Destiny is a rather odd game full of mixed reviews. On one side you will hear critics saying the game is amazing, deep, full of content; while on the other side you hear critics saying the game is empty and a former shell of what it used to be. To be honest both sides are right.
If you go back to when Destiny was first announced and all the videos that followed in it’s wake, there was a lot of content that was announced but is not in the final game. In one such video the developers talked about a gambling system, trade, and how the leveling mechanic was different.
That was back in 2013 when Destiny was first unveiled. Destiny obviously had a rocky development path which ultimately left players with a shell of the former game. I wanted to give a bit of backstory to the game before diving in to make sure all points are covered. So let’s dive in (Warning Spoilers ahead).
Destiny’s story is rather lacking. You start off being revived by a ghost who tells you, you’ve been dead for a long time. We follow the ghost without question, and fight our way through what we are told are the fallen, an enemy type in this game. We get our ship after fighting a tutorial boss and we are swiftly taken to the tower while our ghost explains we need a warp drive to go to other moons and planets. After that we go back to Earth, find a warp drive, kill some fallen, and then we go back to the tower. You talk to the speak and he tells you what the ghosts are, the big ball floating of the city only known as the Traveler and that it’s your duty to protect this city. After that, well the story kind of takes a back seat.
You see there is only 3 planets and 1 moon in the game. Each world contains five story missions. After a certain point you just go to a location, kill some enemies, find something the ghost has to analyze and kill a couple waves of enemies. Eventually you have the stranger, a female exo who watches you from afar, contact you. You kill some enemies and then she gives you coordinates to meet her on Venus. After going to Venus and killing a new enemy the Vex, she then talks to you and tells you to go to the Reef, they will tell you about the Black Garden which you need to destroy to heal the Traveler. You might be asking why, but she conveniently says before hand, “I don’t even have time to explain why I don’t have time to explain.”
So you do go to the Reef, they tell you get a gate lords head, you go through a couple more missions on Venus, get the head, and then you go back to the Reef, they send you to Mars, you fight through a new enemy type the Kabal, you make it to the Black Garden, destroy it’s heart, and congrats you’ve beaten Destiny’s main campaign. Did you save the Traveler? Well, you don’t get to know because the game never tells you, it just ends with a celebration of your efforts and you aren’t even there. Instead you sit in the ships hanger and the stranger talks to you, then fades away after saying there is still more work to be done. Not the most satisfying ending for what the game was originally hyped up for.
Originally the story was much grander, and there is proof of it of the videos out there that led up to it’s release. You were originally intended to go to Mercury, Possibly one of Jupiter’s moons, and even Saturn! But those were cut from the game, quite possibly due to the writer of the story leaving. The majority of the story is left to the player to look at the Grimoire cards.
So During the game, you get notifications every so often about Grimoire cards you’ve acquired. You search high and low, all over the tower (or the Reef now since the release of House of Wolves), but to no avail will you find the cards. It turns out in order to see the cards you have, you have to go on your computer to Bungie’s website, log in, and then go to the Grimoire cards section on your profile to even see them.
This is a rather large issue since the majority of the lore of the game is put outside of the game. It should have been put in the game, or at least made accessible so that you don’t have to quit out of the game or pause it just to read the cards. The cards do provide some interesting story pieces, especially a few cards that hint at the Traveler being the darkness everyone fears and the speak has just twisted the truth. That’s something that should have been in the main story. Instead it’s put into this card system that many people probably won’t even read. This was probably one of the worst aspect of Destiny because so much of the story is regulated to here when it should have been in the game. As for the game play itself…
This is where it stands out the most. Destiny’s game play can best be described as a modified Halo. The controls are slightly different when compared to Halo but still have that smooth and quick response that makes playing fun. However that’s about as far as it goes though. The missions as I talked about before, honestly left a lot left to be desired. In Halo, you didn’t have 20 story missions, I believe it’s about half of that, but Halo’s execution was better designed.
In Destiny 90% of your missions will be running through the map, getting to the end while killing a bunch of enemies, and then deploying your ghost. While you’re ghost scans the objective of the mission you have to protect it from waves upon waves of enemies until it finishes. One it finishes you then complete the mission and that’s it. Compared to Halo, Halo sometimes had that wave after wave of enemies ending in a mission, but it wasn’t nearly as often as it is here in Destiny.
Halo’s worlds were also better designed. The environment were more lush and beautiful to look at. In Destiny, Earth is a waste land, which makes sense given the setting of the game, but then go to the moon, it’s like they took what they did with Earth and just gave it a paint job to look like the moon, same thing with Mars. Venus was the only one I think changed it up as there was actual design that made it looked like something had destroyed the place and the vegetation was beginning to take over. Because of this, navigating the 4 areas given to the player, it can be a nightmare to navigate, especially since you aren’t given a map. Everything just looks the same and nothing really sticks out so finding where to go can be a nightmare sometimes, especially in patrol. But that’s not the worst part. If we take a look at leveling, that’s where Destiny, I believe, falls flat on it’s face.
Leveling & Loot
In Destiny, you have to work your way to level 20. No problem, if you go through the story missions, pick up a couple of bounties once you reach level 5, you’ll be there in no time, though it will take quite a while if you don’t get the bounties. Once you’re at level 20, you hit the soft level cap. You get a notification that says to continue leveling you have to get armor with light on it.
