Destiny is finally here, after a year of massive hype about the game and the chance to play it both in alpha and in the beta, Bungie together with EA has finally released the game with its in the making price tag of 500 million dollars. But does Destiny live up to all its hype? Is it going to be the game everyone plays and talks about for years to come, a franchise which will live on for the coming decade? And what kind of game is Destiny really?
The Wizard Came From the Moon
Destiny is set in a future where few human survivors are left after a golden age ended when something knocked us out, and earth was saved by a mysterious sphere which still hangs silently above Earth, and you play as a guardian protecting all of humanity, from whatever threats are out there. The whole story surrounds around this huge sphere and how it protects us from the darkness out there, and it doesn’t get that much clearer on your journey as a guardian. There are three classes to choose from; Warlock, Titan and Hunter, and except for minor skills difference, they all play alike with the same weapons.
In the story you are taken from one mission to another with a thin red thread, and very cliché one at that. But halfway through the missions the story opens up somewhat, and it is a story worth playing through the game for, but not a story that will stick in your head after you have completed the game. The structures of the missions themselves are actually one of the most disappointing parts of the game, almost all missions are based on the same principles, get from A to B, enter a very linear path and kill some enemies, defend something against countless waves of enemy with a loud stressful music going on for the entire time, meet some boss which takes long to kill if the mission is at your level. Even if this is the standard for almost all shooters, I would have hoped for Bungie to move away from this standard in this somewhat new experience that they are giving us.
Online Shooter or MMO?
All story missions can be played with up to two other friends, making Destiny one of few games with a three player coop instead of the regular four player coop. But as most of you might know, Destiny takes the online part a bit further. Bungie is not calling it an MMO, but they are taking mechanism from MMOs, trying to make them fit in a regular FPS. Destiny does this with different sorts of missions and social interactions:
• Strike Missions: First off we have the strike missions. These are missions spread over all planets in which you and two other players, and apart from story missions which demands friends or people encountered when roaming the first part of the missions, these have matchmaking. And playing with other players is necessary, since strike missions play out very much like dungeons do in the classic MMO game experience. During these missions you do encounter both mini bosses and huge bosses apart from the trash mobs usually found in the game, and upon completion you do receive experience the first time and personal loot every time you complete it.
• Dynamic Events: These are one of the most talked about things about Destiny beforehand, and one of the hardest for me to encounter in the game. After playing the game countless hours I encountered my first “dynamic event” after reaching the soft max level 20. These occur from time to time when you are playing in the more open mode called explore, where you can get the usual kill and fetch quest from MMO games. In the rare cases when playing explore you do receive a notification about a “dynamic event”, in which some big boss is doing something terrible, and all players in the vicinity must come together to overcome the boss. While I really do enjoy joining in these events, and liked how they are played out story wise, they did happened way to seldom for me, not to feel like a simple gimmick instead of a core game mechanic. I really do hope this will be changed in upcoming patches, since the “dynamic events” are one of the biggest sell points for Destiny.
• The Tower: This is Destiny´s social hub, where players on the same format (no cross-console play here) can meet and show of their gear or just get together for a fireteam before heading out into space. For those used to playing other MMO games you will quickly find the similarities between The tower and the capital cities in the game of your choosing. Where you apart from a more social experience can get quests for both PvE and PvP, and identify gear schemes found when playing.
• Raids: Since these have just been introduced and demand a huge amount of time and five friends to play with, and no matchmaking, I have yet to try them. But you play them as a team of 6 players, there is no matchmaking here so you have to have friends or coordinate in The tower. Apart from both strike missions and story missions they are open in nature, not pointing the player where to go, so coordination is a must. If they do act in a similar way as the strike missions, and how fun they are with the right people, I can imagine raids being worth getting the game for if they implement some sort of matchmaking for them.
The Next Big Competitive Shooter?
As expected from Bungie, Destiny does have a very solid competitive PvP. The PvP takes place in something called The Crucible, and there is at the moment six different modes in 10 different maps, all modes being classics; like deathmatches, team deathmatches, control and variations on them. You can clearly see Bungies legacy with the Halo franchise within Destiny’s PvP. The classes and weapons are well balanced, the maps have a certain flow to them, making them easy to learn and navigate but hard to master, and the maps always fit the game modes. But even if the PvP Is very well made, I would really have loved to see Destiny spreading its wings further, creating something new and exciting. When entering PvP you will bring along the weapons and armor equipped, but only their looks and the type of weapon you are carrying. Destiny has a normalization system which sets the stats for all the players the same, so the only thing that matters when playing against others are your own skills, even if you look the same as when playing PvE. But there is one game mode where you play with everything that comes from your gear, and this is something which opens up in the endgame.
Loading Times From Hell…
Being a father of two, I can sadly say that Destiny is not the best game for someone with limited time, and much of that is because of all the slow loading times in the game. After completing the first story mission, you are given a ship, and between all missions you are sent to a galactic map where you can choose planet and mission, and the loading times from leaving a mission upon entering a new is unbearable at times. To top this you are also encourage to visit The tower between the missions to receive new gear or turn in missions, which adds another zone to load and load out from between the missions. So if you l have less than one hour to play when coming home from work, you will spend a lot of that time loading between maps.
The future for Destiny is looking very bright, with five free content updates planned in September, one can hope for this to continue on even after the release month. Even if most of that content is endgame which many had hoped to exist from the start, they are still pushing them out at least twice a week. There are also DLCs planned in forms of expansion for Destiny, where the first one will appear this year already. So even if the game might not last more than 20hours at the moment, there is much planned for Destiny, making it a game that might be worth the while to stay with.
So what kind of game is Destiny? The short and easy answer is; an online shooter. There are elements taken from other massive multiplayer games, but they never reach beyond that limited coop feeling like so many shooters manage to well nowadays. Destiny is a very solid shooter game with a well-balanced competitive PvP, but they do play it very safe here, not taking any long steps from Halo. And since this year is the year already have Titanfall bringing back the old school pace of shooters, I can´t help but feel that Destiny plays slow and somewhat boring at moments. If you plan on getting Destiny to play against other players, you better like a shooter with a slower pace where you can pump bullets into enemies before they die, and if you are a fan of Halo, you will love Destinys PvP, if you are more of the Call of Duty or Titanfall player, this will not be your cup of tea. If you instead are looking for a solid FPS with great story, you will with Destiny get a very solid and sometimes beautiful shooter, with a very mediocre and cliché story. But if you have friends to play it with, it will be a different game, because playing with friends is what Destiny is all about. The story gets a lot more enjoyable with others, but since there is no matchmaking, you are almost forced to play with friends, as Raids will be. They still have strike missions which support coop matchmaking, and while they are very fun to do once, they get repetitive and boring quickly. I had high hopes for Destiny, and if they decide to add matchmaking for every part of the game, it can be a better experience for everyone. And if they manage to pump out updates every week, Destiny stands a chance on becoming this year’s best FPS, but at the moment, it is a very mediocre game which we have seen so many times before.
+ Great coop
+ Beautiful landscapes at times
+ Has a big potential
– Coop almost demands friends
– Mediocre story and mission design
– Slow PvP which we have seen before
– Loading times