This week is a bit unique for Local Gamers. My counterpart Gordon Coleman and his console-centered columns will be absent as he is off enjoying a vacation. To try and make up for his absence I will be writing a longer column about a game we’ve both sunk a combined 300 or more hours in since its release.
The name of the game is Destiny, the futuristic space shooter with some role-playing twists. Published by Activision and developed by Bungie as a part of their 10-year publishing deal, the game has been met with loud and varied response by many. I’ve read some reviews and listened to feedback from some fellow gamers I’ve played the game with, so I wanted to give my opinion on the world of Destiny.
To preface a little more before I dive in, I thoroughly enjoyed this game and still do when I get a chance to get on. So any complaints I point out should be taken as the word of someone who has put 200 hours into this beast and plans on playing more. I also will not be going into huge detail about every single facet, but instead give you my thoughts on how good or bad everything was, hopefully making you want to look at the game and judge it for yourself, because I honestly heavily recommend it to anyone.
First let us address the story. I come from a huge role-playing background, I love in-depth story lines and I enjoy watching characters develop real-time in front of me. Destiny has very little of this, if any at all. The game starts out interestingly enough, with unique looking-aliens and at first beautiful looking characters with many talented voice actors to give them life.
The sad part is, aside from a few lines of greeting and farewell, they never say much or give you a reason to care. In Mass Effect you were constantly seeing the effects of war, and the reasons why you were fighting were all very clear. In Destiny, you’re told a lot of why you should care, and at some level there is the pressure to go forth as you see the destruction of your planet, but after hours of being in the same area it starts to fade away and you’re no longer fighting for the world, but for sweet loot and new gear.
The story kind of plods along, takes you to new places and does a decent job, nothing special though. My one wish is that you would interact with more of the characters during the story so some life would be breathed into it all. Instead you see very little of any characters outside of the Tower — I’ll get to that —and the ones you do are not explained at all.
While the story does lack quite a bit to really flesh it out, the design and atmosphere in the game is beautiful. The simple, yet elegant designs of the enemies and allies alike bring details to life before you. Gordon and I spent nearly half an hour just staring at each other’s armor and weapons marveling at the detail wrought into them. The level of care that was put into everything’s creation was stunning. From guns to monsters, they all had air of something I hadn’t learned enough about, making me search all the more for answers behind so many questions.
Tying in close with that was the level of customization in the game. Each class had two sub-classes that let you dramatically change how your character worked, effectively giving the game six classes instead of three. I played the Warlock the most; it spoke to me instantly and I haven’t looked back. The first one focused more on widespread attacks and dealing massive amounts of damage in a wide area all at once. The second acted more as a utility class, giving me options on how I wanted to use my abilities, one being very focused offense or survivability.
Next we have the gameplay. Straight off the bat you can easily utilize the abilities and weapons at your disposal. I haven’t had this much fun leaping about and obliterating my enemies since Halo, which you all know was also created by Bungie. The gameplay was very balanced, demanding skill on your part but not drowning you in enemies. While some were bullet sponges (you just have to shoot it a lot to kill it) others demanded you work around their defenses to exploit weaknesses and then finally finish them off. Only a few other games have made me enjoy fighting just for fighting’s sake. You have a unique take on jet packs, each class has its own special version, and you carry three weapons, including your own unique abilities. This enabled you to play with your style since there was most defiantly a weapon for you that fit just right.
Now the loot system. This has brought about a lot of rage since launch — everything you get in the game is random unless bought from a shop. You can’t grind certain quests for specific loot, it could drop anywhere at any time or never at all, and this rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. It has since been tweaked a little bit, but many were expecting it to be easier to get the gear you wanted. For instance in Activision’s Call of Duty, you simply earn experience and weapons are unlocked. Not so in Destiny.
Instead, you pick up orbs that could be any of a hundred items. This made for a lot of “farming” areas for drops in hopes of upping ones chances of getting something good. I personally dislike it but I could understand it. It allows everyone to have equal chances, whether you play all day or just after work. So it’s a bit bittersweet but again, understandably used. I just can’t wait until trading is allowed.
Finally a small remark on the Crucible, aka the player-versus-player arena. While nothing new here, you have to capture the points and team deathmatch, it did offer a nice change of pace from the regular gameplay. I don’t have too may complaints there. I only wish it weren’t so tame in it’s design.
At the end of the day I love this game. It brought Gordon and me together quite a bit over the past few months as we would stayed up into the wee hours shooting down monsters or fighting against other players in the Crucible. I give it 8/10 for its beautiful design and daring ideas. I only hope that it gets expanded upon in the future.