“I could tell you of the great battle centuries ago, how the Traveler was crippled. I could tell you of the power of The Darkness, its ancient enemy. There are many tales told throughout the City to frighten children.” I could… but instead I will give you hundreds of cards that have cryptic pieces of story that even pieced together will not amount to anything resembling a coherent history. If you cannot guess I am referring to Destiny; from the company that brought us into the world of Halo and inspired a generation of game designers and players.
You might think that when Bungie decided to leave Microsoft and make a new IP of their own, their creation would have solid mechanics, great story, top notch voice acting and a rich immersive world. Prior to launch we were hyped by great cinematics, post-apocalyptic planets, and a sci-fi shooter using Halo as a framework, keeping us hopeful of what they had to offer. Response to this game has been polarizing, with friends on both sides of the spectrum, either really enjoying the game or being disappointed. In my opinion the game is not bad but it is definitely lacking.
Graphically the game is gorgeous. Each different world has a unique look and feel from the wasteland and sand dunes of Mars to the tropic jungles of Venus. Each Planet is paired with its own enemy type which for the most part is found only on that particular world alluding to the idea that each world was invaded separately over the years. There is a decent variety between those enemy types which all have their own tactics and weaknesses. Bungie does a good job at making you feel as though something bad happened on these planets long ago as all the planets are mostly ruins, caves, and dilapidated buildings or ships. Missions often take you indoors and are wonderfully decorated with consoles, broken down equipment and alien structures.
Every sound effect in the game is well crafted and adds to the immersion of being in a world far in the future. Music mostly fades into the background and ambiance but tends to be suitable, being most noticeable during epic fights with bosses or waves of enemies. The voice acting might be better if they didn’t seem so incredibly bored reading their scripts. I wish there were more cinematics or even more escort missions that could allow for more back and forth between characters. To be fair your ghost is always with you but some variety would have been appreciated.
When it comes to game play, you can see they brought their years of experience with Halo. When firing, the weight and recoil or hair triggers add elements to which weapons you choose. They decided to go with 3 elements which make up the worlds damage and shield types (Arc, Solar, Void) which are each colour coded to pop out. PvP is one of the best parts of the game, with fluid controls and the “overall” balance between characters it’s easy to sink hours into it. PvE is more of a mixed bag with extremely boring missions consisting largely of kill rooms with doors only your ghost can open, contrasted by the raids which have unique enemy and boss mechanics, jumping puzzles, and mazes. The focus on excessive loading screens however is something the game could have done without. Let’s say you’re in the Tower (the community watering hole) and you want to go Mars for a mission. You need to jump to orbit which has a loading screen only to have to select the mission from there and be hit by another loading screen before getting to actually play. This is completely unnecessary and could have been rectified if there was a planet selection screen in the menu.
Now we come to where the game is severely lacking; Story. Story in this game is virtually non-existent. After being hyped as a huge universe with an overarching storyline which would span the next 10 years I am sorely disappointed. There are tidbits given like breadcrumbs by the Speaker and other NPCs found throughout the game but they don’t give enough for me to really understand what has been going on or what you are even doing. There are grimoire cards which have small paragraphs or quotes about the world however they are not even accessible in game (you have to load up either the mobile app or pull them up online on a pc). The cliffhanger endings to the “story” elements leave a sour taste in your mouth and feel like a big middle finger to the audience. Other times it seems to go nowhere; there was a mission which was meant to feel like a big event and up to that point it did a good job, but then there is no indication of what happened or even if it would be continued. This makes the game feel very disjointed and gives the impression as if pieces have been clipped and piecemealed from the original idea.
Here is the burning question; Is Destiny a good game? What makes a game good? If we are measuring the game based on gameplay, Destiny plays well, it is graphically and audibly appealing. The PvE, although boring, is balanced by the more exciting PvP if you’re into that. If we measure using the “fun” factor, I had loads of fun playing the game however I attribute that more to the community of friends I play with than the actual game. We often spoke of changing to another game but Destiny worked since we all had it. Other than friends though, I found the game to be extremely boring and repetitive, lacking in enough story to keep my interest. I would say if you liked Halo PvP or have a group of dedicated friends you will likely enjoy the game but solo players beware you’ll be bored to tears not long after booting it up. My opinion on the matter is that Destiny is not a good game, not necessarily due to what the game has but rather what it doesn’t have. It is unfinished, like someone had a great idea, started working on it then thought ‘how much can I skimp on to release as DLC later’. It’s disrespectful to your fans, which are why your company is doing so well and why you’re so profitable- keep up the disrespect, and you will start turning them against you. Hopefully we will see some improvement when they announce Destiny 2, but I won’t be holding my breath.