Destiny Review

Finally, Bungie unleashes their heavily-anticipated title, Destiny, upon the public. Just in time because the gamers were hungry for a true next-gen game, but did this adventure really satisfy our appetites? I imagine that some bought it for the loot grind, competitive multiplayer, the MMORPG aspects, or simply because it’s a Bungie game. Whatever the reason was, I can honestly say that most should be pleased, but there are some legitimate reasons why this game has failed a significant amount of buyers.

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After logging in for the first time, you must pick out of three different classes: The gunslinger Hunter,  the defensive Titan, or the spell throwing Warlock. Each have unique abilities but overall share from the same loot pool.

The game opens up wonderfully. You are resurrected centuries after death by a floating cube-like AI called Ghost who remains your companion throughout your whole experience, pretty much like Cortana from Halo. You fight your way out of the intro stage while learning the basics of the game with the help from Ghost. After the few short introduction missions, you acquire a ship and fly away to the last known safe haven on Earth called the Tower. The Tower acts as the game’s main hub where players can purchase new items, decrypt unidentified loot found from the player’s journey, and acquire new bounties which are very similar to World of Warcraft’s daily quests.

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After getting to the Tower, you are greeted by the Speaker who tells you your overall objective of the game, naming you a guardian of the light that has to fight against the darkness. This isn’t the most original story but I still accepted it– good guys versus the bad guys. The rest is up to the player as to where to venture off to. Well, that’s what the game would like you to think. Really, you just go on to the next mission in a linear fashion until all the missions are completed on that planet, then rinse and repeat on the next world.

There are three different types of missions you can do on each planet. There are story/side missions that can be done solo but up to three players can experience it, strike missions that require 2-3 guardians that contain harder mobs and typically a boss at the end, and a patrol selection that lets the player roam around the planet doing repeatable tasks such as kill 20 nearby enemies. You would think that if it was more like an MMORPG, the player could venture off to different areas to do missions and have a totally different experience when leveling up a new guardian. Still, I accepted this and had no problem with it.

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The main reason for this acceptance was because of Destiny’s aesthetics. The game is drop dead gorgeous. Everywhere you look, it’s like an in-motion piece of art. The attention to detail is astounding and I felt immersed in the surrounding allure. The lighting was spot on as well. Even in dark areas where battles took place, the lighting was just enough to give the player a real sense of doom without being blinded. Bungie was not afraid to mix all sorts of contradictory color palettes into the environment, guardian spells, and even the armor equipment. Any color seen on-screen is appealing and really gushes out with flavor.

Venus is probably my favorite planet in terms of environmental attractions. There are skyscrapers and buildings that have long been abandoned by mankind. I felt the impression of desolation by how all the buildings are slowly but surely being overtaken by nature itself. In all the structures, I could see the natural life engulfing the corridors of these once-filled halls. Every planet you visit, there is a certain theme that goes along with it, and the attention to detail to each respective planet was polished to a tee.

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The gunplay and movement/jumping of Destiny is very reminiscent of Bungie’s previous megahit franchise, Halo. Now when I say this, this isn’t knocking Destiny’s gameplay at all– Halo has some of the best gunplay in contemporary shooters. So I wasn’t really surprised to see that Bungie decided to pretty much keep the same formula in terms of gameplay, besides the addition of iron sights of course.

There are 3 different types of weapons available, each coming with subtypes. There are primary, special, and heavy weapons. For example, in the primary slot, you can have auto rifles, scout rifles, pulse rifles, and hand cannons. Special weapons have three different varieties while heavy weapons only have two, which is kind of disappointing. Don’t get me wrong– I wasn’t expecting there to be a ridiculously robust amount of variety such as in Borderlands, but I was hoping there would be further diversity in the heavy weapon slot; maybe a heavy laser gun or a grenade launcher.

There are some weapons that are exclusive to the enemy AI that I wish I could try out. Maybe some DLC could change that, but since the time of this review isn’t in the future, I have to admit that the gun collection seems to be lacking.

Just like most MMORPG games, loot is one of the major driving forces of Destiny. Very similar to WoW’s loot rarity categorization, white lettered loot is basic, green is uncommon, rare items are blue, legendary as purple, and the finest loot called exotic as gold. Bungie puts their own twist on the loot by giving each piece of equipment an upgrade system. Whenever you get a new piece of loot, you can view the possible upgrades and decide whether or not it’s worthwhile.

Every piece of loot usually has distinctive features, such as being able to throw the grenade further, more defense, the lower half of the clip causing more damage, etc. This goes across weapons and gear. The cost, however, is the materials required to upgrade which are obtained from dismantling any type of spoils. As far as your actual class skill progression goes, it’s the same structure as upgrading gear but no materials are needed to enhance or switch certain perks around.

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If there is an MVP candidacy slot open for the production members of Destiny, Martin O’Donnell should be nominated without question. He hit a grand slam when composing the pieces for this game. The soundtrack used for each setting was fitting and certainly triggers the emotion desired. Whether taking on a horde of enemies or sitting at the main menu, I felt absorbed by O’Donnell’s compositions.

There is one set piece that stands out in my mind and it happens when first confronting the alien race Cabal, these behemoth like aliens that reek of war. The look of the Cabal combined with the soundtrack selection gave a shear sense of “Oh shit, these dudes don’t mess around.” Not only is the music marvelous, but the pacing added a level of engagement towards the battle at hand. The music elevates as the player progresses further into set piece battles, which gave me epic moments as well as goosebumps. The most memorable moments of the game were largely in part due to the soundtrack created for it. Much kudos to Martin O’Donnell.

