How Destiny on PS4 is rethinking FPS multiplayer

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How Destiny on PS4 is rethinking FPS multiplayer

An early look at how Bungie’s stunning space shooter plays

Having spent several hours with a pre-release version of Destiny on PS4, my sense is that Bungie‘s vision is no less than a complete rethink of how multiplayer shooters work. Destiny is a deconstruction and reconstruction of a genre that has languished in sterile matchmaking lobbies for far too long.

If you don’t have a particular agenda, Patrol is a good place to start. The Patrol structure is deliberately relaxed and freewheeling, with locations covering a large swath of exterior and interior spaces. You can hunt for beacons to trigger side missions, or just blast enemies, collect loot, and explore at your own pace. Patrol missions seem to vary considerably, tasking you with everything from collecting uranium to interrupting mining operations and assassinating enemy leaders.

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From time to time you’ll cross paths with other Patrol players, sometimes in the form of dynamic “social events” that pit you against a bigger challenge. It’s always optional: Tag along with the new guy, or hop on your hovercraft and make for the horizon? As in thatgamecompany’s Journey, it’s your choice. Patrol’s fluid, effortless matchmaking makes the overall Destiny experience feel distinctly social, with other players drifting in and out of your game.

Strikes are far more directed affairs. These cooperative missions have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Many conclude with a climactic boss battle and showers of multi-coloured loot. Strikes are designed to be highly re-playable and present a prime source of quality gear, so expect them to be popular come September.

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“Bungie’s vision is no less than a complete rethink of how multiplayer shooters work.”

I played one Strike set early in the game called “The Devil’s Lair.” As my partners and I picked our way through the carcass of a sprawling facility in Old Russia, I swapped between my primary weapon (an accurate pulse rifle) and my special weapon (a head-melting fusion rifle) depending on the situation and surroundings. When the going got tough, I deployed my heavy weapon — a rocket launcher — to lay waste.

Strikes represent a microcosm of Destiny’s co-op gameplay design mentality, with each of the three Guardian classes filling a signature role in the fight. Hunters are nimble heavy hitters that inflict big damage at medium to long range, while Titans veer more towards the tank role. Warlocks serve as heavy artillery, obliterating enemy mobs in violent explosions of Void energy.

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Each class boasts a specialised grenade type and a distinctive Super ability (with variations for both) that’s triggered by pressing L2 and R2 simultaneously. Otherwise, the classes differ from each other in minor ways. Any class can use any weapon equally well as any other class, for example.

Speaking of which, Bungie’s mastery of weapon design is on full display here. As you open caches and slay baddies, you’ll collect armfuls of new weaponry that offer unique benefits and drawbacks. One auto rifle might fire blisteringly fast but suffer from limited range and a tiny magazine; another might fire slowly but far more accurately. There are an array of shotguns and sniper rifles, too — we’ll provide more details in another post later this week.

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“The game is a visual knockout, and so far the gameplay fundamentals feel rock solid and, critically, fun”

Though the arsenal is diverse and dynamic, Destiny’s guns aren’t procedurally generated; each is hand-tuned by a Bungie weapon designer and has a role in the overall armory. You’ll be able to further customise your weapon by adding mods or levelling it up with consistent use.

After playing several hours of Destiny, it’s hard not to be excited. The game is a visual knockout, and so far the gameplay fundamentals feel rock solid and, critically, fun. And yet, Destiny’s greatest charms may lie in its potentially game-changing approach to online matchmaking.

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There’s still much to learn about Destiny. The competitive mode is set to make its debut at this year’s E3 2014, with a beta release set for some time in the indeterminate future. Whatever happens, 9th September suddenly feels painfully far away.

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16 Comments

  • Aww still no date…

  • Borderlands clone, looks quite dull and far from what I expected from the IP.

    • I wouldn’t call it a borderlands clone not by a long shot, Mabey wait for more gameplay before writing it off? . At least this games coming from a studio with a much better track record than a studio that released aliens colonial marines…

    • you are right! a lot of gaming pros have had their hands on this and it doesn’t score very high. Your comment was responded by “At least this games coming from a studio with a much better…” Is he ready to comment on the poor show from DICE and bf4? At the end of the day they will all take your money faster than lightning and give you nothing in return, best hold off this game until 3rd month of release to see what it is really like!

    • Not seeing the similarities with BL, but this game definitely changed from a good idea to another FPS in the last few weeks. I was hoping it would be more about exploration and character development and much less shooting. Now it looks like any shooter, I lost interest big time.

  • After Halo 3 ODST/Halo Reach two of my favourite games of last Gen I’ve got a lot of trust in bungie to deliver a quality game. I really hope this game delivers!

    • ODST/Reach are my two favorite Bungie games as well. I hope Bungie come through with some story/narrative etc.. and there is more to it than that Devils Lair gameplay vid. Otherwise I am concerned. Will keep the faith. :)

  • Halo remains my favourite FPS series. Considering the track record of Bungie I’m certain this game will be incredible as long as theres no problems with the servers.

  • I hated every Halo game. I thought they were among the worst shooters I ever had the misfortune to play, and I tried all of them. I never understood the hype, or why people liked them.

    Destiny looks promising. I’d like a good, progressive co-op shooter as we have enough PvP style shooters on PS4 and I already played them to death. ;)

  • Super ability triggered by pressing L2 and R2 simultaneously? Well, I’m hoping for “redefine controls” option…

  • Will we be able to pre-order Destiny through the PS Store? Because I want to go digital-only on PS4 and also gain access to the beta…

  • Does anyone know if it is possible to actively play with a friend through the entire game? I assume you are able to join each other at will and not have to meet up in a Patrol environment?

  • I do get a Borderlands vibe from it, but that’s not a bad vibe to get – Borderlands is awesome! I look forward to its release.

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