That wizard came from the moon.
Given that it came out over 6 months ago, it might seem like a strange time to be reading an article about Destiny. The thing is, though, Destiny is a prime example of what too much hype can do to a game, and just how drastically this can impact on its reception from both reviewers and users alike. Considering how divisive the game was when it first released, and the sheer sense of disappointment it left a lot of players with, perhaps it’s best examined in a much more objective light, now that the space dust has had a chance to settle.
I’d just like to preface the rest of the article by saying (hypocritically) that Destiny is never the type of game I’d buy for myself, but after receiving it as a birthday gift as I was pleasantly surprised by what I found, and I think you will be too if you give it another shot.
Build Me Up, Buttercup
The central crux of Destiny’s issue is that it’s exactly the type of game that goes down a storm at video game conferences. Its quick, responsive FPS gameplay means it’s very easy to pick up and play, which leaves a positive taste in the mouth to those providing hands-on impressions. The simple formula also means that it’s relatively easy to provide a highly polished, refined experience which again, scores points with the prospective gaming community who explore it through second-hand gameplay footage. All of this is then drizzled in the truly stunning intergalactic aesthetic that Destiny both aspires to and delivers on, gently placing the HD cherry on the AAA cake.
Its quick, responsive FPS gameplay means it’s very easy to pick up.
Doubts and criticisms of stagnant gameplay were quickly dispelled by Destiny’s character development system, which looked to bring the depth of (both) an MMO and RPG to the more mainstream first-person shooter genre. Everything looked rosy pre-release, and that’s without even mentioning the game’s impressive parentage; it did, after-all, hail from the guys at Bungie who gave us the genre-defining Halo series.
Oh and who could forget this live action trailer…[yt_video id=”9ZyQK6kUdWQ”][/yt_video]
Just To Let Me Down
The problem is that owing to a few (fairly major) design flaws, the game quickly crumbled under the harsh eyes of reviewers, who were largely unconvinced by its repetitive mission structure and seemingly hollow customisation and character development system. The main criticism levelled at Destiny was that in a bid to please everyone with a whole plethora of features, it ends up coming up short on a lot of fronts. Whilst the achievement granted in levelling up your character provided some much-needed satisfaction, the lack of proper distinction between the three classes, Hunter, Warlock and Titan, meant that player development didn’t offer the depth that we’ve come to expect from other competing titles.
The Wrong End of the Stick
The thing is that after spending time in Destiny’s universe, I came to realise that gamers had gotten the wrong impression of the game; they were looking the wrong way down the sniper scope so to speak. At the core of Destiny lies a more than competent, bordering on fantastic FPS gameplay experience, and what else would we expect from a Bungie project? Whilst not as expansive as those offered by the likes of Borderlands, Destiny’s arsenal of Fusion Rifles, Snipers, Hand Cannons and so on makes for a varied, rich shooter experience that is both responsive and convincing. Destiny’s plethora of enemies also work to constantly challenge the player’s style, meaning that regardless of which class they choose, they’re always forced to switch things up on the fly. Wizards launch a flurry of projectiles at you whilst hovering in mid-air and dashing for cover, Thralls charge in to engage you at close range with no thought for self-preservation, all whilst the standard ‘cannon fodder’ enemies lay down a barrage of covering fire.[yt_video id=”lO0ZNiKV5Gk”][/yt_video]
Taken on its own terms as a first-person shooter, Destiny more than holds its own against the slew of other titles on the market. Bungie have tried to further develop this experience by incorporating RPG elements into the mix; this doesn’t only aim for a more varied style of gameplay, but also works to increase the game’s shelf life. When you start to take Destiny as a shooter first and an RPG second, you start to notice all the small touches that make the game great; the stunning vistas, the fast-paced multiplayer that actually commends cooperative play, the regular structure of events that works to cultivate a returning online community.
To Infinity… and Beyond?
To some up my sentiments towards Destiny, I’m going to finish with a short anecdote from my early hours in the game. After being dropped off in the desolate, inhospitable, broken-down car ridden shell of Earth that a lot of the opening chapters take place in, I quickly stumbled upon a rather pesky group of low to mid-level Fallen, the game’s primary antagonists. Armed only with my rusty, standard issue rifle, I quickly found myself overwhelmed by the pack, and was ready to crawl into the depths of respawn despair when something miraculous happened…
You start to notice all the small touches that make the game great.
A Level 30 veteran happened to stroll past, and quickly laid waste to the bunch of assailants with a few well-placed headshots. He stopped to wave politely at me before hopping back on his angelic speeder, never to be seen again. In an age of swatting pranks, and expletive filled headset abuse and trolling, I was struck by how resoundingly refreshing this incident was. And that, in a nutshell, is what Destiny is best viewed as: a refreshing, collaborative take on an age old genre.
Oh and who doesn’t want Peter Dinklage (the voice of Tyrion Lannister) to act as their own personal life guide?!