When the new consoles came out two years ago, we were accepting of the fact that the true “new generation” games weren’t coming out until the following year, 2014.
Now, three months out of 2015…there’s still this feeling of “Hey, I’m still waiting for that new generation game”.
Is that fair to saddle this on Destiny, Bungie’s latest game that was promised to be equal parts MMO, Shooter, Action RPG and the sole justification of having a PS4 or Xbox One? Not entirely: Titanfall also disappointed, as well as Infamous Second Son. In fact, in a twisted bit of irony, the games that made the biggest dents were a licensed game (Shadow of Mordor) and a well-torn First Person Shooter long to be going downhill (Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare).
But Destiny was the game that most were genuinely excited about, even after an Alpha and a Beta revealing it’s core gameplay mechanics. The promises that Bungie made about the game left many gamers to get pumped about the possibilities of what this game could become. Talks of every piece of equipment “telling a story” and forging your own path through Destiny’s worlds gave the game quite a grandiose promise.
Depending on who you are, you may fall in two camps: the camp that “doesn’t care it didn’t live up to that, it’s still great” and the camp of “there’s barely a game with any content and you can’t expect me to play missions multiple times to pad out my time spent on the game”.
Personally, I have 3 characters, each representing the specific classes Destiny has: Titan, Warlock and Hunter. They are all at Level 28 as of this article according to Xbox Live, I have played about 360 hours worth of the game. I purchased both the game and the DLC pack at time of launch, so I spent $95 on Destiny.
Obviously, for me to be playing this game for as long as I have been, Destiny does quite a bit right. It also does it in probably the worst way possible. It’s kind of like sleeping with that person you know you shouldn’t, but he’s/she’s just so much fun that you’ll deal with the possible repercussions later.
Of course, the first salvo warning shot we had been the fact that Destiny was being made for both current generation consoles and last generation consoles. Because of this fact alone, many of us should have thought “Wait, this couldn’t possibly be that “Killer App” game if it’s on ALL consoles” unless the 360 and PS3 versions were completely gimped or lacking in features.
Knowing Bungie, they wouldn’t sell an inferior product that wasn’t the same across the board. Even with previous examples that year (Titanfall) showing that we shouldn’t have expected anything more than a dressed up last generation version, why didn’t dawn on any of us?
My feelings: Destiny still looks good on a current gen console. Environments look crisp and definitely have a sense of place. The game runs at a good clip as well, never chugs and maintains a great frame rate that doesn’t distract you from the game.
Yet, the environments, as good as they look, are empty. With the exception of some craters, puddles, spots of grass and some brown debris and buildings, there is zero personality in the game as you are playing it. Whether you are in a mission, strike or just doing patrol missions, unless you are so deeply ingrained in the game to know your Exclusion Zone to your Mothyards, the game has a hard time making any area in the game seem memorable.
Unless, of course, you’ve played it for over 300 hours and know where every cave, crevice, hiding spot and piece of algae is.
How Can Something Feel So Good…
What can cause someone to play a game for over 300 hours, aside from agoraphobia and a lack of a social life? Especially since the environments aren’t that interesting? It’s the gameplay and it is possibly one of the most comfortable playing shooters to play, right along side Call of Duty and Borderlands.
The controls work perfectly, from aiming down the sights to jumping to melee. On top of that, every action feels very responsive and don’t feel useless or underwhelming in the slightest.
You get the right types of feelings when you shoot an enemy. Killing in this game feels satisfying, especially when you score a precision kill (or critical kill). Each species of enemy reacts differently to your shots and when you hit them in the right way, it feels real good to take them out.
This goes the same way for defeating mid bosses, level bosses and strike bosses. Nothing is more satisfying in this game than taking out an enemy with your firepower.
Coming from someone who generally gets bored with first person shooters after a month or two, the fact that I keep playing this game because of its mechanics say a lot of how well Destiny plays.
…Feel So Bad?
Yet, I do feel like I’ve wasted a great amount of time with the game as well. The game, even after one expansion, has a really bad content problem. Playing the same missions, beating the same bosses, destroying the same bases: it gets terribly monotonous.
