So my previous review of Destiny was a little short and not from the point of view of someone who’s played enough time to have a better judgement of the game. I finally kicked the habit almost a week ago after playing, ahem, 231 hours. Some say I should put nine more hours in so I can hit the magic ten days mark but I feel like that’s an accomplishment that wouldn’t speak the best about me. There’s been other games I’ve been wanting to play but I pretty much only had Destiny, or at least that’s what it felt like, until the Master Chief Collection and the Assassin’s Creed games are releasing next week. Advanced Warfare is coming out this week but I’ve made my thoughts on the Call of Duty franchise apparent in the past.
If you happen to be someone who has yet to play Destiny and wants an idea about the value of the game, I hope you’ve come to the right place. Destiny, being the multifaceted game that it is, has a lot of different qualities that must be addressed when undergoing evaluation. To keep it simple I am going to start with the story campaign, move on to competitive multiplayer, and end with my thoughts on the extensive post-game.
Alien Shooting Simulator
Starting a new character in Destiny will always play a beautiful and extremely compelling cinematic. However there is instantly a sign of the largest and most annoying grievance in Destiny; the story lacks any reasonable depth. Destiny is sort of hybrid of science fiction and traditional fantasy. Mixing these two genres has always been something that’s sounded really cool to me but can be incredibly difficult to achieve. Destiny begins the game by showing the Traveler bringing life to Mars and explaining how to brought in a new Golden Age for mankind. Yet, it almost instantly moves on to tell the player how The Darkness, a mysterious and undefined force that opposes the Traveler’s Light, stripped the Golden Age from man and has left the race with a single city. Conveniently titled “The City,” this last stronghold of civilization is only a background to Destiny’s hub, The Tower.
It seems to me like the plan was for Destiny to be so much larger than it ended up being, and maybe the future will bring positive changes to the scale of the game. Yet, at the game’s release the world is actually pretty small. I remember when Destiny was first announced I imagined flying my ship to distant worlds in the Sol System and landing on massive, open worlds with my buddies. In the end these zones are no larger than a few square miles, and each of the four worlds that the player can land on have only one zone to explore. The fact that all of the missions on Earth took place in the Russian Cosmodrome while all the action on Mars took place in the Meridian Bay seems rather unbelievable. I don’t think that Bungie was lazy, it’s far more likely that the initial scale desired just wasn’t feasible to create in the time given.
This is a shame because the actual gameplay of Destiny is a blast. Even during the rather monotonous moments of the post-game the experience remains enjoyable. The story missions are fun up the inevitable wave defense at the end of each, an even those can have quality moments. The gameplay is Destiny’s greatest redeeming value. The joy of mowing down Dregs with an Auto Rifle or incinerating a Thrall with a Fusion RIfle almost never gets old, especially when done with friends. Playing the story missions and three-player strikes with friends was one of the best experiences I’ve had with recent games.
The three-man strikes in Destiny, when graded against each other, are a mixed bag. The Winter’s Run strike stands out to me as the most fun while The Summoning Pits was the most snooze worthy. Yet, even the least liked ones were made orders of magnitude better with friends on the other side of the headset. Watching a buddy get obliterated by a Hive Knight and fly across the screen makes a wipe more than worth it for the grief you’ll give him. Hear my friend’s cries of joy when a strike rewarded him with a legendary sniper rifle gave me minutes of solid laughter. Having already bought the season pass for Destiny I am not hesitant at all about jumping back in with my friends when the time comes. Yet, there was one major part of the game that my three-man fire-team wasn’t able to experience.
Stupid, stupid Strict NAT. I only have two other guys on my school’s network that play on the Xbox One so we never got to play the raid. Ironically we found three other gentleman who played but, of course, they were on the Playstation. Due to not being able to get raid gear I was never able to get the best loot in the game. I never even tried to find a party in a forum or whatever since no one would want to play with someone who can’t communicate with voice chat. I’ve heard that the raid was the best part so far, but you as a reader will have to take other people’s word on that.
So if you know me much it won’t be a shock to you that I don’t care for competitive multiplayer outside of a few exceptions. Destiny was almost one of those exceptions. The multiplayer, when I played it for fun, was a blast. However the majority of times I dipped my toes into this world was when I had Exotic Bounties (more on these later). Having an actual lose state when playing a competitive game always stressed me out and raised my heart rate to a point where I couldn’t play more than three or so games in a row. It wasn’t that I sucked, Destiny’s multiplayer is actually rather simple to pick up and play and seems to be a balance between fast pace and having a steady hand.
Early on there was a problem where the Auto Rifles were the master of PVP. Bungie released a patch a few weeks ago that nerfed Auto Rifles and buffed other weapons, making it possible for one of my proudest moments to occur. Having a 13 kill streak with my hand cannon felt amazing. I honestly wouldn’t mind going back in for some friendly kill and be killed, but the exotic bounty in my inventory makes that impossible until I finish it. Like with the raids I’m most likely not the best suited person to describe the PVP’s meta-game and the intricacies of it. Honestly PVP has never been my thing. I enjoyed Titanfall because of mechs and Destiny doesn’t have mechs but I really should get that idea to Bungie.
