Destiny, A Microcosm Of What Could Be | Review
In a vast universe that is teeming with possibilities of exploration and adventure, Destiny delivers intensely competitive action sequences for coop and PvP play, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that the best is yet to come.
The Universe, once in a Golden Age of Advancement, has fallen victim to a deadly enemy. It’s our duty as Guardians to protect the last remaining city in the Universe. When embarking on your destiny, you have the choice between three different classes: Titan, Warlock and Hunter, each with varying abilities. You also have the ability to create your legend out of three selectable races: Exo, Fallen and Awoken. The abilities between classes offer some nice variety, but the races have no stat-based differences, only physical appearances. The customization, especially for a game that gets thrown around with the term MMO quite often, is quite negligible. Sure you can change hair colors and skin pigment, but the options are minimal, and you’ll be fully armored up in no time and only see your sparsely customized character in a few small sections of gameplay. Afterall, Destiny, at it’s core, is an FPS first and an MMO second. Having said that, it falls in the trap that most FPS’s do, the story is nearly non-existent. It is fleshed out through Grimoire cards (cards picked up for meeting new enemies and exploring new areas), but you can’t assume players are going to waste time reading the cards when they could be actually playing through the game.
Such a world was created around Destiny, but the substance isn’t there to fill it. You are presented with great environments, coupled with strong gameplay, but the story falls incredibly flat. It’s pretty incoherent in its delivery, and I couldn’t, with strong conviction, tell you what happened throughout the game. Well, besides the fact that I killed a ton of things and had a great time doing it.
In saving the world, you will get to visit four different “hub-ish” locales, each location is quite different than the last and provides some beautiful scenery. Each time I embarked on my first mission in a new locale, I simply stood there looking around. Like a tourist wandering a new city, I just spun in circles taking in the sites. From the rocky terrain of the moon, to the spectacular skybox of Venus, each locale was aesthetically pleasing. The awe-struck feeling of being on a planet was quite present, and it really made we wish this was a space exploration game or had absolutely any reason to deviate from the intended location. Where Destiny falters is in its inability, or avoidance, of delving deeper into itself. With such time and effort put into the beautiful landscapes, why is there no desire to wander the planet? And to be rewarded for doing so? Yes, there are patrol missions that allow you to freely venture the new location, but there is little to be found besides fetch quests or the typical, “ Kill a certain number of these things to get these other things.” But, this being a FPS shooter, it’s nice to know that Bungie excelled at the actual gameplay, even if the surrounding quests aren’t quite perfected.
Bungie’s past ventures in the FPS space have created monumental shifts in the FPS games that would precede it. Destiny, while featuring solid FPS mechanics and pretty unique character-based abilities, doesn’t do much to change the formula. The ability to pick off
enemies whilst hovering through the air while firing a semi-auto weapon feels great, in both PvE and PvP, and dodging an enemy’s super charge attack and countering with your own feels absolutely cathartic. Encountering enemies that outnumber you by the hundreds is amusing when you are a highly leveled Guardian floating around the battlefield reclaiming the universe one planet at a time. The weaponry in your arsenal is pretty ho-hum for a game that is set hundreds of years in the future. The weapons are separated into three categories: Primary (Scout, Pulse and Auto Rifles and Hand Cannons), Special (Sniper Rifles, Fusion Rifles, and Shotguns) and Heavy (Machine Guns and Rocket Launchers). These weapons are your typical FPS affair. Destiny could have capitalized on their setting by complementing it with more space-agey type weaponry. The Guardian abilities do supplant the feeling of deja vu a little bit.
As for the loot, you’ll get plenty of it, but it is no where near the variety of amount that you’ll find in similar loot-based games such as Borderlands. Bungie went with a more grounded approach to weaponry, something of which I hope is changed as the game evolves in the coming months and/or years. The universe that was created can easily handle fansticial weaponry, and it would aid in creating a more dynamic gameplay experience.
For the sake of review, I chose to save the universe as a Titan, the heavily armored, melee-loving Awoken. Although I could tell there was a difference from when I played the Warlock in the beta, the only real difference was when using the class-specific Super-Charged powers and slight deviations in grenade usage. The Titans are the tank class of Destiny, but don’t be fooled, hovering around the universe taking pot-shots at enemies is part of every Guardians’ agenda. The Titan just does it with a bit more brute force. The Titan, like every other class, features two subclasses, one being Striker and the other Defender. Being pretty self-explanatory, each has its best use-case scenarios, but the game starts you off in the Striker class. The class-specific Super Charged attack, Fist of Havoc, sees your character fly through the air smashing his/her fist on the ground and decimating enemies. This attack is strong by itself, but through leveling, it can become even more deadly.
Eliot: The Hunter’s Perspective
Like Joey said, the classes don’t differ a great deal from one another in terms of how they feel, they wear slightly different outfits, and get greeted by NPCs in the Last City with a cursory hello (class name). But we should appreciate the fact that the gameplay systems adapt well to the needs of all three classes. For instance, the quality of the gunplay is even more important for the Hunter Class due to the fact that they need to be able to reliably plug a Fallen enemy from a fair distance away. Luckily, the shooting feels very satisfying due to the great feedback from both the weapons I was firing and the poor extraterrestrials that found themselves on the receiving end of my sniper rifle. The Hunter is also supposed to be lightweight and highly mobile and the abilities you are given fit right in line with that necessity. Double jumping over my foes and laying down cluster mines in my wake, headshotting a dozing sentry and landing on my speeder bike to zip away to the next objective never failed to make me feel like a badass.
