In the back of our minds, we all knew that it would happen. It always does. Once again, we felt the PlayStation Network creak under the weight of thousands of users trying to access the digital store and download the Destiny Beta at roughly the same time. Even Bungie's website felt the crushing demand of eager gamers as they tried to access their accounts and nab their download codes. For those who didn't pre-order the title from Sony's aforementioned network, a lengthy wait was heading their way, but thankfully, most seem to agree that all of the ensuing internet rage was worth the effort.
And I have to agree. What is possibly the most anticipated beta of the last few years is essentially a more fleshed out version of the alpha that released last month, and I adored that glimpse of the game to begin with. If you dabbled in that post-E3 affair, then this new look at Activision's brave new frontier won't hold too many surprises. You'll be exploring the same Cosmodrome area of Old Earth, and gunning down mostly the same groups of aggressors, but this time around, there are several story missions to get through, new multiplayer content, and a slew of fresh loot. So let's get on with our adventures, shall we?
Where better to begin than with the character creation screen. What we've been given here is the same as the alpha's avatar crafting, but I'd like to put forward one simple question: why wouldn't you want to be an Exo? The three playable races don't offer their own statistics, so you're free to pick whichever you like the best, but I can't help but feel that the Humans and Awakened are getting the short end of the stick when compared to their robotic allies.
Sure, the two non-synthetic races actually have hair, but who needs that hassle when you can slap some metal plates onto the front of your face? Okay, I'm not being entirely serious, but I still reckon that Exos look like the coolest bunch. Complete with glowing eyes and the most diverse set of skin tones, these mechs are probably going to look great no matter how you style them. Not to mention the fact that when dancing, they offer mechanical moves that will likely leave your soft human friends green with envy.
Playing as a rough and tumble Titan, I purposefully went for a bulky look with a solid chunk of metal slapped onto my character's forehead for extra protection – or at least, because it makes him look quite angry. Golden eyes and blue paint complete the look, and it helps that the title seems to have no trouble constantly providing you with gear that tends to match. In all honesty, it's rather difficult to create a monstrosity, even when you're equipping a random assortment of multi-coloured loot, which is a testament to the incredibly consistent art style that Bungie has clearly slaved over.
Going back to the mention of Titans, my first day in the beta has been littered with them. During the alpha, Warlocks seemed to be the most common class choice, but after over four hours of play, it's been difficult to pick out anyone that wasn't a heavily armoured Guardian. That's not to say, though, that the Titan is the best career on offer. Each class demands a different style of play, and judging from the mostly unlocked skill tree, that style is only going to get more specialised as you pick and choose between an assortment of different abilities. Largely being a co-op experience, it's almost a certainty that the endgame will be filled with high level opponents and deadly assignments where you'll have to work together as a cohesive unit, and that's probably where specialisations are really going to matter.
Fortunately, it wasn't long before I was partnered up with Push Square user TOMBOY25, who kindly invited me to my first fire team of the beta. A fellow Titan, we largely made short work of anything between us and the objective as we punched our way to victory. And it's worth noting that punching things as a Titan is just about as satisfying as combat gets. One good slug to the face, and you can send lower level foes spiralling off into a wall. The attack even boasts a bass-filled 'THUMP' sound effect every time that you lay down the pain. If it weren't for the fact that the vast majority of enemies have guns, I daresay that we'd have just beaten everything to death purely because it feels so good.
Having already completed the very first mission of the game as part of the beta's introductory sequence, we decided to blitz through the three other story missions on offer. As you might expect, the narrative-infused quests are exactly that: they're tasks that are tied together with a bit of plot, and while that doesn't seem too exciting, the gameplay seems nicely structured as you're guided across the map to several different locations.
As for the story itself, it's obviously a little early to judge. The beta provides our best look yet at Destiny's overarching narrative, but with just a couple of cutscenes and a handful of dialogue on display, it comes off as sci-fi fluff. There's nothing to really get invested in just yet, but it's difficult to see Bungie creating a plot that somehow sours the experience. I did get a shock, however, when my Guardian muttered a couple of lines during the two different cutscenes. Indeed, your character will be voiced, and judging from my Titan's electronically tinged, gruff speech, it could well inject some necessary personality into our avatars, whom we'll no doubt be spending a whole lot of time with come September.
So what did you get up to on the first day of Destiny's beta? Tell us all about your wacky adventures in the comments section below, and remember to check back tomorrow for Day Two of our Destiny diary.