your mileage may vary on other platforms.

No doubt there’s more that we’ve yet to discover; stay tuned over the weeks ahead as we hammer away at Bungie’s latest and greatest. We’d love to hear your experiences so far, so why not chime in below?

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14 Comments

  1. polygem

    Only had the chance to play it for an hour or so yesterday. Really hope to get some gaming time with this one over the weekend.

    Nerd question: which weapon type gets the closest to halos legendary DMR? Is it the impulse one? I bought another one yesterday. Forgot the name. Doesn’t feel right :D

    Game looks beautiful, the sound is awesome, shooting feels great!….but it is no halo. It has elements from it but the shooting definitely feels very different. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not. Could also be because you only encounter low level enemies first obviously so this could change when the game stops throwing grunts at you and brings the elites.

    Well, need to play this so much more.

    Does the mp unlock later? At a certain level maybe? Couldn’t find a match yet. Can’t wait to test out pvp….

    #1 3 months ago
  2. Brenna Hillier

    @polygem at level five you can visit the Tower to receive an invite to the Crucible. If you’ve done that, check the map next time you’re in orbit; it’s to the right of the Earth.

    #2 3 months ago
  3. Dog4life

    @polygem
    Yhea Man, friend of mine gave me a free Beta code ;)

    Love the game ! Halo meets Borderlands. let’s the coop fun begin.

    #3 3 months ago
  4. polygem

    Thanks brenna, so to the right of the earth, then left, next to the Walmart?

    Will definitely hit level 5 tonight. Great!

    @Dog: Good to hear you managed getting a code. Sounds like you have no regrets buying into the limited edition then :D

    #4 3 months ago
  5. fengato

    @polygem

    As you’re now level 5 you’ve probably had a taste of the Scout Rifles. Sadly that’s as close as we get to the DMR. I spent time on the bungie.alpha feedback forum bemoaning its sound and feel. Clearly the guys who put the Reach DMR together didn’t work on the SRs.

    The hand cannons sound DMR-ish, though the long reloads kill em off as an option for me.

    #5 3 months ago
  6. fengato

    Wow. Just got my first Scout Rifle. They’ve changed the sound of it significantly since the alpha – so much better!

    #6 3 months ago
  7. polygem

    @fengato

    hey, thanks for the Input man.

    i could only shortly check this out yesterday – so i am a lvl. 3 titan atm.

    but i am meeting with a real life friend online tonight and we will play some coop togehter so i will definitely hit level 5 tonight and will then check out pvp asap.

    thanks a lot for the scout rifle impressions. will check this one out as soon as i can. i love the DMR in halo – who doesn´t though :D

    i

    #7 3 months ago
  8. fengato

    @polygem

    Who doesn’t love the DMR? You obviously didn’t frequent the Bungie or 343 forums during the Reach / H4 era. :-) At least half of the community despise the gun – they claim that it undermined map control and that the bloom mechanic was scubby/random (not very 1337!) Love some DMR.

    #8 3 months ago
  9. ddtd

    I think they shortened the timers on the abilities as well.

    I found myself able to use the grenades, special melee attacks and the super ability way more than I could on the Alpha.

    Also, I don’t think the gear was upgradable in alpha (though I may be wrong).

    #9 3 months ago
  10. polygem

    @fengato
    I remember that bloom debate. There have even been dedicated zero bloom gamemodes in reach later I think. That’s so cool about bungie. They actually listen to feedback. I for one just took it and shot mothafuqas in the face with that thing though :D

    #10 3 months ago
  11. heyvc

    Anybody want’s a destiny code ?! ps4

    #11 3 months ago
  12. heyvc

    I think it is region locked
    its NA…

    #12 3 months ago
  13. polygem

    just found out that i actually bought the scout rifle already assuming that it would be the closest to the DMR :D i wasn´t that impressed by it first but now that i am getting used to it i am kind of enjoying it. the sound in this game is amazing. i just played my first pvp matches and man…those hunters/ snipers gave me a hard time in the controll gamemode.

    #13 3 months ago
  14. Takeshi

    @heyvc I’ll take it if you still have it. :)

    #14 2 months ago

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