In less than 24 hours PlayStation gamers will get their first (or second) taste of Bungie’s Destiny as part of the game’s closed beta test. The test will run from July 17th until the 27th, with a short maintenance period on the 21st and 22nd.
Of course even within that framework there are some limitations; the beta is exclusive to pre-order holders or those lucky enough to snag a code through Twitter or some other type of giveaway, and it does open up to Xbox players starting on the 23rd so they won’t be completely shut out like with the alpha.
But, those who do happen to get into the beta one way or another are reportedly in for a treat, as Bungie has put together a substantial sampling of their forthcoming game. We know that the beta will include four story chapters, four multiplayer maps, and one Strike mission, but that’s been the extent of our knowledge thus far. However, in a recent interview with Eurogamer, Bungie’s David Dague (better known by the handle Deej) shared a little more regarding what players can expect.
In many respects, Deej and the team at Bungie want players to uncover Destiny as they play, so he kept firm details to a minimum. He wouldn’t say how many modes or story missions players can anticipate, nor did he reveal what the new level cap is now that players are starting from level one. [NOTE: Bungie has not decided if players' progression will carry over to the final game.]
To that point, though, the Destiny beta will thrust players into the very beginning of the game. That means players who might have wrung the alpha dry of content will still find new areas in Old Russia to explore, new missions to complete, and some more customization options.
“We’re expanding on the portions of the story. We’re giving you more opportunity for leveling up and earning promotion. We started you very much on your adventure in progress in the alpha. With the beta we’re starting you from square one, so you can really understand what it’s like to take your first steps in the boots of a Guardian. And then we are taking you along an adventure that has somewhat of the same logical conclusion as what you might have seen in the alpha, but we are expanding on that process. So if you played the alpha there will be some new things for you to enjoy in the beta, but we do need to be sensitive to the fact that for many players this is their first step into the world of Destiny.”
At the same time, Bungie didn’t want to alienate those PS3, Xbox 360, and Xbox One gamers who never got to explore the alpha. And so a lot of the test’s content will feel familiar — taking players through Old Russia once again and introducing them to the world Bungie has created.
For that matter, alpha veterans may not see much in the way of gameplay or balance changes, as Bungie feels pretty confident they’ve honed in on a feel that they like. Some were critical of the fast-paced, high death rate tone struck by the Crucible multiplayer, and Deej reveals that was by design.
“In embarking on this adventure and creating the new Destiny sandbox and deciding how Guardians would behave in that environment, we did want to design a game with higher lethality. Destiny is an experience that is nuanced and will become refined in many different directions. As Guardians become more powerful, as they become more familiar with the maps and how to truly use their vertical movement mode to evade combat or slide out of the way of danger, people will find new ways of countering these attacks.But we definitely wanted a faster-paced game. We definitely wanted a game where people felt more instantly powerful. And in many ways the Crucible performs exactly as we intended. For some of the players of our legacy experiences, that will represent an evolution. It will represent something to adapt to. But that is the overall player experience of Destiny. You’ll always be evolving as a character and adapting to new threats. This is just the first step in that process.”
And since it’s all anyone thinks of when they talk about Destiny, Deej did address the Peter Dinklage dialogue changes, saying that players will understand how it differs as soon as they trigger the game’s navigation mode. We assume that’s the first time players will hear Dinklage speak as the AI companion Ghost, which also leads us to believe the actor’s delivery will be different this time around.
One element that will be different for all beta participants is the Destiny companion app, which has undergone some significant changes since last we saw it. The app is actually available for download right now on the Android store and will let players – when they do get into the beta – keep track of their Guardian’s level, quest completion, and inventory. Obviously, it’s not revolutionary stuff, but the app should prove useful nonetheless.
While those who did get their hands on the PS4 alpha for Destiny might be disappointed that the beta isn’t taking them to new, uncharted worlds (like the Moon, or Mars), it’s important to highlight that this is, first and foremost, a test for Bungie. It’s a chance for them to see how the game works with their presumed day 1 player base, and to see how players respond.
But rest assured that there appears to be plenty of new content incorporated into the beta that veterans won’t feel completely shut out. We certainly enjoyed the alpha enough to spend more time in Bungie’s new world.
What are you hoping to see more of in the Destiny beta? What platform are you planning to play on?
Destiny releases September 9, 2014 for PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.