Destiny Review: Deep Gameplay, Shallow story
Destiny has been out for close to a year now and has seen a few expansion releases since then. However, I am only just now jumping on the train. This review will not include any of the DLC. In preparation for The Fallen King’s release, the DLC reviews for The Dark Below and House of Wolves will come at a later date.
Prior to release, Destiny had a huge build-up and following. It was expected to continue the legacy of Bungie, the highly successful developer behind the original Halo trilogy. When the first video of man discovering the Traveler on Mars appeared, I felt that Bungie accomplished what they set out to do. Once I had created my character (a purple exo male) and completed the first mission, I liked the direction the game was going. However, the more I progressed, the more questions I had by the end of each mission.
In the far future, humanity finds the Traveler, an alien intelligence, and is introduced to a futuristic golden age. Humanity expands across the galaxy, growing technologically to the point of prolonging the human life span three times over. This eventually comes to an end though once the “darkness,” the traveler’s enemy, wipes out all but a single city on the planet Earth. Centuries later, you are reborn as a Guardian, revived for the purpose of saving humanity and beating back the alien foe. And that is essentially when the story starts to fall apart. Your companion ‘Ghost,’ a small flying AI, is your source of information for the majority of your journey. You also receive Grimoire cards that add to the lore, but they can only be accessed through Bungie’s website, which is a bit of an odd decision. While your ‘Ghost’ is with you constantly, the narrative lacks some of the basic structure of most stories. There isn’t much, if any, character development for both the Guardians and the hostile alien races. The enemies feel like they have been placed simply as targets rather than an enemy that you can truly dislike.
The good part is that the gunplay is a pretty strong placeholder. Whether you are playing a mission alone or a Strike with friends, it is fast paced and can feel rewarding once you start to reach higher levels. It always felt great running through the moon’s caves with a group of people like a tidal wave of destruction. The only problem I really had with most missions is the repetition that they carried. Whether it was free roaming during a patrol or starting one of the final missions, it quickly became repetitive having to run through the same caverns and hallways over and over again as you always started in the same location. Most of the time, the missions would end by having to defend against multiple waves of enemies as your ‘Ghost’ had to scan an object. If you do not own the DLC, there is the off-chance that you may stumble upon DLC enemies, such as the House of Wolves and you won’t have much to do but run. This has been known to create issues with bounties that require no death, since I would happen to take the wrong turn and die immediately. The benefit is that you can hang around another player who can destroy them and still reap the rewards that they give you, although you won’t be able to use certain items until you own the applicable DLC content.
If not on a mission, you will find yourself constantly traveling back and forth between the planets and the Tower. This is essentially the hub for all players. The Tower houses many secondary characters who act more as vendors used to progress your character overall. This is also the location of the faction leaders and your actual character class leaders. While the faction leaders provide much needed/wanted legendary equipment, I personally found the bounty board and the Cryptarch to be my only real reasons to venture to the tower on numerous occasions. The bounty board is where the player picks up a checklist of items to complete for large sums of experience while the cryptarch creates weapons and items out of engrams you find throughout the world. As for the items, it is always a good feeling to find a new, stronger piece of equipment, yet there isn’t much variety aesthetically. Most of the items have the same familiar look although one rifle may have a scope attached compared to another similar design that doesn’t. The same goes for most of the character classes. They seem to have more in common than not. Being an MMO, it’s interesting that it’s really hard to stand out, especially when it is centered on your character being so important to this world.
Overall, Destiny is a great game. The areas are absolutely beautiful and once you leave Earth, the levels start to really open up and show a true scale of wonder. While the character classes don’t offer much in variety, they are just barely different enough to matter. The core game is solid, although flawed when you start to look into the story. But, it makes up for it in action and larger non-stop battles. Fortunately, it can even be forgotten or pushed off to the side if you have a few friends or are simply just looking for a heavy sci-fi shooter.
As of now, I’ll be booting up the available DLC and you can expect to see my thoughts in the near future.