A few weeks ago I wrote disparagingly about Destiny, but I’ve been lucky enough to spend some time with it over the past few weeks thanks to the good people at Activision and I have to admit, I’m a convert.
It’s not all been plain sailing, but with some perseverance I’ve come to really enjoy my time with the game. The hardest thing for me has been making the transition between offline and online gaming. I’m not a big online gamer; don’t get me wrong, the occasional bout of coop between friends is great fun, but I’ve never been one for spending countless hours quick scoping n00bs in CoD.
The online experience in Destiny is subtle at best and jarring at worst. Let me explain… if, like me, you don’t want the abuse, random music, inane nonsense and noise of the kids that play a lot of online games, you’ll love Destiny. The voice comms are opt-in for story missions and patrols; players just tend to do their own thing if they’re not part of a strike team, which makes the public events a satisfying display of silent solidarity between you and any other players who join you, as well as a welcome distraction from repetitive patrol missions.
The downside for lone wolves is that being an online game, server disconnects become a grating inconvenience as you find yourself removed from the game world and sent back to orbit or worse still an error message. Another personal gripe is the lack of a game mechanic that I know, love and have come to rely on… pausing. I have a ten week old daughter and sometimes (okay, fairly regularly) she cries and when she does I have to attend to her; I hammer the options button on the DualShock 4 and more often than not watch an inventory screen as I hear my Warlock being slaughtered in the background…
These are issues that I can overcome though and I find myself being drawn deeper into the game. I have a level 20 Warlock now, not bad for a new dad who really hasn’t invested as much time as he’d like to in the game. The key for me is remote play on the PS Vita; the game eschews the rear pad in favour of reassigning the D pad and splitting the touchscreen into three vertical strips. Tap the left hand side of the screen to toss a grenade, the right to melee, the middle brings up your Ghost and special powers are activated by tapping left and right simultaneously. It means people with man hands can firmly grip the Vita with glee, without having to worry about un-commanded grenade tossing.
The campaign (oft criticized for being too short or even passing people by) is measured out by your rank, gear and how brave you’re feeling. Never having been one for MMORPGs, I criticized Destiny myself for what I considered to be unbalanced strikes in the alpha and beta. I understand now that it’s a game to be played at your own pace, by ranking up and improving equipment you provide the balance that I had incorrectly perceived as lacking. I’m sure MMO veterans like our own Cevyn Scott should be saying “I told you so.”
So I admit that I misjudged this title, most likely because I’m a console gamer who’s just not used to the pace and depth that the game can offer. Many people say that Destiny is a good start and that Bungie improve with Destiny 2, but personally I want them to build incrementally on what’s already here and continue to enhance it with updates and DLC in the long term. Activision can do annual iterations, let’s see if they can also play the long game?!