8 reasons I’m glad I only paid £8 for Destiny
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I’ve been a bit late on the bandwagon for the newer consoles, buying an Xbox one just before Christmas. I thought I’d treat myself to Destiny in the new year and having only skimmed over reviews I decided to pick it up second-hand and managed to do so for a respectable £8. After having spent quite a bit of time in the world of Destiny, I’ve got to admit I’ve been left a little bewildered at some of the design flaws in a game that cost $500 million and developed by such a prestigious studio. Since I paid £8, here’s 8 reasons why I’m unimpressed.
So what’s Destiny about again?
Picture the scene…The Traveller, a mysterious scarred and battered globe appears from the dark void of space to warn Earth of humanity’s impending doom. Earth has no time to react and barely survives the slaughter from alien forces that have left a wake of destruction across the solar system, only for the Traveller to awaken and create the Guardians, Earth’s last hope. In its final breath it sends out a devastating shock wave that pushes back enemy forces and buys humanity and the last city some time.
The Guardians scour the local planets of our solar system to track down clues on why the Traveller is here and why it chose us as its successor. Exploring the ruins of the Moon, Mars, Venus, derelict space stations asteroid belts for missing pieces of the Traveller while fighting off more forces bent on the destruction of Earth. The last city suffers another full scale siege. The Guardians discover the final piece and rush back to the city and arrive to the Travellers aid just in time for it to awaken and save the city once more and give the Guardians even more power, this time they have a chance to take the fight to the enemy.
That’s a half-arsed version of what I would do with Destiny’s story, and it’s already deeper than the real one.
Anyways, now I’ve got that creative writing session out of the way I can explain that there is more story in that paragraph above than there is on Destiny’s game disc. The game doesn’t give you much to work with or even give you as a player much purpose within the world. Destiny just drops you into its vision of the future solar system and simply says “Go on, shoot some aliens” without giving you a real reason to do so other than they are a “great evil”.
Another gear grinder are Grimoire Cards. Pieces of story that are unlocked by completing challenges such as “Kill 100 Fallen Dregs”. The problem is that they can only be accessed through Bungie.net. Wouldn’t it have been more engaging to have a Mass Effect style codex that contains all of the background, history and mythology within the world. Being notified of newly unlocked information would have given players more sense of the world around them instead of being forced to go to a website. The Grimoire Cards UI on the website is actually quite clean and slick, there’s just no reason for it not to be on the disc other than a ploy to gain website traffic.
A Titan pondering the point of the Traveller
Destiny’s story is clearly not a representation of Bungie’s original vision. This is clear from the very start thanks to the lack of a proper intro or explanation to the world, why you are here or your goal. Soon after things didn’t quite add up when my Guardian, an Awoken, is prompted by a nameless Exo to travel to the Reef in search of the Awoken…Not batting a metallic eyelid to my bright blue skin and even brighter eyes. Although there is no evidence, it’s hard to resist the thought that the departure of Joseph Staten in September of 2013 to rejoin Microsoft impacted Destiny’s development in some way.
Lack of variety
Aside from a few differences in stats (Agility, Armour and Recovery) and super abilities, the three Guadian “classes” don’t feel varied from each other. They don’t seem to have much of an effect on the character and the differences between abilities such as the Warlock and Titan’s Glide and Lift are almost identical. The only reasons that may affect your decision in choosing a class is their look or super moves.
Speaking of a Guardian’s looks, there aren’t many differences in costume design within classes. Take the Warlock for example, there are only a handful of different helmet models with a few extra prongs and plates sticking off them in an attempt stand out. However they all resemble a similar shape and are mainly re-skins, so even if you had an exotic helmet with your Warlock, it wouldn’t vary much from mine. The same end game armour is given to all players too, which they are most likely to wear as they have the most stats, but it results in a lot of players wearing the same armour. Considering Bungie has taken to the sci-fi/fantasy route, they had a perfect excuse to go to town with character design, but instead each class feels very tied down. It seems like a missed opportunity.
Weapons also lack in variation. Guns found at the start of the game feel all too similar to weapons found after hours of hard work. A Pulse Rifle you find at level 5 will be much the same as a Pulse Rifle you find at level 25, main differences being the latter deals more damage and may fire bursts slightly more rapidly.
Spot the difference?
