Destiny (2014) Video game review

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Note: Destiny has been out since the ninth of September but since Bungie so politely asked for people to let it evolve and grow before reviewing it, I thought I’d take the time to review this.

Bungie – you might know them as the team that got the ball rolling on the HALO franchise – releases an MMO/ Shooter hybrid called Destiny. The world is hyped. It’s their first game since Halo: Reach, the prequel to the hit series.

Now, before the release date for Destiny hit, Bungie talked it up something big. As a company might do. It’s business after all, but didn’t the concept sound grand? An RPG set against the backdrop of some sci-fi mythology. A world that is ever changing, expanding and full of people such as yourself wandering about. It all sounded pretty terrific. The end result though is a mixed bag of goods.

You see, Destiny has some AMAZING ideas. But the whole thing – from the main story to the social aspects – feels unfinished and unpolished. Allow me to explain further:

In the game world of DESTINY, you have this place called THE TOWER. A sort of social hub for players to buy new equipment, meet other players and…that’s pretty much it. You can wave, point and dance with people – which is amusing to a point – but as far as communicating with players…well, you’ll have to highlight the person, pull up their gamer card and send a message. It’s all bit clunky.

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Furthermore, the social world is pretty lacklustre. Let me use the word ‘unfinished’ again because it really is. I understand it’s a growing world and there is room for development but that’s really the thing. Don’t you think these things should’ve been developed before hand? Maybe throw in extra gestures, a pub to hang out where the players can shoot pool or chat or do other funky science fiction things. Anything. Maybe give the player the ability to have his or her own apartment. Instead, the social feature of the game feels rushed and pretty poor.

Which brings me to the story. Intriguing but ultimately vague and thin. And poorly fleshed out. I don’t know where the grand operatic feel of science fiction that Bungie brought up with Halo went but it’s only here in flashes and it needed to be meatier and lengthier.

As a guardian whose role it is to save the world, the story takes you to Russia, the Moon, Venus and Mars. It’s pretty much over before you know it. There needed to be a few more planets added to that list so that it didn’t feel so rushed and incomplete.
Furthermore – who ARE you? Who is this guardian you are controlling? Where does he/she come from? Do you recall in Mass Effect how you could select fragments of your past to give your character a bit of baggage and make him/her interesting? Well, there’s not much here to the guardians. There is a vague background given to the player upon choosing your character species and class but as far as exploring that further..well, it’s all so sparse and lacklustre.

The frustrating thing is that you are presented with the mythology and you can see flashes of that scope to the story and its world but there’s really no sense of urgency to any of it. You know you have to save the world and you know why but why should we care if you hardly get to know your character or anyone around you?

You can grind your levels but there’s repetition there. Granted, there’s content to keep you invested and goals to reach so it makes levelling up fun. There IS a certain joy that comes with finding a rare or – if you’re lucky, legendary – item But the levelling up is only fun to a point because the lack of content makes things repetitive. Now, I understand this is somewhat of a weak point as the more the game gets older, the more content you’ll have. But couldn’t there be a handful more of strike missions and so forth upon launch, making the game a little overwhelming and thus eventually much more fulfilling and satisfying?

Things get a little repetitive once you reach level 20 and levelling up with light, legendary and exotic armour comes into play. Then the lack of content upon launch really becomes noticeable because you can be stuck replaying the same missions again and again and again – all with the hopes that you might stumble across some rare equipment. There’s a drive to this madness, yeah, but I’m just saying there needed to be a handful more strike missions and such to make the repetitiveness soften. So again: there needed to be more content on launch so you’re not always getting the same missions and that you can feel a sense of variety amidst the repetition.

How’s gameplay? Well, it’s smooth and fun and exciting. Bungie has the first person shooter mechanics down pat and it is certainly satisfying blasting enemies away. Certain abilities with the character you choose is also satisfying to unleash upon your enemies so there’s that.

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Mission variety is repetitive but when the gameplay is as fun as it is, you tend to shoot first and ask questions later.

Multiplayer is good fun and gives you something to do once you reach level 20, if you’re that invested. I will admit to being addicted to earning crucible marks to use on legendary items. But again, the lack of variety in multiplayer modes (AND maps) somewhat sucks the fun out of the idea of achieving your goals beyond level 20.

Destiny has the ability to be great. Maybe it will be in the future. But for what it is at the time I write this, it’s pretty and fun and addictive (I’m well into my 90th hour with the game) but there needed to be more content at launch, there needed to be more social features implemented that made you more invested in the social world (and thus the life of your Guardian) and man oh man, there needed to be a meatier and more engaging story, which Bungie is definitely capable of. So while it certainly has its drive that you need to keep things entertaining, it still feels lacklustre and..well..pretty empty.

J’s Verdict: ☆ ☆ ☆

 

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