For quite a while, Destiny has been the topic of conversation whenever someone has mentioned next-gen. Yes, Bungie’s MMO Shooter was shaping up to be quite the game. Destiny has finally been released, but does it live up to its hype? Unfortunately this isn’t the case. Destiny is a decently crafted game that happens to fall short in a few areas.
Story wise, the game kicks off quite nicely. A little robotic companion called a Ghost finds the body of a Guardian (you) on Earth and revives them from the deepest sleep, more commonly known as death. The Ghost informs you that you are a Guardian and that you are one of the defenders of the last safe city on Earth. Guardians are able to wield something known as “The Light” thanks to the Traveller, a great mystical being that brought about the Golden Age. Unfortunately with the Traveller came the Darkness (no, not Jackie Estacado) a force which is pretty much the exact opposite of the Traveller. The Guardian is tasked with investigating and destroying any alien threats before they wipe out what is left of humanity.
The story starts on Earth but also takes the player to the planets Venus and Mars. There’s also a trip to the moon close to the start of the game. Unfortunately Destiny’s story just isn’t compelling enough to keep the player hooked. Characters that you do encounter are bland at best. Aside from the Awoken, who the player encounters during the game, characters are not really memorable.
In many aspects, Destiny reminds me of the Borderlands series. Gameplay is fairly similar in that it plays like your average First-Person Shooter but with RPG elements. At the start of the game, players will select a class to play as; they are: the Titan, Hunter and Warlock. The classes are quite similar with subtle differences, such as their melee attacks and Super Moves. Super Moves are essentially “end-all” manoeuvres. It becomes available once its metre has charged, which is done gradually over time. Of course the metre can be charged much faster by taking down enemies in battle. These Super Moves are best kept for boss battles and moments where you might be overwhelmed as they do quite a significant amount of damage if executed with precision.
Gameplay is rather fluid and combat can be quite enjoyable. The four different alien races that players will encounter throughout the game have their own tactics and will corner you if you aren’t careful. The Vex, for example, will use their ability to teleport right up to the player in order to catch them off guard. It’s an interesting thing to keep an eye out for when visiting a new area. It’s also a chance to mess around with a few different approaches to see exactly what the best course of action would be. I’ll admit that I had more fun when facing a new enemy, gripping my controller for the next challenge unmovable by all of my attacks. This keeps combat quite engaging. Boss fights will most likely provide the biggest challenge during the story. These mostly huge enemies have weak points that players will need to exploit in order to survive.
Being an MMO, players are likely to see other Guardians running around in the very same world. Joining forces is always an option and can also make the game a whole lot more entertaining. Going solo all the way through to the end of the game is an option but it’s definitely a lot more fun when you take out a powerful foe and then dance with a friend afterwards. Yes, there’s dancing and you’ll probably see a lot of it. Each player has four gestures which include dancing and sitting down. Do you just want to admire Destiny’s environment? Take a load off and admire away.
Unfortunately, missions during the story almost follow the same course. The player starts off in a remote area and will need to make their way from point A to point B. Along the way, they will encounter several enemies, but mostly just some lower ranking cannon fodder. There might be one or two tougher enemies in the mix but never one that will knock you on your ass. Once in the final area, a “Respawning Restricted” message will flash across the screen to inform the player that they would need to begin the final encounter from scratch if they or their entire team happens to fall in battle. The player would then deploy their Ghost so that it can hack a system or perform some other computing task. During this item, the player is usually attacked by a good few waves of enemies that range from your average grunts to your more hard hitting and larger enemies. This happens in almost every story mission. I kept wondering why I would never start off a mission right in the thick of a firefight. It just feels a little lazy.
As mentioned before, Destiny features RPG elements. While some of these work quite well, the upgrade tree just isn’t as robust as it could be. The RPG element which bothers me the most, I think, is the class system. Destiny’s classes; the Titan, Hunter and Warlock just seem very similar. The differences are subtle. For example; the Warlock class can use Sniper Rifles just as well as a Hunter class can. The upgrade trees only really differ where Super Moves and melee attacks are concerned, or how a Hunter may do a double jump and a Warlock has the ability to Glide. It won’t affect your enjoyment of the game too much but it’s something that could’ve been crafted a little better.
The loot system, which has been improved with a recent patch, fairs a little better than the class system. From the start of the game up until about level 10, players will encounter mostly Uncommon loot. As the game progresses, the quality of loot tends to improve significantly with weapons and apparel having their own upgrade trees and special stat boosts. It’s a nice touch that allows for some light customisation on how your weapon behaves. The loot side of the game sees a decent improvement after level 20 as the chance for Rare, Legendary and Exotic loot increases. A feature that was reported to not be included at launch is the ability to trade weapons and gear with friends. Honestly, this is a staple in MMO’s and should definitely be added to the game as soon as humanly possible.
Aside from the ability to co-op almost anything with a few friends, Destiny also has some competitive multiplayer on offer in the form of the Crucible. This mode offers some of the usual match types with its own versions of Capture and Hold, Team Deathmatch and Free-For-All. However, I noticed that Destiny offers no customisation options in terms of setting up matches. Players are unable to set up a private match for just their friends, a common feature of multiplayer which unfortunately seems to be absent in Destiny.
Strikes are one of the more enjoyable multiplayer modes. These are essentially missions with a strong boss waiting at the end. Strikes are made for Fireteams of up to 3 players but can be done solo if you’re up for decent challenge. Additionally, completing a Strike can yield some pretty good loot. The only problem with Weekly and Heroic Strikes (the more challenging ones), however, is that there isn’t any matchmaking implemented. So if you’re looking to do a strike but don’t have any high level friends, you might find yourself looking elsewhere for a group to play with.
Destiny is a pretty good looking game and never ceases to deliver a feeling of wonder when visiting a new area. From the Cosmodrome on Earth to the outposts of Mars, the environment is designed brilliantly featuring remains of civilisations and wide open spaces just waiting to be explored.
Destiny features a soundtrack that gives a feeling of greatness at the best times and picks up in tempo during tense firefights. Appropriate sound effects ranging from explosions to reloading guns really add to the experience. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the voice acting in the title. Bill Nighy’s performance as The Speaker seems pretty average and Peter Dinklage as Ghost is somewhat disappointing. I understand that his role is that of an AI, which would be an entity devoid of emotion but as an AI that understands sarcasm and uses it frequently, I was expecting a little more.
Destiny is a decent game. The story is fairly short and just feels lacklustre after a decent start. Gameplay is definitely enjoyable and features entertaining combat throughout. It’s also a nice touch that different enemies are encountered during the game with each enemy type having their own tactics.
The Crucible provides a decent distraction from the story, despite lacking some core features. Strikes possibly offer some of the most enjoyment with the game. Graphically, Destiny looks great with different environments and vistas. Audio wise, the game features a decent soundtrack and sound effects but seems to decline where voice acting is concerned.
While it does have its flaws, Destiny is by no means a bad game. It still delivers gameplay that is sure to please especially when played with friends. I actually had the most fun with the game when I was creating my own cinematic experiences with fellow Guardians. Unfortunately it just feels that Destiny tries to be too many things and only seems to succeed partially.
Lasting appeal: 8/10
Known as Brady Ruiters by day and GuitarDemon by night (Well, on the PSN mostly…) Professional, creative and frank, a self-proclaimed gaming journalist moulded by a passion and fascination for gaming and music, and in turn, taking a crack at shaping the rest of the world with the very same obsession. That, however, remains a trying task.