Release Date: September 9th, 2014
Available on: Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Reviewer’s note: I played this game on the Playstation 4. There may be differences between versions.
When Bungie and Microsoft parted ways after the development of Halo: Reach many people wondered what would be next for them. And now here are, with the release of Destiny. A first person shooter with both RPG and MMO elements, many people expected Destiny to be one of the best releases of the year. But does it manage to live up to the almost absurd amount of hype it has?
Destiny’s story takes place in the distant future. A being simply known as the Traveler has shown up at Earth and has caused such a technological revolution that it has brought about a golden age. All things can’t last forever though, and soon the Traveler’s enemy comes for it. This being, known as the Darkness, is just barely fought off by the Traveler and now it remains inactive above Earth. Taking place some time after this, Destiny puts you in the role of a Guardian. After being revived by an AI named Ghost (which is voiced by the always talented Peter Dinklage) you set off to discover what has happened in the time since you died and how to fight back the Darkness and save the Traveler.
Destiny’s doesn’t just have an excellent premise, but an extremely interesting lore to back it up. Each of the four enemy races in the game have their own history and lore behind it. There’s just one problem with this: not only is the entire lore not actually in the game itself, but the actual story is an absolute mess. It has this weird thing where it’s trying to start new plot threads every mission, but the majority of these threads go absolutely nowhere. How did your character die and what did they do before death? Not a clue. What is the “warmind” Rasputin and why is he suddenly on Mars? Don’t expect to find out. What’s the deal with the space elves in the asteroid belt? How did the Hive figure out how to corrupt parts of the Traveler? Who on Earth is The Stranger, why is she helping you, and what is she talking to all the time? What /is/ the Darkness that they keep name dropping all the time? Your guess is as good as mine. A lot of the lore is explained on Bungie’s website, on the condition that you find the cards for it, but that’s not really much of a way to tell a story.
It feels weird that I’m going to have to give steps to enjoy Destiny, but if you go in with the right mindset then you’ll probably enjoy Destiny far more than if you don’t. First and most important: bring friends. Every story mission can be played with up to two friends by your side. This monumentally improves the game and helps you ignore the game’s extremely repetitive objectives. Destiny’s story mode lasts 25 missions and I can sum up a majority of them pretty easily. Go towards first objective, have Ghost scan it, fight off a wave of enemies. Repeat once or twice more, sometimes throw a boss (which is just a bigger enemy with more health) at you. There are a couple of exceptions, one particularly neat mission has you picking up a sword and turning the game into a hack ‘n slash for a little bit, but this is so rare that I can only think of about three missions that even bother to change up the formula.
It’s a real shame because Destiny’s gameplay is just so damn smooth. Everything from the shooting to the looting is just so well made. Each of the three classes have special abilities that are easy to tell apart from one another and have unique effects. Each class also has super abilities which are both visually impressive, even temporarily switching the game to third person so you can get the full effect, and extremely useful. Grenade and melee abilities help set apart the classes enough where each one has some sort of obvious difference while still keeping them similar enough that you never feel like your group would be hindered by not grabbing one of each.
Friends especially become important during Strike missions. A Strike mission has you running a dungeon with two other players that has unique objectives and tough bosses. Some of the bosses are just even stronger enemies, but others can actually be kind of fun. A spider-like tank which requires you to take out its legs so you can expose its core comes to mind, as does a turret that has a constantly rotating shield. The Strike missions also offer some neat rewards for your characters, making them a good place to find nice guns and armor. There’s also a 6-player raid for you to participate in but, lacking a proper match making system for Raids and my inability to corral together several friends to do this, I haven’t been able to check this out yet.
Besides that there’s also Patrol mode. Patrol just opens up whichever planet you’re on and let you explore the area. You can find collectable dead ghosts and golden chests or participate in quick five minute missions that require you to kill X amount of a specific enemy or collect Y of a specific item. The biggest draw is public events, which seems players making quick and dirty teams to try and fight back whatever invading swarm, or protect some fallen thing. These are fun, but ultimately too rare to actually count on showing up.
Which actually brings me back to my steps from before. The second step: If you are alone, stick to the Crucible. The Crucible is Destiny’s form of PvP, which actually plays sort of similar to other FPS games on the market. Up to twelve players can compete in four game modes with a fifth one that seems to swap in and out every now and again. The game is smart by causing all armor and guns to have matching stats as long as you’re in the Crucible so you don’t need to spend time grinding out for the best gear so you can remain competitive against other players. Outside of a couple maps I wasn’t a fan of (the large ones with the vehicles aren’t very good) I generally found most of my time spent in the Crucible to be extremely enjoyable.
One notable thing is that Destiny is supposed to be getting free content for quite some time. This month alone has already seen a new Crucible game type and the first raid, with at least one more new game type and some other surprise planned. So even if you don’t plan on buying the inevitable DLC you can at least expect to see more added to the game. Personally I’m holding out for matchmaking for the raids because the lack of any ability to socially interact with other players (The game lacks both voice chat and text chat. The most you can do is either point, wave, or dance) makes the likelihood of setting something up nearly impossible.
I think in the end I’m still trying to work out exactly where I stand with Destiny. For every thing it does right it does something equally wrong. The base gameplay is a ton of fun, but the story is a jumbled mess. The Crubicle has me playing some of the best competitive gameplay I’ve done in a while, but the actual story missions suffer from dull repetitive objectives. Destiny is a weird game of doing some things brilliantly and some games terribly. In the end I found the brilliance to mostly outweigh the terribleness, but I just hope I can continue to grab friends for any future quests.