Jose: The Warlock’s Perspective
As The Warlock, you would consider yourself on being a support class, but I felt very overpowered skill-wise. Certain skills that are unique to the class do unlock later on, but it really feels like a wasted opportunity. While you do get a cool looking overcharge super moves, the majority of the time I’d just rather use guns. That raises a really big question on the class systems because the only things really meant to be different is the unique super moves and class armor. But what about the role you play in your fireteam during the story missions? I feel that everyone should have started with a blank slate and just get to choose any skill when they level up because as Warlock, it feels like I’m just doing any other thing.
Bungie should have definitely done more, they should have made it more grandeur. Give Warlock class a lot of technology, I know they wanted to make this game console specific and more grounded, but there’s just so much more that could have been added to make The Warlock class impactful. Like maybe if I don’t want a melee attack, give me a fire ball or freeze shot with secondary status abilities tied to them. While you may think I’m going overboard with magic, this game already has a ridiculous amount of fantasy to it. As I grew in levels, i did get a few cool looking power up skills but once again, Bungie should have pushed it to the max. One of the only games where i would have preferred moves to be a bit more flashy.
During your early levels you get access to a grenade power up and for Warlocks that makes a vacuum vortex while inflicting damage, later on this same power gives you choices to make it scatter sharpnel. There’s definitely options and some are better than others. A few levels after that, your melee hit can be augmented to get a chance to give you 15 seconds of faster speed and more strength to your attacks. It sometimes proves to be worthless in a fire team condition, only because your damage is drastically reduced during fights with boss tier enemies. That’s why Bungie should have really decided to give some incentive to give classes specific weapons, because if that was the case, it would have made them more useful in particular situations. It might be something to consider in later expansions and also the possibility of a blank character with no classes, just picking any skill you want, until Bungie can give other classes useful things to do.
With all of this being said, one positive to come from this general homogeneity is that it is possible to enjoy the game with any class. I wouldn’t recommend it because it can become quite a chore going solo, but the option does exist.
The Disconnect in a Connected Universe
Destiny prides itself in being founded on a socially connected world, in a sense, bringing the FPS casting into an MMO mold. But, its grand idea falls a bit short in its inability to allow communication amongst teammates. In Destiny, you can create a fire team of up to a total of three players. But, a total of 16 players can all be a part of the same world. Having a fire team allows you to coordinate against the enemy, something that becomes very useful, especially when questing at higher levels. Let’s say, though, that none of your friends are online, when doing strikes you are matched with two other players. But, herein lies the problem; you can’t chat with these people in any conceivable way, sans doing one of the four gestures in Destiny. You can’t tell your fellow Guardians you need help; you also can’t tell them not to worry about reviving you because the enemies are swarming that location. The strong instance that this is THE social shooter you’ve been waiting for takes quite an anti-social stance. Although this is an issue in the coop section of the game, it’s even more so in the multiplayer PvP sections.
The Crucible is a setlist of PvP modes. Your standard affair of modes such as capture the flag, team death match and the like make a return. Although these modes are nothing new in the world of PvP, having abilities make the gameplay fresh and quite addicting. Everything you can do in PvE transfers over to the PvP sections. Having said that, The Crucible isn’t for the faint of heart. If there is actual level based matchmaking, it needs some serious work because I’ve seen all types of levels throughout playing. By leveling your character through PvP or PvE, you can augment your abilities, thus leading to lower level Guardians at a bit of a disadvantage. But, once leveled decently enough, the Crucible is exceedingly rewarding. From legendary loot to earning crucible marks to buy that exctoic ruple gear, The Crucible will have satiate that PvP desire that’s currently missing on the next gen consoles.
The problem with bringing an MMO to an FPS
MMO’s are never the final product at launch and thus the timeframe to review is often quite sporadic amongst reviewers. That’s the problem with Destiny at its current moment. Destiny is not only offering Daily Heroic stories (story missions with modifiers to up the difficulty), weekly Heroic Strikes (strikes with modifiers that increase difficulty), but also have raids setup in the future, as well as two large expansions already announced. I’m quite confident that the Destiny we know today, will be quite different in a couple months time. Sure, the game will still play and feel the same, but the amount of content will drastically increase.
The Final Verdict :
After putting the behemoth that was Halo behind them, Bungie was looking to find their next diamond in the sky, and Destiny clearly fits that bill. But, the sort of identity crisis that is present hinders the game in its current state because we don’t really know what the final product will become in the years after its release. One thing is for certain though, that once Destiny gets its grasp on you, there’s no getting away. The game, while being a bit repetitive, is addicting and is sure to be one of the best FPS’s this year.
+ Beautiful Locations
+ The Crucible is addicting
+ Solid from a technical standpoint
+ The thought of what’s to come
– Could use more exotic weaponry
– More loot around the sparse planets