With the rounding up of the Destiny beta last weekend we have again set forth out into the depths of the web and along with our own gameplay and opinions have created this feature looking at what we expect to see in the final version of Destiny that we didn't get to see in the beta.
According to the faithful, Earth's Old Russia, that handful of Crucible maps and the Moon's briefly-explorable surface are to the final game what a pinch of salt is to the ocean. According to the cynical, you're paying for extra cutscenes and a fancy box. All Bungie will say on the subject is that the beta has barely "scratched the surface" and that Destiny is by far the "biggest game we've ever made". Whether that's "big" in the sense of navigable terrain or "big" in terms of modes, missions and so forth remains to be seen.
Looking back through old OXM features and wikis, and even going by what Bungie has already announced, it's manifestly clear that Destiny is far grander in the flesh than in pre-release form. Here's a round-up of places to go, things to find and people to see/disintegrate with a Pulse Rifle come its Xbox One and PS4 release in September.
Mars, Venus, the Moon and beyond
You should have already been to the Moon, providing you were wide awake and watchful on Saturday night - those who missed the opportunity can watch a video of the beta's time-limited unlockable mission here. There are four surface areas to explore - the Archer's Line, home to abandoned factories and warehouses; the Anchor of Light, where you'll find some sort of giant energy relay; the Temple of Crota, a sinister Hive edifice that disgorges a wave of Acolytes and Thralls should you be so unwise as to come knocking; and a vast gulf known as the Hellmouth. At various points on the surface, it's possible to access a Moria-esque underground labyrinth decorated with ghostly blue lights and dangling meathooks. There are, needless to say, plenty of things to fight in the depths, including nasty Level 12 Knights and Wizards
Earth and the Moon aside, two other planets have been confirmed as explorable - Mars and Venus. Visitors to the former may spend the bulk of their time exploring the Mars Evacuation Zone, a human city buried in red dust, accessible by way of its topmost towers. As part of one bounty mission, you'll descend to the Dust Palace and search for the "lost treasures of Charlemagne" - Charlemagne being an ancient military AI or Warmind, like Rasputin on Earth. Mars is also home to Blind Watch, a vehicle-less Crucible map located on top of a skyscraper. Oh, and rather a lot of Cabal. More on them in a second.
Very little is known about Venus. Once a living hell of lava and sulfuric gas, it was converted into a garden world during the period of human expansion marked by the arrival of the Traveller. Now overrun by the Vex, the planet's lush plains and buildings are slowly being devoured by the ocean. Navigable areas include a sweep of plains and ridges known as the Ishtar Sink; a thick jungle region, the Shattered Coast, where you'll find a ruined human academy; the Crucible map Shores of Time; and a Vex Citadel, which is the venue for one of the game's toughest and most rewarding Raid missions, the Vault of Glass (apparently, it'll take you hours to complete).
It's not clear at this point whether Bungie has recreated the entire known solar system in Destiny, but we'll definitely get to visit Saturn - or rather, the derelict ships adrift in Saturn's rings - and Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter. There may also be opportunities to visit large functioning interplanetary vessels, such as the giant "Obsidian Pyramid" ships visible in certain concept artworks. Bungie is tight-lipped on the subject, though fans have put forward theories. If you have any to share, I'd love to hear them.
At least two new enemy factions - probably more
There are at least two other alien factions to pester, besides the space zombie Hive and roving Fallen pirates. The Cabal are the muscle in Destiny's extra-terrestrial line-up, as you might gather from the nickname "war rhino": they're equipped with thick hand shields that cover them almost from head to toe, necessitating a shrewd flanking strategy or precision aiming, as with the Jackals in Halo. You'll also have to worry about Cabal Centurions, who use jump jets to storm an enemy position, Gladiators who rock enormous chainguns, and Psions with telekinetic abilities. Psions are the Cabal's pilots, so watch out for them behind the wheels of sturdy hovertanks.
