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Feature: The PS4 Destiny Diaries - Day Two: The Exploration of Old Russia

Posted by Robert Ramsey

And not a stereotype in sight

For many, Destiny's biggest draw is its promise that you can explore huge, open areas with your buddies – or even complete strangers – as you scavenge the land for some lovely new loot. And I must admit, this is also the much hyped shooter's key component for me, as well. While I'm fairly confident that the story missions will prove to be a good ride and the competitive multiplayer will keep people occupied well after they've seen what every vast locale has to offer, it's the idea of traversing expansive lands that's always excited me the most, especially when there's a sci-fi edge at work.

Looking back on some of my favourite titles, it's not hard to see why. Being a huge fan of Bethesda's open worlds and Japanese RPGs that throw you head-first into a large land of fantasy, there's nothing quite like simply wandering through the environments that developers have put so much time into making, taking in the sights, and discovering something new every time that you load up the game. And if Destiny's dusty Old Russian Cosmodrome is anything to go by, the full release is going to be absolutely caked in rich, interesting spaces to explore.

Yesterday, I mentioned the game's consistent and very well realised art style, and that's at the crux of what makes an appealing world. Without a defined visual direction, a title usually tends to feel a little disjointed and raw, but even in this beta, everything feels incredibly polished. Take the style that's on offer in Old Russia, for example. Despite the fact that it's largely a wasteland full of abandoned machinery that mankind has long left behind, there's a real sense of style, and even a decent splash of colour; rusty oranges and browns dot the landscape, and the tones play off the snowy backdrop brilliantly.

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It's not just pretty, either – it's also atmospheric. You'll often find yourself standing on a rocky outcrop and gazing out into the distance, not because you're in a cinematic cutscene, but because you feel the need to. A hallmark of any visually interesting game is when you stop playing and simply take a look around you to breathe in the atmosphere, and that's exactly what Destiny makes you want to do. Whether it's looking up at old relay stations or standing on high ground for a panoramic view, it always feels like there's something that you haven't seen before – little details to pick out in what is essentially a hell hole.

Also worthy of mention are the more subtle details, too. Worn signposts and broken vehicles litter the location, while, in places, nature has already begun absorbing the wreckage as plants wrap themselves around giant pieces of junk. The most intriguing contrast I've come across, though, are a couple of rusty tanks that are covered in organic bits and pieces. Going into so much depth about a title's visual prowess is bound to sound a little bit pretentious, but there's still something very charming about hopping onto the top of a military vehicle and discovering that a tiny little flower has bloomed through the metal. It's precisely this level of detail that keeps areas that you'll be travelling through numerous times feeling relatively fresh.

When it comes to gameplay, Old Russia is chocked full of enemies for you to find and cull, as well as caves and underground lairs to stumble upon. It's quite difficult to work out exactly how big the dilapidated landscape is, but when travelling from one extremity to the other, it takes about ten minutes if you don't partake in any combat. For just one area, there's more than enough to see and do, although there has been a consistent complaint echoing throughout the community in that foes respawn far too fast.

Indeed, all you have to do is take down a group of alien aggressors, walk a small distance away, and turn around – chances are, the enemies that you just put to the slaughter will have popped back into existence. It's easy to see why this might seem a bit overzealous, but at the same time, you can't ignore the somewhat obvious reasons for such a system. Bungie may refrain from calling its creation an MMO, but it's the same principle that's at work here. In a place where you can come across a handful of other players, there's not much point in having foes that take lengthy amounts of time to respawn. In reality, all this would do is ensure that whoever enters the location first gets all of the kills, and it'd certainly make the beta's environment a far more boring place to be.

As it stands, there's never a lack of action, and when you're on the hunt for some powerful new weapons or shiny pieces of armour, you probably won't mind taking down the same mobs a few times as you go about your business anyway. Proceedings are also kept interesting thanks to an array of public events that appear to occur when there are enough Guardians in a certain location. You might have to protect an object from waves of an opposing force, or tackle a spider tank-like walker and a bunch of grunts. No matter their content, the occurrences feel natural, and when the sky turns black as a giant ship tears through the clouds, it's definitely fun to see how your sudden allies react to the impending battle.

Ultimately, things are looking bright on the exploration front when it comes to the full release. Old Russia itself provides a very atmospheric and huge map to scour, meaning that there's plenty of reason to get excited for the chance to jog around several more planets, which are hopefully just as intriguing as what's on offer here.


How did you find the second day of the Destiny beta? Have you been exploring Old Russia, too? Make sure to tell us all about your discoveries in the comments section below, and remember to check back tomorrow for day three of our Destiny diary.

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User Comments (20)

get2sammybAdmin

#1

get2sammyb said:

Another good read, Robert. I think this game has the most impressive skies ever, which sounds like a really weird compliment, but it's cearly something that's been a huge part of their focus.

Did have my first groan moment with the game today in the Strike (?) mission. Really didn't enjoy the battle against the robotic spider and big sphere thing - both complete and utter bullet sponges, which I often find can be the bane of these types of games.

