Partnering with Activision Bungie launched the project with an ambitious ten year plan (and an equally ambitious price tag on Activision’s part to get the publishing rights). For, I’ll touch on this in more detail in my review on Tuesday but right now let’s focus on the game itself. Released on the PS3, Xbox 360, PS4 and Xbox One the title is conspicuously absent from the PC though through the regular rumour and lack of comment on speculation it is thought a PC version will be coming some time in the future, Activision is not a company to leave money on the table.
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I was in the unusual position of having pre-ordered Destiny for the 360 before coming in to possession of both an Xbox One and a PS4 but being unable to switch up my limited edition pre-order I just kept it and ended up with copies of the game across the 360 and both current generation consoles. Comparisons from last gen to next are pretty straight forward, the last generation lack the anti-aliasing capabilities, the video memory, and the raw horsepower of the next generation.
Unless you have a compelling reason (like none of your friends have a next gen console) you will obviously want to move to the Xbox One or PS4 if it is available to you. If you compare the 360 to the PS3 this is one of the cases where the 360 comes out on top, my guess is mainly due to the fact that Bungie’s last game Halo Reach was one of the best optimized games on the platform and they know how to make that console sing. Shortcomings across the board in the last gen consoles are inferior anti-aliasing, muddy textures, increased blur and fuzzy images to smooth out the rough edges. Lighting and transparency effects are also pared down but consistently the 360 looks just that little bit better. Digital Foundry ran a comparison and you can see the results here the variances are minor enough that you should feel comfortable with either console but the PS3 does come with exclusive content not available for at least a year on the 360 or Xbox One which may sway you to their platform.
Likewise the current gen PS4 and Xbox One are neck and neck for performance, they are both running at 1080p to appease the resolution addicts (and not upscaled, but true 1080p). Additionally they are both using the same FXAA anti-aliasing technology and display the same level of detail. Frame rates are pretty much consistent across the board with drop on both consoles at 30 fps but a slightly higher instance of frame rate drop-age reported by Digital Foundry on the Xbox One compared to the PS4 but with the worst being 28 fps it is hardly something that would be noticed unless it was seriously being looked for. There is a slight variation in the colour palette due to the way that PS4 and Xbox One handle HDMI output so in the end, again it comes down to which platform has the exclusive content you feel you need and who you know who plays.
Sitting down I started with my class of choice, the Titan, I’m not the best FPS gamer on the block so I like to play characters where I can take a bit more of a beating to give my slow reflexes time to adapt. I played this on the 360 so the graphics were a bit more fuzzy than the other systems but the frame rate was solid but there were few disconnect issues (over the first few days the servers have taken a bit of a beating but they have gradually stabilized). Level one through five is a pretty easy trip with the Guardian able to hold your own in a firefight and if any one makes the mistake of getting too close you can one punch kill your way out of most situations.
The titan is a tank and moves like one, the controls on the titan are slow but I never felt overwhelmed by enemies and felt entirely comfortable holding my ground, the Titan can take an excessive amount of damage while dealing a fair bit itself, the only time I really started dying was when I got cocky and bumped the challenge on a story quest from level three to level seven. My poor level four was vaporized over and over again until I backed out and downed the level.
Next up I tried the hunter, from the 360 I moved to the Xbox One. The graphical improvement was obvious, it was nice seeing my characters in crisp HD resolution with massive textures. The game itself didn’t play that differently, speaking to the talents of Bungie that they could keep the experience on par between the two vastly different hardware platforms. The neat thing about moving between a 360 and an Xbox One is my character came along with it. Unfortunately despite your Bungie account being linked this will only work between a single platform family so your characters can move between PS3 to PS4 and back or Xbox 360 and Xbox One and back again.
The Hunter, like my zippy Swallow hover bike, is much more limber than my Titan. She moves across the terrain with a distinct nimbleness and instead of punching to death her enemies she stabs them in the throat. I felt while playing the hunter I could get in and out very easily. Again the structure mirrored that of the Titan, first upgrade at second level is a grenade. This time an Incendiary Grenade, I don’t think the benefits of a fist full of burning death require explanation.
She said BOOM... then thwip stab stab stab.
The jump profile on the double jump is a bit different appearing in my experience to give the Hunter a bit higher boost while the Titan had a longer sustain time. At level four once again I got my power move this time I pull out a magical flaming pistol of death. The effect is awesome, it shoots a heavy damage blast at my target disintegrating the targets hit with “Solar light” but the effect of manifesting a magical flaming pistol is a little weak. In the Science-Fantasy world of Destiny it just seems at odds with the otherwise technology driven hunter class. Finally at level five I unlocked my second alternate attack a throwing knife that can one hit take down an enemy from range. Very nice!
His movement profile feels very similar to the Hunter with an unlocked double jump that was more of a glide so slightly more sustain than a Titan but not the larger height boost of the Hunter. The grenade you unlock at level two with the Warlock is a void grenade, a bit tricky to finesse but a nice localized sustained damage tool. Throwing a space magic singularity you can create bottlenecks and choke points for enemies especially when they are in another room. Any enemy passing through the radius of the grenade sustains continual damage for it’s duration. The Warlock’s punch is also a bit different, a little lower damage it has a bonus effect of a knock back function. Essentially if I have a Vortex Grenade going in the background I can punch an enemy back in to it for added damage.
Now, I’ve already talked about the glide ability so let’s get to the barrel of AWESOME that is the Nova Bomb. I’ve already talked about the flaming pistol and the ground pound, this is a combination of both. My Warlock jumps in to the air gathering the essence of the void in his fists and hurls a ball of nihilistic energy at the enemies which explodes vaporizing many of the enemies instantly.
I didn’t mind my Warlock enjoying him more than I expected but this power alone moved him from the number three slot in my roster of death machines to Top of the Pops! The next power I unlocked was almost an anti-climax. This was an upgrade to my punch that buffed the damage and added a refresh buff on my grenade cool down.
In the end it was a solid experience across all three platforms, I did prefer the Xbox control layout but that's a very personal preference so millage may vary on that. There’s still so much more to speak about, your gear can be deconstructed giving you components for crafting during the end game, at level five you unlock Crucible gameplay, this is the multiplayer deathmatch arena that the Halo fans will enjoy. I’ve not ventured in to this yet either since I’m more a co-op and single player kind of guy but my time during beta in Crucible was really a lot of fun. As you progress through the story you also unlock “Patrol mode” free roaming the battlefield unlocking mini-missions in the form of beacons left behind by various factions in the tower. Combined with bounties (which can be picked up before heading out) these make for great grinding opportunities if you want to level up to get a bit of a kick before taking on a story mission.
There’s still much to talk about, Fireteam events, raids, etc. I will continue the “terrible chore” of playing Destiny and get back to you on Tuesday with my full review. Until then push back the Darkness fellow Guardians it is up to us to carry on the legacy of the Traveller and become Legend.