Destiny and the disappointing marketing beta

Destiny is the next game coming to us (on Sept 9th) from Bungie. I describe it as a mash-up of the loot & level gameplay of Diablo and the shooter mechanics of Halo.

I have a lot of confidence in Bungie; I’ve been playing their games since Marathon came out on the Mac, and Myth: The Fallen Lords is one of my all-time favorites. Then of course there is Halo, which is the only pure shooter franchise where I play through every game.

This summer Bungie is running a beta for Destiny and I think it’s being handled rather poorly, though I’m not sure if the blame should be placed on Bungie, Sony, or both.

This generation Sony has been borrowing a lot of Microsoft’s tactics: going after exclusive content connected to cross-platform third party games. In Destiny’s case they’ve been pushing the fact that Playstation fans get “early access” to the beta.

Now coming from the land of MMOs, when you tell me there’s a beta I figure it’s going to run for a few weeks at least, or a string of weekends, or something along those lines. It’s supposed to be a way to test the game so the developers can make adjustments, right?

Well of course not. That would be a true beta. This is a marketing beta, and now the details are out. The beta “starts” on July 17th on the Playstation platform. I put that in quotes because the 17th is when you can get your key from You’ll then have to download the client which could take anywhere from a couple to many hours. Assuming you’re an adult with a job and you can’t get this process going until you get home at 6 pm, you probably won’t play much on the 17th.

Once you finally get in, you can play until the 20th. So basically Thursday the 17th is for getting everything set up, then you can play Friday-Sunday. On Monday the 21st the beta comes down for “Maintenance” for two days. On the 23rd (Wednesday) it comes online again and Xbox players can start playing. It runs until that Sunday (the 27th) and that’s it. (There’s some kind of special reward you can earn for logging in on Saturday, the 26th.)

So for all of Sony’s crowing about getting into the beta early, what it really means is you get a weekend to play when Xboxers can’t, and in total you get 8 days (maybe 8 and a half if the download is fast on the 17th) of beta.

Honestly I was expecting the beta to run through the end of August! Again, my MMO background showing through.

We also don’t yet know how much of the game will be there. Bungie and Sony had an “alpha” after E3 that ran for a few days and it only contained a small ‘slice’ of the game with a low level cap. (I’ve already forgotten if it was 8 or 10…something like that.) Hopefully July’s “beta” will contain more of the game and not just be another demo.

Originally we were told that you had to pre-order to get into the ‘beta’ but now I see all kinds of sites giving out keys. That’s bad news because it means once again this is about marketing, not helping to make Destiny a better game. If the beta was just for people interested enough in the game to have pre-ordered then maybe it could have been an actual beta, but now Bungie is going to want to tightly control the experience to get ‘testers’ who haven’t pre-ordered to buy the product.


There is a Battleforge beta, and I am in it.

That’s all I can say about my first evening in the beta without breaking NDA. But I can talk about what the game is, given that you could read about it in previews or on their website. Prior to a few days ago I hadn’t even heard of the game, that I can remember, but Fileplanet was giving away beta keys so I signed up. Figured the game could use some exposure.

Turns out that Battleforge is a mashup of MMO, RTS and CCG. Acronym soup! Mostly, the game is an RTS game, but what units you can create is determined by the cards in your deck. You create a deck in the same way you would in Magic or any other CCG. The MMO aspect comes in via a persistent meta-world (anyone remember Cavedog’s Boneyard…this seems similar). Within this meta-world you can choose from solo, co-op and pvp missions. By doing missions you earn more cards (I think??) which allows you to tweak your deck more.

It seems like a fun and interesting premise. I’m not sure what the cost is going to be, and in all honestly all I played last night was the solo tutorial mission, so I couldn’t significantly break the NDA even if I wanted to.

I’d like to say I’ll be playing a lot more of the beta, but with Moria and Shadow Odyssey both out today (and Amazon pulled through and the latter is expected to arrive today), Wizard 101 still begging for some attention, and Fable 2 still drawing me in regularly…I’m not sure WHEN I’ll play this one.

I’d say if you enjoy RTS games, it’d be worth signing up for the beta, though.

Welcome to beta, Collector’s Edition pre-orderers

So I gather that folks who pre-ordered the Collector’s Edition of Warhammer Online have been invited to closed beta. Now they’re scrambling to download the client.

I first typed “There is a Warhammer Online Beta and I am in it.” back in February. I’ve definitely struggled with “beta fatigue” once I realized that this was a game I really wanted to play after release. Now that we’re closing in on launch I’m getting seriously pumped again!

It’ll be great to have a fresh wave of enthusiastic testers hitting the servers. I *really* hope they (and I!) don’t have to download a whole new client for Open Beta though!

Anyway just wanted to shout out a “Welcome to the fun!” to the new testers. I hope you’re as pleased as I’ve been!