In the year and a half since Bungie and their partner, Activision, unveiled Destiny, they’ve been selling the game as an immense and social shared-world shooter, with players taking their gun-toting adventures to the surface of multiple planets, spanning the course of massive amounts of hours to unravel a deep story of the plight of a post apocalyptic science-fiction Earth. Players were supposed to feel like jet-setting defenders of humanity, teaming up with vast amounts of other real-life people, known as guardians, much in the same way that MMORPG’s have been doing for over a decade.
What we have received, instead, is an undeniably solid and fun first person shooter with some limited social interactions outside of the players own friends list, with groundwork that immediately reminds us of Bungies massive series Halo mixed with a few other cooperative genre games, all adding up to a ton of fun, but invariably the feeling of empty or broken promises will fill the minds of players when they first break into the world of Destiny. The most important thing that fans have been taking away from Destiny, at it’s core, is just how fun the minute-to-minute activities are. For all of the missing aspects of the game, it remains a very fun shooter with better than average mechanics. Jumping into the world of Destiny is satisfying from the word go, with the feel of grabbing a gun and taking out some of the very varied enemy types being an instinctual gratification. You are dropped into a large open world right away, and given some very brief and empty feeling dialogue to give you some context as to why this is all happening, but at the end of the day, all I find myself wanting to do is get to the next mission or competitive game so that I can continue shooting and earning new gear.
Where I differ from many is that I feel this is enough to be completely satisfied with the on-disc package of Destiny. I certainly tend to covet story over gameplay in my video games, as evident of my favorite games of the last generation being Thatgamecompanies Journey on PS3 and Naughty Dogs The Last of Us, two games that relied heavily on the immersion of their worlds and the way that the story is delivered more so than they did gameplay. Destiny is the exact opposite. The story is very thin and currently not representative of the pre-release hype, but the gameplay is so fun I find myself not caring. Does that make it a perfect game? Certainly not, and it hurts my overall enjoyment, but when I’m in the throws of battle and taking out waves upon waves of enemies to gain a new level or find a new piece of armor, I’m not thinking about my motivations or the motivations of my enemies, I just want to kill them before they kill me. I usually do, by the way.
Destiny definitely falls short in other areas that were promised to us. The social aspects are great when you want to jump into a fire team with friends, you can team up with up to 2 friends and take on any story mission at any time, participate in daily or weekly missions that have been enhanced in difficulty to yield better mission and loot rewards or take on end-game strikes, which offer the most varied gameplay experience. However, if you want to simply jump into the open world and explore along with strangers, the experience takes a big hit. There is no proximity chat through your consoles headset, so you cannot simply approach a player on the battlefield and start talking to them, rather you have to navigate a set of menus in order to even invite this random person into a party, which is usually ignored and you end up continuing to play on your own, just with other people sharing the landscape. Additionally, the party size for fire teams is inexcusably small. For a vast game, or what promised to be a vast game, limiting the normal party to just 3 people seems like it’s a huge setback, even the option for a fourth could have opened up the experience by a large margin.
None of these complaints detract from the enjoyment of the game enough to say I wouldn’t suggest this to fans of Halo, fans of open world games or fans of first person shooters, but they certainly should be seen as a road map to your expectations with Destiny. What remains after the complaints are stripped away is an extremely fun and competent first person shooter with a potential rating that is through the roof. The chasing down of rare items, strike missions and recently released raid for high level players all represent the best this genre could offer, and the mechanics fluidly mesh the feel of Halo that so many love with the accuracy of aiming down the sites more recently seen in the Call of Dutry franchise. Every mode offers something unique to the world, and from the Crucible death matches to the boss fights in strikes, there’s something for everyone in Destiny. Fun factor alone is enough to justify the purchase of this game, and the promise of what the world could become is greater than anything seen this side of World of Warcraft, now it’s simply up to Bungie and Activision to support it far enough for the fan base to stick around to see the big changes ahead.