Bungie has just released their newest game, their first game not in the Halo universe since 2001. Destiny was developed by Bungie for the PS4, PS3, Xbox One and Xbox 360 and was published by Bungie’s new publisher, Activision, and cost the companies a whopping $500 million to create. With the incredible stories from the Halo universe in their past and about 936,000 pre-orders on the Playstation 4 version alone the week prior to the games launch, Bungie really had quite a bit of hype to live up to.
The question is did Bungie achieve the greatness that was expected of Destiny? Unfortunately the answer to that is a resounding no. While Destiny is a solid enough game, it would be a complete fabrication to say that it met the hype surrounding it. To begin, Bungie has called the game on numerous occasions a “shared world shooter”. Really what this means is that Bungie built a small scale MMO which plays out like a standard first person shooter. While you’re in the main city area you portray your character, known as a guardian, in the third person. The city is also populated with other players from all around the world of all different levels. The main city is where you go to pick up and turn in bounties, which are essentially the same thing as quests in a standard MMO. Additionally you can go to all different shops in order to purchase and upgrade new weapons, armors, emblems and ships. Other than that, there is really nothing to do in the city and there are no methods of actually interacting with any of the other players who happen to be there.
Once you board your ship and prepare to play the game you have two options. Destiny’s story and Crucible mode; The way the story works is that you select which story mission you would like to do and you get launched onto that missions planet. At this point the game is still fairly MMO-esque in that while running around the world, in first person, you’ll encounter other players also shooting their way around the planet to accomplish their missions. You may also find that random events may occur when there are four or more players in a given area, usually consisting of chasing down a specific enemy and killing them before they manage to escape. The planets are large, and do offer you the freedom to explore them, but the problem is that the planets actually are too big. Frequently you will find locations completely barren of any life. Where the planets lack enemies, it would have been nice to have seen some other alien or animal life living and going about. Once you enter your mission defined area you enter a respawn restricted zone, meaning that if you die you start up from the beginning again. This may sound similar to how most first-person shooters actually play out and that’s because it is. While you’re in the mission, you are running and shooting through the mission until you hit a boss. Once you kill the boss you’re done. Most first person shooters usually have a way to make it more interesting and change the game up a bit, but Destiny mostly failed at that. Often the missions were simply too repetitive and didn’t make much effort to change things to make them more interesting. In particular I can pick out one mission, in which you end up using a sword and running around in third person in an attempt to kill some bosses. Outside of that, I can’t say that any of the other missions actually stood out.
The problem isn’t only that the story missions got repetitive, but it is simply the story itself is lacking in actual depth. Bungie’s former franchise, Halo, was incredible at this, giving players a huge and incredibly in depth story, with constant changes keeping the story always fresh. Destiny just flat out didn’t. Destiny took an extremely bland story route and never really bothered to indulge the player in what was truly happening. The plot revolves around “The Traveler”; a planet looking entity which brought about a golden age to humanity allowing our exploration of the solar system. Of course the Traveler is followed by “The Darkness” which seeks to not only destroy the Traveler but humanity as a whole. As a guardian, it is your job to stop the Darkness. Then on the planets you are exploring you end up fighting against multiple alien races. It would then be assumed that these are the races that make up the Darkness, but then as you progress you notice that the different alien races are all fighting each other. There are never any real clues as to who or what the Darkness is and how we’re actually fighting it. On top of that, the few supporting characters we are introduced to are never really given any depth. Throughout the course of the game we learn almost nothing about the characters who we are taking orders from, nor the characters who you meet along the way. On top of that Destiny had one of the worst endings that I’ve seen in gaming in a very long time. I’m not going to spoil anything, but it would also be impossible to because the ending didn’t actually conclude anything. No answers were given to any questions about what is going on in the game world, but only rather hinted that these may be given in a future expansion pack or sequel to the game. Additionally the background lore to the game, which can be collected in game and could have potentially helped to explain anything you may get confused on, is not actually readable via the game and must be accessed on Bungie’s website via a computer or smart phone.
Outside of the story is where Destiny does excel however. The Crucible, is just a fancy name given to Destiny’s online modes, of which most are very well done. Not only was Bungie known for their stories in Halo, but they also helped shape the way online multiplayer is today and in that they succeeded my expectations. When playing multiplayer you bring your character, weapons, armor and all into battle in one of four different game types: Control (Capture the point), Clash (Team Deathmatch), Rumble(Free For All) and Skirmish(3v3 Team Deathmath with recoveries). All of the maps are well designed and with the vast variety of different weapon types, class types and weapon and armor customizations you will never find a match to play out quite the same way. With players of all levels able to compete against each other, one would expect the balance of the game to shift significantly towards the more veteran players, but that has not been the case. All too often the games are neck and neck regardless of player level and armor. Of course if you’re a level 4 and you go head-to-head with a level 20 it’s much more likely you will lose, but when it comes down to team play I’ve yet to really see that difference show.
Since the game does take after standard MMOs, Destiny’s end game mostly consists of doing Strikes, which are the equivalent of your typical Dungeon, and the just recently added Raids. The “soft” level cap is currently 20, however the “hard” level cap is 30. This simply means you stop leveling from XP at level 20 and can then only proceed to level to 30 by obtaining and equipping items that build up your Light Points, which are the same as your standard armor level in other MMO’s. Unfortunately what this means is that the end game truly consists of doing Strikes or Crucible over and over again until you manage to finally obtain loot which will help your score. Then you’ll continue to repeat. The Strikes are entertaining and at the right level they can be quite challenging. However the only raid to currently sit in the game requires a minimum level of 26 and has an average play time of six to eight hours to complete. Additionally Destiny has weekly and daily strikes, which can help you earn currency at a much faster rate, but for some unknown reason, Bungie dropped the ball and left out matchmaking on these. In turn if you want to play through the weekly and daily strikes you must come prepared with four to six friends also willing to play.
Of course outside of everything else I’ve mentioned, it would be impossible to not discuss Destiny’s audio and visuals. Bungie has always done a great job creating beautiful games with even more incredible soundtracks and they have again succeeded in doing so with Destiny. Destiny’s worlds are beautifully crafted as are all of the characters, enemies, weapons, armors and ships. Even more impressive than the graphics are Destiny’s incredible sound effects. The game succeeds at having all the correct sounds perfectly orchestrated to be truly believable in which they are played. Additionally and unsurprisingly, Destiny’s soundtrack is top notch and fits the game and the game’s world perfectly.
Overall, it’s sad to see that Bungie failed to create a game that could have truly fit the hype that Destiny had created for itself. At the same time, Destiny had such huge hype it’s unsurprising that it was unable to meet it. Destiny is far from a bad game; it’s just a bit disappointing. Destiny’s story was lacking to say the least with a truly horrid ending. Destiny is redeemed however, by its incredibly addicting multiplayer, beautiful visual and audio, and simply by the fact that Destiny handles so well. Destiny may have its count of problems and issues in its current state, but I do believe that with some time and future expansions, Bungie can transform Destiny from an average game, to that truly special game that gamers worldwide wanted.
• Great visuals and sound design
• Controls incredibly well and feels like a top notch FPS
• Competitive online is balanced, and is very fun
• Strikes / Raids are unique and interesting
• Story fell flat and didn’t really come out with any explanations in game
• Poor loot system, makes grinding almost inevitable
• Strikes do get repetitive and old after multiple playthroughs
Destiny is out now for Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Xbox One and Xbox 360
Destiny was reviewed using a retail PS3 disc provided by Activision.
Pre-order statistics from VGChartz