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I don't like shooters or MMOs, and I love Destiny

Destiny sounds exactly like the sort of nonsense Brenna will loathe and yet we can't make her get off the PS4 and do some real work.


Destiny! You'll forgive me if this article is a bit rushed. You see, I really want to stop working and go play Destiny again.

Activision's local representatives sent over a Destiny alpha code earlier today and for a few minutes I just stared at it listlessly. I have not been aboard the Destiny hype train, friends. I admit it sounds cool - sort of like a Borderlands MMO - but there were several significant strikes against its name for me, namely:

  1. It's a shooter. I don't, as a general rule, think much of vanilla shooters.
  2. It's an MMO. Activision can waffle all it likes; that's what it is. I'm one of nature's solos, so.
  3. It's not coming to PC. Playing a shooter with a control pad? Preposterous! Primitive!
  4. It's from the developer of Halo. I don't think much of Halo. I'm sorry.
  5. It's from the publisher of Call of Duty. I don't think much of Call of Duty. I'm sorry.

So when the code came I wasn't even sure I could be bothered hauling my PS4 over to the desk, getting the cables hooked up, messing about remembering my PSN password, entering the code in, waiting for the download... all the barriers to modern gaming one encounters when one has been away or maniacally busy for a few weeks, as I have.

But I did it anyway, because Destiny is just sexy enough that I was pretty sure Pat wouldn't mind me spending an hour or two with it today (after all, you lot all seem very keen on it despite the limited amount of exposure its had so far) and let me tell you, friends: I will take any opportunity to skive off. I am an Australian.

So picture this: a person who dislikes shooters, MMOs, using a control pad to shoot and the major works of both companies involved in the creation of Destiny. Imagine the ground state of my soul loading the alpha client up. Imagine my face. It is not the face of an impressed person. It is not the face of a person with expectations. it is a person ready to sneeringly perpetuate an existing bias and make cutting remarks about how hype drives the games industry.

Now picture my face about 15 minutes later. It is not the same face. It is a very happy face indeed. Because Destiny is, even in this early state, f**king brilliant.

Read on to find out why Brenna's suddenly converted to the church of console shooter MMOs.


I"m playing as a Warlock because they're clearly the best.

Shooting in Destiny is easy, even with a gods-cursed wretched control pad. That's not to say skilled players won't have an advantage, because they definitely will; because I'm pretty bad at console shooters, I got awful stats, died a fair bit, had to stick to easy targets, and took ten times as long to everything as was required. But there's just enough auto-assist that even I managed to cap a few fools, and with a bit of judicious stealth, dodging and strafing, even got a few headshots and had some "SUCK ON THAT" broments.

I was having fun, shooting things on a console. This is by way of being a calendar event. The Mayan calendar.

So that's one worry out of the way, but what about the MMO stuff? Well, it's rather charmingly integrated. If you follow the mission navigation prompts closely, the first story mission plays out just like any console shooter would, except you can do it with a bunch of friends if you want, and you may meet some strangers doing it, too. The environments are dense and winding, with lots of well-placed encounters in crafted arenas.

But if you just step off the path, you'll find a whole world out there. Seriously. Every time you think you've found the boundaries, a doorway or cave or staircase opens up a new vista. I managed to wander for hours without seeing the same area twice, although admittedly since I'd stepped into areas far too high level for me I was looking at them from the perspective of my speeding ground vehicle (while screaming AHHHHHHHH F**K LEVEL 11 WHAT THE F**K RUN) and might be mistaken about that.

There's nothing dividing the overworld from dungeons, as there usually is in MMOs - in fact, I saw no loading screens at all while exploring on the ground. You can just wander in and out. The first one most players are likely to find is stuffed full of high level opponents - so high level they're marked with a question - at which point you will greatly appreciate your ability to leave again at high speed and with the minimum of inconvenience.

Other MMO features include the ability to emote (bow, point, sit on the ground and dance: all the essentials), gear collecting and the hub world. But grind? There's no need for that. You'll have a ball wandering around doing missions and just exploring, and levelling up is rapid and rewarding. Finding new equipment is great, too - when you get a significant jump in stats, you'll immediately feel it in gameplay.

And yet there's none of that clunky baggage of MMOs. Menus are gorgeous and once you figure them out they're so quick and easy to sue you can swap out gear mid-combat if you want to. (Look at me. I'm cracking a moisty over menus. That's how good they are.

So Destiny doesn't feel like an MMO. It feels like a slick console shooter. It feels like a shooter so good I want to keep playing it even though I dislike shooters. At the same time, it has that progression and seamless multiplayer experience that makes MMOs so pleasant when they are at their best.

This is only an alpha and can't be indicative of the final product, but given that we generally see a massive quality leap post-alpha, then by thunder Destiny is going to be a cracker.

I had no idea there was a Destiny-shaped hole in my life until it was filled and now I never want to play anything else. Dave was right. Matt was right. The hype was right. Destiny is a contender.

BONUS SECTION: All the ways I died playing the Destiny alpha this afternoon.

  • Ignored main path. Walked cheerfully into a high-level dungeon within 30 seconds of beginning and was slaughtered.
  • Tried high level dungeon again more carefully, having checked the controls, and was slaughtered again.
  • Skirted high level dungeon but still refused to use main path so walked into the back of an encounter. Jogged backwards off cliff in surprise.
  • Was slaughtered while sitting in menu screen cooing over lovely design.
  • Was slaughtered while sitting in menu screen debating pros and cons of various kinds of gun.
  • Was slaughtered while sitting in menu screen while getting a cup of tea.
  • PS4 control pad lit up when in-game torch switched on; was so surprised dropped control pad.
  • Really egregiously underestimated the first boss.
  • Beat first boss on "brave". Tried first boss again on "legendary".
  • Drove ground vehicle off cliff.
  • Drove ground vehicle into level 12 area; ignored warning signs and dismounted to engage in combat.
  • Went back to that high level dungeon because slow learner.
  • Tried to take screenshot of dancing emote without realising area still full of enemies.

Destiny arrives on PlayStation 3, PS3, Xbox 360 and Xbox One in September, which suddenly seems far too long away.

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