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Destiny

Destiny Discovered: What we learnt from the Alpha

A photo and video tour of the sights, sounds and upgrades discovered in Bungie's demo.

We played a lot of Destiny when Bungie opened the doors for the recent early access alpha, and during our time there we got a really good feel for the game. In this feature we take a look at some of the screens and gameplay that we captured along the way, and highlight some of the more interesting and noteworthy features that we came across during our time on the game's servers.

You can read our recent hands-on preview, where we go into more detail with regards to the Old Russia Strike co-op mission and the single-player exploration of that area, by heading here. Our more general overview from our recent trip to Bungie's studio can also be found here. Tomorrow we'll be offering up a much more in-depth analysis of the PvP side of the game and the three different classes that we played along the way, but for now allow us to take you on a visual tour of Bungie's shared-world shooter.

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Old Russia, Strikes and Solo-Campaigning: We stalk through Old Russia on our own, with friends, and take out a load of new enemies as we go.

Know Your Enemy

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The Fallen are reminiscent of Halo's Elites, and they're similarly dangerous in battle. They're a nomadic species, referred to in the lore as Spider Pirates, and they don't like humanity one little bit. This one we found hiding in a cave off the beaten track as we tackled a beacon side-mission that tasked us with scouting out the environment.
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The Fallen Vandals in the middle and to the rear are the main threat, the Dreg on our left is a much weaker enemy type and should be tackled last. These enemies have been discovered during normal exploration of the Old Russia map.
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Left. An enemy just blasted by the Warlock's ‘energy drain' melee attack. Right. A spooky bone-filled room hints at the terrible things that have happened since humanity ruled their own planet.
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The Hive has a relentless attacking style that'll make you think of the Flood. This Knight takes some beating before he goes down. As you can see, we're using a torch, which switches on automatically when it gets too dark.
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More Fallen enemies dotted around the Old Russia map. Left. The terrain is varied, and in this case we're able to attack from a vantage point. Centre Left. This Fallen's weapon doesn't fire in a straight line, with projectiles able to follow you. Centre Right. This Captain has twin swords that it brings to bear in close-quarters, but the pulse rifle in this picture should mean that the enemy doesn't get close enough to use them. Right. A servitor enemy with supporting soldier. Presumably the accompanying Fallen unit is getting a nourishing boost from the purple glow emitted by the spherical enemy.
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Left and Right. Enemies emerge from cover, guns blazing. Centre. This Fallen Vandal just got knocked the hell out.

Exploration & Travel

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Left. We move between dilapidated structures and seek out enemies. Centre and Right. During the opening mission, as we're learning the basics, we're heading through an abandoned radar base towards a Wizard, a floating Hive boss with a hefty shield.
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When you see red you know you're taking damage and need to find safety so you can recharge your health and shields.
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The vistas in Destiny are often stunning, and Bungie has created a sandbox world that looks great, and is crammed full of detail and places to explore. There's caves and small structures to investigate, or you might just want to admire the view.
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The Sparrow can be called at will and is used to quickly move around the open-world. It isn't very durable, and needs to be ditched if you stumble across a cluster of enemies.
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During the Strike - a three man co-op mission - we tackle several waves of enemies (Left), a huge Devil Walker like the one pictured that took an absolute pounding before it yielded (Centre), and a teleporting Guilty Spark-like orb (albeit significantly bigger and more dangerous than the Halo character) called a servitor that rounded off the mission. The whole time we're kept company by an AI companion, voiced by Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones).

Alpha Gameplay - Strike: The Devil's Lair

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The Crucible: The shared-world co-op found in Old Russia will just be a distraction for some. Here we take a look at the competitive multiplayer side of Destiny.

Capture Points & Vehicular Combat

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Rusted Lands and First Light. The two multiplayer maps included in the early access alpha. First Light, which is set on the moon, is the larger of the two, and as such has light tanks (Interceptors) and bikes (Pikes) to help cover the distances between objectives. Rusted Lands is set in old ruins on Earth, with players leaping over crumbling walls, admiring the impressive particle effects as they go.
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The Pike is the lighter of the vehicle options on First Light. As with the Sparrow we shoot with the right trigger and boost with the left. It's not particularly durable and quickly comes unstuck against larger vehicles and turrets.
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The Interceptor is slower than the Pike, but fires powerful missiles that make short work of bikes and players alike. As with Halo, these mid-sized vehicles are vulnerable to sniper and turret fire. Super moves, such as Golden Gun or Fist of Havoc, are also effective.
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Left. One of the capture points in First Light, with one entrance at the front that means a deadly bottleneck for attacking forces, but there's also two entrances at the back, one to each side, so a well-coordinated team can attack from three different angles. Right. Seeing as how we're up close and they've got a shotgun, it's fair to say that this exchange didn't end well for us.
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Back on capture point "A", and this opposition player is about to get a few rounds in the back. The radar in the top left-hand corner doesn't give you pinpoint enemy locations, but rather gives you their general positioning relative to yours.

