I decided to wait until I had experienced most of what Destiny has to offer before writing my review. Just a short while ago I decided that I had pretty much done just that so here we are. It’s weird to think that a game could cost hundreds of millions of dollars, make 500+ million on its first day and in the end turn out fairly mediocre. Can that even be considered a success? A financial one, sure, but that’s about where it stops.
Destiny has many problems and I’ll break them down here:
It’s really crazy how so much of Destiny feels like a giant cliche to the point where you aren’t quite sure if it’s trying to be a parody on purpose. You’d think that a studio like Bungie would deliver something of higher quality after having created something like Halo. The main plot in Destiny revolves around an ancient enemy known as “The Darkness” trying to destroy “The Light.” I mean, really now? Unoriginality aside, I can’t help but feel like I’m playing through some kind of alternate universe Kingdom Hearts fan fiction. Guardians are chosen because of their light or something and are accompanied by a small robot called a Ghost, there are things called Travelers, a Speaker, etc. Think of pretty much every overused sci-fi/fantasy word and it’s probably here. It’s hard to explain it right out but if you played through even a portion of it you might understand. It’s like you’re running around in a universe designed by a twelve-year-old.
The villains you face in Destiny are just unremarkable and bland. First you fight some alien guys, then some robot goblins, and finally space marines. Seriously, they look just like Space Marines and even have jump packs. Bungie seems to have gone creatively bankrupt in this department. The aliens in the Covenant (Halo) were far more memorable than any of these. Grunts, Elites, Jackals, Brutes, etc. I can actually remember those. I’m not even a big Halo fan but I can at least give them props for making interesting bad guys.
The weapons you get to use are essentially the most generic assembly of weapons I have ever seen. There are a few varieties and they are split between three different categories (Primary, Special, Heavy ). You would think that a game like this that is set so far in the future and has such interesting tech would at least provide some cool weapons. It might, but you don’t get to use any of them. You get stuff like a handgun, automatic, semi-automatic, scout rifle, sniper rifle, shotgun, scattergun, machine gun, and rockets. Aside from the scattergun you could essentially find all of that stuff in something like Call of Duty and it would seem no different at all. Where are the interesting energy weapons? Bad guys have energy weapons and other cool stuff but you are left with what feels like rejects of a derelict era. Again I find myself thinking of Halo and the weapons provided in that game. Sure it had your standard military guns but it also had a lot of interesting alien weapons. Where’s my Needler 2.0, Bungie?
I mentioned the gist of what Destiny is about and that’s pretty much all you get. You don’t really get any kind cohesive narrative except for Peter Dinklage flatly talking in your ear about where to go next and a bunch of other nonsense. Halfway through the game I wasn’t even sure of my motivation anymore or what my ultimate goal was. There didn’t really seem to be a point to any of it. There are a couple of cutscenes that pretty much just bookend the story and that is about it. Eventually you reach the end of the game and after a rather lackluster boss fight things just sorta end rather anticlimactically.
So I mentioned the monotone Peter Dinklage voice work but I don’t really think it’s the guy’s fault. They got a lot of talent for this game and I have recognized many voices. Unfortunately it’s all fairly lifeless. Their voice director really should not feel proud of the work done.
Repetitive and Restrictive
Obviously you are going to be doing one thing in a game like this: Shooting. Even so there are many ways you can shake up the formula and create some really exciting moments. Destiny doesn’t really do anything like this. There are no real awesome cinematic moments in the gameplay and no real hallmark experiences to be had. Despite taking you across several locations and planets you will still in the end follow one basic format for almost every mission: Fight through an area filled with bad guys -> Defend an area against bad guys while your Ghost hacks. Seriously, I lost count of how often this happened. That’s all it ends up being. Occasionally you’ll get Fight Through -> Defend -> Boss but it really doesn’t vary beyond that.
The open world exploration missions can be more interesting since they let you roam around wherever you want to. Scattered about are several mini missions you can do that will get you exp and rep. It’s mostly just “go here and scan this,” “Kill and collect X,” or just “Kill stuff.” Each planet you get to explore is pretty decent in size and each planet seems to get a bit larger than the previous. There are a lot of really cool areas and it all looks really nice. What really takes you out of the experience is all of the invisible walls and death walls you hit. I’ve seen a lot of people posting links to a dev video where they state something like “The game is huge and you can travel anywhere you can see” but that is a load of crap. You will constantly hit solid barriers or hazard areas that will straight up kill you if you stay too long away from where they want you to be. It’s not so much an issue in the first area, which is Earth, but when you are exploring the Moon and Mars it really sucks when you are roaming around thinking “Oh cool, I wonder what’s up here” only to be stopped in your tracks.
