Monday, November 4, 2013

Destiny of Spirits (Vita): Beta Impressions

Destiny of Spirits is a free to play RPG on the PS Vita.  For battle, you use a party of three monsters to battle other monsters.  There is a little meter under each monster that fills, and when filled, the monster will attack.  Each monster also has a special ability that uses a communal SP meter that refills between missions.  The targets and menu options are mapped to the touch screen, and it responds really well.  Just like most RPGs, there is an elemental chart where each element is strong against one element and weak to another.

The game breaks the world up into a grid, and places you on it according to your location.  There are a few missions per area, and once you finish them, a boss fight will appear.  If you defeat the boss, that area becomes purified, and you can choose to do more missions in neighboring areas.  I like that it your location changes your starting point, plus it shows you where your friends are on the map.  Monsters you can get from summoning are dependent on region (America, Europe, Asia, etc), which would bother me more, but you can get those from the destiny summons (more on that below).  Plus, it is really easy to send friend requests to other regions, and you can trade for monsters you may not be able to get.  I wasn't able to try the trade function yet, so it might not be that easy, especially if you have to coordinate it.

There are several ways to get monsters for your party.  When starting out, the game gives you one.  To get more, you can spend Summoning Stones, which can be obtained from winning battles, and at least in the beta, as a bonus for logging in.  These can be spent to get a random summon, either common or uncommon.  Destiny Orbs can be used to summon a random uncommon, rare or super rare monster.  There may be something above super rare (maybe ultra rare?), but I didn't see it.  Some Destiny Orbs were given as login bonuses, but I suspect those will be purchasable in the store (the store option didn't work in the beta).  They could be used to heal your party (they will heal after 30 minutes), increase your total monster capacity, and summon special monsters.  The special monsters are only available for a certain time, and the ones in the beta were related to the Playstation cats (Koro and Toro I believe) and the characters from Gravity Rush.  A pretty cool idea that they have Sony themed characters that you can get for your party... maybe we will see some God of War characters in the future, too.

The other ways to get more monsters was a destiny summon that you can do once per day.  When you log in, you can choose a person taken from a random list of other players, and it will summon two of a random monster and give you each one of them.  It's pretty nice, and I actually got a rare monster or two out of it.  You can rarely get a monster as a reward for a mission, and you can also "hunt" them.  For this it requires location data, so if you use your Vita while travelling, you can probably get some nice new monsters.  I was only able to use it once, unfortunately.

To make the monsters stronger, you have to fuse others into one of your choosing.  You can fuse up to five at a time into a chosen "base" monster.  You get more experience if they are the same element, and presumably, more for rarer monsters or ones with higher levels.  It would have been nice if you could see how much experience you are going to get before you fuse them, to see if it is even worth it, or if it's better to fuse more than two at a time, but they don't tell you until after it's too later.  It wasn't that hard to get more summoning stones from fights so you could get more monsters to rais the level of the ones you like, but I would like to get the most out of what I'm giving up.  To finalize the fusion process, you need to spend Spirit Points.  For those of you keeping score, that's three different kinds of numbers you need to be aware of when not in battle.

You can also use the Spirit Points to "rent" a monster from another player for a mission.  It's a nice function, since the person you rented it from will get some of those points.  It also allows you to try out other monsters you may not have yet, or get help from a higher level or an element that could help you out.  You can't pick which monster it will temporarily replace, which is not a great thing, but you get plenty of Spirit Points, so it was a good thing to spend them on.  Also, if one of the random people on your list is a friend, you get a discount for renting their monster.

Every day you play Destiny of Spirits, your luck and elemental affinity will change.  Affinity will change which element of your is stronger in battle, so take advantage of it whenever you can.  Luck affects things like critical rate, drop rate and acquiring rarer monsters from the random drawings.  If you are so inclined, Destiny Orbs can be used to boost your luck (or drop it) for the day.  I think I got "average" luck every day I played (all 7), and didn't spend any orbs to increase it.

Besides the special monster availability, the other timed event during the beta was a special raid boss encounter.  The raid boss could appear in any zone you were in, but you could choose not to fight it.  It's HP would not deplete if you lost, since you are meant to take it on with groups of other people.  The one I fought was totally beatable solo, but I took me two tries and several monsters to win.  Beating the raid boss at different levels and more times gives several rewards.  The one I wanted was the playable version of the raid boss, but I didn't fight her enough.  Still, I thought it was a neat idea to put into the game so players check back to see what new events will keep them playing or get them back into the game.

Destiny of Spirits was pretty fun.  I'm not sure how intrusive the shop will be, and how much money you will need to put in to get the Destiny Orbs, so it could still go horribly, horribly wrong.  It used the Vita features well, but the reliance on having an internet connection can make it hard to play on the go (unless you have 3G), since I had to be close to my Wi-Fi access point to not error out.  That also made each facet of the game take a bit too long to load.  Other than that, I liked the game and will definitely try the full version when it comes out.  It's a good pick up and play game.

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