The Top 5 Reasons Why You Should be Playing the Destiny Beta

If you have not heard about Bungie's upcoming AAA title called Destiny thankfully you are reading this, so you will now learn about what may very well be the most exciting game of the season!

Seriously! We are totally stoked for this one!

The reason that we are excited has a lot to do with the experiences we have had with the game so far - and yeah, we know you have not had them - and that explains why you are not as excited as we are (yet).

Put it this way - before we arrived at E3 we had already heard a lot about the game - enough to have a measure of anticipatory excitement to be sure - but after E3 and the demo of the Alpha version of the game, the dipstick for video game anticipation was spraying um - anticipation - everywhere!

The E3 Demo

The demo at E3 - while it was admittedly an Alpha build - presented what honestly felt like a very nicely polished and complete game play experience - and that is really important for forming first impressions because hey, we were there to be impressed (and we were)!

The whole point to the demo appeared to be an easily illustrated co-operative mode as well as the extended multi-player mode - and it hit all the marks. Bearing in mind that Destiny is a fusion of MMO and FPS gaming, that's really important.

The demo was set on the moon, and featured a very complex environment of lunar surface, installations, wreckage, and included three different vehicles. The overall impression was something more than simply an arena-mode demo - though that is what it was.

Getting a feel for arena mode was good, don't take this wrong, but what made it better is that, unlike the case with most FPS games, the co-op and competitive arena also shared the same level of game play intensity and feel as the campaign mode, which was wicked crucial in delivering an over-all sense of just what the game is.

Its playable bits easily demonstrated how skill and past experience with games like Halo totally factors in. And we are not just talking about the co-op but also competitive multi-player!

After drinking in its game play, the PRs handed us energy drinks - we suspect to help us recover from the experience - which left us with pretty similar goofy-shock expressions on our faces, and a marked inability to speak in coherent sentences.

'Me want!' was all I could manage after the demo ended, and to be honest even now I am not entirely certain whether I was talking about getting a copy of the game for my very own, or seeing the demo again. Maybe it was both?

In any case when the PR failed to instantly hand over a copy of the game, I found myself growling like Adam Baldwin does on the TV show Chuck: 'Me want NOW!' (insert growl with emphasis upon the word 'NOW').

To his credit the PR did not reach for the can of mace concealed under their shirt, though I could tell from the look of growing anxiety on his face that he was seriously thinking about it...

We were not the first demo appointment of the day, but based upon the nervous reaction it is pretty obvious that our 'request' - however impolite - was not the first that he had received that morning.

The thing is - if Destiny was a virus, that brief exposure to the demo was sufficient to fully infect us with Destiny Fever. But sadly as is usually the case with demo's in general, and E3 in particular, they never have a game to hand you after totally turning you on!

As terrible as that sounds though, it did help motivate us into making a list of the five reasons why we simply cannot wait for the 9 September release date. They also happen to be five reasons why we cannot wait for the 17 July Beta program either - and five reasons why YOU should be lining up to get in on it too!

Are you listening Bungie?! This is our official letter of appeal for an early copy of the game - and yes, we DO have a doctor's note saying we need to play the game now for medical reasons (thanks Dad!).

Take a look for yourselves - Official Destiny E3 Trailer - New Beginning

Reason Number 1: Because I Said So!

Okay so strictly speaking that is not really a legitimate reason - but the thing about it is that Destiny has something going for it that most other games of a similar intent and genre do not: it has solid Bungie Legacy.

To be crystal clear here, Destiny has nothing to do with the Halo Universe - there are no Halo elements in it - that said, and largely thanks to the collective shared experiences of the developers, it has easily inherited massive karma and fluid complexity from their experiences in creating that epic franchise. And, hey, that is important. Because it shows in the game world and game play.

If the only thing that you go away with from reading that observation is the certainty that you are now ahead of the pack in terms of game play effectiveness thanks solely to your years of experience in playing the Halo games, you get a major bonus - but there is a bit more to this than that.

What was really odd was that the PRs and the members of the dev team who were present kept using power-phrases like 'really strong throwback play' when they talked about the game. They focused upon in-game tactics that are central to the game play experience - competitive wins and losses, dominance, and skill-based play.

Those are aspects that no freshman title in a new series has any right to bandy about all casual-like, and yet from everything we have seen and experienced so far, they are totally within their rights to do so because Destiny does not feel like what it is! Even the Alpha we saw plays and feels like a game that has already made its way through the forge of trial and improvement.

