Review: Destiny (PS4)
Shakespeare tells us that “It’s not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves” and it’s this thought that Destiny made its promises to us. A promise of a game that would last a lifetime, that would be gloriously different for everyone and a game in which we would find ‘ourselves’. It’s a lot of promise, or rather hope from gamers, to expect fulfilment by a single game, but living up to that isn’t always the easiest task.
With that in mind I bring you to the review of Destiny, and for ease of reference I thought I would break this up into clear categories to see just where the game stands. Just for some background, Destiny is considered a mix between open world shooter, MMO and a standard first-person shooter. Some elements are more refined than others though.
Classes and Characters
At the start of Destiny you get to pick a class between Hunter, Titan and Warlock. Each has a unique set of strengths and abilities, and of course weaknesses. Thankfully all feel well balanced, meaning no matter which class you choose you will enjoy it. Each class comes equipped with different weapons, gear and special powers which are worth exploring. You can also customise your character in terms of appearance and genetic makeup. Choosing from three types of races (human, awoken and exo) and your gender makes up the basics of your ideal character, although the options are rather limited. Once you have picked a class and style you can move ahead with the story.
The story, to say the least, is a letdown. You are introduced at the start to a Ghost, voiced by Peter Dinklage, who locates you on what was once considered Earth. He explains to you the situation and gets you up to date with how to use weapons and other abilities as you attempt to escape the enemy, called the Fallen. The intro and tutorial form as one, and you soon find out that the world has mostly been destroyed and the few who are left are Guardians trying to protect the rest and ensure that they can take back their planets.
The story is a mess, it’s a hollow outline of plot points which mostly function as a means to an end, of going through motions to set up reasons for you to shoot things. It’s very little more than that. In fact, after many hours with the game I still don’t really know what is happening in the story and at no point does it escalate to match the rest of the epic that is Destiny.
It’s a shame really. Sure the game is technically an MMO and stories don’t tend to fit into these kinds of games, but at the same time Bungie had an opportunity to make Destiny the most complete game ever, sadly this is a section that is incredibly off when compared to the rest of the game.
There is another aspect to the story in terms of the lore of the world that Destiny occurs in. The lore is more meat to what could be considered the story but really fits in as background information. The thing is, it isn’t actually in the game, but rather collected via Grimoire cards. These cards are attained through completing in-game missions, upgrading weapons and taking out enemies (amongst other things). The cards are then linked to the companion app or site where you can go read up more about it.
For me, this is perfect. I prefer not to have my in-game momentum affected by reading long passages and other information. It meant that when I went to bed I could spend another 30 minutes or so in the Destiny world on my phone reading about everything that I discovered during that day. For others, it might feel very disjointed and something that should be part of the game rather than a separate entity almost.
If the story leaves a lot (and I mean A LOT) to be desired, the visuals are the complete opposite of the spectrum. Destiny, from start to end looks incredible. It’s almost inconceivable just how detailed and beautiful the entire world looks. It’s something that stands out above just about anything else in the game, and if anything the eye candy prevalent on any of the worlds is just astounding.
Whether you are on the Moon, Earth, Venus, Mars or even the tower there are just so many photo opportunities that you will feel like a tourist in a game which is not a feeling I personally have ever felt before. It’s worth exploring for the different views you can find, and adds to the atmosphere of the game itself. The graphics are easily some of the best I have ever seen, and I love exploring such a beautiful world.
Sound is another part of the game that feels like it got wonderful attention. Apart from the odd inclusion of a Paul McCartney pop track at the end, the score is almost perfectly crafted throughout the missions and the music is only complimented by the brilliantly done sound effects. It feels like a masterpiece in sound and those goosebump moments are amplified by the music and effects.
Modes – Single Player / Co-op
Destiny has plenty of content in terms of its modes. You can play just about all of it as a solo player, but co-op is really encouraged. Playing solo does raise the challenge quite a bit, but nothing beats the fun of having a few buddies playing with you.
The main story missions can be played from 1 to 3 players in your fireteam. These missions are based on level and as mentioned drive what should be a story forward. Many of the missions follow a very similar pattern whereby your ghost takes you somewhere, downloads information and has you defend yourself against waves of attacks. Yes, it changes occasionally, but for the most part this is what you will be going through in the story missions.
You also have strike missions. For these you can also play from 1 to 3 players and has you going through a set of events before attempting a main boss battle. The strike missions are quite a challenge and are absolutely great when you want to join a couple of friends online for a battle. Be prepared though, they can be brutally difficult, but there is a real sense of achievement when you complete them.