The part-robot, part-organic Vex are a bit more esoteric. For one thing, they can apparently travel in time, though Bungie has yet to explain how exactly (or indeed, if) this is executed in battle. For another, they're not all that fussed about headshots - you'll need to aim for the vial of glowing white fluid on your enemy's abdomen, instead. Vex troop types include giant Gate Lords, who will stamp on you if you get close; Harpy drones who sound similar to the Fallen Shanks; and the Hydra, a flying centipede creature with turrets mounted on each segment of its body. There are also giant mech turret thingies that sit behind forcefields.
More abilities, weapons and gizmos
The Destiny beta only allowed level progression up to level eight. Bungie hasn't announced the final level cap, but inspection of character customisation screens in the beta reveals that there's plenty to unlock, equip and tune-up from level nine onwards, whether you're talking about stat buffs or new movement abilities, such as the Warlock's short-ranged teleport. Most notably, each class has two Foci, only one of which is available in the beta.
Among other things, each Foci comes with its own distinctive Special. Warlock players who are tired of the Nova Bomb might switch from Voidwalker to the Firesinger Focus, gaining access to the Radiance Special which heals and strengthens nearby Guardians. Hunters who are sick to the back teeth of Golden Gun might swap from Gunslinger to Bladedancer, gaining a new Arc Blade Special that punches through armour like an arrow through a sheet of falling water. Titans, finally, can swap out Striker and the Fist of Havoc groundpound for Defender, whose Special throws down an energy barrier comparable to the Bubble Shield from Halo.
Bungie has said that it won't take long to max out a character, which means that long-term play is all about "lateral" character development - principally, the discovery of new weapons. If you picked through greyed-out store inventories at the Tower, you'll have a sense of the possibilities. Weapon design is part-randomised: variables include damage type (kinetic, Arc, thermal or Void), Impact (which determines the chance of staggering a foe) and inherent or unlockable traits such as an increased chance of finding ammunition for that weapon, or a magic trick that adds ammo back into the clip when you score a kill with the final round. And then there are the Exotics, unique golden guns with uniquely silly names (e.g. "Closing Time") that may constitute your reward for undertaking an especially challenging Strike or Raid.
Final Xbox One PS4 Versions: Much More multiplayer?
Only a couple of Crucible modes were available in the beta: Control, where teams of six fight for possession of three objectives. There's also Skirmish (3v3), Clash (6v6), Combined Arms (6v6 with vehicles), Salvage (3v3 capture the relic) and Rumble (?). That's in addition, of course, to dozens of co-op Strikes and Raids that take place outside of the Crucible. You can also expect more time-limited PvP events such as last Friday's Iron Banner throwdown, in which each Guardian's level advantages were preserved rather than disabled for the sake of a fair fight.
Lots to ponder there. As regards to-do lists, I'm hoping to set foot on Venus first - that Vault of Glass mission sounds temptingly suicidal.
Visit scenic Twilight Gap, Destiny's latest Crucible map
With the Destiny beta now behind us, the developers at Bungie can resume teasing in-game content that the majority of us won't see in-person for months, not until we finally buy the games for our Xbox One or Ps4. Case in point, Twilight Gap.
According to this IGN featurette, Twilight Gap is a map that will be found in the final, retail version of Destiny's multiplayer combat component, the Crucible. As an abandoned military base set on the ruined Earth, it features foreboding, claustrophobic metal corridors, expansive outdoor vistas and mountainous, alpine terrain. As lead designer Lars Bakken explains, though relatively small, Twilight Gap offers combatants a multi-tiered battleground where vertical movement is as important as controlling the ground around your Guardian.
If this short tour has whet your appetite, we're sorry to report that you won't be admiring Twilight Gap first-hand until Destiny's September debut.
Destiny's endgame Raids will change how you play the game
"We don't adhere to any of the standard rules"
Bungie writer Luke Smith, has a problem. "Often times in MMO raiding - of which I have done a fair bit of," he explains, "You end up battling against the UI. You're battling against your add-ons. You're battling against clicking. It's not kinetic; it's not an action game."