I am, however, really liking the deathmatch stuff.

mitcHELLspawn

#2

mitcHELLspawn said:

@get2sammyb I'm really dying to get my hands on a beta code for the ps4.. If you or anyone you know has one I'd be willing to pay 10 bucks for one :) I hate preordering games online and it was the only way for me to get a beta code as the stores in my area weren't offering it :/

Scorpio73

#4

Scorpio73 said:

@mitcHELLspawn I have an extra code i can float your way. I have no idea if you can pm me here or not, but if you can I'd be more than happy to give it to you. The game has been alot of fun for me in beta so far, but I've only been playing by myself so far. I bet it's even more fun when playing with friends, I seem to be forever alone in these types of games. Anyways, shoot me a pm and I'll give you the code.

PoNY_LTD

#5

PoNY_LTD said:

If you preorder on pss, you get access to beta instantly, without the code :)

mitcHELLspawn

#6

mitcHELLspawn said:

@Scorpio73 oh wow. That would actually be incredible ! I'm not sure about pming on here but I don't mind giving my email out If you wouldn't mind taking a minute to send it there? It's kelvmitchhall@hotmail.com I really appreciate it! Thanks a ton. Like I said before too I don't mind sending off 10 bucks for it! Thanks again.

Munkyknuts

#11

Munkyknuts said:

I do dearly love environments to explore...I hate multiplayer gaming usually but I'd be willing to over look that for this game. I'm all about the beauty of decay and dereliction so it's likely I'd be distracted by the composition of the clouds padding over the ruins of buildings or the prettiness of weed infested rusted war machines as my allies are slaughtered....it's a very very pretty game. I'd often stop to admire the sunlight streaming through the broken window and catching on dust motes in somewhere like a ruined factory in Fallout 3 or watching a stormy sky over the mountains in Skyrim.

THEundying27

#12

THEundying27 said:

Is it just me or does destiny seem rather empty. The maps are huge and all but I seem to spend a lot of time just roaming around. A pack of enemies here and there. Loot is somewhat scarce. Anyone else feel this way?

Mrskinner

#13

Mrskinner said:

@THEundying27 I actually felt the same to be honest. After an hour I had looked all over Russia and loot does my head in. I see a chest, a friend opens it then when I get there it is gone. Areas do feel sparse at times then you get a big group of enemies together.

Anyone know what the point of the enemies in the caves with ?? For their level are? I think capping it at 8 for beta is a bit low. You can't even do any damage to them.

Also why is the moon down as a visitable place but when you click on it it's not available.

Demi_God

#14

Demi_God said:

It's just a section, a beta is the get the servers to run smoother and minor bug fixes. This game is quite polished for a beta so I'm quite sure it's just for server tweaks and stuff like that to get everything going for the big launch. Because this is a beta, these levels may look a bit different or have a lot more stuff in them when we get the final game.

SecondServing

#15

SecondServing said:

This game, what can I say, it's going to be the next big thingggggg. It's... addicting. It's...fun. It's...I mean jeez my expectation has been blown away day one buy.

And keep in mind I'm only playing on my PS3, I can't even imagine the XBox One version!! I can't wait for next week!

Gamer83

#17

Gamer83 said:

What I found interesting is that as I wonder around Old Russia I'm actually having much more fun joining up with random groups of people and taking down enemies than I thought I would. Maybe it's because it's a beta that there are less people which means less chance of dbags ruining the experience but what I was concerned about was that going from story mission to story mission some jerk would enter the game and start firing at me causing me to start over at the beginning of levels or what not but it's not like that at all. The game has that typical Bungie feel which means the shooting is as solid and addicting as ever but now instead of just playing the single player and maybe dabbling in competitive multi from time to time, I could see myself having a lot of fun teaming with other random people and taking down bosses or clearing large groups of enemies. I really didn't expect that part of the game to be a highlight. I'll wait until the final version to make a full judgement on that but so far I have to tip my cap to Bungie, everything is really well done.

seeafish

#18

seeafish said:

I can see why Bungie were so loved in Camp MS all these years (never owned an xbox). What an astonishing game this is, and considering it's a beta, it's pretty damn smooth.
If anyone is playing tonight, add me: capitales7

iDangerMouse_

#19

iDangerMouse_ said:

I must say, I done quite a bit of exploring this morning before I watched the German GP. It's blew my mind. The fact that I can just kill mobs of enemies with a complete stranger or a couple of my friends is awesome. And I'm really enjoying the public events, too. It's kinda like going out of your way to help people! I'm really enjoying the Beta so far. Roll on September 9th!

Reverend_Skeeve

#20

Reverend_Skeeve said:

@seeafish I shall add you! :) Wife and daughter are out until tomorrow, so you'll have to pry the pad from my cold, (not quite) dead hands. ;)

And come to think of it...it's bloody hot here...so they're not even cold.

Edit: Added you.

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