It’s the biggest video game release of the year, or so it has been hailed, but can Bungie hope to find the same success with this brand new IP as they did with their Xbox blockbuster Halo franchise? Take a look at our full review to find out!
Since its debut only a couple short years ago, Destiny has been an intriguing game to many different types of gamers. Not much was seen at the time and it really became apparent that the hype machine was going to take the anticipation for this game to new heights. The main criticism of Destiny at the time was that it was a game looked to be the somewhat identity crisis that the gameplay was trying to portray. With Bungie’s experience with first-person shooters and Destiny being an online game, many were quick to label it an MMOFPS. As you’ll see in this review, this game is far more of a hybrid than any one category and requires the player to go into it in an open-minded fashion rather than expecting it to play a certain way.
I’ll be the first one to admit that up until I first played Destiny and put an hour or so into it, I still wasn’t quite sure what the game was all about or what type of game it was trying to be. We’ve all heard the comparisons to Borderlands and an online Halo among others, but until you step into this world and see what it has to offer, you really can’t even begin to describe it. Bungie has built a vast repertoire of creating interesting settings in their video games and Destiny is no different. From the very first moments starting off in “Old Russia”, you can really see and respect all the detail that went into making this game and how grand the scale is. As much as you want to explore everything and see everything these worlds have to offer, Destiny just doesn’t afford you that opportunity. There are many dead areas that result in death if explored in addition to many backdrops that will never be more than eye-candy.
While Destiny does leave a lot to be desired when it comes to where you can explore, it does give you plenty of different planets to go to (Earth, Moon, Venus, Mars, The Reef) that keeps the game from becoming too too much of the same from a setting standpoint. These are well-crafted planets and the attention to detail is quite amazing with all of the different outposts, caves, cliffs, puddles, rocks, etc. While you don’t have a lot of time to just stop and take everything in at times, it does give you more of an appreciation for the game than if you were just going through a generic world on each journey.
Bungie made sure that, above all else, the atmosphere in Destiny was one that would keep the player interested even at dull points in the game. The music is ever-changing and always foreshadows events that are about to transpire, the enemies all have distinct noises and grunts, and even the load screens have eye-catching graphics that make the time switching between planets less of a pain. As much as the finer details kept me invested in the game for long stretches of time, the story and attempt at a narrative left me scratching my head at times. It was very easy to see that story of Destiny wasn’t nearly as important as the gameplay and what you’re trying to accomplish in the game. While a weak story isn’t always a problem if the game can stand on its own, I really feel like Destiny would have benefitted from really explaining more details in the game rather than trying to shoot through it as quickly as possible which is how it felt. There is a better explanation of everything in the game through the use of Grimoire cards which can be accessed on Bungie.net. I just don’t feel like many players will take advantage of this even though it’s a good resource to have for the bigger fans of the game. I just feel like a more interactive option like more cutscenes or narratives would have been very beneficial.
Destiny really feels like Halo on steroids in a lot of ways to me in terms of combat. The mobility and different abilities you can have (gliding, teleportation, double-jumping) really add to how tactical you can play versus the straight-up FPS that Halo was. Grenades and melee attacks also give each different class different ways to handle the enemy, each one reacts differently depending on the class that uses them and what upgrades they have used to modify them. Destiny really allows you to play the way you want and that’s where it becomes addictive. If you’re more of a run and gun player, you can do that, if you want to make a strategic ambush, you can also do that. There are high spots, low spots, and strategic positions of cover that put all the control in the hands of the player as to how they want to complete each objective. Not being able to be creative in games like this is something that I’ve always disliked, so having the ability to do things any way that I want to from any direction I want to was a welcome surprise.
As much freedom as you have in choosing the method in which you want to battle, that means nothing unless you have some decent enemies to make the game have a different feel as you traverse the different planets. Destiny succeeds in this by having many different types of enemies among 4 different classes. There are axe wielding knights, bionic goblins, a variety of flying foes, and many more. Some of these enemies have shields, some have vulnerable points (like the stomach of the goblin), and some will literally chase you around until your back is to a corner and you have nowhere to go. Enemies all act and react differently, some are more aggressive than others, but they all give you a reason to keep playing. I can say I never got bored once playing Destiny so far which is something I really didn’t imagine would be possible given the repetition involved. The bosses give even more of an incentive to keep going on, especially in the strikes where the player’s will is tested as waves of enemies and a boss that doesn’t stop attacking continue to attempt to dismantle your 3-person fireteam.
As much freedom as you have in choosing how you play, there could be so much more. The class system (Hunter, Titan, Warlock) seems to be a good way to differentiate gameplay a little and create new methods of playing the game, but stumbles more than it achieves that goal. Each class generally plays the same with subtle differences that really don’t create that much of a change in gameplay as you would expect. Everybody can use any weapon with equal proficiency no matter the class and armor and skills don’t provide enough of a difference to really say one is far superior than the other for how you may play. The class system just lacks a bit of depth and I’d really like to see some vastly different ones introduced in future updates as I feel this could really add to the game.
As much as the class system leaves more to be desired, the loot system is fairly well-executed. For the first 10-12 levels (which really is only maybe 5 hours of the game, maybe less), the loot the drops is pretty normal stuff that doesn’t have a lot of bells or whistles which might leave some underwhelmed. As you get higher and higher in levels and start finding more and more loot, you start to see a lot of unique gear with their own upgrade slots and special effects to that give your character a lot more firepower, defense, and special abilities. This is especially true after you reach level 20 where you begin to see some new, even more unique mods with the exotic and legendary weapons and armor.
Destiny isn’t all about PvE events though, although it may as well should be. PvP in Destiny just leaves so much on the table in terms of maps, private lobbies, and customization that it’s hard to be fully satisfied with the offering. It almost feels to me like it wasn’t something they initially planned on putting in the game, but decided to at the last minute. It’s definitely been an afterthought to me and although I will probably go back and try it some more, I really don’t see many people spending the bulk of their time in that area of the game. As far as playing with friends, it’s a much better time to play cooperatively across Destiny’s many different types of strikes, raids, events and story missions.
As much fun as it is to play Destiny with other people, it really makes it difficult for other players to communicate and find groups to play with. It’s nice that there is matchmaking for the bread and butter cooperative modes which makes things a lot easier, but that’s not the case for everything. Unless you’re willing to scour the message boards or have a high-level friend who is ready to play at the same time you are, you’re stuck for heroic strikes and raids. It’s just interesting that Destiny requires an Internet connection when there is such a solo element to a lot of what you’ll encounter. It’s great to see other fireteams when you’re fighting your way through a planet, but it would be much better if one solo player could join another at any time in-game and Destiny just doesn’t provide that type of communication.
Destiny is a lot of things to a lot of people. This game is an RPG, an FPS, an MMO, and a co-op shooter depending on who you ask. Really though, this game is none of those things entirely, it’s a hybrid of many genres and it’s really something you have to play to full understand and appreciate. Bungie has made a game that is very difficult to review as seen on the various sites that have had that opportunity. This is a great start to what could be an IP with some definite longevity. The future is bright, let’s see what Bungie does with it.
For more information on Destiny, please visit:
*This game was provided to FYIG by Activision for review purposes*