The last time we saw a game from developer Bungie was in 2010, with their smash hit, Halo: Reach. Since then, the developers have worked hard on a very ambitious project, Destiny. By partnering with Activision, a publisher that has many major franchises under its belt, Bungie made a bold decision. Together, both Bungie and Activision will pledge to bring us 10 years of Destiny, whether we want it to or not. After playing a lot about the content of the game, I can say that this game still needs some work, but there is hope.
The whole Destiny premise can be a bit confusing. Bungie tried to market this as a “shared world shooter”. That’s a bit of a vague description, but basically Destiny is a combination of MMO elements and solid shooter mechanics. The comparisons to hit games like World of Warcraft, Diablo, Halo, and even Call of Duty are striking. The closest game to Destiny is Gearbox’s hit Borderlands. You will shoot, and sometimes you might get loot.
When you start the Bungie game for the first time, you will quickly see a very confusing scene set on Mars. After watching the short video, you will continue to create your character. Unfortunately, the customization with your real character is a bit disappointing. It also doesn’t have the breadth of, say, World of Warcraft or console RPGs. You’ll feel less than unique when you remove your helmet at Destiny’s central location, the Tower.
Fortunately, when it comes to character classes, there’s a bit more leeway. With Destiny, you have access to three classes, the Swift Hunter, the Explosive Warlock, and the Titan which is more or less a walking tank. Each class has two different leveling trees and even at the soft max level of 20, you will still unlock more options in the tree. Until now, there hasn’t been an option in any of the class trees that are “must haves”, luckily as of now, it’s all about player preference. Many times, I felt that all classes essentially felt the same. They were all powerful glass cannons in their own right. I guess this is a good thing considering that Destiny doesn’t force anyone to choose between the MMO standard of having Tanks and Healers. Everyone is doing damage and everyone is making beautiful explosions.
When you are not using your unique character abilities, you will fire your weapon. He’ll shoot a lot, use enough bullets to bankrupt the NRA. Still, Destiny is an RPG at its core, so shooter fans can get frustrated when its endless amounts of well-aimed headshots fail to take down an enemy quickly. To be honest, that’s where most of the fun with Destiny comes from. You’ll feel good when your fire team finally takes down a powerful boss at the end of an attack. If you’ve had the luxury of playing a Halo game, you’ll fit in here. Guns feel cool, varied, and most importantly, fun. Of course, some enemies take forever to defeat, but you’ll have a blast in polished gunfights.
The game gets very repetitive going from room to room, sending your fellow Ghost (voiced by the bored Peter Dinklage) to open a door when waves of enemies are sent head-on to fight you and your companions. As I mentioned before, the shooter works great, but when the missions are this depressing, it affects the overall package. Of course, this excludes the superbly tuned three-man strikes and the six-player raid, The Vault of Glass. I wish we had more and more varied adversaries. Most of the bosses (excluding anything in the raid and the gigantic Spider Tanks) feel the same, which is a shame.
However, the multiplayer part of Destiny called Crucible works very well. There are many classic Bungie-designed maps and vehicles to play with. What was missing was any kind of private lobbies to explore any of the maps. I would love to fight my friends in a classic Deathmatch style game. Game modes were also lacking in multiplayer. I’m a huge fan of Halo’s Big-Team Deathmatch, but will I have to wait for a special event on the weekend to play it? Sword. As seen in the beta version, Iron Banner will also be included during a special event. This game mode is great because your gear and level really matter how much damage you do, as opposed to standard Crucible matches that are completely balanced by gear and level.
The elephant in the room is definitely the story of the game. When we were first teased with Destiny at E3 2013, the game’s story seemed interesting and deep. After playing the game’s story, it’s the opposite. From the completion of your first story mission to the conclusion of the game, literally none of the questions in your story will be answered. Of course, no one expected big reveals, but at the same time nothing is resolved during the 12-hour story. You will know next to nothing about who you are shooting at, what the Traveler is, and why “darkness” is such a fundamental force. There are snippets of the story on the Bungie.net website or in the Destiny app via Grimoire Cards but you’ll only get a sneak peek of a much larger image. You really shouldn’t have to use an app or website to get context for a story.
Destiny is not an MMO, but it is absolutely influenced by them, and like most MMOs, Destiny will receive dramatic updates that will improve the game as a whole. There are obvious problems and frustrations with the latest from Bungie, but it’s still a fun and long-lasting game. With a ton of DLC on the way, we’ll be entertained until the sequel. With subtle changes and balances, Destiny could become the beast we want it to be – too bad we have to wait a little longer for it to achieve greatness.