Personally I think they have been drinking too many cans of Throwback Mountain Dew myself, because while the complexity and the experience of playing Destiny does have the sort of cohesive and pleasing old-school feel to it, there is nothing old or raw about this game.

What it may very well be is a reasonable transfer of game play design and engineering that naturally happened because, like the Halo series, Destiny happens to be the sort of game that Bungie is very good at making.

As far as our miraculous skills at it well, that can easily be explained! On the one hand we could just be about the highest skilled gamers you ever saw - or on the other hand perhaps we absorbed our mad skills via osmosis?

Of course the fact that we are total Halo-whores may have had something to do with it - who can really say when you're talking about this level of play?


Reason Number 2: Because They Cherry-Picked its Features

We are totally talking about the competitive co-operative multi-player play now.

This will probably blow you away, but they managed to implement this on a level playing field while still somehow permitting the player to custom-build their own Comp-Co-Op character - including bringing their own kit into matches!

They say that this is possible because the primary strategy in this mode is based almost entirely upon the relative skills of the player themselves...

If that is true - and it seems to be - what that means is that you will want to bone-up in some MP Halo mappage while you wait for the Beta to launch.

And when that happens you will want to seriously hit that Beta like a convict coming off a ten-year sentence in solitary confinement who has been dropped off at a Tijuana whorehouse. Just saying.

What that translates to is really very simple: when you head into a Comp-Co-Op map to pit your fireteam against some other dweeb and his five mates, you can go in with your favorite weapon - which I know we don't have to point this out is seriously heavy mojo for most FPS gamers.

So there you are with your preferred shotgun - we call ours 'Vera' as an homage to Jayne Cobb - you can clear out the enemy units blocking your access to that vehicle over there, then grab it and use its heavy weps to lay down some suppressive fire because why? Because your fireteam is a TEAM!

Remember, there's no lemonade in team! Wait... What?

Back to the features - and again while noting this is NOT your dada's Halo, it was clearly built and designed with fair notice of the best of the best features from that series - which means that your use of squad tactics is complemented by resources like armed vehicles, turrets, and tactical weps as well as the sort of environment resources that really seriously rewards you for working with a team that you know well.

Because you already know what to expect in the world as you battle your way through, it almost feels like you have mental telepathy on your side!

Now if that means working the cover to protect your six from some yahoo on the enemy team who has managed to get a vehicle backed up against the ridge so he has a clear field of suppressive fire, and you work with your best mate Mattie to flank and then take down that bogan, or you snap-shot his head from his shoulders from 200 meters because you are THAT good...

The point is that you are playing from the strength of experience and that is so rare in a new game series that it adds to the anticipation and almost makes this feel like you are coming home, not landing in a new battlefield.


Reason Number 3: Making Lemonade

Okay seriously what is with our fixation on lemonade? That is the one beverage that the machine is out of here at SuperCheats - that must be it.

But the sentiment is still valid - when all you have is lemons, you bloody-well make lemonade - and with Destiny they started from the beginning with the idea that domination and competitive game play should be about YOU and your skills, not being lucky enough to get to the first heavy ammo drop on the map and thus having rockets for your God-Killing Rocket Launcher while the best that the other side can do is point theirs at you and go 'click-click' right? Right!

So in place of that hemi-demi-and-totally-bogus luck factor, what they did instead was to turn off the power advantages in Comp-Co-Op so that the leveling system from Co-Op and Campaign remains significant to Co-Op and Campaign, and does not factor into the whole Competitive mode!

Add to that the fact that pretty much all play builds reputation - which directly translates to upgrades, and even when you cannot make use of level-based specials you are still gaining skills and potentially new abilities from the experience.

That is wicked important - one is tempted to say it is crucial - because basically what it translates to is that a new player has the exact same base advantages as a grizzled veteran who lives in his parents basement and pretty much does nothing but game all day - yeah, we're talking about YOU Terry!

The result of this is that one high-level player is not going to be able to stand next to his team's flag and simply mow-down everyone who tries to take it, because they don't get to lord their Level 40 specials over the trio of Level 5 players on the other team - and mate that is simply too cool and don't you hate games that do that sort of thing?

What, you may be asking, is the point of levels if you don't benefit from the enhanced skills they grant?! Well, you still GET those advanced sills - just not in the Competitive Co-Op mode of the game - so you still get to be God's Gift to Warriors when you are in Campaign and playing Co-Op challenges but the team-vs-team mode is plenty challenging because you got to use your tactics and skills!

It's called 'Situational Awareness' for a reason.


Reason Number 4: Because Vehicles are Boss Man!

