And so it was that the Destiny Alpha began. After years of daydreaming, visualizing, coding, testing, plotting, and scheming, a small slice of our beast was released into the wild.
It was High Noon (cue: tumbleweed). The press embargo lifted, and a thousand war stories rang out like gunshots on the Internet. Finally, Bungie was able to sit back and watch as an intimate, exclusive sampling fought their way through just one corner of our brave new world.
Some of us were at E3 when the Glimmer rush started. We wanted nothing more than to soak up the eye witness reports we had craved for so long. Instead, we busied about in a press room above a raging Crucible of another sort – the playable, competitive attraction in the Activision booth.
Even immersed in the chaos of the show, it didn’t take long for tales from the Alpha to reach us. On the other side of a room filled with special guests, two Bungie guys were suddenly consumed by hysterical laughter. I rushed over to glance over their shoulder at a smart phone and saw a posse of Guardians dancing on the Postmaster’s roof in the Tower. In the corner of the Twitch feed, their host was thrashing his head in a mad fit of joy. All the while, a stuffed cow hat held on for dear life.
This was the gamer leading the dance…
Back at the studio, Bungie engineers had also joined his audience. Little did he know that his dance had attracted the attention of developers who needed a test subject for study as they manipulated network traffic in the effort of science. In the age of Twitch, feedback is immediate, and we were all too grateful to reap it.
After scrutinizing his 45 hours of intense Crucible action under our microscope, we knew more about this online warrior than he knew about himself. He had won 3,228 medals, carved from the hides of his 5,812 vanquished opponents. His Titan had waged a reign of terror with his preferred load-out that most-often included a Scout Rifle, a Shotgun, and a belt-fed Heavy.
This is his story.
Who are you?
It’s nice to be included in your lineup already. We’d like to pick your brain for some of that unique perspective. We’ll start with the first question every Guardian is asked – your class. Why the Titan? You spent more time in that suit of armor than any other.
Ninja: There was something epic about gliding fifteen feet (or more) into the air and Hulk-Smashing/Fist-of-Havocking an Interceptor or a group of people.
Give us your professional analysis of this new combat sandbox.
Ninja: I was immediately impressed with the balance between every competitive aspect of Destiny. The primary weapons fell into their roles perfectly. The special weapons in Destiny were by far my favorite. If you wanted to play a little more cautiously and outplay your opponents, the fusion rifle was the way to go. If you were more of a crazy player who likes to never stop sprinting, the shotgun is a great special weapon for you. The heavy weapons being power weapons on the map was hands down the greatest idea out of an FPS game in a long time.
As for the super balance, there were countless times I got shut down by another super while using my Golden Gun, Nova Bomb, and Fist of Havoc. Supers were very good at countering other supers, and that’s how it should be.
In the Bungie playtest labs, we call that “Super Stuffing.” But, proceed. You were talking about balance?
Ninja: The vehicle aspect of the sandbox was also spot on. Pikes could be taken out by a skilled player outside of a vehicle, and turrets were great at countering any of the mobile vehicles. A useful tip that people might not know about, if you shoot the glass of the turrets shield it will break, leaving the player vulnerable to a nice snipe in the face. Even the interceptors could be taken care of with an accurate super/sniper or another Interceptor boost.
The grenades of each class all had their uses, the Warlock ‘nade was very good at keeping enemies away from a capture point. The Hunter ‘nade was great for a quick kill or a nice bounce ‘nade off of some objects to land a kill on a camper around a corner! The Titan's grenade was the most useful - being able to blind your opponents capturing a zone and then sweep in with some nice sliding shotgun kills to clean them up.
Summarize the entire experience in one word.
Ninja: "Rewarding." Every single kill you get in this game; no matter with what weapon, super, grenade, or vehicle feels EXTREMELY satisfying. I think this is why I was able to play the game for 16 hours a day.
What were your most successful tactics?
Ninja: Some of my most successful tactics include the following:A). Save your supers for defending control points, you are guaranteed kills.B). The sliding shotgun beat down combo is key to going on a rampage against your opponents! Learn it and use it wisely.C). Never miss, that was probably my most useful tactic.
[Grabs notepad and starts scribbling furiously.] Never miss! After a lifetime of playing shooters, this one kernel of truth has evaded me, and now I have it. Never miss! It’s so… simple. I have been such a fool.
Moving right along, what was the one thing about Destiny that surprised you the most?
Ninja: What surprised me was how much fun I had with my friends and the subscribers on my stream. I was able to go into matchmaking again and again, experiencing what felt like a completely different match every time. I cannot wait for the full content to be released for years of fun.
How would you rate the competition in the Alpha sampling?
Ninja: The players on the PS4 really surprised me! I was expecting to be able to carry every single game even if I searched alone in matchmaking, and I was bested quite a few times by many different players. The infamous JohnnyPooPoo ended my 25-0 legend spree with 5 seconds remaining in a match.
Will we see you again in the Beta?
Ninja: Is Doctor Who the greatest series on Netflix?
No. That would be House of Cards (shots fired). So, Beta?
Ninja: I will be counting down the days until I can stream this magnificent game again. It was so refreshing to play a new game that didn't remind me of any other games I’ve played. People constantly asked me: "What does Destiny FEEL like? Relate it to another game."
My response was always "It feels like Destiny."
Last question: What the hell was a professional killer doing dancing in the Tower?
Ninja: I was going to use this awesome new feature to taunt the enemy players after killing them. It then occurred to me that my Awoken male Titan character had some pretty sweet dance moves, and I decided to throw a dance party on my stream as a surprise!
Very sporting of you, Ninja. You honor us with your respect for your opponents. Never lose that, especially not once the rest of the killers arrive in the Beta. The war of the Crucible is just beginning, after all. The next wave will be a stampede by comparison.
This is just one Guardian who will be on the hunt when Destiny is ready to be played again. It’s a thrill to finally be able to ask people in the community what they think about this game, based on their first-hand accounts. Now that we’ve started, we’ll never stop.