Hype is a strange word. When a long awaited or much anticipated game is finally released, the one question always asked is “will it live up the hype?”. While the question is not easily answered and will vary from person to person, I will do my best to answer it with my honest opinion. Hype in all reality is generated when a company has done really well with their advertising campaign. In the case of Destiny, Bungie and its publisher Activision have been very successful in letting players know that this is the next best thing since Titan Fall. Do you know anyone who is still playing Titan Fall? Will Destiny’s fate be the same and will it quickly fall to the sidelines? The short answer is no, no it won’t.
I was not one who had given into all of the hype. After playing the demo and talking with the COMO team I felt that this was not the game for me. With its seemingly lackluster story and respawning enemies, I did not have much interest. Well thanks to selfless giving, I was able to get Destiny free of charge and invest some time into it. If you’re a fan of Bungie and their past titles such as Halo or Marathon, then you generally know what to expect from a combat perspective. Your character, also known as a Guardian, can run and jump with ease. Thanks to assisted jet pack like boosters, your character can sail through the air during a double jump. The ability will make anyone who loved playing as the Master Chief feel right at home. This is where Destiny truly succeeds. The combat is extremely polished and running around in first person mode does not get old. The AI of the enemies is programmed in a way to make it more challenging. Enemies will constantly move while being shot at which makes target acquisition more difficult. Enemies will constantly flank you and run behind cover when they are alone. When an elite or boss enters the area, enemies will become more aggressive and long range snipers will try and take you out. This menagerie of enemy types and the way that they act can truly make for some exhilarating gun fights. This is not a cover based shooter, but you will find that cover is your best friend at times. The ever-trusty health regeneration system that almost every game employs these days is in full effect, and dodging behind a barrier at just the right moment can save your life. It won’t save you for too long, mind you, as the enemies will quite often run around to see what you’re up to and send a few bullets flying your way.
Destiny does differ in many ways from Halo. Sure, they are both Science Fiction space shooters with warring alien races, but Bungie has employed an RPG system that gives gamers the ability to fine tune their shooting experience. There are three classes available: Hunter, Titan and Warlock. Titans focus on brute strength and armor, and Warlocks focus more on grenade cool down recovery and agility in movement and speed. Once you have chosen what you want to play as, your player subclass allows you to choose custom perks to further change gameplay. Every level you unlock more and more perks, and once you hit level 15 you have the option of picking an entirely different subclass. This allows you to re-level up in those areas as well as changing your play style. Random drops from enemies and purchases from in game vendors will also net you new weapons and gear. Anyone who loves questing for better drops will be familiar with the system. Some people would say that the real meat of Destiny does not start until after you have reached level 20. Once this max level is reached XP is converted to a currency which can be traded in for armor. Playing in one of the games many modes also unlocks rank and points in various faction which all sell their respected gear. To continue to level past 20, players will need to partake in the many game modes ranging from Heroic story missions, Vanguard Strike missions, the PVP Crucible mode and Raids. This is a lot of info to absorb so I will dissect each a bit here for you.
Destiny has over 5 worlds that you can visit as you progress through the story. Each world has its own story missions that are rated by level and their respective difficulties. Playing a Patrol or free roam mission allows you to partake in random public events and complete in bounties which are bonus objectives that net you rewards. Public events spawn randomly during missions and free roam and they allow you to participate with other people in a difficult task. Completing the objective will reward you with a score which in turn will give you in game rewards. Heroic story missions are just more difficult and are unlocked at level 20. Strike missions are bonus levels of each world that are long and very difficult to complete unless you are very prepared and have friends. Raids have recently been unlocked and the first one is only available to players that are level 26. These are extremely long and excruciatingly difficult and are for only the most strong of will. This is where the end game content becomes very grindy, but in a good way. Light armor becomes available and it is essential to continue leveling your character. The more Light you have, the more you increase in rank and power. This alone is a long process and will extend the life of the game greatly. To unlock or buy newer and better armors, you will need to keep running through missions or play in the Crucible.
The Crucible is the PVP portion of the game and pits players head to head in various modes. You have control mode which is capturing and holding objectives. You have free for all mode and a team Deathmatch. All of these modes are available to players from a early point in the game and the level bonuses that various players have are nullified. This is a great benefit when you may only be a level 6 playing PVP with a level 23. Still, it is not perfect as it does not account for better weapons in general. Sometimes players will just have guns with larger clips or much high rates of fire than you, and even though it does not do more damage you are still at a disadvantage. This did not trouble me all that often during my time, but it is worth noting. A new mode to Crucible will also become unlocked soon which does not remove any level bonuses from the players. This will surely give people seeking the most competitive and stat tracking thrills the time of their lives.
Sadly, the story of Destiny is virtually nonexistent. This will no doubt come as a shock to fans of Halo who enjoyed its rich story and memorable cutscenes. Destiny tries to do so much that it falls short in some crucial areas. How important is story? Well it varies from person but to me I rather fancy a good hearty story. It gives me reason to care about what I am doing and relate to the characters. Story in this game is relegated to boring exposition during a loading screen at the start of a mission and sometimes during it. Story missions consist of run here, shoot this, deploy your Ghost (AI assistant/narrator that is not Cortana, but can attach to your suit and talk to you), defend the area, run here and shoot this. It’s all the same from mission to mission and the only distinguishing factor is the change in locale. Bungie allows some of this story to be told through cutscenes, but they feel out of place and do little to further your understanding. If it were not for the gorgeous vistas, beautiful graphics and superb combat mixed with RPG elements, Destiny would be a rather lackluster shooter lacking in good story telling. Thankfully many great pieces to this large puzzle do come together just enough that players can discern the full picture. With the promise to keep updating and support Destiny for some time to come, Bungie has given players seeking lots of content exactly that. New in game challenges will frequently update and give players specific goals to accomplish for set prizes. This alone gives people great incentive to keep coming back, in ways that regular multiplayer modes may not. Destiny has something for most everyone whether you are interested in PVE or competitive PVP, this game has it.
When it comes down to it, Destiny is an ambitious game that tries to do a lot and succeeds at some, but ultimately falls short. Playing with others is essential to keeping the game fresh, and without friends the gameplay feels stagnant and lonely. The constant respawning of enemies from leaving and re-entering an area can become frustrating, and the MMO features are also limited. During missions you can have up to 3 people in a Fire Team which is essentially your squad. In the world there will be other players going about their own business and you can interact with shooting and they can be invited to your Fire Team, but unless they are with you, you cannot hear each other talking. This can be unacceptable to some MMO players that demand that sort of depth from the experience. While Destiny may be missing the mark that two years of hype set for it, Destiny does exceed in what counts in a game. It is downright fun, the combat is smooth and the AI is smart. The graphics are crisp, the game modes are varied and the music is stellar. Put these all together and the good does outweigh the bad. All I want to do after playing about 18 hours through the game is go back and keep leveling my character. Destiny is very fun and rewarding, but is not perfect. Thankfully, what is in place is enough to warrant a purchase and you can rest assured knowing it should be supported for some time to come, and Bungie has laid some good ground work here for what will likely be a few sequels.
A PlayStation 4 copy of Destiny was provided by the Activision PR team.