The beta for Destiny, the mega-sized blockbuster from the makers of Halo, has an official launch date. PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 owners who pre-ordered the game will get exclusive early access before anyone else, starting at 10:00am PT on July 17. Xbox One and Xbox 360 owners join in the following week, at the same time on July 23.

The marketing machine for Destiny is really kicking into overdrive now that the release is drawing close. Along with the beta details, Activision and Bungie also announced that there will be three big collector's editions of the game.

The "Destiny: Ghost Edition," which retails for $149.99, packages the game disc in a limited edition "SteelBook case." There's a Guardian Folio with an Arms & Armament Field Guide, Postcards from the Golden Age, an Antique Star Chart inside. Other real-world items include a replica of the Guilty Spark-like character "Ghost," voiced by Game of Thrones' Peter Dinklage with motion-activated lights and voice recordings. There's a pack of Golden Age Relics that includes a photo, patch, sticker and two chrome slides of the mysterious and massive white orb called the Traveler. Ghost Edition owners will also get digital goods in the form of a unique Ghost casing, an exclusive player emblem and a player ship variant, as well as the first two DLC packs Bungie has planned. The box also comes with a certified letter of introduction to Destiny's universe.

The "Destiny: Limited Edition," selling for $99.99, includes everything that's in the Ghost edition minus the Ghost replica, letter of introduction and Golden Age Relics pack. The last special edition is the "Destiny: Digital Guardian Edition," priced at $89.99. This one is essentially a digital version of the Limited Edition, containing all of the same digital goods, including the first two DLC packs and a digital copy of the game to download.

The two DLC packs expand on Destiny's content with new story missions, cooperative activities, multiplayer arenas, weapons, armor and gear. PlayStation gamers will get some added exclusive content. Expansion I, "The Dark Below," takes players underground on Earth's moon, where an ancient, sealed tomb has been discovered and opened. It's not long before the dark god within raises his own evil army in the Hellmouth, the home of the villains, the Hive. Episode II is called "House of Wolves," but Bungie's not divulging any story details about that one yet.

Fans who are looking to gain access to the Destiny beta should keep in mind that developers use beta periods as testing grounds for putting a game and its servers through their paces. As such, none of the progress that players make in the beta will carry over to the official launch. Everything that happens during the beta is wiped and reset before the game's release. The incentive for gamers is that they get to try out various aspects of the game and get a feel for the play before anyone else.

A PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold account is required to participate in the beta.

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