Beta Review : Destiny

Last week end I had the opportunity to try my hand on the open Beta of the new game from Bungie (known for the Halo franchise). The game is called Destiny and is set to be released on Xbox 360, Xbox One, Ps3 and Ps4 on the 9th of September 2014. I played it on Ps4 for about 2-3hours on Saturday and about 1h on Sunday.
I think one way to define Destiny is to say it’s a MMO-FPS-RPG. For those not familiar with the acronyms here are some additional details:

  • MMO: stands for Massively Multiplayer Online. It basically means that a lot of different people are playing the same world as you are and you can team up with them at your will. World of Warcraft is a MMO-RPG
  • FPS: stands for First Person Shooter. In this type of game you are equipped with shooting weapons and you will have to use them to stay alive. Call of Duty and Battlefield are FPS that you can play online.
  • RPG: stands for Role Playing Game. You create a character and with the experience won you develop or upgrade some of the attributes. Skyrim is a RPG.
Destiny Beta My Character

My Character in Destiny. It was an Hunter / Exo / Male

The first step when I logged in was then to pick a class. You had 3 options and I picked Hunter as I am no fan and expert of FPS and thought that hunter were close to the rogue class. I was able to customize a lot of my features but unfortunately as you can see above they are not always visible as my equipment is hiding it. I didn’t see also a place where I could customize my name…After this customization I got the below loading screen that I find gorgeous and revived my love for space-opera.

Loading screen

Loading screen

You have a quick mission and get a companion Ghost voiced by Peter Dinklage and then fly to the Tower, ie the safe hub where you will buy, sell and have specialized characters. After some mandatory errand I flew back to Old Russia,Earth.

Destiny Old RussiaHere are some screens of a mission

You can see here the Ghost scanning

You can see here the Ghost scanning

A vehicle

A vehicle

At the end of a mission you have screens like the one below.

Advancement screen at the end of a mission

Advancement screen at the end of a mission

All in all, I’m glad I was able to join for the Beta as this game intrigued me for quite some time.

Liked:

  • The character creation page
  • Beautiful landscape and space opera feel
  • The menus are very neat and polished
  • The idea of the Golden Gun
  • Peter Dinklage

Didn’t like:

  • I didn’t see anything that let me think that there would be any stealth component.
  • I did fight 3 boss and all had a similar pattern of staying within a defined zone and attacking me while I was out. I basically played duck and cover with them.
  • It felt like enemies were progressing faster than we were. At level 1, they were easy kill but when I was level 3 they were level 5 to 7 and I had to use a lot of clips to take them down.
  • I didn’t see any fire from cover or cover option for that matter. For a FPS in 2014 it seems like a big miss.
  • If you switch from one special weapon to another, you lose the ammunition for the special weapon you just had. For instance if you have 12 shells for the shotgun, switch to the sniper and then switch back to the shotgun, you will have 0 shells until you find special ammunition again.
  • The vehicle felt awkward to drive
  • My character customizations hidden behind garbs.

Conclusion:

I don’t think I was ever the intended target for this game. Yes I do love space opera and I played RPG in the past. One reason I love space opera is the loneliness and the crazy creativity. You can create alien civilizations and mythologies and let go of some rules of physics. Destiny on the other hand seemed like a pretty standard MMORPG with its quests and errands. The class are non-standard but so far not really that different and revolutionary. The weapons are futuristic but classic (knife, guns, shotgun, sniper…). The BETA is now over. Bungie says it was a tremendous success. GameSpot has 7 big questions for the future of Destiny.

Let us know in the comments what you thought about Destiny…

By Sebastien Grobelny

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Quick Review : Bastion

Bastion is an Action-RPG game from Supergiantgames that was released some time ago on various platforms. I played it in the iOS version on iPad and finished the game about 1 week ago.

