Review | Destiny
After years of wait, Bungie’s newest IP, Destiny is here.
Considering it’s coming from the masterminds behind Halo, players should expect a solid shooter, with an enjoyable story and great multiplayer, right? Well, not so much.
Instead, get ready for a laughable story, unbalanced multiplayer and, in what is a major disappointment for MMO games, bad loot drops, especially in the endgame.
Before I get into the gameplay, I have to focus on story. Considering this is a shooter/MMO hybrid, I expected at least a decent story from Bungie, but one that I may not care about like what many MMOs have. However, what Destiny offers seems to pull from every sci-fi stereotype out there.
You’ll run into four different enemy groups throughout the game trying to take control of planets and the galaxy by controlling the darkness or using it to its advantage. Meanwhile, you’ll be helping trying to find the Traveler and help the light overtake the darkness like in its battle years ago. Like I said, laughable and generic.
Gameplay is pretty standard for a shooter. It controls well, and vehicle controls are sharp too (although are guns on your standard vehicle too much to ask?). Like many MMOs, you’ll spend most of your time revisiting areas again and again as you do missions.
However, unlike most MMOs, endgame content doesn’t have its own area. Instead, you go back and do previous missions on Old Russia, Moon, Venus, Mars and the Reef, just on higher difficulties to get a chance at more loot.
This wouldn’t be a bad thing if missions at least offered some variance. Every mission boils down to either defending a point for a bit by killing a bunch of enemies, finding something and killing a bunch of enemies or, you guessed it, just killing a bunch of enemies. Sure, MMOs don’t have a lot of variety of missions but they have more than that. Even a few escort quests or something mixed in would have been nice.
An example I have is a patrol I did in Old Russia. During this patrol, my fire team picked up six different quests to do. Every single one was about killing a group of enemies in an area before finding a new quests. Even a fetch quest at that point could have offered something different.
Besides quests and patrols, there are also Strikes to do (think dungeons in an MMO), where you get matched up to form a group of three to take on the mission. However, the high-end Strikes are where I got disappointed.
Instead of having matchmaking for those, Bungie expects you to have made friendships by then that will join you in endgame Strikes and raids. The problem with this logic is that, unlike other MMOs, there is no “looking for group” options, and there’s not even a good way to communicate with other players.
At the Crucible, the hub city, you can only communicate with four gestures mapped to the D-Pad. Sure, you can inspect and add friends, but then you’re just adding random players in hopes that some join up. The chat system is disappointing as well. You can talk with your fireteam, but that’s all, making finding groups that much harder. Why this hatred for communication I don’t know, but it really hampers some endgame progress.
Since I’m on the topic of the endgame, I’ll focus on that some more. Once you hit level 20, the only way to keep leveling up is to find better gear. The loot drops, though, are laughable. To earn PVE marks, used to buy epic gear, you have to do Strike modes on heroic or harder difficulties, which can take a few hours with many failures along the way. Even then, you aren’t always guaranteed great loot.
In fact, people have now started spawn camping some areas, getting random loot drops they take to a vendor to redeem for a SMALL chance of getting some epic gear. When the best system people have for trying to get a good piece of armor is farming for hours and hours on end in the chance one piece will result in possibly a rare or epic level of equipment, that’s when you should know your loot system is flawed.
The raids will help with the loot system, as completing them give great rewards. However, as stated above, getting to level 26 to participate with the loot you need is a challenge by itself, and finding a group to randomly join in the regular game is difficult as well.
The PVP is definitely the highlight in the game. Bungie knows how to make shooters that work, and most PVP arenas just ignore levels to balance things out. However, what they don’t ignore are skills balanced for PVE.
The Titan, Hunter and Warlock have unique skills that can take down groups of enemies at once in PVE. However, the skills were never rebalanced for PVP. So, get a group of enemies together and you can easily one-shot them with a skill, meaning fortifying defenses at a location in controlling points is just asking for death, not being smart. It really breaks the mold, and is disappointing.
However, PVP does have the best ways to earn loot and marks. Even if you’re getting slaughtered on one of the games 10 maps, you’ll still earn marks that can be redeemed for gear, and maybe even a rare item if you’re lucky.
Now, there’s one more thing I want to focus on, your Ghost companion, played by Peter Dinklage (or, as I call it, the Dinklbot). Considering Bungie brought such a high-profile actor on to voice Ghost, you’d expect something great, right? Well, not so much. Instead, players get a performance that’s just as robotic as the floating object he plays. Some kind of personality for Ghost would have been great, instead, we get nothing.
This, unfortunately, seems to be the theme in Destiny. There’s so much hope for a great game here. However, so much falls flat that it makes for a mediocre experience. Sure, fun is still had in bursts, but you’ll also experience plenty of frustration as you grind and grind for one more piece of armor or try to find a group for endgame content.
Final Thoughts: While the outlook may be mediocre right now, Destiny has promise to become a great title with a 10 year plan complete with DLC and updates. As it stands right now, though, there are plenty of other shooters and MMOs out there that can scratch your itch for either genre better. Unless you want to see all the hype for yourself, hold out for more updates to fix some of the current problems.