A return to Destiny


Destiny

A while back I played a game called Destiny on my Xbox One.  It’s a game that was heavily hyped leading up to it’s launch in September 2014, and seemed to reach much of that hype on first appearance.  However I stopped playing it shortly after I finished all the single player missions that came with the game.  Recently however and with the prospect of similarly styled online action game The Division – I thought I’d give this another go, especially considering all the DLC that has been released for the game in subsequent months.

So I went ahead and purchased The Taken King Legendary Edition, which also came with The Dark Below and The House of Wolves expansions, and even more excitingly boosted my character’s level to 25.  Levelling up my character was something I had been struggling with when previously playing the game and I’ll admit I didn’t put in the right amount of time to really boost my level and stats.  Over the last week or so I have therefore being having a great deal of fun in Destiny and really appreciating the play style of the game, the various planets to explore and a ton of missions to go on.  The big draw of a game like this is the loot (which is either dropped during gameplay by defeated enemies or rewarded following completion of a mission).  Loot & experience helps improve your character’s abilities, by upgrading and swapping weapons, armour etc. and altering how your characters performs and looks.  It can be a labour of love to mould your character to your play style and make him (or her) as bad-ass as you can.

Destiny vistaNow the other big draw for me also is the sieges in the game where you get thrown into a mission with usually up to two other players and work together to defeat the enemy and again, collect loot.  Now I’m a bit of a novice at what is now being called PVE (player vs enemy) as apposed to PVP (player vs player) and the urge to go in all guns blazing, collect as much loot as possible is addictive even if on one occasion I did a bit of  an online no no by collecting all the loot following a siege and leaving my colleague with nothing …. and they’d done all the best work as I’d kept dying all the time.  I am not proud of this and well, have tried to share and be a better player ever since.

Destiny-Moon

It has to be said also that the look, the level design, the character models and the atmosphere in Destiny should be applauded.  The game looks jaw-dropping at times with epic vistas, creepy dungeons and plenty of effects, superb lighting, impressive water and reflections and a pulse-pounding score making this game feel epic and important.  There has been some talk of Destiny 2 lately, which I think would be a mistake – Destiny was hyped as a constantly evolving online world and just jumping to a sequel barely two years into this games lifespan seems too early.  Give us more DLC Bungle, support the game and let the community and the game world grow to what you originally had in mind.  The game already plays brilliantly – don’t ruin it now.

My character – isn’t he cool?

Destiny Character

Advertisements

Destiny impressions


Well I have had a few days with the most hyped game this year, namely Bungie’s much anticipated open world shooter / MMORPG hybrid ‘Destiny’.  Now I won’t review the game as such, as I am still touching the surface, but my experience playing this game has been fairly positive so far.  I think the fact you are always around other players, playing their own missions and if you want you can just join in, or instead go about your own business is fairly revolutionary for a console game.  Yes it has been done before, most notably in Sega’s Phantasy Star Online, which I played briefly   Yet for the most part MMORPGs have been the stalwart of PC gaming … but with this online-focused generation, it’s becoming the norm more and more in many new games … see the forthcoming The Division.

destiny1

As a game it blends aspects of space RPG Mass Effect, as in your character customization and the hub world of The Tower … but on missions it is more like Halo, with a large influence it seems from Borderlands.  For me the general shooting is excellent.  Upgrading weapons, adding to your character, meeting other players and discovering different locations and enemies makes for a great deal of immersive fun.  I wouldn’t say it’s a game I play for the story – it’s vague at best but I am only just starting with that … I play it for the feel, the gorgeous vistas, the satisfying gunplay and the general slickness of it all.  As with Phantasy Star it feels a little repetitive, basically going on a variety of horde-style encounters, surviving until they’re all dead, or your ‘ghost’ scans something and an exit opens up.  Your ghost is an a.i. companion that generally leads the way and comments during the story-based missions, but also comes in handy for scanning the environments for interesting locations or summoning your hover-bike which is another cool aspect and a welcome mode of transport considering the often immense environments.

Destiny2

Outside of the main game there is also The Crucible, a more traditional multiplayer mode not unlike Halo or Call of Duty but I haven’t played that mode yet.  Probably dip into it later.  I have the Xbox One version of the game and am very impressed with it.  It feels like one of the smoothest games I have played with a rock steady 30fps and a gorgeous 1080p full HD resolution, putting it on pretty-much equal parity with the PS4 version (yes, I’ve read up on that to confirm).  I think anyone who enjoys social-based games or even Halo or decent first person shooters, Destiny is worth a go.  It will only grown in time with Bungie’s ambitious plans for the game, and can see the initial universe expanding to a larger selection of planets … meaning more to explore and more enemies to send back to their makers … most likely at an additional cost.

The game is out on both Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 – so what you waiting for?

Destiny Beta – impressions


Destiny_Game_Concept_Art_13b

Today marked the launch of the Destiny beta for all Xbox One Gold subscribers.  The game already released in beta (trial) mode for the PS4 and now available on all four formats, prior to the game’s official launch on September 9th … is the latest big name game from Halo creators Bungie.  I’d call it a cross between Mass Effect, Halo and those massively multiplayer RPG’s like World of Warcraft.  You create your character, from several races and classes, then you are taken into the game, where a robotic floating ‘ghost’ revives you from the dead on a post-apocalyptic earth.

