Picture the seen if you will. Go on, you know you want to. I pre-ordered an Xbox One and Destiny bundle. In preparation for the big day, I even book the day of work. Tuesday 9 September rolls around and I get up, at my normal time for work, but instead of rushing about to get dressed and to the train station in time I am instead rushing to get up and dressed and ready to sit by the door, waiting.
I know that my delivery is being made by DPD courier. Every time I hear a vehicle drive down the road, I sit up from seat and peer out the living room window, only to be disappointed when it is white van man or a window cleaner. It feels like hours have gone by. I’ve watched all the YouTube videos in my subscription feed. I start to panic. “What if it isn’t delivered until, like, 6 o’clock this evening? What if the courier has stolen it, knowing what is inside!”
I look at my phone to check the time. 8:40am. I tell myself I need to calm down and I watch the Live Action trailer again.
The reason I tell you this, is so that you are able to judge my reaction against my expectation.
The console and game are delivered around 10.45. After getting the Xbox set up and updates installed (which seemed to take an age!) I finally get to create my character.
I decided on the Hunter Class for my first character as it is most like how I have played RPGs before. After choosing what I looked like, I settle in to the opening sequence, which you have probably already seen in the trailers. The game starts with a fairly standard tutorial mission, combining a brief introduction to what has happened since the period of time in the opening credits and the standard ‘Press B to crouch and pass low objects’ stuff.
So far, it feels like a next-gen (current gen?) version of pretty much any SciFi first person shooter. Once you’ve followed some prompts and been introduced to various people around ‘The Tower’ (a third person, enemy free social zone) you start to realise it isn’t a standard FPS.
For me, the best comparison I can cobble together is a very well, polished game that is combination of both Halo and Borderlands. In fact, there are quite a few comparisons to Borderlands and I’m surprised this hasn’t been raised before, from what I have seen.
The ‘mission select’ screen is nice tool which shows you where you have the story mode, i.e. missions with background that progress the story, or explore mode where you go about doing what you want pretty much. Explore mode gives you the entire map to explore, shared with other players in a non-competitive mode, and various, what I think are randomly generated, missions which are very reminiscent of World of Warcraft. Kill X amount of enemies, collect X amount of drops, etc. It’s worth noting that, from what I could tell, drops are player specific (think new Diablo) so you don’t have to worry about others stealing your loot.
Once you reach level 5 (I think) then you unlock ‘The Crucible’ which is the PvP, competitive multiplayer aspect of the game. Initially, you only have ‘Capture’ mode unlocked, which is essentially dominion from the Halo games. Once you’ve either played this a few times or reached a higher level (not sure, I hit level 10 at same time as completing my 5th game), you unlock ‘Clash’ which seems to be Deathmatch. There are then 2 other game modes which are, for me, currently grey-ed out.
A few things to note regarding PvP:
– There are no weapons on the map! You take in the setup you have at the time you select PvP. You CAN however change guns in the same way as ‘single player’. Before you go to play PvP, buy a shotgun!
– That said, the shotgun is a ‘special’ weapon and so you have limited ammo at the start of the round. You can find ammo for special weapons in green crates and icons appear to guide you in their direction.
– The same goes for heavy weapons, except even rarer! Beware of enemies around these.
– There seems to be some kind of level adjustment to help balance out the lobby so you don’t have to worry too much about going head to head with someone 15 levels above you. I think.
– You have no input on the map selection, so you had better get used to them all.
– It appears to be up to 12 players in a lobby, 6v6, but will load up smaller games and certain maps are only selected if you have a full lobby. These ones have vehicles and gun turrets.
I love the game. I did reach a point, about level 5 or 6, where my brain was confused as it was expecting the story mode to progress like Halo, rather then an RPG, but once I remembered that side of the game, I’ve had so much fun playing it. Competitive seems to have some balancing issues currently, but I expect there will be some fixes here. Particularly, the Warlock’s AoE spells seem to be overpowered, whilst Hunters are often killed during the summoning animation of their Golden Gun ability if you try to use it during a fight.
The voice acting is on point again. Bill Nighy and Peter Dinklage will be the most recognisable, but if you’ve played previous Bungie games or a fan of SciFi stuff in general, listen out for some more familiar voices.
After an afternoon and evening of playing, I’m currently a Level 10 Awoken Hunter and every level has been fun. Hear to many more levels (and hours!) of the same.