Empty your wallet.
Activision and Bungie have become the gaming industry equivalent of Home Alone’s Wet Bandits. A duo that have taken thieving to comical heights with Destiny, an overbudgeted, overhyped and ultimately overpriced game that, since launch, has provided very little that elevates it above a level of mediocrity. And, despite being marketed as an MMOFPS, actually offers very little that we haven’t seen before in both those genres.
But it seems that they know this, with their most recent update of allowing players to skip the introductory experience of the game. How? By doing a World of Warcraft by offering a “pay to skip” option that instantly levels any new Guardian to Level 25. The difference? Level 25 is not Destiny’s level cap, nor is it particularly taxing to reach via normal play. But that’s just one of many reasons why I believe Destiny is a rip-off.
I Like Money
I first started to catch on that Destiny just wasn’t worth the money when I reached its max level. No, not 40, the max level before buying its expansion: The Taken King. For some reason, Destiny makes it look like you can reach that level cap with only the base game purchased. For vanilla-only players, however, Bungie very cheekily made the level cap 34. Why? That’s an extremely bizarre cap to have. It’s not 30, or even 35.
The reason is very simple: Bungie and Activision want to make it look like you’re just within reach of acquiring Destiny’s more sought after, more powerful exotic weapons and armour. You’re excited about finally breaking free from the vendor trash you’ve been dealing with for the past 33 levels. Then you hit Level 34 and progression simply stops dead in its tracks. You’re no longer able to level up, but Destiny does not shy away from trying to sell you The Taken King, no sir!
Take a look at the galaxy map, it’s loaded with content that’s locked behind the paywalls that are The Taken King, The Dark Below and House of Wolves. You can’t remove them, they just stay there, sporting an obnoxious padlock that constantly reminds you that, if you want to get the most out of it, Destiny is a very expensive game. This continues into many pieces of loot and quests you can find in the Tower. “Requires The Taken King.” “Requires House of Wolves.” The constant reminder to cough up even more cash to keep up with other players is eye-rolling at best, but just plain bad for the industry at the worst.
The Thief Among Us
Activision’s thieving business tactics continue to make Destiny a very unconvincing proposition. I bought the base game at a discounted £20. I had a pretty decent time and though the game was intensely repetitive, with deeply uninspired level design and mind numbingly predictable, cheap boss encounters, I got a good 20 or so hours out of my purchase. Not being able to progress beyond Level 34 left a bad taste, sure, but in fairness I got what I paid for and shelved the game, simply not convinced that Destiny’s progression and pricing model offered anything in the way of surprises or worthwhile changes to an already tired game.
Now, I’ll run the gauntlet myself here at the risk of looking like a hypocrite. I’ve enjoyed numerous MMOs in the past, which continues with my current addiction of Final Fantasy XIV. Yes, I pay the monthly subscription without complaints, but with the amount of content Square has delivered in the two short years since its release, I feel completely satisfied in doing so. I have indeed cumulatively spent a lot of time and money on Final Fantasy XIV, and I won’t argue with people who think subscription based MMOs are an expensive hobby. Ultimately, what it comes down to is the value the game offers to the player, and for me personally, Destiny just doesn’t offer enough for the mountainous cost of experiencing all its content.
But let’s remember that Destiny is not an MMO, even if Bungie and Activision would like you to believe as much. The game does have a hub world, and you can interact with other players in both PvE and PvP, but there’s nothing massive about Destiny’s multiplayer package. 8 player raids are certainly nothing new, and while I can see the appeal of the concept transferred into a first person shooter (and I’ll concede that Destiny’s raids are, unlike their Strike missions, cleverly designed), in my opinion the game just doesn’t have enough raid content to justify the price.
At the very least, Destiny thankfully does not require a subscription model, and I do see the appeal of the “buy once” mentality. Destiny is not a bad game; Bungie certainly have created a very promising base to springboard into new ideas and interesting content. However, Activision’s content strategy is wholly unappealing and does not currently provide that bang for your buck that’s provided in other games that use the expansion pack model.