Sunday, July 27, 2014

Destiny - Changing How Online Gameplay Feels Like

If there is one game title that many gamers around the world have roaming in their heads since a couple weeks ago or so, is Destiny. Bungie has just showed us the tip of the iceberg in terms of game content and the gaming community is loving it. I had been playing the beta for a while now and I must say that my overall impression is that the game is not only excellent, but very comfortable to play because the people at Bungie went out of their way to fix many annoyances that have been common in PVE (player vs environment) online games since the very first one was made. This game breaks away with the classic "robotic" gameplay style that had for a long time been a staple of playing online games and give us something different that favors exploration and having fun over routine and doing the same thing countless times.

Destiny Characters

One of the first things I noticed is that this game was not designed for "rushers" and that is a relief. The worlds in this game are so huge in size (for a first person shooter) that there is almost no room for those "picturesque" players that go through a mission as if they had rockets on their feet unless they want to miss 2/3 of the good stuff featured in the missions. Obviously you will always have the option of playing only with friends, but if they are not online at the moment and you enter with a group of strangers, there is still some degree of exploration going on even if they seem to be in a hurry. Is as if people are been suggested to go around and search for stuff, instead of just rushing through all the objectives.

Destiny Golden Chest

Another thing is the auto-generated looting. I find it very fun to enter a mission I already played and find some neat loot that I wasn't expecting to find. Nowadays this is very rare, even on MMORPG standards as loot has changed into various different systems that seem to award the items instead of them been something you have to search for. It is also good that at least through the beta phase, nobody have seemed to decipher the drop rates or treasure tiers and I hope this stays like that because otherwise the game world will have a lot of "play once then forget" places with a few heavily crowded ones.

Destiny Skills Gunslinger

On the other side, the skill progression in this game goes back to the "growth per use" style, meaning that you will get new skills and stuff by using those you already have. It is good to have such a dynamic system back because it has been sometime since any game developer wanted to use it. This was all based on fears that such a system could be exploited, but now Bungie brings it back and I am hopeful that they had devised someway to balance the game in order to prevent exploitation of such a nice growth system.

Destiny The Moon

I also enjoyed very much how exploring limitations while going on a mission are so thin that it they are almost invisible. The best example I can give is the session I had with a couple of buddies on the moon event mission last Saturday. At first we passed the mission as everybody would normally do, but then decided to give it another run so one of us could play though the whole mission as he arrived half way though our first run. This time we kind of got side tracked and ended going through some strange entrance that lead us to a very awesome looking place with lots of enemies and places to explore. It looked like sort of a descent to hell, because the way always seemed to be going down and down through narrow caves and some rooms that were were full of bones, chains, hooks and that kind of stuff. We kept at it and we were really enjoying ourselves, looking for hidden stuff and extra pathways to go through. In the end, we found a chest and in it was an emblem that looked like this:

Destiny Bunny Emblem

We even found some level 12 enemies that we managed to defeat, but found that way to be a dead end.On the last cave entrance we found, we got all the way to the Temple of Crota from a different side than we were supposed to which also lead to a dead end, but not before fighting some more waves of enemies that included ogres and wizards. After that, we got out of the place and finished the mission and finally realized that a short half an hour mission turned into a 2 hour exploration trip. For me, these kind of things are what makes Destiny to be such a great game with tons of potential.

Destiny Fire Team

Wrapping it up

A game design that doesn't favor "rushers", good looting that stimulates exploration, a growth per use skill system and an expansive world to explore with very limited boundaries. This was only the beta phase, but I already can imagine how interesting things will get when the final version is released on September 9. As you people read this entry, some of you may be going like "what's this guy talking about?" and if you are one of those, I suggest you play the game with a single player game mindset so you can see the great things that Destiny has to offer and how it changes the atmosphere that we are used to have on online games.

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