Destiny… Is It Really All That? Or Did It Fall Flat?
[dropcap size=small]B[/dropcap]ungie is an amazing developer and Halo is easily one of my favorite game franchises of all time, making it among my top first-person shooter games as well. So of course the hype and build-up around Destiny made my heart race as I stood in line until midnight on September 9th to pick up my copy just so I could zip home and explore the galaxy in what was being boasted as a massive space FPS with countless hours of unique entertainment. Or so that is what I was lead to believe.
Reviews are often done ahead of a game’s release, in order to provide an accurate breakdown of what to expect in the game weeks prior to it hitting store shelves. IGN does this, GameInformer does it, GameSpot does it, even we do it from time-to-time. As a matter of fact, we even wrote a review of our Destiny Alpha experiences. And while an Alpha version of any game is certainly no Beta, it is even farther away form the final public release. With all the aforementioned having been said, we wanted to go in-depth with Destiny and see far enough into the game if it was worthy of weeks and months of play throughs.
To do that, it is most important to look in all crevasses, climb up all mountains (metaphorically in this case), and do the best to uphold the truths and ideals one grasps firmly to, even in the event of sharing an unpopular opinion towards the most popular game out right now.
But everyone has an opinion, and everyone is going to share their thoughts aloud regarding what that feel of someone else’s. With that I ask you right now, if you have played Destiny, is it really what you expected?
Destiny’s main premise is that you are one of three classes of hero; Titan, Warlock, Hunter. Each of these classes is among the title of “Guardian”, a unique individual with an even more unique skill set having been given special abilities by a mysterious entity to protect serve those weaker than yourself. This mysterious entity is known as the Traveler, and comes in the form of a small moon-like structure that hovers within the orbit of earth, just above the last known city to stand in the wake of a terrible battle between “the Darkness” against the Traveler and its Guardian heroes.
Throughout the story, your Guardian is accompanied by Ghost (voiced by Peter Dinklage), a tiny little robot companion that flies around like a mini R2D2 helping you hack things and provide you with backstory on what the hell is going on in the game.
I found as I progressed all the way to the Level 20 Cap, that I never really got a firm grasp of what the Traveler is or where it came from, not to mention the darkness and what its problem is. Planets like Mars and Venus, even the moon of Earth are all inhabitable with the same gravity as Earth because of the Traveler… for some reason that is never explained. But space is cool and science is not important to most so we can move on.
GAMEPLAY – 7/10
Each mission seems to repeat itself tremendously. Go here, kill this group of enemies that resemble the same look and style of battle as the last horde you faced, hit a button against something so Ghost can scan it and send the info to… Someone you never interact with. This can be okay for some, but when Destiny is boasted and talked of like it is some massive playable area with tons to see and do and explore, this gets old really fast. And though leveling to 20 can be quite a task, I found it to be relatively simple having earned enough experience in just under 14 hours of playing. The thing is, at the same time, I have done everything else the game has to offer. While I write this, I hear the music of Martin O’Donnell playing in the background while I observe the maps of the playable areas on my television. I sit here and I wonder how it was possible to provide those anxious to play Destiny with the idea that there would be literally countless hours of unique content to experience, yet 3 planets and a moon never felt so small.
Every mission allows you to go back and play it for additional experience, but when each objective to progress through the story feels just like the last, the thought of going back to play the same mission again overwhelms me with boredom. Watching players of higher levels pop in and out of your game sessions killing everything on the field for you before the game quickly respawns more enemies instantly does get tiring as well, especially if you are trying to kill weaker level enemies for the sake of completing bounty missions.
Loot is a whole additional concern…
Early on, Destiny was referred to as being a cross between Halo and Borderlands, but after playing I would like to point out how inaccurate this assessment is. Why? Because the things that make Borderlands and Halo great were absent in Destiny. In Borderlands you had this wide-open playable area, something that just looking at you felt you were never able to complete. Even still, having played Borderlands 2 most recently, I know that no matter what mission I am on, I am always going to be missing some clever homage to another game, or loot crates or something interesting implemented by the developers. There is so much loot in Borderlands 2, so many crates and barrels and lock boxes that I know every time I start the game that I am going to be missing a bunch of them. And this makes me play more. This makes me search and scour the ends of every map, climb the tallest plateaus, run and jump that seemingly impossible to reach ledge no matter ho many times I fall because it gives me something to do. Because the game is huge, and there are very few boundaries and limitless possibilities and potential to find cool stuff. Destiny… does not offer that. Instead, finding a loot crate in Destiny is literally just as rare as finding 1 of only 5 Golden Chests in each area.
