Someone asked me a question earlier this week (thank you, Rich!) and it got me thinking about my strange relationship with betas for upcoming games.
I’m excited to try out betas when and where I can. I like the potential goodwill involved from a developer and/or publisher when they are presumably so confident in their game, they are willing to allow the public to play it early.
I typically believe a beta to be a slice of the finished game, or it should be, at any rate (and I shy away from the term “should”); a server stress test with actual players. But, in my experience, sometimes the beta differs so drastically from the final build of a game, I wonder about the disparity. I think to myself: how does that happen?
I looked back through my PS4 and found ten betas I’ve participated in. In most cases, those betas saved me the money of buying the final game but, in a handful, the beta gave me a look at something I wanted to explore further. In one case, the beta was thoroughly unenjoyable, then I took a chance when the game went on sale, and wound up having a reasonably good time (I’m looking at you Ghost Recon: Wildlands).
As they said in Little Shop of Horrors: “Don’t it go to show you never know.”
Last weekend I played a chunk of the Monster Hunter World beta. I thoroughly didn’t enjoy my time with it. I wasn’t a fan of the systems, the menus, the movement, the weapons and combos, and found the matchmaking system hilariously archaic (honestly, in 2018, how are we using an alpha-numeric string that incorporates upper and lower case letters to sync up with others?). Also, something about ganging up on a monster felt wrong. In short, the game simply doesn’t appear to be for me. I thought it was beautiful looking and I very much hope people who are looking forward to it enjoy it, but I won’t be among them.
The betas I’ve taken part in this gen are as follows:
Battleborn / open beta / did not enjoy the mechanics
Battlefield 1 / open beta / did not enjoy the shooting mechanics
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare / open beta / I don’t even recall playing this beta
Destiny 2 / open beta / I found the mechanics less tight than the first game, but held out hope
Doom / open beta / I seem to recall enjoying the multiplayer
Monster Hunter World / open beta / did not enjoy; please see above
Overwatch / open beta / I loved it and it completely sold me on the game
The Crew / open beta / did not enjoy the driving mechanics
Tom Clancy’s The Division / open beta / enjoyed enough to buy the game
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands / open beta / did not enjoy the mechanics or find it engaging
I had been really cool on the Destiny 2 beta. The mechanics felt sloppier than the first game (which, in my opinion, has the tightest and cleanest shooting and maneuvering mechanics of any game out there), and that left me wary. Something felt off. Of course, now what feels off is the endgame, but I’ve discussed that at length previously.
Overwatch has been the best example of a strong beta (again, in my opinion). The game was clean and playable, and engaging enough that I was disappointed when the beta ended; I just wanted the full release to hurry up and get here. I think that’s the most favorable I’ve ever been on a beta.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands was an odd one. I found the beta to be entirely unengaging. Sure, the world looked beautiful, but the game felt devoid of character, and that was strange to me. When I took a chance on the full release once it was on sale, I found myself more engaged. The environments were beautiful. I still take issue with a handful of the mechanics (including the drone glitch) and the miserable AI/endless spawn of the Unidad. For me, the whole thing is a mixed bag.
But these varying responses are why I love betas in the first place. I love being given a chance to try a game out before committing to buying it. I love that people get a chance to play these games and form their own hands-on opinions.
How do you feel about betas? What are some you’ve loved and some you’ve less than enjoyed? Why did you feel these ways? I’m curious how others fare with the betas they have tried.