- Category: Volume 86 (Fall 2014 - Spring 2015)
- Published: 22 April 2015
There are few video games more popular than "Halo," and few game developers more well-established than Bungie. When Bungie sold "Halo" to create "Destiny," they promised gamers the stars, literally. Now, "Destiny" has been out for a month, and the question is: did Bungie deliver?
My answer is that it depends on what you want from "Destiny." If you loved everything about "Halo" and you're a fan of multiplayer first-person shooters (FPS), then "Destiny" may very well be game-of-the-year. However, if you're here for the story, or the supposedly MMO-inspired character progression, then there's a very good chance you'll be disappointed. For what it is (a multiplayer FPS with roleplaying elements) "Destiny" is outstanding; the problem is that Bungie presented it as more than that.
What "Destiny" does best, above all else, is the player-versus-player (PVP) combat (which should come as no surprise to fans of "Halo"). The controls are prefect and the selection of weapons and abilities allow for widely varied playing styles. Vehicles and turrets are well executed, and I've never played a game with a better sense of verticality. Jetpacks and other similar movement abilities allow for complex maneuvering during combat and some devastating kills. Using a jetpack to boost yourself for a melee kill is tons of fun. The ability to summon a vehicle into combat allows you to get to enemies more quickly, and offers more versatility in combat. My fondest memory of this system was using a motorcycle-like vehicle to get me to a turret. The turret had been picking off my team, so I dropped a grenade on its occupant.
My only criticism for multiplayer is that, like with the rest of "Destiny," loot drops are completely random. This means that someone who died ten times and got two kills could get a legendary drop, and the person who carried the team might get nothing. Sure everyone gets equal treatment, but what's the point of trying if you're barely rewarded for it?
I personally thought that, overall, the player-versus-environment (PVE or co-op) mode was quite fun, but it definitely has some flaws. "Destiny" is generally forgiving of player deaths. If every member of a team dies at once, the team is forced to restart from a previous objective. So long as one member survives, the other two will eventually respawn. This eliminates most of the tedium of having to redo content after making a mistake. I have no issues with this system, but some have complained that it makes content too easy.
One part of PVE that seemed poorly executed was several of the group boss battles (specifically those fought during raids). I think that when you shoot something a few times it should die. However, in the case of group bosses, Bungie disagrees (unless you consider 10,000 auto rifle rounds to be a reasonable number). While you're emptying your ammo into the boss that other enemies are spawning, some of them have to be shot over 100 times. To put it in perspective, one of these bosses took me and two other players 45 minutes to beat (and that was a single attempt).
With this in mind, one would think the rewards would be extravagant. They weren't. I had failed twice prior to succeeding, once due to disconnecting mid fight, which rubs more salt in the wound. This brings me to another point: if you don't have a good internet connection, "Destiny" is virtually unplayable. It seems like a wired connection is generally okay, but Wi-Fi often has issues.
What Bungie did worst was the story mode. First off, the story itself isn't bad; the premise is actually quite interesting. However, the plot as a whole seems threadbare. When Bungie was marketing "Destiny," the words "expansive" and "evolving" were often used.
Let's start with "expansive." As far as story and setting goes, expansive isn't appropriate, not remotely. The story took me at most 15 hours, and I completed every side mission available, along with the main story. Only two of those 15 hours were meaningful plot content. (I'm probably being generous.)
That said, I thought that the sounds and graphics used to present the story were outstanding. The most talkative character in "Destiny" was voiced by Peter Dinklage (who plays Tyrion in "Game of Thrones"). Some criticized his delivery, but I personally feel that, considering he was voicing a robot, he did fine.
In terms of the setting, like in most MMO's, there are a series of open maps where you do missions, fight enemies, and harvest resources. However, apart from when you're inside a single city, you will encounter no neutral NPC's (non-playable characters). You won't harvest more than one resource type per planet. Loot will be difficult to find, and often lackluster when you find it. You will run the same missions over and over and hope for better loot.
Character progression is satisfying at the start of "Destiny," but it plateaus very quickly. One claim that Bungie made was that players would be able to buy ships in game; they neglected to mention that these ships are nothing more than loading screens. I personally think "shallow" would be a more appropriate term for "Destiny's" setting and story rather than expansive. This is not "Halo" meets "World of Warcraft," this is "Halo 2.0."
Now let's talk about Bungie's other favorite word, "evolving." As far as I can see, this is true. They do plan to release more content (story, guns, armor colors, limited time events) as the game goes on. In theory, this is great. However, most of this content will take the form of paid expansions. I've already paid $60 for "Destiny" — why should I have to pay another id="mce_marker"5-20 every couple of months? It feels as though I bought an incomplete product,and am being charged to make it whole.
Bungie spent a lot of money making and promoting "Destiny" (approximately $500 million). That's almost double what "GTA V" cost. With that in mind, why does "GTA V" have so much more content than "Destiny?" Frankly, it feels as though I paid more for less (though I find myself in the odd position of still thinking that "Destiny" was worth it). At the end of the day, despite my criticisms, I would argue what "Halo" does well, "Destiny" does better.
"Destiny" is difficult to score, as I think there will be an equal number of haters and fans. With that in mind, I'm going to give three scores. The first is my reasonably objective score. If you're like me, with a moderate enjoyment of multiplayer first-person shooters, then I'd give "Destiny" an 8. If you're enraptured by "Halo," or a FPS addict, 9.5 is more appropriate. However, if you're here because of the story, or you expect "Destiny" to be more like an MMO, 6.5 is what I would score it.