So, why do that? Well, you can “beat the game” (as in finish all story missions) and you wouldn’t reach level 20, which is the “level cap”. In most cases, I was finished with each character within the 16 – 18 range. When you beat the game, you earn a single Rare gun that isn’t too powerful and the option to return anywhere you want to in the game to replay.
Again, why would you want to repeat the same missions over and over again? Engrams are one reason: these are equipment that the enemies drop when you kill them. These are all completely random, and some are hidden which require you to go to the cryptarch in order to reveal what the equipment is. Some equipment will have special abilities that give you better armor, some give you the chance to get a bullet back when you make a headshot, etc.
When you hit Level 20, equipment can also have you build Light. What does Light do? Light levels you past the Level 20 Cap, which can go as far as Level 32 with the right equipment. The equipment can get leveled up by using it frequently in missions, which allows you to purchase those upgrades for those weapons.
How do you purchase the upgrades? By either farming for materials throughout the world to give you the amount you need or by spending your Vanguard or Crucible Marks to purchase those materials.
Without getting too in-depth into Crucible marks, Reputation and the like, the game requires you to grind to a ridiculous amount just to level you up farther and make you more powerful.
And farming patrol missions or doing strikes don’t always guarantee you’ll get what you are looking for. There’s the possibility that after 4-6 hours of playtime, you don’t get a single thing you actually need (which has happened to me at times) and it becomes a frustrating way for Bungie to pad a game that is severely lacking in content.
A Long Suffering Dedication
Now, in the form of fairness and honesty, there are two things I haven’t been able to do: defeat a Weekly Nightfall Strike and complete a Raid.
Why is that? They are ruthless difficult and require a group of people to complete. So, why haven’t I just gone into matchmaking to do all of this?
Because Bungie decided that Matchmaking wasn’t necessary for either. It recently just added matchmaking to the Weekly Stirke, for whatever reason, but they have made it clear they will not be adding matchmaking to either Nightfall or Raids.
From any player I’ve spoken with about Destiny, the best content in the game are the Raids. They are the most rewarding, they are fun to play and they give you the highest chance to get the best type of gear (Legendary or Exotic).
So of course they would limit who could actually play it! Why would you put your best content behind a wall that requires your players to grind like holy hell for hours on end?
Some of you might have the defense of “Well, Raids should be something you do with a group, so that’s why there is no matchmaking”. Well, some of the best MMOs have matchmaking for their Raids (some don’t as well) and let’s be honest, Destiny is a Halo meets Borderlands with much more Halo.
The MMO part of Destiny is quite limited. You can dance, point and shoot stuff. You can also voice chat. There are no guilds. There are no overarching competitions. You are basically grinding until you can’t do it anymore.
Is It Worth Diving Into? Coming Back To?
If you are a lapsed player, you are better off waiting until all of their expansions and all of their kinks are ironed out. To this date, they have changed many things, such as how fast the cryptarch levels, how to upgrade weapons, and the amount of marks you can earn in a week. The main things that turned most off of Destiny are still very much present.
If you haven’t played it yet and are considering getting into the game, consider a few things. First, you need to not only purchase the game for $60, you also have to purchase the first expansion The Dark Below for $20 at minimum or $35 for the Expansion Pass. Then, you have to go through a long grind in order to just get to the part of the game that matters, which is riddled with players who have already went through and are already up to level 32.
And there’s no power leveling (aka, running a hard game with other players to earn more XP faster), enemies don’t give out more XP for being more difficult. So, if you’re going in, you’re gonna suffer like the rest of us did, dammit!
If you truly want to play Destiny now, make sure you have a dedicated group of people who will play with you. It’ll be much easier to get through most of the levels in the game and you can do it with a friend, who also can get Engrams and complete bounties just by helping you out.
Otherwise, I’ll come back in three months to see if things have gotten better, but for right now, the game is still a beautiful disaster that’s really fun to play mechanically, but doesn’t have much of a game for you to enjoy.
The Wiz Gamer Rewind #1