Alright, it’s time to get serious. After a week, major game sites and various news outlets are finally doing full reviews for Destiny. I mention this because I think it should be noted from the start that Destiny is bigger than a week. It’s going to take months to truly dive into just how big this really can be. In case you’ve been frozen in ice for the past few months, Destiny is the latest sensation sweeping through the console video game market right now. Released on the 9th of September by Bungie (the studio behind Halo), Destiny can be best described as a shared world shooter.
You play as a Guardian. You were chosen to defend Earth and it’s last surviving city from multiple threats from the outer world collectively known as “The Darkness”. You use your trusty firearm and superhuman abilities granted to you by the Traveller who instills “The Light” in you to repel this Darkness. You travel from world to world (notably our own solar system) and fight the various threats head on. The worlds are open and vast and are shared with other players like an MMO. You do have areas that are specific to your story though, and the game will separate you from these public areas to fight on your own or with a specific team of 3-6 players in these Darkness Zones. The action is intense and at times stressful. You face overwhelming numbers in some cases. Ultimately though, it’s up to you as Guardian to overcome all and defend the city and humanity as best you can.
What I like about this game is probably what everyone likes to a certain extent. To better explain, Destiny is what you would get if you take some of your favorite moments from the past few years in gaming and made a game out of that. It’s almost like Bungie was playing all the popular games while making Destiny and saying “let’s use that”. You have touches of Skyrim, Borderlands 2, Halo, even World of Warcraft all blended together to form this sort of “melting pot of awesome” that will trigger in different ways for different people. Ultimately, Destiny is the kind of game where you might not like a certain aspect but odds are someone else playing feels the opposite and loves it. For me, I love this idea and embrace it fully. I am fully aware that they are pretty much taking the shooting mechanics of Call of Duty and Borderlands 2 and combining it with Halo with a World of Warcraft loot mechanic. I don’t mind rehashing territory over and over again with the same enemies. After all, that didn’t bother me or anyone else I know of in Skyrim.
Destiny is ambitious and one week isn’t enough to cut into all the details and intricacies it possesses. I’m a casual gamer and I tried to restrain myself from spending too much time in game and to give this review a more casual angle. I am now a level 16 Titan after about 10 or so hours of gameplay and have finished the story through The Moon and I’m just starting the content on Venus.
So, what I think Destiny nails right out of the box:
- The landscapes are immense and enthralling (albeit repetitive). I love doing a patrol and finding a new cave or path that leads to higher level stuff to come back to when I’m more ready (i.e. I’m a level 7 and some [??] something or other one-shots me).
- The gunplay is solid and pretty easy to pick up. A hair more accurate than Halo, but by no means on the level of Call of Duty.
- The leveling tree feels balanced when paired with the loot system. The gear scaling is right on and provides just enough carrot to keep you wanting to find bigger and better without it being on the level of say Diablo 3 where you go out for an hour and have to basically re-gear yourself every time… every freaking time.
- The public events, matchmaking Strikes, and open hunting areas. An incoming Devil Walker public event is always fun and the game integrates the social aspect well (you don’t have to manually assign a fireteam on the fly to do the event in other words). I love coming across a few guardians working on something and being able to help just by walking up on it.
I will admit that there are some areas in Destiny where the map gets maybe a bit over repetitive. For instance on Earth’s Cosmodrome area, the building interiors are pretty much the same and it gets hard from time to time finding your way to a specific zone. That same thing happens on the Moon levels as well. My strategy guide maps did little to help me either. I admit though that I suck with directions in-game. Some other things that I’ve found so far that are a little irritating:
- There is a slight delay on weapon swapping now that I didn’t experience in the beta. On a strike fight on the Moon, I was needing to sniper some and shotgun some back and forth pretty quickly and I kept struggling with lagging load times while trying to swap out. That makes it all the more frustrating when you take into consideration that there is essentially no true “pause” button (at least not on Strikes). I just find a quiet safe spot and swap gear as needed.
- The leveling is still fast like the beta (just minus the sweet loot). After the beta test, one of the big issues Bungie tried to shrug off was people saying that leveling was too fast. After talking to a few players who are well into their 20’s, they got to 20 with minimal resistance without even touching the level appropriate content (in other words, they are at level 20 without touching Mars which is meant for their level). Here it is week one and people in their spare time (not talking about the insane marathon gamers who were hitting level cap in one day) were able to casually play and nearly cap out in an insanely short time. Dropping 60+ bucks ($110 in my case for the Limited Edition) it can be seen as a little daunting hitting the max level so quick. No one likes to bring a game home and beat it all in 20 minutes. There will be backlash for this especially because Bungie was constantly saying that Destiny‘s story is important and evidence is suggesting that it’s not (i.e. Bungie’s developers saying the game kicks in at 20)
- The PvP side of the game seems slightly unbalanced but my big thing is the players who quit mid round. This was a huge deal for Halo’s multiplayer and for some reason it’s still a big thing here. When a team is down after a few seconds of play, there is a big issue with players who quit. Out of the 12 or so games I played in the Crucible, over half of those ended up with me being solo. Years of multiplayer has taught me that those were the breaks but the reward system at the end of the round is giving the other team awesome rewards for basically no effort and the guy who sticks out the round despite having no chance of winning gets stiffed cause it was 3 on 1 for the entirety of a match. There are some issues there to work out in my mind because simply implementing a “quit ban” for 15 minutes isn’t deterring the issue of people rage quitting. If people are blasting through the content and Bungie is planning on keeping our interest with PvP then they are gonna have to revamp that a little in my opinion. Rage quits aside, the other issue is the lack of tiered PvP. While the weapons aren’t level specific allowing a level 6 gun to do as much damage as a level 20 gun, the available abilities that are level based are. A level 12 Titan doesn’t have their Storm Fist ability maxed out or a Shoulder charge available. It makes for a heavily unbalanced experience.
Ultimately, Destiny is getting unfairly raked over the coals for the most part by the bigger sites in my opinion. Even if it’s not the absolutely most perfect game ever right out of the box, at least it’s fun and has the potential to be bigger and more polished. Bungie is dedicated to making Destiny work and I think and that says a lot. They aren’t trying to make a game of the moment (like the Call of Duty series did). Bungie is already planning on tweaks and balances to ensure the Destiny‘s longevity. I equate it to Activision’s other big baby – World of Warcraft from Blizzard. You see, Blizz is always improving and building upon the game they came up with. For instance, a new expansion is coming soon for that game which will add things that aren’t anything like what the initial game was in the beginning. Bungie is laying a foundation here with Destiny. Halo as a cultural phenomenon didn’t happen with just Halo: Combat Evolved but with Halo 2 and 3 as well Halo: Reach.
I highly suggest picking up a copy of Destiny just so that years from now, you can say you were there from day one because this game has only just begun. This upcoming Tuesday, Bungie will release the first official raid for Destiny so we can finally get a look at just what Bungie has in store for keeping the scores of Titans, Warlocks, and Hunters busy after level 20.
Destiny has some issues that prevent me giving it a perfect score – like an almost non essential story line, and a slightly unbalanced PvP (multiplayer).
- Gameplay: A
- Repeatablility: C (let’s see how good Raiding goes and if the PvP can balance out)
- Sound: A (majestic and non-overpowering in any way, as to be expected from Bungie)
- Graphics: A (you can tell a lot of attention was spent on details, and I’m not even on next gen yet)