After years of being teased Destiny, Bungie’s latest project, the game has finally reached stores and into the hands of gamers. It has been hit with a multitude of opinions varying from good to bad. Many media sites chose to wait to do their review, as have I at PlayBack Gaming.
Before beginning the review I want to explain how I will approach the review for Destiny due to the nature of the game. Since Destiny will be continuously updated over time, it is unfair to give it a full review when the updates are designed to coincide with them. This review in particular is meant specifically for the week following the game’s launch. I will revisit Destiny after a month of its launch, followed by a three month revisit and finally a six month revisit. Time and updates may change opinions, for good or bad, and it should be something to be accounted for.
Destiny has a lot of elements from many genres and creates one epic play through of fun that is meant to be experienced with friends. If you like to play alone, and not with others, you will probably not like this game. If you have friends that are as excited to trek your Destiny, you will probably have a much more pleasant experience. From my experience, I felt influences from games such as Borderlands and Halo, but also Guild Wars and even Diablo. With this, how did it play out?
Some of the most frustrating parts of the game come from lack of options in games that should be standard. However, Bungie must believe that they are exempt and of exception to these standards. Sound is an integral part of gaming, it can give you a feeling of emotion, jumpiness, and feeling like a complete badass. Sometimes sound is utilized to notify you of incoming enemies or give you a ding whenever you accomplish something great. Sometimes, you cannot control sound in your own game; that sometime being in Destiny. There is no ability to adjust sound in the game. Some gamers prefer to set the settings of the music versus the sound effects to be adjusted to their liking. Something that seemed like an industry standard is now something to be taken for granted.
One thing Bungie completely missed is something of a shock. Bungie has been renowned from their top of the line industry story writing. With what seems to be the current end-game, I haven’t felt compelled to follow the story whatsoever. Even with bringing on Peter Dinklage as the ghost, it feels bland and boring. Honestly, it feels like a waste of Dinklage’s talent. Granted, if this is where Bungie uses the massive multiplayer online (MMO)-tactics, continuous updates could possibly unlock more of this dreadfully dull, boring story.
There is some questioning of why certain material was left out? Such as the Grimoire being web-based only and nothing in game that you can scour through. Bungie.net as well as the app haven’t been very stable, at least through my recent experience dealing with them. Both still feel buggy and cluttered; in fairness, not many games have been able to execute these additional tools flawlessly. The Grimoire is something that can be patched in overtime to add to the player experience, but again, why was it left out at launch?
Even though Bungie implemented some MMO-elements into the game, and while the world is gorgeous, Destiny feels vastly underwhelming at times. Maxing out with only 16 players, even the smaller realm of the Tower can still seem vacant. With no way to communicate with your fellow Guardians verbally or use of a typing chat system, you are left with only hand gestures, squatting and doing some of the most awkward dancing moves seen in any game.
There are still segments that feel unknown to gamers such as how does the reward system actually work when completing a game? Sometimes the worst performing individual will be rewarded with some very hard to come by Rare and Legendary items while the top performing players are left with nothing but a wish to have those desired items. It is confusing, somewhat unfair and at times a bit discouraging to continue to play for nothing more than faction points and marks.
Customization is an element that is part of this game as it should be. Even with this element it still feels a bit limited. Shaders provide a change in color but are still typically the same shaders that you will find everyone using, nor color customizable. Ships are nothing more than just a gimmick to provide a faux-personalized touch during cut-scenes of flying in and out of planets. Even the special armor for each class is nothing but a cosmetic mess providing no stat benefits aside from faction benefits from Vanguard and Crucible missions.
Apparently right now it’s too much to ask for mission variety. Giving us the worst parts of elements of MMO’s such as repetitive and tedious tasks. Factions currently don’t seem to offer any missions themselves to help gain faction experience, materials or anything for that matter. You’ll find yourself continuously hunting the same enemies, doing the same bounties, on the same maps, mostly with the same outcome. Hoping for that reward of exotic, legendary and rare equipment by the end of your outing.
Bungie does not exactly do one thing overly impressive, nor do they make anything exactly ground breaking with Destiny. However, they do take some of the best elements of multiple genres, put them together with the tender love and care that Bungie is known for, to create a game that has a bunch of elements that feel so right together. One thing that is clear though is Bungie’s ability to succeed in winning over a casual audience while keeping the hardcore audience reeled in enough to stay on.
Graphically, Destiny is gorgeous despite the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One being scaled back to perform on par with their given predecessors. The environments are clean, the game physics feel natural and the AI can find ways to make you feel silly for not checking your six. Essentially the game mechanics are a shining star of the game, a pinnacle of Bungie’s development team. I personally could use a higher look sensitivity, but that is just being very nit-picky for my preference.
This is a game that wants you to feel the universe you are put into while mixing the MMO-elements with the first person genre. You get the option to change the difficulty that can be the difference of slaughter or being the slaughtered. When in battle, you get to rejoice from time to time when you see items in the shape of glowing balls. It is a nice change of pace without becoming overwhelming and completely about loot drops.
Once again, Bungie dangles the carrot of space travel and battle in front of gamers and make it look most appealing. It is a shame that flying or spaceship missions were not included by release, if ever. While the story is lackluster, the environment of the galaxy with its protagonist, The Traveler, and its sworn enemy, The Darkness, provide an intrigue. Plenty of lore is placed in each race’s background to help the Guardians feel that they are in a true universe with its mysteries waiting to be solved.
The missions and bounties, while repetitive and tedious, can be a complete blast and take on a totally different feel when you are working with a Fireteam. Your allies add a spark into the game that help bring action to any battlefield, especially once you start increasing the difficulty. Strike missions provide a change of pace of tasks at hand. Each strike contains it’s realm of enemies and a final boss that takes time, teamwork and tribulations in order to become triumphant.
The Crucible is the player versus player portion of the game that has its own life and own rewards. It plays just like Halo with the arena-shooter feel. At times it can feel frustrating trying to find out what style works best for you, but once you find that sweet style, it feels so good.
One of the underlying, and most underappreciated thing, Bungie is doing with Destiny is holding back content. While we live in a time where instant gratification is prevalent, not enough gamers have enough patience for how Bungie is not allowing maxing out characters right now, nor complete exploration of the planets available right now. Keeping the game from being completely soaked up too early, will keep the game void of gamer’s minds by the time expansions are released. Partially, this can be blamed because Destiny is only on console and console gamers have much different mindsets than pro-PC gamers.
In the [current] end, Destiny is not without issues. Even with these issues, it is a fun game and should be part of any gamer’s library who enjoy the thrill of cooperative and PvP modes. Bungie’s latest IP is a cornerstone for console gaming as it takes off with a new generation, and it should look to become the staple of how to keep your games in the libraries of gamers. Should constant updates be implemented to run events and improve the game as a whole then Destiny has a very nice starting ground. For comparisons sakes, even Minecraft began pretty barren compared to the status worthy of a $2.5 Billion purchase. Updates will be key to the future of Destiny and only time will tell if it will be followed through with a company that has such a high reputation among gamers.