When many think of Bungie, they’ll immediately think of Halo. That’s incredibly justifiable, as they made quite a name for themselves with the popular series. But once they gained independence and later synced with Activision, Bungie began working on what they’re touting to be a new epic: Destiny. But games are almost always meant to be a grandiose epic. How does it shake out?
What’s It About?
Destiny places you into the upgradable armored boots of a Guardian. Before Guardians came into play, humanity went through what was considered the Golden Age, which saw technological advancements, peace and interplanetary exploration. Colonies popped up in surrounding planets, but dissolved during the Collapse. One city on Earth survived, saved by a giant sphere known as the Traveller. Guardians are granted a mysterious power through the Traveller, known simply as The Light. It helps defend against the alien races that have taken over the lost colonies. But how does it really play out?
The darkness is coming, as darkness is always coming. You travel around several planets with your Ghost, a small machine Halo fans might liken to 343 Guilty Spark, but voiced by Peter Dinklage. Occasionally, a mysterious assassin-looking, but not assassin-feeling, bionic woman appears. Somewhere along the line, you run into a David Bowie-looking queen and her Cure fan brother. Of course, there are aliens, robot aliens, and more aliens.
It’s more a matter of “go there, shoot that, come back, and go somewhere else and do it again”, all among a living online world. The story is there, but it’s hard to become truly invested in it. Once it ended, I had barely even realized that it was actually over. No credits rolled; only an ominous statement about more fighting, then suddenly no more to do than the other types of missions to take on.
Why Should I Care?
Destiny is an interesting enough game. It mixes elements of a traditional first person shooter with a RPG and MMO. I found a running theme throughout all of the game: just enough. There’s just enough of a story to justify not throwing it all off to the side (not too much unlike an online persistent Titanfall). There’s just enough other multiplayer activity to keep you going, but would require you to want to always play a competitive round after you reach a point. Overall, it does just enough to get by and remain enjoyable, yet still becomes a nagging, frustrating bore.
As Destiny is a living world, you will be playing story missions alongside other players. You can opt into assisting each other or deviate to major public target events, but you can never both with anybody and be just as well off. Lingering on the side are patrol missions, which are primarily simple tasks on each planet.
Strikes are a cooperative multiple effort that works like a story mission but has a few huge checkpoints and a primary target to eliminate at the end. Your team is limited to three Guardians, including yourself, and can change as players drop in and out. Raids are an elevated Strike that bundles together six Guardians to figure everything out themselves in a non-matchmaking setting. They can take an incredible amount of time (the first completed raid reportedly took a team 10 hours to complete), so Destiny offers some wiggle room to return to the current Raid under the same Fireteam leader by the following Tuesday.
Finally, there’s competitive multiplayer with your traditional types of modes, such as king of the hill (Control), free for all (Rumble) and deathmatch (Clash). This is Bungie, known for their typically insanely addictively Halo multiplayer creations, so you know they know what they’re doing here. But still, things come back around to Destiny getting by on the promise of ambition but never truly becoming a fantastic package.
It never entirely clicked with the current offerings. I spoke about my issues with the story, but I’ll admit I’m always looking for a strong story. So when there isn’t one, I’ll look to other elements of the game to make up for it. I didn’t totally find the makeup within Destiny. The characters — not entirely memorable. You can’t form much of a connection with your Ghost. There aren’t strong personalities anywhere else. Strikes and Raids can offer solid challenges, the latter especially with prolonged offerts, but some things can become incredibly complicated with their simplicity. I found a couple strikes taking several attempts to complete (and who knows how many teammates) because of the insane amount of enemies being thrown at my teams. Even on a normal difficulty setting (which is triggered by getting your character to a recommended level), the competitions were seemingly insane. It affects the fluidity.
Even upgrading your character can turn into a chore. Experience points build up and most upgrades can be enacted immediately, but some acquirements require travelling back to the Tower to have the upgrade decrypted. And so you can choose to move on until you feel like going back, or go back between each mission. Either way, each mission won’t flow into the next; you’ll always be starting from a sort of scratch. Even some simple elements, such as making the character look the way you want, aren’t really an option. I went for an Ultron look for my Guardian (to be a stream-crossing nerd), but had to lose my color schemes with each piece of armor I applied. Small, yes, but it affects that personal connection with a game.
Is It Worth My Time and Money?
Always the ultimate question. While working through this review, I was asked several times by fellow gamers for a quick verdict. For the most part, I could only reply with “it’s OK”. So I kept moving along with the game, giving it a fair shake over the course of upwards of 20 hours. And so what I find Destiny to be: an ambitious effort that falls a bit flat due to its own ambition.
The possible good news? Because the game is constantly thriving online, there’s plenty of room to push out updates and make incremental adjustments. So there’s definitely a chance that the game could grow into something better. But for now, Destiny remains not too bad of a game.