Each Golden Chest offers loot at random (likely based on the players level), sometimes valuable, often times not. Most times it is a bit of Glimmer, Destiny’s in-game currency. Other times it could be an uncommon rifle or a pair of boots. Nothing I seem to recall keeping for more time than it took me to dispose of and get money back for. I managed to get most of the Golden Chests in Destiny, only to be underwhlemed by the games lack of valuables.
The dialogue in Borderlands 2 was and still is epic and twisted with humor that most games could not top. In Destiny, you interact very little with the Speaker, the humanoid representative of the Traveler. Never seeing his face, only hearing his voice a few times really bummed me out, especially since he was portrayed by one of my favorite actors, Bill Nighy.
Destiny is not like Halo for a more basic reason. In Halo, there was an emotionally captivating story complete with fantastic dialogue and memorable characters that you grew to genuinely care about. You won’t find any of that in Destiny. Peter Dinklage is the voice you hear most often, and countless times I just tuned him out because of the poor voice acting and other times because I just did not know what the hell he was talking about. The stale lack of charisma from one of the best actor on screen really surprised me, and bored me half to death.
What Destiny lacks in gameplay, cannot be said about the design. An intuitive user menu, accompanied with some of the most beautiful sets and backgrounds we have seen in some time make it a wonder to admire during the hours of leveling up. The one drawback? Most of the places you see, you cannot go. There are more barriers in the game than we can recall bumping into, whether it be trying to climb a hill or jumping to another ledge, there just really is not a lot to interact with at all. But from a distance, it looks fantastic. Its just disappointing to know that we will never be able to see any of it up close.
The user menu is intuitive, the PS4 controls are quick to adjust to, even if you have come from an Xbox you traded in to get your PS4 console. Getting used to aiming whether with a scope or not to get that perfect headshot amongst the constant garage of hordes comes as natural as a moving your finger. Easily one of the best things about this game.
Martin O’Donnell has made some of the most beautiful soundtracks we have ever heard, and at the time of this writing, Destiny does not have a known date for when they will be getting theirs. Taking breaks between repetitive game sessions, it became soothing to hear the soundtrack in the background on my television while I went off and did something else for a bit before picking up the controller again. In addition, those unfamiliar will be surprised to know that the ending credits song features Sir Paul McCartney as well. This will be one soundtrack we pick up the moment it comes out.
Replay Value 6/10
The level growing system seems to be the only thing that kept players going, outside of multiplayer that is. The games progress and rewards were only given to those who achieved higher levels and sought to get as much as experience as possible so as to meet with their Vanguard (each class has a Vanguard, basically a representative you deal with for mission successes) and buy overpriced hard to obtain loot. Even at level 20, I am just shy of the requirements to by the Legendary Hunter Armor.
What bugs me most about this game, is that I was just as excited as everyone else. I wanted to badly to have this game’s case sitting on my shelf with the disc in my PlayStation 4 for months to come based off of all the promises from Bungie regarding how big or epic or long this game would take to beat. Instead, they twisted their words saying that you have not beaten the game until you have beaten every player in the Crucible multiplayer arena. That is just stupid. No one will ever face-off against every player in any game, so the same could be true about any title that comes out from now, until forever.
Though the game is a tight first person shooter with decent visuals and lovely music, the story never completely comes around full circle to make sense, and each mission represent the exact same thing you just did before it. With little variety and lack of exploration with all the boundaries and next to zero loot, I am worried that we are at a time where games over-promise and under-deliver (TitanFall and Watch_Dogs come to mind).
OVERALL SCORE: Somewhere between a 6/10 and 7/10
In short, Destiny is not what I expected, and I feel let down in nearly every way this game tried to offer entertainment. After accruing level 20 and not knowing a lick about the story or what half of my inventory items are for, I feel Destiny will be one game I was glad to play, but disappointed to have placed my hopes and trust into the hands of developers who I expect so much more from and should certainly know better.