Apparently it's impossible to talk to about Destiny without someone mentioning Halo in the same breath. Yeah, I get the two were created by the same developer--but why can't we acknowledge that they have practically nothing else in common? For instance, GamesRadar's own Andy Hartup wrote an article entitled: Destiny is very much Halo: The MMO - but that's a great thing. Is it a Halo MMO, Andy? IS IT? I say no.
See, I've played a lot of Halo. I've played a lot of MMOs. I've played a lot of the Destiny alpha AND beta, and I'm ready to set things straight. First, this is a shared world shooter we're talking about here, not an MMO--the two are quite different. Second, Destiny is far from a Halo clone. Not even close. Need some proof? Read on.
None of the Fallen look anything like the various races of the Covenant
Let's start by taking a look at some of the enemy factions in both games, shall we? In Halo, there is the Covenant, an ultra-religious military alliance composed of numerous alien species. In Destiny, there is the Fallen, a technologically advanced race of nomadic spider pirates. Sure, they both want to destroy humanity for their own reasons, but outside of sharing a similar goal the two have absolutely nothing in common.
I mean, just compare a Fallen Dreg to a Covenant Jackal. These are wildly different character designs, a fact that translates across all of Destiny's enemy types. At least, that holds true of what I've seen in the beta so far, anyway.
There are certainly no comparisons to be drawn between the Hive in Destiny and the Flood in Halo
Continuing the examination of enemy types in the two games, let's turn our attention to the Flood and the Hive. The former is a sentient race of parasitic aliens that exist in the Halo universe. Their battle tactic is to overwhelm you with their sheer numbers, and their creepy, zombie-like appearance is markedly different than that of the Covenant. Plus it's really cool when you see the two groups fight each other.
The Hive, on the other hand, are not parasites. They're moon aliens that live in subsurface colonies. Their battle tactic is to overwhelm you with their sheer numbers, and their creepy, zombie-like appearance is markedly different than that of the Fallen. Plus, it's really cool when you see the two groups fight each other.
Enemy tactics in Destiny are drastically different than enemy tactics in Halo
Few things are as frustrating in Halo as when a camouflaged Elite sneaks up on you and runs an Energy Swords through your potty parts. Or when a Jackal deflects your every shot with a stupid plasma shield without it even overheating. Even so, those tactics definitely make for an intelligent shooter that forces you to think on your feet.
Destiny's Fallen and Hive also use super clever tactics in the middle of a firefight, though the ones they employ are very unique. Fallen Vandals, for instance, will sometimes use a cloaking device to stealthily execute a devastating melee strike, while Hive Knights summon a black, impenetrable shield to block incoming fire. The cheeky bastards.
Destiny's weapons feel wholly original
I love the dichotomy between Halo's human arsenal and the plasma weaponry used by the Covenant--the physical versus the elemental. The rib cage-shattering force of a shotgun against the skin-melting power of plasma. Nasty. But we've shot the same guns over the span of, what, six Halo games? That's why I'm relieved to see Destiny's arsenal looks and feels unlike anything that exists in the Halo universe.
Just look at the sleek ammo counter embedded in this Guardian's auto rifle; it's a novel and sexy inclusion, to say the least. And feast your eyes at the gun that Hive Knight is holding. I just love how it's designed; a blast of ultra-powerful energy generates from the weapon's core, and then is guided to freedom by the upper and lower rails, like two loving parents sending their offspring out into the wilderness. Beautiful.
Your Guardian's Ghost is a unique companion
Because you typically play as a one-man army in first-person shooters they're often lonely experiences. That's partially why Cortana, Halo's AI character, is so memorable--she's an extension of Master Chief, a companion he has to protect. And she's not just a voice in his ear. She's actually embedded in his suit, though she can pop up in hologram form as needed, which makes her feel more human despite her being a computer program.
Destiny naturally expands on this idea via the Ghost (pictured above), an AI construct created by the Traveler. A Guardian and his or her Ghost are inseparable. Not only does it have a physical form it can use to fly around and scan objects for data, it can also dematerialize and tuck itself away safely inside your combat suit, and provide critical mission info while you play. Even if you opt to play Destiny solo you won't feel alone.
Enemies in Destiny are reinforced via dropships, making each encounter feel intense
Explore Earth's desolate remains while playing Destiny and you'll have more than a few run-ins with enemy Fallen or Hive troops inhabiting each area. But once you clear them all out, don't think you're finished just yet. One of the ways enemies in Destiny keep you on your toes is by calling in reinforcements via dropships.
Seeing a small Hive fleet fly in and unload dozens of Thralls and Acolytes really makes each stage feel more like a small piece of a larger connected world. Just be sure not to stand around gawking for too long--if you don't find cover, those dropships will blast you to bits with their super powered energy canons. Ouch!
Destiny's vehicles have really excellent handling
Vehicles will undoubtedly play a big role in Destiny (as they did in Halo), and all Guardians unlock their very own hoverbike early on in the game. Above is the Sparrow, a small, super-fast hovering vehicle that allows you to traverse larger outdoor maps very quickly. These things are super handy for getting around, and I love how easy they are to control. It has a nice, floaty feel to it, as you can maneuver in any direction at any time.
Now, I see a lot of people saying these things are basically just Ghosts from Halo, but they couldn't be more wrong. For one, Sparrows look totally different. Also, they can't shoot. I rest my case.
Your Guardian's recharging shield sounds very, very different from Master Chief's
Look, lots of first-person shooters use recharging shields: Halo, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo: Reach, Halo 4, Destiny--the list goes on and on. So is it fair to draw a comparison between Halo and Destiny just because they share a single mechanic? Not at all.
Plus, if you pay close attention, you'll realize that your Guardian's shield makes a very distinct noise while recharging compared to Master Chief's shield. In Destiny it's more of a BLEEeeeeeeeeeeep, whereas Halo's shield recharging sound is closer to SchwoooooOOOOOOOP.
It's only because I love you
So there you have it: eight significant ways in which Destiny is drastically different than its developer's previous projects. And even if the two were super similar--again, they totally are not--that would be OK, because I've really enjoyed my time with Destiny's beta. Now, excuse me while I go spend some glimmer on a new shirt.
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