Destiny — High ambitions stymie its aspired identity | Review

Destiny showcases some great qualities, but still leaves much to be desired.

Destiny showcases some great qualities, but still leaves much to be desired.

It sounds amazing on-paper and it’s not too bad as a finished product either, but Destiny lack of a core identity prevents the game from ever fully reaching the expectations so many people had for it.

It should be clear — Bungie and Activision did not totally drop the ball with Destiny. It is not a flop or a bust of a game, but with over $500 million invested in the title it’s reasonable to expect more.

A lot of what Bungie has attempted doesn’t fall off to dramatically at any point — in fact almost every aspect of the game is so close to being amazing. But that’s just it — so much of the game is close to greatness, but not quite there.

Here’s what went right and what went wrong, and the ultimate verdict on Destiny:

Visuals

The lighting and ambiance of Destiny does a great job of setting the tone of the game.

The lighting and ambiance of Destiny does a great job of setting the tone of the game.

What went right?

Aesthetics
The game looks beautiful. From the amazing expansive vistas, to the awesome lighting effects and small art details within each environment, everything about Destiny is begging to be explored and experienced. Right as your ghost first awakens you to the desolate Russian lands, the world is shown to be greater than any typical FPS.

What went wrong?

The linear world.
Despite these expansive landscapes that seemingly beg to be explored, Destiny’s free-roam gameplay is unfortunately hindered by invisible walls and repetitive pathways. While the game was broadcasted as an open and shared-world shooter, the progression of each mission is very clear and nothing comes as a surprise or a change of pace.

The other players that you encounter throughout each mission are far and infrequently occurring that make the world much less enjoyable for a solo player than it would be for a person who personally invites friends to play.

Story

What went right?

The plot.
The premise of the entire universe that Destiny occurs in and the lore of the world is certainly not what holds back the story in this game. The concepts are relatively basic, but it doesn’t need to be all too original or unique for a great story to be told. The Traveler is a great idea and the history of the human race is succinctly explained to build the base for an in-depth story. The races are varied enough to each have their own history and they all have the potential for their own great individual story lines –outside of humanity’s.

Destiny presents an expansive world left largely unexplored.

Destiny presents an expansive world left largely unexplored.

What went wrong?

The progression.
The lack of exploration within the core ideas of the story and the lack of development into explaining what exactly got humanity up to the point of the game’s start creates a break in the potential immersion that could occur throughout Destiny. It initially seems as though they game’s writers wanted to have the game as mystery unraveling before you, but the mystery hardly unravels at all. Far too many characters are left undeveloped and too many branches of the story are left hidden.

While their is a clear foundation for something great, there is little progression into the intricacies that the world seems to set from the beginning. The game struggles to get players emotionally invested in the story.

Gameplay

What went right?

Great action-driven engine
The gameplay of Destiny may be the game’s strongest trait. There are clear ties to Halo, Bungie’s last franchise, right away. The experience is very clean and is hardly ever impeded by any substantial glitches or bugs. The combat is well balanced and the weapon variety is decent. A quick-transportation method in the Sparrow offers a great ability to keep the game moving and prevents too many dull points where nothing is quite happening. Players are consistently involved and never lulled while traversing each mission.

What went wrong?

No identity
Destiny seems to try and take on as many game qualities as it can. Bungie incorporates many key aspects of a typical MMO in the FPS experience. An attempt is made to combining a well-made story FPS with a highly explorable MMO, but Bungie doesn’t quite succeed at reaching either of those aspirations. The MMO qualities of Destiny — loot drops, a home-base marketplace, class systems, and multiplayer missions are all excellent, but some key features of MMOs change what you would expect from any typical pace of action.

Throughout the game the placement of enemies and where players engage in combat are incredibly off-setting. Re-encountering enemies in the same scripted areas is par-for-the-course in almost any MMO, but experiencing the same in a world that attempts to be so story driven is one of the biggest aspects of the game that breaks any immersion.

Because each level is re-explored with multiple missions there is little the game does to shake things up. While the story of the game tries to alter the gameplay as you face a greater variety of enemies later in the game, it still doesn’t change the predictable cadance that the combat follows.

Sound

What went right?

The Soundtrack
While it isn’t quite as iconic as Halo: Combat Evolved, the soundtrack of Destiny does a valiant job in setting the mood and intended tone of the game. Anyone who has played the game should be able to recognize the soundtrack. Marty O’Donnell’s work is clearly heard though, and it’s similarities to Halo are very prominent.

What went wrong?

The voice acting
It may just be a carry over from the writing and creative direction the game attempts, but the voice acting is another immersion-breaking aspect of Destiny. The speaker, ghost, and the Queen of the Reef all speak in such a bland and PG style. It may be the Activision was looking to ensure a T-rating, but their is a noticeable lack of expressive or believable emotion in almost anything that is said.

Multiplayer (Crucible)

The PvP multiplayer of Destiny is another bright spot. The maps are well-balanced and offer a great mix of close-range and long-range combat. All players being given their own custom loadouts and classes allow for players to play the way they see fit. The weapon-armed vehicles along with your personal Sparrow offer great outside options besides standard on-foot firefights.

The only grievance that could really be filed against the multiplayer is the lack of gamemodes. While the core modes like deathmatch, control, and free-for-all are included, the unique and fun-focused modes from Halo’s franchise (like Infection, SWAT, and juggernaut) seem like they could fit well within the Destiny multiplayer as well.


 

Destiny has the aura of something absolutely amazing, but with every positive comes some type of negative that holds the game back. It presses to be so much and shows incredible aspirations of greatness, but a conservative approach and an overly-cautious avoidance of being too heavily any one genre prevents it from reaching the potential it had.

It certainly isn’t a neccesarily bad game. It is definitely a lot of fun — especially when played with friends, but with so much initially presented Destiny leaves much more to be desired. An excellent marketing team and a highly regarded developer like Bungie created a lot of hype to live up to, and though Destiny didn’t quite live up to it the quality of the game is still respectable.

7.2/10

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