"How do we make something that leverages all of the feelings of the raiding that we understand from a game like Warcraft or EverQuest: cooperation, relying on each other, teamwork, and how do you marry that with a game where you jump, shoot, have abilities, supers, grenades that you activate? How do we bring those things together, and then, on top of all that, create an activity where everyone in the activity has a job, they have a role?"
In Destiny's case, as Smith revealed to IGN, that's by creating endgame Raid missions, which only open after you reach level 20 and have finished the main storyline. They're six-player, friends-only (matchmaking is disabled), longform missions that you're designed to fail on your first go.
"It's getting people together and getting them into a group and making your way down to the Vault of Glass and seeing what's at the bottom of it - if you can get that far." He continues: "Unlike a bunch of the other activities in Destiny, where you begin the activity - like let's say you pick the level-22 Strike playlist - everything in that activity is going to be level 22. It's going to be consistent. If you're level 26, you're going to have some relationship to it. You're going to be more powerful than that activity. In a raid, when the raid begins at level 25, it's not where it ends. Like part of going the raid is the journey of gearing up; building your arsenal to react to the situations that it's going to ask you to go through."
That willful unsettling of established players is a running theme, it seems: "We don't adhere to any of the standard rules for the rest of the game. Like, raids don't have waypoints, they don't tell you where to go, they don't tell you what to do", he explains. "The activity is going to take you and your group of five buddies into a place that you've never been, a place that you will return to frequently. And [it will] demand of you things you've never even really been asked to do in a shooter before."
Raids seem to be part of a wider push to keep players interested after they've "finished" Destiny. With daily challenges, weekly Nightfall missions and even new story elements to be revealed after release, Raids are just a part of a wider structure designed to lend the semi-MMO a degree of permanence. As Smith explains:
"I think Destiny's endgame begins as soon as you see the way the story ends," Smith begins. "As soon as you see the way we wrap up the sort of first piece of the adventure that we're going to tell because we want to set you back out into the world to keep going. We want to try to align your motivations as the player with the motivations of the character who you've been pushing around this world. So for us I think a bunch of the endgame starts right at level 20."
Beta numbers and scale
Over 4.6 million people played the recent Destiny beta, Activision has announced.
That's 4,638,937 people, to be exact.
The beta closed on Sunday having launched first on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 on 17th July for those who had pre-ordered the game. It was then opened up to Xbox One and Xbox 360 owners who had pre-ordered, before opening up to all.
Activision said it was the largest console beta for a new video game intellectual property, and, as you'd expect, the biggest beta on he current generation of consoles.
Activision Publishing boss Eric Hirshberg said: "This is the biggest beta of this console generation by a wide margin and the largest console beta ever for a new video game IP to date.
"Hosting a beta at this scale is an incredible feat, so we're thrilled to see the phenomenal response. But the beta is just a taste of what's to come. We're counting down the days to our launch day, September 9th."
Destiny is the new upcoming shooter from Bungie, the creator of the Halo series. It fuses first-person shooting with massively multiplayer mechanics in a science-fiction setting.
Bungie COO Pete Parsons added: "We were totally blown away by the number of people who played the beta.
"We surpassed even our own goals and the feedback was invaluable. We cannot thank the community enough, the response was humbling and in the weeks ahead we'll be working hard to ensure that Destiny lives up to the expectations at launch."
DESTINY WHITE PS4
Beyond the Alpha, there's also a white PS4 being launched to coincide with the release of the game in September. It looks pretty cool, but it doesn't really have much to do with Destiny, with no logos or other graphical fripperies. It will be interesting to see if this is a limited edition, or whether the white version will go on general sale in the long term. The PlayStation version of the game also promises exclusive armour, weapons and a Strike co-op mission that won't make it to other platforms. Both consoles now look likely to run the game at 1080p 30fps.
For more on this story go to www.Gamertag-Gaming.com We have more on this Destiny feature at our home page. New weapon mods, multiplayer maps and pre order exclusives plus we may have revealed Destiny game full content as an official leak! Check it out now.
Sources: IGN, OXM, Wiki, Bungie, Google and Gamertag Gaming