TIME Video Games

Answered: 10 Questions About the First Destiny Beta

The beta for Bungie's Destiny -- a massively multiplayer online shooter with Halo DNA -- arrives on July 17.

Bungie’s preliminary Destiny beta soirée kicks off this Thursday, transforming the end of July into more than just a showcase for Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us PlayStation 4 remaster.

To help everyone get ready, especially if you’re just tuning in, I’ve cobbled together the essentials from various Bungie news posts, FAQs and press releases, including a late-breaking (though unverified) tidbit that outlines what might be in the beta, content-wise.

How do I get into the beta?

You need a code and one of the following systems: PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 or Xbox One. How do you get a code? By preordering the game from one of the retailers listed on this page. And once you have a code, you have to redeem it here before the beta launch period.

Bungie’s handing out codes in packs of threes in hopes that you’ll invite your friends (since the game’s raison d’être at this point seems to be cooperative play). And bear in mind that beta codes are platform-specific: If you want to play on both PS4 and Xbox One, or even Xbox One and Xbox 360, you’ll need to pre-order each version separately.

When does it go live?

July 17, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. PT, though that’s only for PlayStation 3 and 4 owners, who have until a July 21 maintenance break to play.

Why for PlayStation first?

Because Sony cut Bungie a nice big check? Who knows, but Sony locked up the whole “play it here first” thing and clearly wants gamers to think of the PlayStation 4 as Destiny‘s lead platform. It’s not, of course, and this beta business is just a timed exclusive.

What about Xbox owners?

Bungie plans to take Destiny offline for maintenance on both July 21 and 22, after the initial PlayStation-only beta wraps.

On July 23 at 10:00 a.m. PT, it’ll turn the beta back on, this time for every platform the game’s being developed for: PS3 to PS4 and Xbox 360 to Xbox One. Note that Bungie has made it clear that the Xbox versions will require Xbox Live, while the PlayStation versions will somewhat cryptically require PlayStation Plus “for some activities.”

Bungie says it’ll begin emailing PlayStation players their Destiny Beta access/download codes on July 17, followed by Xbox players on July 23.

And it ends for everyone when?

July 27 at 11:59 p.m. PT.

Is it compatible with all PS3 and Xbox 360 systems?

Good question, because it’s actually not: the Destiny beta will run on all PS3 and Xbox 360 systems save the following four “due to Destiny’s hard drive requirement.”

  • Xbox 360 Arcade
  • Xbox 360 4GB
  • Xbox 360 Core
  • PlayStation 3 12GB

What do you mean, “first” beta?

Let me confuse you some more. The beta launching on July 17 isn’t really the first beta — unless, that is, you believe the polished, perfectly playable “First Look Alpha” that dropped during E3 2014 a few weeks ago was really an alpha. Alphas, back when that word meant something development-wise, were barely playable frameworks, not slick, virtually bug-free experiences. That, and games usually hit that mark a year or more — not a few months — before their launch date.

Semantics aside, my guess, bearing in mind that it’s no more than a guess, is that Bungie’s going to run some kind of final test, stress or otherwise, in the weeks leading up to the game’s official September 9 release.

What’s in the beta? What am I actually playing here?

We don’t know officially, but a Reddit user (though Reddit, so mind the gap) claims to have laid hands on a GameStop dispatch to its employees that lays out a few details.

According to the Reddit user, the letter says the beta will include four story-related chapters, four competitive multiplayer maps, one cooperative strike mission and “a huge world to explore with your own unique Guardian.”

That said, Bungie says the beta will have five play modes: Tower (“third-person social space”), Story (“play through some of Destiny’s epic story campaign”), Crucible (“competitive multiplayer”), Strike (“Form a Fireteam and infiltrate an enemy stronghold”) and Explore (“Explore the wild frontier in this free roam mode”).

How stable is the game at this point?

Your guess is as good as mine. The “alpha” seemed pretty stable to me. But Bungie’s going to be meddling in the background, possibly breaking things just to see what happens. As the developer wrote in its weekly news update last Friday: “The Destiny Beta is a test. Make no mistake. This isn’t some circus stunt. This is science – and you’re the lab rat.” Followed by:

We’d love to tell you that everything will go according to plan, but that wouldn’t be any fun. That wouldn’t teach us a thing. Even if the Beta is working perfectly, one of the alpha-geeks in the operations center is gonna kick it to see if it still works. Fortunately, we’ll be going to great lengths to keep you informed and keep you in the game.

In other words: expect a bit of turbulence, clear air or otherwise.

Where can I keep tabs on Bungie’s official beta status updates?

Pay attention to the developer’s @BungieHelp Twitter account as well as help.bungie.net, which Bungie says will get “a serious facelift” when the beta launches this week. And if you’d like to see what your comrades in arms are saying or to pick the brains of its volunteer “Mentors,” Bungie recommends keeping an eye on its support forum.

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