Lastly, there are Patrol missions. These are definitely the easiest missions to play alone, but are definitely more fun with friends as usual. Patrol missions take place on any of the planets and are just random missions used to level up. These missions have you doing tasks such as taking out a particular enemy, collecting data or killing a number of enemies in an area. They are relatively mindless, but a great way to level up and improve your character.
Modes – PvP Multiplayer
Built into the Destiny world are multiplayer PvP maps with a number of different modes, many of which are not exactly new, but work wonderfully, especially for those who played and loved the Halo multiplayer. These modes all require 6 players per team, but finding a match is really simple and I never waited more than a minute or two to find a game (if I didn’t have my own fireteam already).
Modes include ‘Clash’ which has each team competing for the most kills. ‘Control’ is like capture the flag, where your team needs to capture certain key points and hold on for as long as possible. The team with the most points from kills and captures will win. ‘Rumble’ has you playing for yourself as you battle against other opponents for the most kills, it’s the free-for-all type mode. Salvage has you in teams again where you need to use your Ghost to salvage ruins before the opposition does so.
More modes will open up in the future, but for for now that is what exists. I must say, every map I played on felt different and well balanced. There are some well-thought-out areas that provide some excellent opportunities for some manic combat, and of course some serious team work.
Collectibles / Levelling up / Loot
Collectibles are a big part of the game and for the sake of it I have included the levelling up section of the game as a collectible. Collectibles exist in themselves in terms of finding items which can be used to get the in-game currency called Glimmer. This comes in use when you want to upgrade and there are tons of upgrades to be had in terms of armour, weapons, character items, ships and more.
Arguably the most enjoyable part of Destiny is the levelling up and loot finds. There are so many different weapons to try out that it’s so hard to settle on one or two weapons, all are pretty cool and have different benefits depending on the situation and your character. Even some of the weapons have upgrades which make you want to use it more and more.
Levelling up your character is obviously a major part of the game. For now it is capped at level 30, but in that space there is plenty to experiment with. Your character starts with a subclass which has a bunch of upgrades. These upgrades range from double jumps to different grenades and other special abilities (each character has different things to upgrade). It’s this levelling up of a character and the weapons that really make the game so addictive. You will just want the strongest possible character with the coolest gear you can find to show off and assist in-game of course.
Everything above adds to the gameplay of course. The levelling up and collecting loot and getting cool weapons only increases the gameplay elements and makes you want to discover and collect more. Heading to the tower to get bounties and rewards makes every level worth playing over and over.
It’s the gameplay that truly makes up for the awful story found in the game. Everything is just insanely solid. As one dimensional as the actual missions are, the gunplay is brilliantly executed. Weapons have real weight to them and getting into a gun battle just has that same feeling of awesome every single time. It also adds to the enjoyment that you can jump in and out of games with your friends and on certain areas you will find your world populated with random people making the social aspect of the game much more enjoyable.
The AI is not the smartest but they do get difficult to beat and strategy is needed, but the action never gets dull or boring and it’s what truly keeps me going back for more. Add to that the different character abilities and you have something special in Destiny. Putting those abilities together with team mates never gets old and the sense of camaraderie felt throughout missions on co-op is something I have rarely felt in a game before.
When it comes down to it, the story being so weak and misplaced is almost difficult to look past, but then you get this amazing gameplay, graphics and addictiveness that shines though from all the levelling up, abilities and different weapons and you can only smile while playing the game.
Oddly, I have always been a ‘story first’ kind of gamer, but I wanted Destiny for the sheer fun of it and nothing more, and that is exactly what I have got out of it. I didn’t expect a great story (though it would have been nice), but I did expect a game that would keep me busy and keep me entertained for a long time, and I feel I have that in Destiny.
Throw in all the special events that arrive when you least expect them, throw in raids that are coming soon and other timed events, expansions and more that is only going to add to the existing world and you can understand the hype surrounding the game. It’s Bungie’s devotion to adding fresh content to the world that will make it stand out, if it hasn’t already.
I have read a lot of criticism over the game, from critics. From those playing it I have mostly found nothing but enjoyment at what Destiny has to offer. If you are expecting an amazing RPG, adventure and story then you are yourself misplaced and should rather not get Destiny. If you want an addictive game that you can play with friends seamlessly, stunning visuals and musical score and tons of things to keep you busy with, do yourself a favour and ignore the naysayers. Destiny is wonderful and it is only going to get better.