Bungie is no stranger to multiplayer, so if someone claimed Destiny has a strong competitive side, no one would really argue the point. These are the people who created one of the biggest online multiplayer communities, who made Halo into a cultural movement and Master Chief a pop icon. Now, they are proudly showing off the Crucible, Destiny's competitive multiplayer experience.
Our time with Destiny multiplayer spanned two matches, both involving control points. Each match split us into groups of twelve for a 6v6 setup, where alpha team fought bravo for map dominance. Our stage? The Rusted Lands, a picturesque locale situated among urban ruins in the Eastern Flood Zone on Earth. Crammed with debris, it's also the perfect place to remind me how much more a point-blank shot can hurt, while a very vertical design meant death could come from anywhere.
I assume most people familiar enough with Halo would agree that Destiny carries some of the same elements, as well as the general feel that sets Halo apart from other FPS games; a light, effortless feeling.
Player customization is a thing, of course, meaning both armor pieces and weapons require some effort to unlock. I can't exactly comment of the viability of Destiny's leveling system at this point for obvious reasons, but the system itself isn't unfamiliar to competitive shooters. From what I could tell, your effectiveness in the multiplayer will be affected by level and gear, so players will have more incentive than just aesthetics for progressing. Especially skilled players might be able to compensate, but Destiny really does embrace some of its MMO-inspired qualities in this respect.'
In the demo, everyone was at the same level, and we all chose from a limited selection of weapons (armor was set). The Guardians each carry three weapons: a primary weapon, a special weapon requiring special ammo, and a heavy weapon. What I'm pleasantly surprised by here is how distinct each gun feels compared to the next, and these differences help facilitate player freedom, letting someone discover a loadout that works with their play style.
Guardians also have special abilities available to them, from the universal rocket boots to class-specific stuff, like the Warlock's "magic" or the Hunter's utility knife. A fifth armor slot allows yet another class-based function.
How does all of this come into play? Matches are much quicker compared to what Halo fans might be used to, since Guardians go down much faster than Spartans. The feeling of invincibility just isn't there, something that was made quite apparent as soon as my first attempts to "brawl" another player. Instead, Destiny encourages players to use the tools at their disposal (because variety is fun), and how you approach a fight will depend heavily on your class. If you don't play smart, dying is going to happen a lot more than it has to, though the frenetic nature of the competitive combat results in a pretty steady death-respawn pace.
The control point mode is just one of many competitive options, though Bungie have yet to confirm which they'll be. Deathmatch and team deathmatch are likely a given.
Destiny will be released September 9 for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4 and PS3. If you do own a PlayStation 4, access to the Destiny alpha begins this Thursday, June 12, the last day of E3.
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