Review – Destiny

Some of you reading this, especially those coming to the page because “Destiny” is in the title, are not going to like my review. You’re not going to like it because you put hundreds of hours into the world of Destiny and anything short of “It’s brilliant!” or “Simply the best ever!” just isn’t going to do it for you. To those, just give me a chance and let’s reach some common ground.

I remember first hearing about Destiny back in 2013 and being very excited. Beautiful vistas were shown in a brilliant post-apocalyptic landscape. A Bungie representative also said “all that stuff, if you ran out there, it’s all playable terrain” (remember that?). When the beta arrived, I traveled through the wall thinking to myself “This game is going to be epic.” Such a great use of lighting, of space, and a sense of adventure awaiting. Playing through the beta, I found a very solid shooter, but not much more. I chocked that up to it being a beta. Then the game released and the reviews echoed my beta experience. While still interested, I put the game on the back burner. Fast forward two years and I finally picked up Destiny for Playstation 4.

As a gamer who holds story in relatively high regard, the story in Destiny is the weakest part of the game. You begin being resurrected by a Ghost, a small machine that becomes your companion in the remainder of the game. The Ghost relates that you are a Guardian, a being tasked with the protection of the Traveller and the removal of evil threatening the last remaining city on Earth. Of course, the Traveller is an alien being that came to Earth’s aide at a time of great evil. Everyone still with me? Regarding backstory or explanation of what you encounter in the Tower, the Guardian headquarters, or how the technology around you works, that is it. It would seem that there is some intent that your character already knows all of these things inherently, but it would have helped as the player to have some sort of introduction to this Destiny universe. Instead, it was “You’re a Guardian, those are bad guys, take them out.” The rest of the game story involves you stopping races that are trying to drain energy from the Traveller. However, each time you foil an enemy’s plans, someone tells you that they were not the only enemy and you need to continue on. The mission structure is such that you can complete many of them in any order, which throws off any flow that the story could possibly have. The mission selection screen also includes arcs that you can only dive one or two missions into before being told that you need to buy the DLC to continue. The entire structure is very jarring to anyone looking for a story to anchor their experience.

Gameplay is where Destiny shines and where Bungie’s long history with shooters comes to bear. The weapons and shooting in the game feel very satisfying, especially when your weapon level is even with or just above that of your enemies. The core weapons themselves are similar with the primary differences being rate of fire and damage (lower rate of fire, higher damage/accuracy/range). While one could see this as not enough variety, it does at least give each player a chance to find their favorite play style and run with it. You also have special weapons like fully automatic machine guns, sniper rifles, and rocket launchers, all of which feel very satisfying and appropriately powerful given limited ammunition availability. Player character movement also feels nice and weighty. It is not as fast as shooters like CoD and Titanfall, but this is a Bungie game and it feels exactly as I would expect from them. The character’s special jump ability gives added battlefield movement, often gaining appropriate ground on the enemy or getting you out of a bad situation. Enemy movement also looked very good, but their tactics were somewhat one note, at least with each specific type of enemy (enemy A is always going to run at you, enemy B is always going seek cover, etc). The good news is that there is a wide variety of enemies, so battles, especially in later missions, do not feel repetitive.

Taking into account that the game is now two and a half years old, the visuals in Destiny are very good. The opening setting prior to going through the wall is quite stunning and there were several locations later in the game such as the Academy that themselves told a story of history and turmoil. The characters and enemies held up as well with visuals equal to that of their surroundings. The fact that Bungie was able to achieve this level of fidelity less than a year into the console generation means a lot for the future of their releases.

Overall, Destiny primarily feels like Bungie set out with high hopes and then were hindered by their time with or capability of the console generation. Destiny, with its open areas and ability to meet other players, begs to be a game where one could travel from one mission to the next in the same setting. Instead, each mission end requires the load screen of the player returning to orbit in their ship (a ship that has no other purpose in the game). Selecting the next mission will then drop you back into the same location in which you were just playing. Selecting a mission on another planet will give you a 30 second scene of your ship flying before getting a short voiceover of why you are there. Carrying the full area in memory, streaming appropriately, or server side netcode prevented Destiny from being a true open world collaborative effort.

As I said at the outset, there are many players out there who very much enjoy Destiny and have spent many hours with every mission, every DLC, every strike, and every raid. They have reached high levels and have all the loot they could need. However, as a gamer with a large cache of games and limited time to play, I care more for games that give me a good experience without requiring DLC or timed events. Destiny just did not hook me, but playing through all the base game had to offer does have me hoping that Destiny 2 will bring the refinement and advancement it needs for a wider audience.

2 thoughts on “Review – Destiny

Add yours

  1. As an addicted Destiny fan, I think you gave a very fair review. It’s a decent shooter with a lot of flaws (had anyone at Bungie even played an MMO/RPG before deciding to merge one with a FPS?), but there is a lot of potential. The Taken King expansion in particular really showed what Destiny *could* be, rather than what it was when first released. The rest of the expansions…well, let’s not talk about those, lol. All in all, great review, looking forward to following your Cache adventures further!


    1. I appreciate the feedback. I definitely wanted to give Destiny a fair shake. I very much thought about buying The Taken King, but am just ready to move on to the rest of the Cache. I am very much looking forward to Destiny 2 information out of E3.

      Liked by 1 person

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