  1. The Story: You are “the Kid” and wake up some time after “the Calamity”. You wander through your memories in search of shards that will help you to restore the Bastion. The Calamity changed the environment and you will have to fight it to reach your goal.
  2. Control and Combat system: You point where you want to go directly on the screen and can stop by clicking on the shield. During your adventures you will find different weapons that you can split in ranged and melee categories. You always carry 2 of these and switch from one to the other with one click. You have a special button attack but you have to be careful as you carry 2 weapons but can only have one special attack. The combat is real time with the life visible around the enemies and your health bar. Each weapon have its plus and minuses, with for instance the mortar doing a lot of damage but needing a lot of time exposed.
  3. RPG components: For everything you destroy you gain XP points and you eventually level up. For each level up you can carry a “spirit” that give you passive enhancement. In addition you can upgrade all your weapons. For that you need to find an upgrade material and some coins and get into the forge. You then have to pick an option between 2. Once the upgrade level is bought you can switch the effect at will in order to create the best combination.
  4. Difficulty: There is no official difficulty setting. I did however enable the infinite lives. In addition to this you have the idea of deities. You can invoke an idol, it will give you some bonus but will also give to your enemies. I did most of the game with 2 idols, tried with 4 and reverted quickly as it was too hard for me. You can stack as many idols as you want (and have). Also I fell a lot…
  5. Visuals and sounds: This is to me the big selling point of Bastion. First you have the Stranger narrating your adventure. Take too long to move and he will say you take time to think. Fall and he will say that barrier may need to be installed. It really reacts to what you do. The soundtrack has some very inspired tracks. The visuals are very beautiful as you can see below. All in all Bastion has a strong identity.
The Kid and the Stranger in a cinematic

The Kid and the Stranger in a cinematic

Actual gameplay from the game

Actual gameplay from the game

Last words: I did really enjoy Bastion and found the experience fresh. I played it in the subway when it was not too crowded. I think I must have played 10-15h total. There is an automatic save each time you go back to the Bastion and you can replay any level as well as do weapon specific challenge levels. I liked the ending. I wish there was more moments like it during the game though.

Here are the 15 first minutes of the game on Xbox

Hope you will give it a chance and enjoy it.

Have a nice week end.

By Sebastien Grobelny

Re2pect

Today is the MLB All Star Game.
This will be the last one for Derek Jeter. Thank you Captain!

By Sebastien Grobelny

Fifa Worldcup 2014 : Last predictions

As a boy raised in France,  I grew up playing soccer at lunch breaks until high school and watched games with my father on a regular basis. I used to turn my collar up just so I could look like The (other) King.

Since I live in the USA, I don’t follow as closely as I used to but still enjoy great action replays when I can find some. One constant for Americans is that they tend to make following sports interesting with fantasy games and all kind of bets. For this world cup my colleagues created a system where you were awarded points to predict the correct game result and group finish. I thought I had an edge in this due to my above average knowledge but I discovered that knowing to much can be a burden as well. I had predicted that Spain would lose to the Netherlands but I could never imagine them losing 1-5 thing that some had no issue to be Willy-Nilly. I ended up above average in the end but not enough to win anything (details are available on my tumblr),

The funny thing is that in the first draft I had Germany finishing second of their group behind Portugal and I ended up with a finale Brazil – Argentina with Argentina winning and Belgium finishing 3rd over Italy.

Direct Elimination - First roundIt didn’t really work out in the end because the group phase had some interesting upsets. I then decided to redo my bracket for the knockout phase and as you can see I’m current 14 for 14 in predicting the winners.Knockout v2 06/27I had Germany beating Brazil before Neymar and Silva were out, but I would never have guessed such a lopsided game. My dilemma now is to know if I should change my predictions for the last 2 games.

Let’s start with the game for the 3rd place:
I currently have Brazil beating Netherlands but I’m not really sure how they will react after their Germany beating. Brazil was in it to win it and anything else is going to be a disappointment. Will they be able to regroup and redeem themselves? Who will step up to replace Neymar’s contribution to the offense (4 goals / 1 assist). The Oranje fell very close to a consecutive finale after the one of 2010 versus Spain. I like their speed and offense but I bet on Brazil redemption and its people pushing to salvage what can be.

Then for the finale:
I think I have a bias towards Argentina as I always pick them up to win. I like the fact that they tend to play with 3 very offensive players. I like Messi and think it could finally be his year, but I like Angel Di Maria even more. If he can come back from his injury, Messi will be more free and Argentina’s chance will be better. I also have a bias towards Germany as I remember them being very defensive in the past and not necessarily linked to beautiful play but more effective plays. After Brazil thrashing, I believe that a lot of people will see Germany as the de facto favorite. It may be the hipster in me, but I will keep my confidence in Argentina and hope for Di Maria’s return.

And you, who do you think will win? Did you follow the world cup? Did you like it? Share in the comments below.

By Sebastien Grobelny

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