A GAME OF NUMBERS
Once the player finishes the game’s story, which ends up being a tad melodramatic, the end-game is revealed. In order to keep this organized I will go through the different aspects of this one by one so I don’t get too side tracked.
As soon as level 20, the soft level cap, is attained the game unlocks armor’s light levels. Light is a stat bonus on armor that increases a players damage rate as well as their ability to absorb damage given to them. Each 12 points of light, I believe, raise the character’s level, up to the current hard cap of 30. The best way to do this is by attaining legendary and exotic armor, which can seem like a daunting task to a new player. Here’s some advice, do the daily missions each day on the hardest difficulty possible. Doing these will reward the player with ascendant materials that are necessary for level up armor and maximizing the light stat, as well as doling out Vanguard marks.
Vanguard marks are the best friends of a player trying to reach higher levels. By playing the strike playlists, doing daily missions, or public events (the arguably most efficient way), players can stoke up the currency needed to buy legendary gear from The Tower. Destiny restricts the marks from both the Vanguard and Crucible, obtained by playing the Crucible, to 100 per week. With each armor piece costing 65, besides the helmets that cost 120. If an exotic helmet is obtained, since only one exotic piece of armor can be equipped at once, it costs only 195 Vanguard marks for armor that will give the player the highest possible light score without doing the raid. This armor will net a maximum light of about 113 while the raid set will give 120, resulting in a current maximum level of 30 with raid armor and 29 without.
To make it simpler, get the maximum Vanguard marks each week, do the daily missions, and get the Vanguard faction rank high enough to buy their armor by doing bounties and missions for them. By doing this one can have some of the best gear in the game within two weeks. All in all, not as grindy was it may sound.
This takes us to bounties, something I have a love/hate relationship with. Bounties are sort of like quests, they give you a particular objective and will reward you with faction reputation and experience with each completion. Each day there is a new set of six bounties for both the Vanguard and Crucible, making them equivalent to daily quests. All of these are pretty doable on their own, but there is one variant of bounties that lurk in the shadows and give nightmares to those who hate having a bounty slot filled up for an extended period of time: Exotic Bounties. These are bounties that have multiple, more difficult steps but will reward the player with an exotic weapon upon completion. Some of these steps are rather easy, such as killing 200 Hive on the Moon. However, some are a lot more menacing. The one I currently have stuck in my inventory require killing other players in the Crucible with Void elemental damage. I get five points with each kill but lose two with each death of my own. Requiring the player to reach 500 points, this bounty isn’t anywhere near impossible but it wrecks havoc on me when playing PVP. The knowledge that each death is effecting the bounty makes me agitated when I play badly. I feel like bounties like these need adjusted, possibly to four points with each kill and one loss to each death. Maybe I’m just a casual.
All the work put into these bounties will reward the player with the real meaning of playing the end-game, exotic gear. Being the tier above legendary, exotic weapons and armor are unique and each have their own perks and qualities. Yet, there isn’t as much to be praised here as I would like. Destiny limits the player to equipping only one exotic weapon and armor piece at a time, making it so that the rest of the exotics become trophies once the player has found one that they like. It’s not helped by the fact that many of the exotic items simply aren’t worth it. The game has ended up to where only a few specific exotic weapons and armor pieces are used by the majority of players. I honestly have no clue how this problem can best be fixed, but the exotic gear is the pinnacle of what the end-game was about to me and they became sort of useless.
A Question of Time
So should you, a potential consumer of the gaming medium, purchase Destiny? It depends on a few things. First of all, do you have anything else coming up that you want to play? If you have money for only one game and you’d like one that can have hundreds of hours sunk into it, Destiny is there for you. If you don’t play on playing Destiny for more that 50 or more hours I honestly can not tell you that you have to pick it up. With titles like the Master Chief Collection and Dragon Age: Inquisition (please don’t suck!) around the corner, this is probably not the time to pick up Destiny. If spring has rolled around and the video game drought is starting to set in and you need something new to waste time in, then Destiny might be a better choice. Sadly, I think Destiny was worth more when it first released compared to now. Once the first DLC releases on December 6 I will have to make a readjustment to my opinion, but the fact that the player will most likely have to already beaten the game before accessing the new content will make it a moot point for new customers.
Destiny does some things great, but after a week of not playing I have no real urge to go back to it anytime soon. This doesn’t mean that I won’t one day go back and spend another hundred hours playing it, but it most likely won’t be the most compelling experience out there. If Bungie can nail down more story elements and make the game more compelling with the DLC, I’ll be on board. I guess it’s just something to have some patience about, and that’s not something I think a majority of gamers have a lot of.
Typical of the “below the line” sections of my posts, it’s time to make another update to what I want to do here. This month is bringing a barrage of games that I have every intention to write half-decent reviews for. Currently the games I will be player, and not necessarily in this order, are Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Assassin’s Creed Rouge, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Grand Theft Auto V for current generation consoles, and Pokemon: Alpha Sapphire. Add in the fact that I’m still a full-time college student and that I want to keep working on my narrative projects and… it’s going to be hectic. My narrative stuff is going really well and WILL find its way here in time. Have patience with me, everyone who reads what I write are awesome and deserve a pat on the back. Whether you found yourself here through a suspicious Google search or through your subscription feed, you have my gratitude.
Seriously, thank you.