Destiny or Of Misconceptions and Truths

There has been much talk and even more hype. Destiny was supposed to really fire up the next generation of console gaming. It was supposed to be a MMO-style co-op open worldish first person shooter revelation. But now that we can peel back the layers of hype, what exactly is Destiny?

It is not next gen. In any way. Destiny has some decent graphics, yes. But the gameplay is nothing new or innovative. It is extremely polished, it is fun, but that’s about it.

It is not as bad as many point out. Frankly, Destiny pays the price for years of stale Call of Duties, Battlefields & Co. Finally, many people are fed up with the same AAA formula: Always play safe, no risks, you know it. For some reason, reviewers and gamers take out all their frustration on Destiny, not on Call of Duty. True, the hype was too big, there were to many promises not kept, but remember how each damn Call of Duty is supposed to be new and different yet it never is?

It is neither MMO nor single player … Destiny is something inbetween. Sometimes you spot another player, sometimes even two. But that’s it. Compared to Defiance where you can meet dozens of players at some events, Destiny is barren. In the week of its release. So no, it is nowhere near a MMO. However, it is not really a proper single player game. First of all, it’s always online. No internet, no Destiny. Second, you can play the story on your own, no problem, but playing a strike and most likely a raid alone sounds like in-game suicide and real-life time wasting. You need a working team to beat these instances of Destiny.

The gameplay shines … except for the AI. In terms of gameplay, Destiny is as polished as polished can get. The controls are smooth and crisp, running and gunning is fluent, the frame rate is stable, and switching between vehicles and running is perfect. The weapons have some weight to them and feel and handle different from each other, too. Seems good … if it wasn’t for the broken AI. Sure, enemies take cover (especially shielded enemies tend to wait until their shields are up again), but they rarely try to flank you. Even worse, every enemy in Destiny has a radius it never trespasses. Fuck, you can exploit it perfectly in boss fights – there is virtually always a safe spot to retreat to, and a melee boss won’t even touch you if you play your cards right. Come on, test it out for yourself.

It is a Halo/Borderlands/Diablo/Mass Effect hybrid. It has the looks of Halo, the loot system of Borderlands, the leveling up structure of Diablo 3, the coop approach of Mass Effect 3’s MP. As said before, Destiny is not a revolution, not an innovation. But it combines all of the above in a compelling way. You want to explore, you want to find loot, you want to keep on playing. For the loot, mostly. To sum it up, Destiny is all about the loot.

The story is non-existent. We have a cinematic at the beginning, some lines from Tyrion, erm, our Ghost, and some lines inbetween. We know … next to nothing. Sure, you unlock cards in Destiny … cards you can watch at the Bungie website. Seriously? Would it have been that hard to give us the option … you know, in the game itself? What is going on with this second screen nonsense? No one cares for it on the Wii U, the Vita bombs anyway, and smartphone compagnions are pretty much useless gimmicks – why insisting on stuff us gamers do not want? We want all information on the screen in the game. Period.

The long-term prospects hamper the actual game. How? First of all, we know next to nothing about Destiny’s universe. So why should we care about a world without lore or interesting characters? Bioware and Bethesda know you need an appoach to captivate players. Destiny captivates us now, true. But for how long? Second, there’s a ten year plan for Destiny in place, probably all detailed. There’s main games, big DLC, small DLC etc. Speaking of  that…

DLC ruins the experience. “Wait, what?” you might say. “Rabidgames, you don’t know anything about upcoming DLC yet!” True. But look at the rather meagre content (just compare Destiny’s campaign to the one in Borderlands 2). For now, Destiny is a 20 hours experience. At the moment, Destiny looks spectacular, the soundtrack is amazing, and some vistas are beautiful. But there is not much below the surface. A lack of story, a lack of missions, a lack of diversity. Sure, we have the open maps to explore, but how long will we do it? To counter that, Activision and Bungie have promised us DLC. Hell, you can buy a more expensive version of Destiny that includes the first two pieces of DLC! That’s how Destiny is supposed to come alive. Via DLC! That would be perfectly fine if Destiny had been a 20 quid price tag, but full price for a game that becomes a complete game only after shelling out dozens of pounds again? Judge for yourselves!

Its PvP is fucked. How? Well, you have a team with the highest level of 10, the enemy’s average is … 15. Guess what happens next? Either way round, this kind of matchmaking is fucking stupid. Either you wipe the floor with weak noobs or overpowered opponents, usually level 20 upwards, wipe the floor with your sorry guardian ass! It makes PvP in Destiny absolutely redundant and pointless.

It is good, not great. Of course, the hype was so big it was impossible to live up to it. But even if there are disappointments and long-term dangers, Destiny is fun to play at its core. It is fun to travel around, hunt down some bosses, play a strike with other players. But there is no awesome factor. After a while, and that while might be within a month, Destiny will feel stale – especially with the tons of other games incoming.

All hope is not lost! Bungie might still find a way to counter that fatigue that is going to set in eventually – maybe by weekend special events (they have already started) or free updates as the new species, weapons etc. in Mass Effect 3’s MP. If purchasable DLC is the only way for Destiny to survive, its destiny seems all but sure – the bargain bin.

Rabidgame keeps playing: All the long-term issues aside, Destiny is an enjoyable experience to play through and the verdict seems a bit harsh. True, it might not be much more than its core, but its core is the gameplay, and the gameplay is solid fun. Time will tell if that’s enough though …

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