PlayStation gamers have already managed to get their hands on the beta for Destiny
, but tomorrow marks the day that Xbox gamers finally get to enter the world of the Traveler and a dying solar system. Anybody who has pre-ordered the game will be able to access the beta on either the Xbox One or the Xbox 360, but what exactly can you look forward to trying?
One of the first things that you'll have to do is choose a character class. There are three from which to choose: the Titan, the Hunter or the Wizard. These translate to your tank-like warrior, stealth character and magic user respectively (although the Wizard no longer comes from the moon
I'm afraid). While there will be a difference in your character's special move, melee attack and grenade type, all character types have a double jump ability and can use a variety of weapons. At lower levels, the difference between character types is minimal.
After choosing a character class, players then get to customise their appearance. Players can pick a race, gender and various aspects of their facial appearance. There's a fair number of options just within the beta, so it is rare to see two characters that look alike.
Once you have finished customising your Guardian character, you wake up in an area of Earth known as Old Russia. Your Ghost companion, a small flying robot, has finally found you and brought you back to life. Despite the ravages of war and time, the decaying wastelands of Old Russia look stunning. Unfortunately, as you have no weapon and there is a party of enemy Fallen closing in, your Ghost ushers you into a nearby ruined building, meaning that exploration will have to wait until later.
The mission objectives are delivered through the Ghost, whose robotic Peter Dinklage tones will also give you tips and back story. It will also act as a waypoint throughout the entire game. For now, you are guided through the basic Borderlands
-esque first-person gameplay as you attempt to escape your pursuers. At first, you take down your enemies with scavenged primary weapon, in our case an automatic rifle, and a meaty melee attack that is powerful enough to take down basic enemies, but not too overpowered that it can kill anything. You'll then scavenge a "special" secondary weapon to accompany your primary weapon. Although more powerful, these secondary weapons have limited ammo and you'll have to use them carefully.
Like your player character, the AI enemies have a level depicting their difficulty and health and shield bars that are visible through the sights of your weapon. They will constantly be ducking in and out of cover, so you'll need to keep moving around to pick them all off. As you hit your enemies, their health damage is visibly represented by numbers that cascade out of them. Dead foes will frequently drop ammo, which you will need to scavenge to replenish your supplies. Occasionally you will be rewarded with armour, weapons or weapon upgrades, although these will need to be redeemed at your next destination at the end of the tutorial mission: the Tower.
The Tower is the Guardians' hub and is the Last City of Earth. In an otherwise hostile world, this is the only place of safety. Here rewards are redeemed from the allies that are conveniently marked with a green icon. This icon is also used to mark allies from whom you can collect messages, bounties and quests. Exploration of the hub yields a variety of characters that are willing to supply you with new supplies and upgrades. Surplus equipment can be stored at vaults that are found in the main concourse. Most importantly, the Tower also serves the purpose of being a place where you can recruit other players to join your Fireteam and accompany you on your missions.
Once you have finished in the Tower, you are returned to Orbit. This is where the game opens up and players get to choose what they want to do next from the map of the universe. Earth is the only location that is available during the beta, although the Moon is also marked on the map. There are Story missions, Strike missions and the option to enter free-roam through Exploration. When players reach level 5, the Crucible, home of the competitive multiplayer modes, can also be accessed from Orbit.
The beta offers four storyline missions that are based out of Old Russia and this is likely to be the first choice for players leaving the Tower for the first time. While the missions initially begin in the same part of Old Russia, they all head in different directions, hinting at the vastness of the area. These missions are where players will learn about the lore of Destiny
and the characters that will be important to your mission to protect the Solar System from the Fallen for as long as possible. Each mission can be carried out with a Fireteam of up to three players, or you could attempt the missions alone if you so choose. Alone, the story missions provide a challenge, but a team of three is likely to breeze through them.
The sole Exploration mission takes players to the Cosmodrome in Old Russia. This vast area is hiding a number of beacons that can be located using your Ghost. The beacons offer a variety of short objective based missions that support Fireteams of up to six players. Kill specific targets, clear the area of enemies or recover items from far-flung locations. The missions don't offer a large amount of variety and they will even reset after a set period of time. While you get XP rewards for killing enemies, the quests reward players with Vanguard marks that are used to buy class-specific armour and weapons from the Tower. If the beta is an accurate indication, the grind to earn this equipment will involve completing these missions repeatedly.
Occasionally your quest objectives will be disrupted by a randomly occurring event. You can ignore these events if you wish, but those who choose to take them on will find the game's biggest challenge so far. Players may need to kill a number of invading enemies in a short amount of time, kill a more powerful foe before he reaches a certain location, or protect a piece of equipment from the Fallen. While these missions begin easily enough, the difficulty ramps up extremely quickly. This is the point at which large groups of players will want to work together if they are to be successful.
The sole Strike mission sends three players to The Devil's Lair on a longer stand-alone mission with multiple objectives. If your Fireteam lacks three people, you will be matched with other players. This is because players must work together if they are to succeed. There are more enemies, they are harder to beat and the boss fights are bigger. The mission is pitched at level 6 players on normal difficulty, but was a challenge for two players at level 7 and one at level 6. If your team fancies more of a challenge, you can choose to add a set mission modifier that adds enemies and makes them more relentless. The option is also there to apply mission modifiers to Story missions. However, only the over-levelled or most skillful players should apply.
The final part of the beta is the Crucible, which becomes available after players reach level 5. Here is where players go to test their skills in competitive multiplayer modes. The only mode available in the beta is Capture mode, which is a mode akin to Call of Duty
's Domination or Battlefield
's Conquest mode, so this will be very familiar to the majority of players. There are four maps on which to do battle: Earth, Moon, Mars and Venus. Character upgrades that have been earned through levelling up are removed for the purpose of Crucible matches, although advantages offered by weapons and equipment of a higher level are still noticeable.
Players have until July 27th to try out everything that the beta has to offer. Players are capped at level 8, but if you have maxed out your character, you can either choose to look for better equipment or start another character. Why not try all three character classes if you're picking up the beta tomorrow?