Daily Missions, Marks, and Rep A.K.A. Grinding
Destiny is not an MMOFPS. You really wont ever seen more than a handful of players at once. Just getting that out there. Yet for some reason the devs decided to make it like an MMO. Unfortunately they took all of the bad aspects from the genre and stuck them into Destiny. I could tell almost right away that things weren’t going to go well when every merchant was selling stuff for various marks and tokens. There are daily and weekly missions that will give you bonuses but other than that you are left grinding away at either Strike Missions, which are PvE dungeons of 3 people, or playing the PvP portion of the game which is essentially like the online versus of every other FPS. PvE stuff will get you Vanguard Marks and PvP stuff will net you Crucible Marks. I really don’t know if there is any kind of difference between the types of gear you can get. I don’t see why there would be since I’m not aware of any kind of PvP stat. In the end I imagine most people will want to just play the competitive multiplayer component rather than grind dungeons over and over again with inept strangers.
Maybe some people like this kind of stuff. I do not care to know those people. Unfortunately, this is all that is left after you complete the story portion of the game: grinding for gear. EXP points will only get you up to level 20 and in order to go beyond that you need to equip pieces of armor with light points. Having so many of those on at once will increase your level. Right now I’m only level 21 but I have seen players at 26. I have no idea if it goes higher than that. What’s irritating is that new game content that they add is going to require you be at these higher levels like 26 and so on, so if you want to get in on that you had better start grinding away.
Here’s where things get really interesting, though. You can only get 100 of each mark per week but almost every piece of equipment is above 150 marks, some even 250+. So you will have to grind for weeks just to buy one piece of gear. Dailies, tokens, and rep are already forms of artificial game lengthening but this just takes it to ridiculous levels.
There has to be some good, right?
There is a lot wrong with Destiny. I’m not even sure if I covered everything that I tried to make a mental note about. This is probably why I need a pen and some paper. Anyway, I don’t know if I would necessarily say that I’m enjoying myself but I am still playing. I’m curious about some of the places I haven’t been and I want to unlock all of my character upgrades. Plus the competitive multiplayer portion of the game isn’t bad. Nothing ground breaking or anything but still enjoyable. There are a few things that I would like to specifically mention. Stuff that I thought was pretty interesting.
I don’t really know how else to describe this. I find the way everything is tied together to be very appealing. Between doing missions you are just orbiting on your ship and from there you can choose what planet to head to and what activity to do. When you go some place with other people their ships will meet yours mid warp and you all fly down to whichever planet together. It all looks really, really neat.
I love these things. You can summon one down from your ship and use it to zoom around areas. It reminds me a lot of the speeders in Star Wars Galaxies.
I actually do like the Strike Missions. Not really enough to grind them for hours but I do find it fun to run through them with two other people. They all seem to end in some decent boss battles as well so there’s at least that.
I have the PS4 version of Destiny so I am able to remotely play it with my PS Vita. I really wasn’t expecting a whole lot but it really works quite fantastically. The game looks great and the button layout actually works really well despite losing triggers and stick-clicks. Tapping the left side of the screen throws your grenade and tapping the right activates your melee attack. Really my only complaint is that the analog stick control is really difficult on the Vita. For some reason there is a rather large dead zone and it makes aiming pretty tricky. It’s manageable for most PvE stuff, baring maybe some of the harder Strike Missions, but pretty much impossible for PvP stuff. If you can play competitively on a Vita then my hats are off to you. Edit: Not sure why I pluralized hat…
The Online Integration
Destiny integrates it’s online and multiplayer elements very well. I’m actually really excited at the prospect of this level of online integration potentially making its way into future games. Everything just works so well and seems so seamless. I like seeing other players around and how there is never a feeling of having to join a session, etc. How many of the people currently enjoying Destiny were also the ones bitching about the possibility of “Always Online”connections required? Stuff’s creeping up on ya.
I feel kinda in a weird place right now since I can very clearly identify a lot that is wrong with Destiny yet at the same time I’m still playing it. Actually right now I’m feeling the urge to do some PvPing and maybe run a dungeon. It’s not a feeling that will last long for me, but I’m trying to get as much out of it as I can. I can only hope that the content they add later in the expansion pass is some truly exceptional stuff cause as it stands I’m not entirely sure I could give this game my full recommendation. It’s really one of those “wait and see” situations.