Gunplay & Supers

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Rusted Lands features no vehicles, and as such it's more focused on traversal and positioning. There's plenty of vantage points to find and cover to hide behind. It's much more compact than First Light, and getting from point to point takes very little time.
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It's two against one in this gunfight, but perhaps more noteworthy in this picture are the particle effects, which give this map its distinctive post-apocalyptic feel.
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When you're "supercharged" you're ready to unleash a super attack. Here we have a before an after with the Hunter and his Golden Gun super. On the left the attack is now charged a ready to go, and on the right the super has been activated and we're looking for a victim to shoot with our fiery gun.
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Left. An explosion rips into a crowd of players on First Light. Right. Another Guardian gets up close and personal in Rusted Lands.
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Here we're trying to defend a capture point from an enemy attack. In Control there's three different capture points, and both teams must try and control the majority of points in order to win. In this picture we've snapped an opposing player as they've just deployed their Fist of Havoc super. Basically, we're about to die.

Alpha Gameplay - Control on Rusted Lands & First Light

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Hub and Menus: It's an MMO, so there's plenty of tweaking and customising your gear. Take a tour of the Hub and see some of the other options available to players.

The Tower & Customisation

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The view from the Tower. This is the Traveller, a celestial being who helped evolve humanity into a golden age, before a terrible series of events unfolded and our species was brought to its knees. Although it's now dead, the orb still protects the last human city.
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Directly ahead is a map of the local area, and an NPC who offers out different Bounty missions. Underneath that map (you can see the railing leading to the stairs down on the left) is the current objective, the Tower Vanguard, who are about to hand over a special piece of armour for your recent efforts and will sell you more gear in the future.
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More exploration around the Tower offers up a few interesting nooks and crannies, but at the end of the day the main purpose of the hub is to upgrade weapons and armour, unlock encrypted items looted along the way, and make cosmetic changes to your appearance.
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This is your loadout screen, where you can tinker with your character. The icon on the top left takes you to the abilities and skills page, where you can see current progress and choose between available options. Below that you can select primary, special and heavy weapons, or drop down into another menu to look at further equipment (ships, the appearance of your AI companion, that sort of thing). On the right you can see your available armour.
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The Gunsmith sells you, surprise surprise, guns. If you don't want what is currently being sold, you can come back later (in this case in just under 3 hours) and check out a refreshed selection. The currency used here is Glimmer, and it's in-game only. As far as we can tell there's no micro-transactions.

Character Creation & Menu Screens

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When picking your character there's three different classes. Warlock, Titan and Hunter. Each has a different variation of jump, grenade and super attack, setting them apart from each other.
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You can customise the look of your of Guardian via the character selection screen. You can pick either your standard Human type, an Exo with a more mechanical edge, and an Awoken with their blue/grey skin tones.
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You can pick from the usual options, from eye colour to skin tones, from hair styles to facial markings (this went on to be our Awoken character).
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The different player species don't play any differently (as far as we can tell), so choosing is purely cosmetic. With that in mind, make your choices wisely.
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Post battle you're greeted with screens that show stats and figures that reflect your contribution. Here you can see the progress made towards unlocks and passive skills. You can also a see the progress of the Bounty that we have selected, in this case, we have to kill 25 players that are using the Hunter class.
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Left. In your ship you can select where you want to go, be that simple exploration, a three-man Strike, or to the Crucible for a few rounds of PvP. Right. As your game loads in the Crucible, your ship and those of your teammates fly to your destination. It's just a loading screen, but it gives you something to customise and upgrade back at the Tower.
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The menu system requires a lot of clicks to get through, but the different screens are elegantly done and tastefully decorated. On the left and centre we can see the different multiplayer modes available in the Crucible (currently only Control is available). On the right we can choose our destination, PvP, co-op/campaign, or upgrades and tinkering in the Tower.

Alpha Gameplay - A Tour of the Tower & Opening Mission

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