Now that the Destiny beta has finally arrived, lucky fans have a chance to get hands-on time with Bungie’s next science-fiction shooter masterpiece. One thing that will become instantly clear: Though the game follows in Halo‘s footsteps in some ways, Destiny expands the shooter genre significantly, introducing serious customization, leveling, and other role-playing game elements to the formula.
Among those refinements is the introduction of a class system. Though each of Destiny‘s three roles is balanced with the others overall, each offers a distinctly different moment-to-moment gameplay experience. Not sure which one to choose? Let’s take a look at the benefits – and drawbacks – of all three.
Best for: Sneaky players
Think “stealthy sniper.” The Hunter works best either at distant range or up-close and personal. Long-range rifles are the Hunter’s tools of the trade, but Hunters also pack a nasty knife for silent kills from kissing distance.
Mobility and agility are Hunters’ greatest strengths, but they come at a price: Heavy armor would slow them down – so they don’t wear much. That means they take more damage from attacks, and can take longer to recover. So try not to be where the bullet is going when it gets there.
Gunslinger: This subclass boosts the Hunter’s ranged abilities, most especially with the Golden Gun – a devastating pistol that can disintegrate whole groups of enemies.
Bladedancer: Conversely, Bladedancers get upgraded melee skills, including the Blink Strike, which allows the Hunter to knife an enemy at greater range.
Best for: Shooter fans
If you’re coming to Destiny from a lifetime of other shooters, chances are the Titan is your guy (or girl). Packing heavy armor and weapons to match, Titans are the all-around grunts of the game. You don’t want to run up against one in a dark alley.
Of course, if you do find yourself in such a situation, chances are you might be able to hoof it in time to save your skin. Although Titans pack serious firepower and serious defenses at close and medium range, their effectiveness drops with distance… and all that heavy armor sure slows them down.
Striker: The Striker is positively brutal at close range, thanks largely to the Fist of Havoc: This ground-pound ability literally dissolves enemies caught in its shock waves.
Defender: The Defender is a kinder, gentler Titan. The Ward of Dawn special ability serves as a powerful shield to protect the Titan and teammates alike from enemy attacks.
Best for: RPG addicts
Though every class in Destiny enjoys a certain element of RPG-style progression, none will prove more familiar to fans of traditional role-playing games than the Warlock. Though Warlocks can use traditional weapons, their greatest strength lies in their ability to channel arcane energies to deal devastating damage. They also pack some seriously fancy grenades.
But although the Warlock can put on the hurt, it’s a very bad idea for a Warlock to step into the line of fire. In accordance with the age-old RPG template for magic-users, the Warlock packs very little in the way of armor. Teaming up with a Titan is probably a good idea.
Voidwalker: The Warlock’s offensive abilities benefit from the Voidwalker subclass. The Nova Bomb is a particular plus, since it can disintegrate wide swathes of enemies.
Sunsinger: Sunsingers serve more of a support role. Their Radiance ability is the primary reason: Not only does it revive teammates, it also buffs their special abilities.
The complete version of Destiny arrives on Xbox One and Xbox 360 on September 9.