Without a doubt, Destiny is the most hyped-up video game to hit the market in quite some time. All of the buzz is understandable given the game’s $500M budget. But in this case, reality falls short of expectations.
The game is the brain-child of Halo-creator Bungie, so there’s no surprise that many of that franchise’s top features are alive in Destiny. This is particularly true in two specific areas: artistic design and gunplay. Visually, Destiny is an absolute stunner. The environments, characters and accessories are beautifully crisp and precisely detailed. As many have already noted, there are multiple locations within Destiny where you’ll literally stop just to look at the scenery. And the action itself is engaging, fluid, and flat-out fun, especially when you work cooperatively with others in a fire team.
But the problems with Destiny reduce the potential masterpiece to a mediocre and repetitious affair. A major issue is the fact that the game lacks depth to its story. Basically, you are a Guardian who is tasked with helping salvage what’s left of humanity from invading aliens who have come to attack a mysterious, friendly alien known as the Traveller. It sounds intriguing, but the game provides almost no detail beyond what you just read. There is a more robust story, but to figure it out you have to activate an account with Bungie and access ‘Grimoire cards’ you collect. The only problem is that all of this exists outside of the game. Without a gripping story, Destiny’s cinematic scenes are confusing and useless.
The biggest problems are with broader game design and gameplay.
The story mode is very linear: kill bad guys, find random object, and kill more bad guys while your Peter Dinklage-voiced companion does something to the random object. Every now and then you’ll face a boss of some sort in the story mode. There’s also a free-roaming patrol mode where you complete mini-missions (which consist almost entirely of killing bad guys). Strikes are the most exciting because it forces you to play with two other people to defeat a very strong boss and kill waves of regular baddies. But even strikes suffer from repetition and simply a lack of variety.
The little issues with Destiny really add up over time.
For a game that tries to be as open as possible, the levels feel tight and you get familiar with them because they often host multiple missions. Along that line, it seems as if your hover-bike only exists to make the environment feel more open or to drive past enemies you don’t want to kill. There are some other vehicles that are accessible in the game, but they rarely fit in and feel like they were just added on a whim.
The customization of your character is a bit lacking, as well.
There are three ‘races’ to choose from when you create your character: human, the Awoken (basically pale humans), and Exo (basically humanoid robots). None of the options are really explained in-game, and there are no bonus features for choosing any of them. It’s great to get some new armour, but it doesn’t feel like their special abilities have much of an impact. And frankly, it takes a long time to find high-quality items.
Destiny is billed as a new genre, blurring the lines between traditional shooter and online role-playing game. Ultimately, it succeeds with a lot of the shooter aspects, but falls flat on the RPG side thanks to the lack of a story and weak customization. The most addicting part of the game is without a doubt the gunplay, but that’s not enough to justify buying the game.