This is where most people will stall in Destiny. Many people will say the game really gets good after level 20. But to get past it you have to get armor that has light. Armor is divided into different types, common, uncommon, rare, legendary, and exotic, each represented by different colors: white, green, blue, purple, yellow, in that order. Only blue and up will give you light. That doesn’t sound too bad, but that’s where the loot drop will get many players.
I brought up gambling and trading in the beginning of this review because the way the loot system works, is honestly designed for this loot system. There are a couple ways you get loot:
- Fight enemies and pick up engrams they drop.
- Go through the Crucible and at the end of each match have a chance at being award a random armor or weapon
- Go through the strikes/strike playlist(Vanguard) and have a chance at being awarded a random armor or weapon
- Very slowly grind up a faction to gain a guaranteed armor or weapon piece for your character.
- Take your chance with Xur the weekend Merchant.
Five ways to get loot which doesn’t sound bad but most of the ways require luck and hope the RNG (random number generator) doesn’t decide it’s a bad day. More often than not though, you’ll get something worse than what you have, or nothing at all. When I first played I made it to level 25 before I stalled. I stalled because the loot system would also give me something worse than I already had and I needed something stronger. The majority of my equipment was rare, but to progress I needed legendary armor which meant try my luck with the loot system or needlessly grind for a faction.
The trade system which was originally talked about would have fixed this and cut down on all of the problems that the system we have now has. It would not only be easier to level up, but also wouldn’t have players stall and then put the game down. I finally made it to level 33, but once again I’ve stalled because to progress I either need to grind the Prison of Elders until I have the highest rank possible to get armor, or wait till the next Iron Banner to get an etheric light to upgrade my armor to get to level 34.
There is the Nightfall strikes and Raids that I could do to help get me up to level 34, but those have no matchmaking. I don’t have many online friends on the Xbox who play Destiny and with no matchmaking for those, I am effectively cut off from a portion of the game. Bungie even said that they would not include match making for these modes because they want you to make a team who can communicate effectively and play well…That’s great and I completely understand but there should be some system for those who don’t have people on Xbox to play those modes. It probably won’t ever change, but it’s quite a glaring aspect and because of that I can’t review those portions of the game.
Aside from that leveling also feels very superficial. I don’t feel stronger with each level up, and after looking at how the damage output works it doesn’t make a lot of sense. In any RPG, if you are a level 30 and you see a level 1 monster, you’re probably going to kill it in one shot. In Destiny that’s not the case. You can be level 34 (max level), and shoot a level 1 enemy and it won’t one shot them because of the say the leveling and damage mechanics work. This probably leads to what I think is the worst part of the game in my opinion, strikes.
Strike are like mini story missions with a boss at the end. Not only do the enemies get a nice healthy boost in health and damage, but you don’t get that. So while you might be able to punch a knight down in 1 – 2 hits in patrol or a story missions, here you’re lucky to punch it down in 5 – 6 hits. Enemies in strikes get such an ungodly boost it’s almost unfair. A strike can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour depending on your team. It’s not so much a difficulty spike as it is artificial difficulty. Then you have the boss at the end of each strike.
I swear they eat bullets for breakfast, lunch, and dinner because they are the kings of bullet guzzling. Unloading an entire clip from your primary weapon might take down one percent of the bosses total health. On top of fighting the boss you have wave after wave of enemies coming at you which only prolongs the boss fight. These boss fights are not well designed, and it doesn’t help when the majority of them look like reskin’s and up-scaled versions of regular enemies. There is little to no reward in strikes as at the end you get the chance for the loot system to possibly give you a prize for the strike. It doesn’t help as sometimes you can be the best performing team member and at the end you get nothing or something not great while your other teammates will get amazing legendary gear.
As for the DLC, right now at the time of this review the Dark Below and House of Wolves expansions have been released with the Taken King DLC on the way sometime in September. The two DLC packs so far have been some improvement but for the price of $35.00 it isn’t a great deal. You get some new armor, new story missions, new bounties, and the level cap was increased from the original 30 to 34. The House of Wolves even included a new player hub in the Reef which is kind of cool though there isn’t as much to do there or see. There isn’t a whole lot to say about the DLC because it didn’t add a whole lot to the game that really improved or impacted it at all. The Taken King I however am disappoint in so far as they want $40 for this expansion and so far all we get is some more story, a new patrol, and a new strike. That’s basically 1/4 of the entire game for 2/3rd of the games original launching price of $60.
If you’ve stayed with me so far, thank you so much. Destiny as a whole, I can’t recommend personally. There is just not enough to do in the game after you’ve made it to level 20 and the match making leaves a lot to be desired with how few of modes it has in it. The story is lacking, the leveling becomes a grind fest that really shouldn’t have existed in the first place. This game took $550 million to make and the end product isn’t really showing that money was put to good use.
Destiny is at it’s best a foundation that shows the potential for possible future installments. It shows that an MMORPG game can be put on consoles and that there is a player base for that. But with all the issues with Destiny what starts as fun for a group of friends who play it will ultimately lead to them dropping the game once they reach max level or have gone through enough strikes with no fruitful rewards. It also doesn’t help that the few exploits people have found to make the game better were patched by Bungie because that’s not how they want us to play the game, but I digress.
Overall Destiny is an Average game, it has it’s strong points and fun moments, but with all the issues that plague it, You’re better off playing an MMO that’s better designed. In Future updates, if the DLC improves the game and they release a bundle with all the DLC then I might recommend the game, but until then I would approach this game with caution.