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As far as the actual gunplay– it’s fantastic. It’s a joy every time to pull the trigger. Each respective gun variation has their own distinctive sound ambiance that lets other players know what type of gun is being used. The recoil is just right and in some guns it can be too much, but that’s the point of that gun. The higher the rate of fire, usually the more unstable it is. The sniper rifles are back! A game finally brought back the much-rewarded headshot besides Halo. Each time a head shot is made, I feel like a boss, especially headshots made in the Crucible. Well done in this department.

The Crucible is Destiny’s PvP mode. It contains 10 different maps across 4 different modes and each are a delight to play. The first mode is Control, very much like Call of Duty’s domination mode. This is a 6v6 battle to control 3 different set nodes throughout the map and the first to achieve 20,000 points wins the match. There is the classic 6v6 team death match called Clash, 6 person free-for-all Rumble, and lastly a 3v3 mode called Skirmish.

All modes have set rules that are familiar to most shooters. Here, Bungie showcases their high level of skill in map development with well crafted arenas. In every shooter there’s always 1 or 2 maps that are just plain better than the rest and are usually fan favorites. In Destiny, every map with maybe the exception of one are absolutely perfect. There isn’t one map that I sigh at when entering a crucible match. The risky asymmetrical maps created are precise, each map having those special spots where you know it’s about to go down; think about maps like ascension or lockout from Halo as a reference.

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After your guardian reaches level 20, the game’s current max level, endgame begins. You can then do previous strikes on harder difficulties for a greater reward. The player is able to level further beyond level 20 by only obtaining more of the light attribute from gear. Any gear that has a level 20 requirement will have the light attribute. The rarer the gear is, the more light that’ll typically be inscribed with it.

There are numerous ways a guardian can obtain light. The player can obtain Vanguard marks that are used to purchase legendary loot from vendors on the Tower by doing strike missions, or the player can simply do the PvP aspect and gain Crucible marks with the same structure. Each I found to be a fun way to get new gear, but overall I found the Crucible to be more refreshing because of the randomness from competing against other people.

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The foundation for Destiny is apparent, with the aesthetics, gameplay, and matchmaking. All that’s needed is a story to really flesh out this amazing franchise. Unfortunately, there isn’t much story to be had here, or at least so far. As previously stated, you are a guardian who is resurrected centuries after death, but why? What happened to all the guardians centuries ago?

Destiny gives a short prologue of how mankind started a golden age with the appearance of the Traveler, the big white sphere on the game’s cover. This golden age came about with the technological advancements that the traveler gave to mankind. The people on earth progressed to planets beyond their own, terraforming Venus, and creating space stations on the moon and mars. After centuries of prosperity, an ancient enemy of the Traveler known as the Darkness came and almost wiped everyone out. The last stand was taken on Earth where the Traveler sacrifices itself to save mankind and is left in a dormant state right next to the Tower– the game’s central hub– and left a protective shield over the Tower and itself. This is the prologue of the game and literally 75 percent of any story being told at all.

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There are so many questions of the lore that aren’t answered. Where did the Traveler come from? Can it speak? How did it sacrifice itself centuries ago? Will it ever wake back up? All of these questions are never answered as if it’s no big deal. There are four types of alien races: The Fallen which are the typical scavenging alien race, the robotic Vex, zerg-like Hive, and the giant Cabals. All of these alien races you fight against and they fight amongst each other, but no context is given as to why they’re at war with each other and you. If there isn’t enough information given, how can I, the player, get attached emotionally to this game? I can’t. I’m simply just doing missions without much justification as to what my main goal is.

There are several new characters popping into the story that look very intriguing and spike my interest, but they don’t lead to anything. Every new character that’s introduced doesn’t give the proper information needed to even care about them. They pop up as if they’re vital to the overall story, give you a task, and never show up again. It’s like Bungie is constantly teasing me but never delivers. I don’t understand this approach considering the fact they created a universe in Halo, but didn’t in Destiny in terms of story.

Destiny fails to give the player a sense of attachment to their guardians and their cause as well as any new characters that show up. The game almost contradicts itself because you go to all these different worlds, you see that they were clearly abandoned, but why and how? What happened to these desolate worlds? The environment is begging for a story to be told, but you never get one, you’re just left to wonder. If this was what Bungie was aiming for, then they nailed it, but it’s not working for the player.

In any type of media medium, whether it be a book, movie, comics, and even games, the user needs to feel like they’re apart of the world that’s given. There needs to be a suspension of disbelief. This is achieved when a player is consumed in the world that they are trying to partake in and allowed to empathize with the characters on-screen or lines in a book. Destiny never achieves this and unfortunately fails in delivering an emotional attachment to the detailed environments/characters they’ve created

Maybe the bar was set really high for this game, but then again when you market a product as heavily as Destiny was markted, there’s a legitimate reason to set the bar very high; not to mention that this game took half a billion dollars to produce. In the end, I still enjoy the game for what’s given, but I really was hoping for an amazing story to latch onto, something I could talk amongst my friends and get giddy about. Sadly, there isn’t much story to talk about at all with peers, but the game shouldn’t be bashed as if it was 0/10 game; that would be unreasonable.

Destiny contains beautiful worlds with breathtaking detail, really fun gameplay, and great PvP that could be a sole selling point to people who loved Halo just for its matchmaking. If you’re looking for an awe-inspiring story, though, you’ll have better luck looking elsewhere.

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