1377131632-destiny-05

Your initial quest is to find a space ship to fly up to the tower, the hub world where you can buy weapons, meet up with other players and go on missions.  It’s fairly standard fair for an MMORPG (although you are free to play it alone) but looks state-of-the-art.  Bungie’s graphics engine is superb, and runs excellently on the XB1 and looks near-identical to it’s PS4 counterpart, as online comparison videos have proven.  Lighting effects, water reflections, particle effects, terrain and characters / animation are all top-notch and this really feels like a next-gen game from the very start … at times the vistas and locations on view are breath-taking.

A good example is this opening footage from Youtube user Maka91Productions:

 

I’ve only played a couple of hours in the Beta and am enjoying it a great deal.  The gunplay is very tactical (you can’t just run in all guns blazing… you have to take it slow, pick enemies off, or it’s game over very quickly … very Halo).  I haven’t sampled the other mode ‘the crucible’, a traditional player verses player death match / hard point arena with various maps – but am sure it will be a worthwhile inclusion.  But what I do want is that beyond the missions here, there is a good, deep and immersive story, which I know Bungie can do, and a return to the awe and complexity of the first Halo’s narrative would be very welcome.

It’s worth noting that the only concern at the moment with the Xb1 version over the PS4 version is that the beta is 900p resolution, compared to the PS4’s 1080p.  Now Bungie have stated that on release the full version of the game will be 1080p / 30fps on both next-gen consoles.  Will this come at any cost, performance, graphical detail / effects?  A video over at IGN.com seems to rubbish such doubts with gorgeous looking footage of Destiny in full 1080p glory.  All I can say is this is the game I was thinking of getting a PS4 for … but now I’m not so sure.

Roll on September 9.

Gordon, where are you?


Now readers of this blog will attest that I am a huge fan of the Half-Life series; first person sci-fi shooters with unrivalled gameplay, storylines and immersion, where you play as scientist Gordon Freeman as he gets mixed up in an alien invasion.  Half-Life 2 remains the benchmark by which all story-based first person shooters should be judged, and even though Valve originally promised a trilogy of spin-off episodes … to date they have only delivered two, leaving audiences on a cliff hanger at the end of episode 2.  That was four years ago, and what have we had since?  NOTHING.  Valve will not confirm or deny the existence of another Half-Life game in development, and although rumours have swept the internet of possibly Half-Life 2: Episode 3 being announced, or even more excitedly, Half-Life 3, we still have a wall of silence from Valve.  This is simply not good enough in my opinion, and I’m beginning to resent Valve’s attitude not only to the beloved gaming series, but also to its loyal fan-base.

Over on Valve’s own Steam community forums, a group has been started asking for more communication from Valve on the subject, stating they do not want to rush the development of the next Half-Life, but would like to know at the very least, that another Half-Life is in development.  Other developers are only too happy to shout about their games, and Valve’s famous secrecy has begun to grate.  I can see such behaviour back firing on the developer, as when the next Half-Life does come out, it will only be its loyal fans that take notice, and the majority of the gaming community, drip fed on yearly Call Of Duty games will not even understand its significance.  Which would be a huge shame, because to date, Half-Life 1, 2 and the two episodes have delivered supremely entertaining gaming, and if Valve were to deliver the next Half-Life to the same standard, if not better – then once again, we’d all have to sit up and take notice.  Let’s hope we still care when and if that happens.

RAGE – impressions


This was one of my big hopes for 2011.  From the creator’s of not only classics like Doom and Quake, but the First Person Shooter genre entirely, ID Software, headed by uber-geek-genius John Carmack promised to really bring out the big guns with their long-awaited next game.  Showcasing ID-Tech 5, their latest graphics engine, the pioneering studio with the help of several gameplay previews, got me chomping at the bit with anticipation.  So what’s the final product like?

This game borrows heavily from Post-Apocalytic movies like Mad Max and Doomsday, with you as a no-name grizzled hero fresh in town and ready to earn cash doing missions for the local populace.  Along the way you will infiltrate bandit hideouts, armed with a meaty shot-gun and a variety of gadgets and gizmos, and also you get to explore the wasteland in a souped up buggy, which you can upgrade and add firepower to as you complete missions or win races.  Playing the game the immediate wow-factor is the utterly lush visuals, pin-sharp and full of colour and detail.  The game is over-flowing with personality, especially in the huge variety of folk you encounter and the wealth of mini-games you can enjoy to earn and gamble your cash.    It’s clear that this has been a labour of love for ID, all at a silky smooth 60 frames per second, making the game feel very immersive.

The game doesn’t exactly do anything new, and at times it bares an uncanny resemblance to Red Dead Redemption with its urban setting and quirky characters.  The game is mostly go here, do that and get a reward style, which I suppose could get boring, but ID has filled the game with gorgeous graphics and meaty combat and well-executed driving mechanics.  It’s all very polished.  The only real gripe I can find is one that has already been levelled at the game – the save system.  This plays a touch old-fashioned, checkpoints at the beginning and end of missions, and if you don’t remember to save frequently yourself you will be re-playing parts of the game over and over.

There is an online component which I have yet to explore, involving co-op play and buggy racing.  I will take a look at this and report my impressions separately.  For now though this is easily one of the shining lights of the current new releases – and an easy recommendation.