By Jon Hood
Editor in Chief
I resolved myself to finish Destiny’s story, a modest goal considering the actual number of missions. After finishing the last mission in Destiny’s storyline, I was expecting a lavish cutscene, complete with some exposition from a few of the characters I had encountered in the story. What actually happened was a middling “celebration” speech and more cryptic talk about what else was left to do and then I was dropped back into the same mission select screen I saw after every other mission. I succeeded in my resolution in regards to Destiny, and now it is unlikely I will touch it again until the DLC is released.
As someone who enjoyed playing the first three Halo games on the Xbox consoles in co-op mode with a friend, I was hoping for the same kind of experience with Bungie’s new IP. For the most part I think my time with the game wasn’t well spent. The experience left me with a constant feeling that things were just starting to ramp up, only to have it putter out in the end with no real resolution.
Let’s try and focus on some of the positives of this console hybrid of an MMO and a FPS, since there is a solid foundation on which a great game can be built. The shooting mechanics are fantastic, and rolling through waves of enemies using everything from my trusty hand cannon (my favorite) to the powerful rocket launcher is where this game truly shines. In the moment-to-moment combat, I always felt like I was having a good time, and in the later missions I was taking on intelligent enemies who were trying their best to end my Guardian’s life with extreme prejudice.
The three base classes in the game all seem different enough, and after having played a Hunter in the beta (and being disappointed with my effectiveness) I chose a Warlock for my initial playthrough. Each of the three base classes has a subclass that unlocks at level 15, but the problem I had with this system is that the newly unlocked class has no abilities. So after several hours of solid progression and unlocking abilities, you basically reset to zero and have to grind levels all over again. Honestly, I think the characters should have this at the outset.
Since this game obviously takes inspiration from the MMO model, gear comes in the standard shades of grey, green, blue, purple and even yellow, though I haven’t found any yellows yet. The variety of gear doesn’t really stagger the mind like, say, Diablo III, but there does seem to be gear for every type of playstyle and weapon choice. It would be nice if loot dropped more frequently. I understand the developers’ desire to make each gear drop feel significant, but this point was rendered moot once the infamous “loot cave” was discovered.
I initially played up to level 8 and made my way to the Moon with little fanfare, as I had already reached that point in the public beta held shortly before the game launched. This may have been the death knell for me with this game as I was getting tired of having to run through missions I had already played through once (although with a different class). After a week off from the game, the stories began breaking about a particularly lucrative farming location. Figuring I’d take a look at the area for a few minutes and then resolve myself to not playing the game again, I spent the next couple hours pouring round after round into a cave opening as the experience bar continued to fill up quickly and my inventory exploded with items.
Now that I was adequately over-leveled for all of the missions, I plowed through the missions with reckless abandon, encountering new enemy types and environments that reminded me of some of my favorite post-apocalyptic settings, however much emptier in Destiny’s case. While graphically a gorgeous game, there doesn’t seem to be much going on outside of the very specific combat arenas the game throws you into over the course of a level. I did find myself spending a few moments here and there to admire the larger backgrounds. The actual encounter sections were well thought out with plenty of places to hide and regenerate health. This was important to my squishy Warlock, as he was easily killed with a few well-placed shots.
In the end, my experience with Destiny’s story missions mirrored my approach with games like World of Warcraft and even Star Wars:The Old Republic’s: I was handling this content solo, instead of tackling the missions with friends.
I haven’t discussed the Competitive Multiplayer portion of the game, but as I was mostly approaching this as a story experience I barely touched this content. This could be due to the fact that the first few matches I played had my lowly level 8 character going up against players who had already hit the level cap of 20 and were well on their way to the upper levels, with gear to match. The experience REALLY broke for me when less than two minutes into a control point style match, everyone else on my team quit. As soon as they saw the high level opponents we were facing, my team simply threw in the towel. It’s one thing to be beaten by someone around your skill level, but I’m honestly stunned that the matchmaking function was so utterly useless.
After sinking so much time in Diablo III and being completely satisfied, I was willing to give Destiny a chance and hope for the best. As it turned out, I simply could have played more Diablo III and had roughly the same enjoyment level. I did enjoy most of my time with the game, but that was partially a result of taking advantage of the power leveling I received at the loot cave and less about the actual game itself.
If it seems like I’m torn on this game, you’d be right. There are some really great components to the game: stellar graphics, great environments, and solid action. However, I cannot honestly say I’d recommend this game to everyone. I’m still curious to see what Bungie’s master plan is with this franchise and if they continue to evolve the game along the lines of a standard MMO, but for now I think I’ve spent enough time discovering my Destiny.