I don’t give a ship
When Destiny was first unveiled to the public, a lot of emphasis was pointed towards customisation and upgrading your items, including your ship. However since the game has released, it’s clear that your ship is nothing more than a glorified loading screen to gawp at (and you will be looking at it quite a bit). There is literally NO incentive for the player to fork out precious glimmer and upgrade their ship. It’s not going to speed up your loading times after all.
Many of the ship models also sport large barrels and cannons would it have been too much to ask to be able to fly it at least once? Considering Bungie’s previous experience with driveable vehicles and the last game they worked on (Halo: Reach) had space battles, it wouldn’t have been too far-fetched to include aerial/space combat. It seems baffling that they would market the ship as such a key point of the player experience without making ANY use of it at all.
You’ll be seeing a lot of this
Same Strike, different day
Destiny is a game that is specifically designed around replaying the same strikes, missions, patrols etc. in order to gain experience and equipment. This is good in the sense that it offers enough replay value, but each play through is essentially the same. Enemies spawn in the same place every time, which makes the game feel more like a tedious routine than a challenge. Destiny would have massively benefited from an enemy spawning system much like Left 4 Dead’s AI Director. This would have at least created some interesting and unique situations, kept gameplay fresh and made Destiny less of a monotonous task from time to time.
The unpredictability would have given players a chance to create and share their own stories, rather than playing the same one over and over. Unskippable cut-scenes don’t help either.
This Phogoth guy is always getting himself in trouble
Earth’s last city is a place for Guardians to congregate, collect bounties and buy inventory such as armour and weapons. Unfortunately, we only get to experience a tiny portion of that city in the form of the Tower – and it’s a disappointingly bland environment to explore. It’s a very empty space, so empty in fact that I recently entered the Iron Banner section of the Tower (which only opens up when the event is active) to find one vendor. There were a fair few players in the other sections of the Tower but it was just myself and the Iron Banner vendor with so much more room for activities (one for the Step Brothers fans). Other NPC’s just wonder about on the same patrol routes and utter a line here and there, it’s a very static-feeling environment.
The Tower is a great idea as a hub where Guardians need to return to between missions, but it’s lack of character fails to connect with the player and fails to feel like an important place to protect from “The Darkness”. The shame is that the rest of the city is a stones throw away in sight over the balcony and below the Traveller. It would have been much more immersive to be able to go down there and get to know what the Ghosts are so determined to save.
There’s not a great deal to do at the Tower
No Raid Matchmaking
This one pretty much explains itself. Being forced to find 5 other players without matchmaking in order to enter a certain playlist is a mean feat for many gamers around the world. Many players may not have enough friends who also own Destiny in order to play, and even if they do they might be too busy slaying zombies on CoD: Advanced Warfare.
There are even specifically created fan websites like Destiny Tracker and Destiny LFG (looking for group), their sole purpose being to find parties for Destiny’s Raids. There is clearly a demand for raid matchmaking and it’s perplexing to see that the community has had to step in to do Bungie’s job for them.
I feel that maybe this is unfair to directly blame Destiny or Bungie for the price of DLC as gaming DLC is overpriced across the industry (and was likely a choice from Activision). A lot of paying customers would have forked out £40-£45 to buy Destiny brand new on the day of release. It is completely wrong and almost offensive to the gaming community to then charge an extra £20 only 3 months after release for an expansion that only consists of only a handful of maps and missions.
That’s a whole lotta money for not a lotta game
It’s not all bad
For all my negatives in this article, it is worth noting Destiny’s positives as it still manages to be a game that’s hard to put down. While there is not a whole lot of variety in armour and weapon functions, shooting mechanics are on-point. You would expect nothing less from the studio that brought us Halo. Destiny is a visual masterpiece in areas, the designers and artists have done a great job in mixing sci-fi and fantasy to bring a fresh world to life. The unique world is there, there is just a lack of story and intriguing characters to solidify it.
There’s no denying that Destiny is great to look at
When all of these negatives are put aside and take Destiny for what it is. A mechanically solid, strangely addictive and stunning shooter.
So there we have it. I’ve had a bit of a rant about why I’m disappointed with what Destiny brings to the table and hopefully given enough reason to back up those thoughts. What about you? Do you have any opinions on how Destiny could have been a better experience for players? Let us know in the comments!