Going down in history as the most pre-ordered brand-new IP ever, and allegedly costing $500m dollars to develop, it was fair to say that ‘Destiny’ had a lot of hype placed behind it leading up to release. With Bungie jumping ship from Microsoft to Activision, the game releasing on multiple platforms, and poised to redefine the FPS genre much like ‘Halo’ had done previously, it is to no surprise that Activision and gamers-alike threw their money at this game with no hesitation. The question on everyone’s lips however is if all the hype was worth it, and if Bungie had actually delivered on another solid slice of gaming that would be talked about for generations to come. With the title well into its first month of release, it’s time to deliver my final opinion on the game, and surprisingly it’s not the second coming of Christ that everybody expected it to be.
Defining itself as a ‘shared-world shooter’, Destiny mixes together elements of MMO design with its FPS action to make for a shooter that feels more akin to a Borderlands and Halo hybrid. Requiring constant connection to the web and acting as a semi-MMO, you are placed in worlds with other players roaming around carrying out missions, completing bounties, or simply XP grinding to the next level. This gives a good sense of life to the world of Destiny, and makes roaming the planets a more interesting affair. Being able to help other guardians out in the field is fun, and joining their fireteam and completing missions together makes for an improved experience. With a central hub area called the Tower available at all times, there’s an overwhelming sense of community alongside the game which is hard to not appreciate.
With an RPG-like structure complete with upgrades and skill trees, character progression seamlessly transitions between the story, co-operative, and competitive modes. As such, this means that players are easily able to ascend up the ladder and have a high level character in little time. Strangely enough however, Destiny has a soft level-cap of 20, and unlike other multiplayer games on the market it’s not actually difficult to reach this point. It feels oddly small, and you feel rather cheated when you hit this cap after only a few days of gaming sessions. Though players can attain levels higher than 20, further progression is dictated only by the gear you have equipped and the ‘Light Points’ assigned. Levelling up this way takes much longer and removes the challenge to it all, with loot drops being the only thing of importance, and XP becoming redundant. Level progression is not simply something used as bragging rights, or solely used as a means to unlock/wear higher-end gear, but allows player stats to increase as well as allowing for the unlocking of new character abilities and powers. With three classes to choose from – Titan, Warlock and Hunter, players have a wealth of differing paths to walk down that will adjust their style of play considerably. Not only do players often have a choice of what abilities to gain within the skill tree, but an additional set of abilities is available to switch between at will that provides a clean-slate for that character, placing them at Level 1, requiring players to build themselves up again to acquire the new skill set. Though your efforts never feel wasted when the upgrades come flowing in, starting off from scratch can be a chore, especially as the most logical way of approaching it is by playing through the story missions, of which are a total bore the first time through.
Yes, strangely enough for a Bungie game the story isn’t strong here, and unfortunately the world of Destiny fails to offer much of an adventure for the player, with story missions feeling mundane and lacking in imagination, a feat certainly not helped by the messy (and barely existent ) narrative. Set hundreds of years into the future where a mysterious being known only as ‘The Traveller’ has gifted the Earth with technological wonders, scientific breakthroughs and amazing knowledge, an ancient foe called ‘The Fallen’ have arrived to destroy The Traveller, and alongside it all living life forms. Playing as a guardian (humanities last hope) awoken on planet Earth amidst the devastation, you must fight back against your enemy and put an end to the darkness. Its basic premise is far from blockbuster material, and though it could grow into something interesting from an early stage, the narrative remains stagnant, making no use at all of its potential.
Characters (of what little there are) have no real personality to them at all either, acting more as instruments that throw story information at you whether you like it or not. With the bulk of the narrative delivered by your sidekick of sorts – Ghost, the game doesn’t attempt to keep you interested with lots of flashy cutscenes, instead deciding to have the character talk down your ear during each mission. As such it’s hard to invest in the storyline, especially as it’s presented in such a passive way where your attention is being spent on the on-screen action, and not on the little voice in your ear. It’s even harder to take notice of Ghost because of Peter Dinklage’s voice-work for the character, which is consistently poor. Whether it’s down to the script, the dull character, or his lack of voice-acting experience, his role in this game just isn’t good at all, and it’s almost painful to admit that his performance falls flat.
The story missions begin as dull affairs, and end even duller, with extremely simple and repetitious mission structures being persistent throughout, and grating very early on. Most missions boil down to moving from Point A to Point B, deploying Ghost so that he can activate something, and then fighting off waves of enemies until he is finished. It’s not particularly interesting first time around, and even when placed on a new planet, in a totally new environment, it still feels as unimaginative as ever, and this is part of the big problem. The planets lack a surprising amount of creativity, and though they boast huge amounts of visual flair and follow an art direction that is second to none, the world’s themselves just feel soulless. Though danger is littered throughout the different planets, the environments don’t strike any interest. RPG’s and MMO’s encourage exploration of their worlds, but Destiny doesn’t even try. Loot crates and golden chests are scattered about, but they are few and far between, and most attempts at finding them end fruitless, making players question why they even bother exploring in the first place.
This whole lack of creativity even bleeds through to the enemies you face in the game. Fallen, Vandal, Shank, Captain, Acolyte – all enemies made up of generic buzzwords that are neither interesting nor memorable, much like the enemy designs themselves. Despite the excellent art found within the planet designs that is full of neat touches and explosions of colour, enemies just don’t contain the same spark. Only when you reach Mars (the final planet) do enemies start to feel original and interesting to fight. Anything else just feels unremarkable, almost like you’ve already seen them all before. A lot of the enemies feel like pests too, often causing a lot of frustration, especially when the game pits you against waves of the same enemy type, which soon makes the enemy encounters totally overwhelming at times.
