by Brian Robbins
The last time we saw a game come from developer Bungie was in 2010, with their mega-smash hit, Halo: Reach. Since then the developers have been hard at work with a very ambitious project, Destiny. Teaming up with Activision, a publisher who has plenty of major franchises under its belt, Bungie made a bold choice. Together both Bungie and Activision will be committed to bring us 10 years of Destiny, whether we want it or not. From extensively playing over the game’s content I can say this game still needs some work, but there is hope.
The whole premise of Destiny can be a little confusing. Bungie tried marketing this as a “shared-world shooter”. That’s a bit of a vague description but basically Destiny is a blend of MMO elements and strong shooter mechanics. The comparisons to hit games like World of Warcraft, Diablo, Halo and even Call of Duty are striking. The closest game you’ve played to Destiny is Gearbox’s hit Borderlands. You’ll shoot, and sometimes you might get loot.
When you first boot up Bungie’s game, you’ll be promptly gazing your eyes on a very confusing cutscene set on Mars. After you watch the short video, you’ll then go on to create your character. Unfortunately, customization with your actual character is a bit underwhelming. It doesn’t have the breadth of say World of Warcraft or console RPGs either. You’ll feel less than unique when your helmet comes off on Destiny’s hub location, the Tower.
Thankfully when it comes to character classes, there’s a bit more wiggle room. With Destiny, you have access to three classes, the swift Hunter, the explosive Warlock and the Titan who is more or less a walking tank. Each class has two different leveling up trees and even at the soft max level of 20, you’ll still be unlocking more options in the tree. So far, there hasn’t been one choice in any of the class trees that are “must haves”, fortunately as of now, it’s all about player preference. Often times, I felt like the classes all essentially felt the same. They were all powerful glass cannons in their own right. I suppose this is a good thing considering Destiny doesn’t force anyone to pick between the MMO standard of having Tanks and Healers. Everyone is doing damage and everyone is conducting beautiful explosions.
When you aren’t using your unique character abilities, you’ll be shooting your weapon. You’ll be shooting a lot, you’ll use enough bullets to bankrupt the NRA. Even so, Destiny is an RPG at its core, so shooter fans might be frustrated when their endless amounts of well-aimed headshots fail to bring an enemy down quickly. To be honest, that’s where a majority of fun comes from with Destiny. You’ll feel good when your fireteam finally brings down a powerful boss at the end of a strike. If you’ve had the luxury of playing a Halo game, you’ll fit right in here. The weapons feel great, varied and most importantly fun. Granted, some enemies take forever to vanquish but you’ll be having a great time in the polished firefights.
The game does grow very repetitive going from one room to another, sending your Ghost companion (voiced by the bored Peter Dinklage) to unlock a door when waves of enemies are sent head first to combat you and your companions. As I mentioned before, the shooting gameplay works great but when the missions are so dismal it hurts the overall package. Of course, this excludes the excellently tuned three man strikes and the six player raid, The Vault of Glass. I just wished we had more of it, and more varied adversaries. Most of the bosses (excluding anything in the raid and the gigantic Spider Tanks) all feel the same, which is a shame.
The multiplayer portion of Destiny called the Crucible works great though. There’s plenty of classic Bungie designed maps and vehicles to play around in. What was missing was any sort of private lobbies to explore any of the maps in. I would love to just fight it out with my friends in a classic Deathmatch style game. The game modes were lacking in multiplayer as well. I’m a huge fan of Halo’s Big-Team Deathmatch but I’ll have to wait for a special event on the weekend to play it? Lame. As seen in the beta, Iron Banner will be included during a special event as well. This game mode is great because your gear and level will actually matter on how much damage you’ll do, unlike the completely gear and level balanced standard Crucible matches.
The elephant in the room is definitely the game’s story. When we were first teased with Destiny back at E3 2013, the lore of the game seemed interesting and deep. After playing the game’s storyline, it’s anything but. From when you complete your first story mission to the game’s conclusion, literally none of your story questions will be answered. Granted, no one expected any huge revelations but at the same time nothing gets solved during the 12 hour storyline. You’ll know next to nothing on who you’re shooting at, what the Traveler is and why the “darkness” is such a pivotal force. There’s tidbits of story on Bungie.net’s website or the Destiny app via Grimoire Cards but you’ll only get a tease of a much bigger picture. I really shouldn’t have to use an app or a website to get context of a story.
Destiny isn’t an MMO but is absolutely influenced by them, and like most MMO’s, Destiny will receive dramatic updates that will improve the game as a whole. There are glaring problems and frustrations with Bungie’s latest but it’s still a fun and a long lasting game. With plenty of DLC down the pipeline, we’ll be entertained until the sequel. With subtle changes and balances, Destiny could become the beast we want it to be, it’s just unfortunate we’ll have to wait a little longer for it to rise to greatness.