One of the really cool factors in fusion shooters is the inclusion of strategically important vehicles, which is not really something you see very often in the pure MMO type of setting.

In Destiny all vehicles are not created equally, but vehicles in a class are. The most common of the rides you will use a lot in the game is your Sparrow - that is your personal ride and you can pretty much conjure it up at will for use in beating feet to get from point A to point B in quick time.

While the Sparrow is not what you would call an effective combat vehicle from a practical POV (it is really meant to be transport mind you) just like your trusty iPhone that has an App for that, there are other vehicles in the game that have the appropriate features - you just need to learn them.

A good example of the more strategic class is the Interceptor - which spawns on a timer for most maps and is wicked useful for both patrol and interdiction. There are also heavier vehicles that you can use like a portable checkpoint that allows you to deny the enemy access or set up a killing field - but even so for each strength there is a weakness - because that is how you build a fair and balanced game.

The important point to that though is that a vehicle only has a weakness if the enemy knows it has a weakness - as with other aspects of shooter play, a team - and its use of vehicles - are only as effective as the collective tactics and knowledge. You can only get that by playing the game.


Reason Number 5: Be Part of the Solution

Perhaps the most impressive feature of the game - its class system - is also one of the main reasons why we desperately want to be playing the game right now!

Think about this: what you have is a high-tech future world very much like that of Halo, right down to the enemy you face - but it is a high-tech future world in which in addition to the awesome physics weps you get to play with.

There are also the sort of personal abilities of the sorcery side that seriously complicate the whole fireteam formation bit because, in addition to picking the right skills spread, you will also need to pay attention to the class compliments as well.

Until you see and experience that in action, in the game, it is very difficult to explain just how vast the effect and impact is on game play.

Put it this way: Destiny has all of the elements of the sort of cat-and-mouse small-squad infantry adventure that we have come to expect from the shooter genre, but it also rewards outside-of-the-box thinking via its magic.

When you have mates who both know their job and the kit, you expect them to know what load-out to pick for a given map, but when your mates learn their class and their kit like it's a high school crush who will only put-out as a reward for knowing your stuff, you'd be surprised at how motivated they can be.

Once they start taking that familiarity and using it in ways you - and more important the enemy - is not expecting, well that is when things get interesting!

This is certainly the sort of combat experience and challenge in which a horizontal knowledge of the different jobs pays dividends - mostly because your character can modify their load-out in mid-map! That means that you can - if you know your stuff - reconfigure your kit based on the challenge you are facing NOW, rather than the general notion of what you thought you would be facing.

It is that sort of dynamic play that we are talking about when we say that you should be part of the solution, not part of the problem. For example while a Titan is a serious ass-kicker, you might be surprised at just how much damage a Warlock with a Sniper Rifle can do when they are motivated and self-aware. We're just saying.


The Beta Program

Taking all of that into consideration and of course knowing that you are going to want to complete the campaign mode prior to really digging into the Crucible and your online reputation, the advantages you will receive from making use of the Beta is so clear - and so tasty - that you have to seriously work at thinking up an excuse that does not sound lame for NOT playing the Beta...

Which no doubt begs the question: What is this Beta you speak of?!

It seems like this is happening more and more often with the new classes of AAA titles each gaming season - but the wizards at Bungie have decided to introduce a limited Beta program for Destiny which will launch on 17 July (the full game release does not happen until 9 September so that is almost a whole TWO MONTHS of pre-release game play).

Considering how epic the Campaign Mode is set to be - but even more significant just how magnetic most gamers find multi-player Co-Operative and Competitive Modes for modern shooters - having access to the Beta on all four platforms of the game, the competitive advantage is clearly epic.

What is included in the Beta? I am thrilled I asked me that!

The Beta pretty much contains most of the content of the Alpha but also an expanded measure of content which will allow the players to experience the thrill of pitting their skills against human opponents in terms that are easily about as addictive as heroin.

During E3 Bungie's Eric Osborne (Writer and Head of the Bungie Community) gave an extensive interview to IGN during which he rattled-off the contents of the Alpha, and then confirmed that the Beta program would have much much more than that, but more important was the fact that Osborne confirmed - with emphasis - that the whole point to the Beta is that it is a Beta!

If you are not aware, in recent years major studios like Bungie - with the intention of heading off major game-breaking bugs - do these semi-open Beta programs in order to get their new game into the hands of a large number of players so that they can test game play under the realistic pressure of lots of real-world gamers playing the game on its servers in real-time.

Creating characters covers all aspects from gender and race to class and abilities, including the full character creation studio - which means you will totally have the time to make your character as much like you as you would like - or as much like Gorge Clooney - just saying...