Who are The Fallen? What exactly is The Traveller? Why does the darkness seek to destroy it? – just some of the questions that you will ask yourself, and probably won’t find the answer to. Over the course of play you will soon learn how badly Destiny explains itself, with key areas of the plot barely mentioned or elaborated upon, with most players unable to keep up with what is happening, and even keep up an interest in the game world. For some odd reason, the bulk of the lore and background information for characters, enemies, and story events are found online, and can only be viewed this way after being unlocked in-game. This design decision still baffles me, and to put it simply, it’s an absolute joke. Any key info regarding the game, should be in the game itself, not on a website. Asking players to go out of their way to view something that is integral to the game is a tall-order, and likely something that players (such as myself) will reject. This lack of explanation also carries over to the game mechanics and features that for the most part aren’t explained explicitly, leaving plenty of confused players in its wake. It’s honestly appalling how badly this aspect is handled, so thank god for the internet, otherwise my frustration would have increased tenfold.
Fitting with the RPG style that bleeds through the games design, loot and gear plays a major part in this game, with players being able to wear different pieces of armour that increase your defence (while also offering passive upgrades), and being able to equip up to three weapons at a time. This heavy focus on building up your character means that you are always gaining new gear no matter what you do, with a great sense of progression being present throughout even when you hit the level cap. New gear can be purchased from vendors in the Tower and earned through completing missions, while loot on the other hand is found in chests, but primarily found on dead enemies. Every type of gear in the game is assigned a rarity level, with weapons and armour ranging from ‘uncommon’, to ‘exotic’. The more rare the item, the better it is, and the more it can be upgraded. Loot drops do happen at random, but access to higher-end gear is increased by playing at a higher difficulty. It’s a prime example of risk and reward, it’s just a shame that the loot drops are never specific items, as you will frequently be rewarded with gear that you didn’t want or can’t use. This aspect can be frustrating, especially in the early stages when you are struggling to find a good set of weapons to take into the crucible, the games offering of competitive multiplayer
While they fell down at the story side of things, it’s very relieving to see that Bungie haven’t lost it in regards to the multiplayer, which to their credit is an incredible achievement in FPS gaming. This is easily the most solid aspect of this game, and is likely the area that will suck up most people’s time. Though playing these multiplayer modes will spark Déjà vu with the likes of Halo, the addition of the RPG elements and character classes does provide Destiny with its own identity. If you played Halo and loved what was on offer there, you are guaranteed to have a lot of fun with this game, as the gunplay in particular feels almost identical, complete with the ‘floaty’ movement/aiming and the fast arcade pace. There are a handful of game modes on offer to play, each providing plenty of thrills, despite their lack of originality. Your usual offering of Team Deathmatch, Free For All, and Domination variants are present, and though solidly designed, it’s the maps you fight within that steal the show and turn the tried and tested game modes into exciting battles. Destiny is honestly one of the only multiplayer games that doesn’t include a map that I dislike. I cannot think of a single complaint to make against any of them, with each catering for the three player classes, tactics, and a lot of chaos. Even the larger scale maps that include vehicles cannot be faulted, and feel well accustomed to this major gameplay change.
Playing with friends and being active in the community is encouraged within Destiny, and as such, co-operative gameplay plays a huge part of the game. Strike missions become available early on in the game and offer straight forward missions that involve entering a ‘dungeon’ and battling through countless enemies to reach your objective/destination. These missions are difficult, especially during the boss encounters, where such moments do well to create a sense of mayhem that is seemingly lost in the story missions. Though the mission’s structures are largely the same, working together with other players, developing tactics, and eliminating lots of enemies is a lot of fun, especially when attempting the harder difficulties where things become very interesting. These strikes are also good for loot drops too and levelling up, making for great opportunities to progress characters and collect some meaty gear.
Graphically speaking, Destiny doesn’t display too much of a jump in presentation from the previous generation of gaming systems. That’s not to say that it doesn’t look tasty however, as Destiny has some of the best 3D art I’ve ever seen in a videogame. The art style here is awesome, with Bungie building on from what they learnt with Halo, throwing in plenty of contrast and exotic environments, and cool character designs. There is a noticeable improvement in the lighting and post-processing fidelity too, adding extra sheen to an already beautiful looking game. The game audio is able to perfectly match the on-screen visuals too, with a fantastic orchestral score that helps to create an amazing atmosphere in the heat of battle.
Feeling like a game made up of many great elements that aren’t entirely designed well, Destiny is a victim of its own hype, and is the product of a team that couldn’t quite achieve what they had in mind. With the story missions being a major bore, the game world feeling wholly uninspired, and the narrative playing out as a complete disaster , it’s the competitive and co-operative gameplay that are the games saviours, rescuing it from a mundane pit of repetitious gameplay in uninteresting environments. Bungie have successfully refined the formulae that made Halo such a multiplayer hit, and produced some of the best and most chaotic FPS action to grace consoles, all the while adding a spice of RPG and MMO action in for good measure. Despite the huge problems with key areas of this game, I can’t help but find myself putting the game back into my console and spending hours grinding for loot in Strike missions, and destroying fellow players in the Crucible.
- Fantastic gunplay.
- Excellent mix of RPG and MMO design elements.
- Seamless character progression between all modes.
- Competitive multiplayer is brilliant.
- Strike missions offer plenty of hectic co-operative action.
- The art style is tasty.
- Story missions are a bore.
- Narrative is messy, full of holes, and uninteresting.
- Planets and enemies feel lacking in imagination.
- Game fails to explain its features.
- Level cap is too low.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.