Platform: Xbox (360/One), Playstation (PS3/PS4)
Lets take a moment to talk about one of the largest productions in video game history to hit shelves recently: Destiny. This is a game that I’ve been looking forward to for quite some time. It’s made by the developers of Halo (1 through Reach) and is the project that they have been working on since they sold the Halo franchise to Microsoft (which you can read my impression of the first Halo by Microsoft, Halo: 4, here). What made me excited, more than anything else, about another brand new IP from Bungie, is how gloriously involved everything is in Bungie’s previous success, and another game like that would be a wondrous sight to behold.
What pulled me to the Halo franchise was not the multi-player aspect. As always, I care little for PVP and generally dislike many games that are solely based on the concept. What I liked, was the stories, the massive maps, the stunning visual aesthetic of terrestrial objects mixed with space and futuristic machinery. In other words, I loved that they had all these crazy elements, and mixed them all together into these immensely deep thought filled tales of new space, old gods, and bullets.
So let’s talk Destiny. I will say that it is getting a lot of unsavory reviews, and after playing it all the way through and being jammed into the quagmire of daily quests and weekly reputation grinds, I can see some critics’ points and some I can’t agree with. When I first looked at how Destiny was stacking up on Game Rankings and Metacritic last week, I disagreed with the general ranks of 70/100. But now as I go to look again, it has risen to about an 80, which is where I personally would put it.
The non-spoiler plot line goes something like this. An ancient being/spaceship/Orb of Whatever was discovered by mankind and advanced the earth in a techno-golden age, everybody rejoiced. Evil deep space races hate the Orb of Whatever and have been hunting it down trying to destroy it. They partially succeeded in killing it, but it managed to escape. It’s dying, and in its death throes created Peter Dinklage. Or rather, the robots that Peter Dinklage voices. The robots go about seeking the remains of fallen heroes and breathe life back into them to protect the Orb of Whatever, and the allied races that have banded with it, from the evil deep space races that are still seeking the Orb of Whatever to finish it off for good this time.
People have been criticizing Mr. Dinklage’s performance in Destiny, calling it wooden as well as not very good. I think he did fine with what material he was given. He plays a robot. A semi-artificial intelligent thing-a-ma-doodad. We aren’t looking for the next Glad0s, Wheatly, or CL4P-TP. And if you go back and play Halo: Combat Evolved, (the first one ever) Cortana doesn’t do much different, and yet somehow, that’s fine and Ghost is not. Gamers should just be happy it’s not Navi.
And with this comes the plot… here’s one of the pitfalls of Destiny. It’s not explained… at all. It’s briefly mentioned and then you have to go to Bungie’s website to read up on the lore of the universe by collecting these little card thingies… and even then, it’s just snippets, almost simple headlines or a Twitter feed of what is going on. They did kind of drop the ball here. I mean, they don’t even explain why your character is dead in the first place or why a robot is seeking it out in a used car lot. I think a handful of more cinema scenes and some more narration would have been fantastic. Don’t get me wrong, I really did love the cinema scenes they had, there were just very little of them and you never knew what was really going on. And you don’t really know what you are doing or why you are doing anything in each mission.
Even though it suffers from the plague of problems that I call “A lack of muchness” (a problem that has been an industry trend since the late 90’s), the game is highly polished. In other words, everything works. It doesn’t feel half-made cough Watch_Dogs cough nor is it buggy as all get out coughSkyrimcough cough. There is fun to be had in Destiny, and fun you shall have for playing it. All of my qualms with the game are fairly minor. The list is something like:
- The game could use a random matchmaking system for all missions.
- More/longer story
- More variation of gun design. I mean, it doesn’t need to be Borderlands crazy, but some lights, energy projectiles, and other interesting things would do wonderful.
- More frequent and varied public events
- A smoother transition between level 20-28 (gear through rep grind and tokens that take FOREVER to get is not progression, it’s busy work)
- less focus on PVP. That is to say, stop making the only way to get decent PVE gear PVP missions.
- DLC: Charging money for more and future content… if it’s not worth the extra money, people aren’t going to play the game any more.
- Warlocks need a more flashy class symbol than an armband to be inline with the large flowing fabrics of Titan kilts and Hunter capes
One thing that I really, really liked, was something many games have trouble with: enemy type variation. When you fight a teleporting murder-bot, you know it’s not a floating blue eyeball, or even a space wizard. The worlds and levels are immense, beautiful, and very different than one another. Venus looks nothing like Earth or Mars, and it’s fantastic. I just wish there were one or two more stages/planets/enemy types. That, and some of the areas are crazy linear… which in some of those areas it’s fine, but some grander exploration areas would be awesome.
I also kind of really liked the race choices. Even the humans looked somewhat interesting with their face paint. You have Humans, glow eyes, and robot people (Humans, Awoken, Exos). I only wish that you could tell the different races in any of the battle zones (non-public “tower” zone). In armor, everybody looks the same. It’s only when you walk around with your helmet off in the social zone that you can see what race everyone chose. Bungie also kind of dropped the ball with not providing any sort of race based story line, so in the end, nothing about your race choice matters, it’s just personal flavor. I also would like a beast race, but then again, when do I not want a beast race?
And really, those issues are my only qualms. Well, that and my terrible networking speed. To be honest, I think Destiny would have been better if it would have released to the PC. PC gamers are used to these kinds of MMO’s starting out slow with not much in them, then picking up pace at a later time (a good example being Guild Wars 2, and Wildstar). Just today, I hear wind of Destiny’s first raid opening up to players.
I will say, I did get SUPER lucky and picked up an exotic (one of the rarest types of weapons in the game) hand cannon called “The Last Word”, and I’ve been digging it’s special and exclusive cowboy pistol play animations.
In the end, what is there is pretty fun. It does turn into a bit of a grind, but what MMO isn’t a grind? I would say that it’s worth playing, no doubt. And chances are, it’ll only get better with time.