In addition to that, Osborne confirmed that the Beta will contain a new and unique story mission, access to a major portion of the huge open-world (for exploration purposes), and offers the players the opportunity to encounter and interact with other players as they - like you - run around the world looking for resources to collect or perhaps asses to kick?

In addition to the To-Be-Expected treasure chests and special loot items, there will also be hidden enemy bosses, and time-based challenges that makes the night time something to fear more so than when the sun is out.

In addition to access to vendors and the mentor system - which means you will not only be able to kit your character out custom as part of the Beta, you will also be able to level them along a path of your own choosing, which means trying out pretty much any ability you have set the patter-pattter-beat-beat of your precious little heart on!

In addition to all of that Osborne confirmed - officially for the first time - that there exists in the game an organized and proper set of Easter Eggs! And many of them are available during the Beta!

Before you worry that the whole point behind the Beta is just to get some free effort out of you in order for Bungie to whip the game into better shape for its official launch (though really what would be wrong with that anyway?!) you should know that at least part of the focus behind their urging you to sign up for the Beta is so that they can show off this wicked cool game to you - a game that they are justifiably proud of.

Listen now, you heard this first at SuperCheats: The video game known as Destiny is going to be this gaming seasons major game.

We are convinced that Destiny will be this game seasons equivalent to a combined entertainment buzz the likes of a new Fable, new GTA, and new Fallout all rolled into one massive open-world FPS-slash-MMO fusion! Seriously!

They Call It Beta for a Reason...

Thanks to the premature leak of a letter that Bungie sent to retail giant GameStop for use in programming its employees, a plethora of details about the Beta that Bungie would rather you not know totally leaked to the 'net!

Among other things that letter revealed that the Beta includes a peek at four of the story chapters, an additional four competitive multi-player maps, and a cooperative Strike Mode event as well as an extra slice of the open-world for the players to explore.

The X-One version of the Beta for Destiny weighs in at close to 13GB - which is pretty massive for what amounts to a trial version of the game in the form of a Beta program - so that is just the sort of thing that makes taking the time to consider expanding your console storage a great idea...

When you stop to consider that the X-One's built-in SATA II storage supports up to 3GB transfer speeds, and the fact that that is actually slower than the standards for USB-3, that means that you will actually be getting faster loading times by plugging in an external storage device and using THAT rather than the hard drive that is inside your console!

It was certainly reason enough to get us seriously thinking about taking advantage of the utility update to the Xbox One's OS that was included in the 3 June update - and buying one of the external storage devices that the update enabled.

After taking a good long look at the list of approved devices and the different models for the X-One, we decided to go with the 2TB version of the 'MyBook' from Western Digital - which for a smidgeon over $100 bought us a sleek little black case with a blazing fast 2TB of storage that was literally plug-and-play on our Xbox One. Seriously, all we had to do was plug it in and let it format and voila!

One additional issue that you should be aware of in terms of game play and the Destiny Beta is that the wizards at Bungie actually intend to overload the servers to see if they can break the game at various points - so you should try to remember that in addition to providing you with an early peak-and-play there really is a functional point to this!

While playing through a congested map might be a bit on the challenging side, actually getting into the Beta will be no challenge at all for you if you jump in right away...

First of all point your web browser at the following URL: http://www.destinythegame.com/beta -- that will take you to the main beta page which includes the required pre-order form so that you can reserve your copy of the game now - and qualify for admittance to the Beta!

For the record the pre-order form is available via the above URL, and it includes the standard retail boxed edition, the Limited Edition, and the Ghost Edition (and it appears to also include the Expansion Pass though we are not sure if pre-ordering just that will get you Beta Access), at the following retailers (depending on region):

Australia: EB Games and JB Hi-Fi.

Canada: Amazon, Best Buy, EB Games, and Future Shop.

France: Micromania.

Germany: Amazon, GameStop, Media Markt, and Saturn.

UK: Amazon, Game, and GameStop.

USA: Amazon, Best Buy, GameStop, and Walmart.

While this is pretty standard for most countries, if you happen to be from France you have to be totally pumped for Destiny - we'll leave you to join the dots there.

Once you complete the pre-order process you will receive admission to the Destiny Beta - which actually begins first for the PlayStation 4 (PlayStation Plus required) and PlayStation 3 at 10:00am PDT on July 17. The Beta for Xbox One and Xbox 360 (Xbox Live Gold required) starts at 10:00am PDT on July 23 - so if you are an X-One gamer you get a little extra time to get your reservations in.

See you on the battlefield!