All aboard the hype train, now arriving at its next stop… Destiny.
When a hugely successful developer like Bungie (you know, the Halo creators) takes on a new project it’s only natural for the expectations to be high. This is where Destiny comes in and gamers all around the globe have been excited to see the next epic adventure we can be taken on. Will this interstellar game rock our world?
I think it’s only fair that I clarify the exact genre of Destiny, if I can, given that there feels like a real lack of commitment to nail it down to one style. At heart it’s a first person shooter but with various MMO elements in a constantly online world, thus aiming to bring people together to work co-operatively or competitively across various activities.
You are a Guardian of the last city on Earth with the task, given by the mysterious Speaker, of exploring and then ridding the nearby planets of enemies that may be a threat to the Earth. I’d love to tell you more about the story but the truth is, that whilst playing through the story missions the narrative is below par and near non-existent for the most part.
Not only are cut-scenes few and far between but they barely give anything away, it’s almost like they don’t want to tell you a great galactic tale. A cinematic scene isn’t always needed though and even that wonderful man Peter Dinklage, who voices your helpful robotic floating sidekick Ghost, couldn’t make much from the terrible script given to him. If you include how quick you can get through the complete set of story based missions, they might as well have not bothered having a story.
I promise not to be entirely negative throughout this review, there’s more of it though with the layout of these missions. Without spoiling too much, the general routine goes “First mission: travel to point A” then “Second mission: travel through A to point B” and you can probably guess you revisit these same places within a planet one mission after another. It also involves frequent occurrences of the Ghost scrambling to work his magic on machines, leading to waves of enemies attacking. Don’t misinterpret me, I understand most games do this kind of stuff often but because of the close nature between each time it happens it becomes monotonous.
That’s the story out of the way; if you’re still with me don’t give up on Destiny just yet.
You’re probably thinking “What kind of characters can you use?” Good question. There are three classes to choose from; Titan, Hunter and Warlock. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself on making the right choice, simply because apart from the Super ability there isn’t an awful lot of difference in the grand scheme of things. Your race doesn’t have any impact on the game either so feel free to make him/her look like either a Human, an Exo or an Awoken.
All three classes can be great fun to use and they all have a second subclass (eventually, rank 15) that could help to change to if you want to try another style. For example the Titan has a Striker class for more damaging play to start with and a Defender class to unlock which has a protective shield as a Super ability. The only downside is having to unlock all your class abilities again from scratch if you want to use the subclasses.
I personally went as Titan for my first character, the good news is you can create more at anytime you want and can have one of each on the go if you wish to. The amount of unlocks you can earn by ranking up a character is a little bit deceiving as after the first row which includes having a grenade, jumping, a decent melee and a Super, the rest are mere improvements to these which you can’t use all at once. It works more like a swap than an upgrade, with an example being you can choose an increased jump height OR increased control over movement in mid air and if I’m being honest, I’d have loved a couple of extra abilities instead.
There are 20 ranks in total to level up via experience points which fly by all too quickly and then there are 10 more ranks (making 30 the true level cap) that can only be gained by Light. This Light is including in certain rare, legendary and exotic armour so if you want to reach that top rank you better be prepared to replay a lot of the same stuff. This is where a huge amount of grinding can occur and even though I really despise repeating things, if a rare or better item drops for you or is rewarded for completing a really tough mission it’s an exciting feeling and for a short while it actually feels worth it for the buzz.
Anyway, once you’ve zoomed through the “story” or even once you feel at a high enough level you can attempt Strike missions. These can be pretty intense and have a hard as nails boss to end them, whilst there could also be another slightly less intimidating boss before the climax too. I find these time consuming yet rewarding when you finally get that last shot in on a hardened enemy. Here, teamwork does make the dream work because you can either do it with two friends or matchmaking will sort you out with, hopefully, some capable allies. They need more of these as once you’ve done all five it’s just a case of being left to attempt them over and over again on harder difficulties.
Patrol is the best place to explore the areas in a more in-depth fashion and you can do this on all major planets available (Earth, Venus, Mars) and the Moon. It is entirely your choice whether to just wander round and kill the spawning enemies or to take on the numerous missions dotted around the place. The only problem is they are boring and repetitive with re-visiting places to scan an area or to kill a handful of enemies to collect the mission specific item they now drop.
Throughout all these missions you may encounter other players doing their own thing, I say may because only 16 players can be in the same instance and in all honesty at most I’ve seen three or four other people nearby. Unless you count the home base, Tower, where you cash in bounties, buy new gear and just chill out after a massive battle. There’s loads (well, in comparison) of people here but not in the main areas which lessens the experience, especially when a public event occurs on a planet and you need a hand in taking down whatever arrives quickly to earn the top medals.
Last but not least is PvP, or the Crucible as they call it where players can compete with other players. Your gear isn’t much use here as they attempt to level the playing field so there are few advantages except for skills, so it pays to level up as much as you can before joining the battle. All the usual multiplayer modes are here in the form of Control (6v6 capturing zones), Clash (6v6 team deathmatch), Rumble (6 people free-for-all) and Skirmish (3v3 team deathmatch). Plus others are expected to show at certain times.
There isn’t a much better feeling than running in to defend a zone and delivering a devastating Fist of Havoc, or Hulk smash as I call it. Having these Super abilities makes it much more enjoyable as a competitive first person shooter and with a couple of teammates there’s no doubt it can be fun. I have just one request, please Bungie, just take out those vehicles as I believe it adds an unnecessary extra level of domination on the larger maps (small maps there is none and this is much better) for some players. At least with Supers and heavy ammo they run out after use, these vehicles can take a fair whack of punishment.
When you actually get a moment to gaze into the distances, it’s easy to see they’ve worked pretty hard of making it visually pleasing. By no means is it stunning but at times it can be pleasant to perch yourself on a nearby rock on Venus and just take it all in. On paper the areas are pretty big; however it doesn’t feel it when you’re in the thick of it or when you’ve visited parts of a location a few times in quick succession.
All the work on completing missions, competing against people and taking on bosses is to solely improve armour and weapons. Getting a brilliant helmet, a chest piece or even some boots could help keep you alive when it matters the most. Once you get to rank 20 the chances of finding new, better gear for your character is completely pot luck. The only way to rule out the lucky nature is to buy from a merchant in the Tower at prices that will take a lot of hard work to afford. With the added caps to earning some of this stuff it will be more of a chore than it should be.
There’s a chance I’ve gone on too much about what to do and not enough about what to kill. There are four enemy races (Fallen, Hive, Vex and Cabal) that each make an appearance on a least one planet. My favourite is by far the Cabal, for some reason close-up they look like Locusts from Gears and when you pop a few shots into their disproportioned heads for that final kill shot it’s a great feeling even if a little sadistic.
I can’t tell you all that Destiny is either terrible or fantastic. The feeling I get is that it’s a work in progress; they are going to add content, free and paid to help with a long term future. Mechanically the game couldn’t be more solid, which is noticeable with drops of a loot or an ammo nature that only you see, meaning less scrambling before someone swoops in and steals it. Shooting and movement feels spot on, so the core of Destiny works really darn well. That being said the vehicle summoning placement is a minor pain in the backside, it takes two buttons pressed one after the other and just feels awkward.
Destiny is clearly better with friends, there’s no doubt that having a friend to help take on the enemies and pick you up when you’re down is the way to play it. If you don’t have any though then you’ll struggle to make new ones as there’s no game chat unless you’re in a PvP or outside of this if they are already part of your Fireteam.
Straight to the point now, buy Destiny if you’re willing to stick it out for the long haul and wait for more to come, as for right now there doesn’t feel enough to do to keep it fresh.