Review: Destiny (PS4)
After years of working on Halo, Bungie have turned to the shared world/MMO landscape with another sci-fi shooter called Destiny. With Bungie’s reputation and Activision’s marketing budget the hype for this title was through the roof and with the game’s box proudly stating that the game had received over 180 awards and nominations it looked like Destiny would be a sure fire success. Unfortunately hype can turn you into a fool as I found Destiny to only be a competent shooter that felt lacking.
Destiny’s basic premise is that an unknown spherical entity called “The Traveller” has come to Earth and ushering a gold age of exploration and knowledge for all humanity, while this was a prosperous age it was destroyed when “The Darkness” an age old enemy of The Traveller tracked it down and caused “The Collapse”, an incident that led to humanity losing all their colonies, technology and most of their own planet. Now, long after the collapse you take on the role of a Guardian, a person who can wield some of The Traveller’s power, and join the fight to push back the aliens that have claimed Earth’s former colonies and return the light to The Traveller.
The game’s premise in theory is pretty solid, but once I got into the story I felt pretty disappointed. The story wasn’t as great as the hype made it to be. The problem with the story is that it felt rushed and incomplete with story elements thrown in and never resolved. The most telling of which was at the beginning when a ghost, a part of The Traveller that becomes your guide, brings you back to life. This is only mentioned at the start and completely ignored. There is also the fact an unknown Exo is stalking you and only talks to you when the story needs a reason to continue. Also, the missions you are nearly all the same. Your job is to escort your ghost (voiced by: Peter Dinklage) to a series of terminals and kill waves of enemies until the ghost is finished. The disappointing story is best summed up with the dangerous and difficult final mission being standing on a pillar shooting enemies who cannot hit you. While I am interesting in seeing how they continue the story I’m not expecting anything big or a major story revelation.
While the story is a bit of a disaster the four alien races you fight are rather interesting. The four races are: Fallen, Hive, Vex and Cabal. Each race feels despite all being humanoids, for example the Fallen have a house based structure, each containing their own followers and fighters. This means each Fallen group you encounter is different. For example the game’s grimoire (lore books) states that the House of Devils are pillaging resources in Old Russia, while the House of Winter are searching the Academy on Venus for information. The other races have their own unique traits such as Cabal’s military insight making them toughest race to defeat, the Hive’s single minded desire, and the mysterious Vex who operate as one thanks to powerful structures buried under nearly every world. It is also interesting to note that these races aren’t just around to fight humans as some of these races such as the Fallen and Vex are fighting each other too.
In Destiny you can visit up to four celestial bodies, Moon, Earth (including The Tower), Venus and Mars. Each of which were former human colonies and their home planet. All four bodies have a common theme, destroyed golden age infrastructure. Despite this, the old infrastructure is only really explored when you are on Earth’s Old Russia, as the other locations focus on more what the aliens have done to Earth’s former colonies. For example, when exploring the Moon the story doesn’t focus on what it was in the past, but what The Hive are doing inside it. My personal favourite planet in Destiny is Venus as it shows how great the Golden Age was because Venus is a deadly poisonous planet, but in Destiny it has being transformed into a jungle world.
While the areas you visit are beautiful the game doesn’t allow you to soak it in as it forces you down a certain path, even in the free world patrol mode you can only explore certain sections and if you try to steer from the path the game decides to kill you. This is annoying as some areas have some truly amazing places such as the ruined city on Mars etc. Also, speaking of exploring every area in the game apart from The Tower has no map, and honestly this missing feature left me annoyed as I loved exploring the map, but constantly got turned around.
Despite all their problems I loved visited all the worlds, but I really hope Bungie adds new worlds in future updates or expansions. The game’s lore does state that other worlds such as Jupiter’s moon, Europa were colonised and that some interesting things were happening on Mercury.
Of course to explore all the worlds and the story you need a character and with Destiny you have a choice of three classes: Warlock, Titan and Hunter, and three species: Human, Exo (humanoid machine) and Awoken (Advanced Human). During my one week of playing Destiny I primarily focused on the Warlock class and as such have only have observational information on the Titan and Hunter classes. Each class has two sub-classes that help determined your play style for example the Warlock’s subclasses: Voidwalker and Sunsinger focus on two ways of doing damage. For example the Voidwalker focuses on widespread damage abilities and Sunsinger focuses on buffing and direct damage abilities. From my experience most people who play Warlock focus on Voidwalker, but this is likely because the Sunsinger is locked until level 15 and the game doesn’t tell you about the additional subclass. The Titan and Hunter are both relatively the same although the while the Hunter also focuses on damage abilities the Titan does seem to lean towards the more defensive side.
Of course there is more to the classes as each class has their own special ability and grenades. Special abilities or Supercharge attacks are the classes’ ultimate attack that slowly powers up as you fight and can one shot most enemies. While the majority of them are offensive some are defensive or buff focused like the Sunsinger’s super ability. Grenades are also class dependent with the Warlock’s grenades being able to trap and quickly do multiple hits while the Hunter’s does direct splash damage. In case you are wondering yes there are melee attacks and the majority of them do the same thing. All three abilities: specials, grenades and melee are on separate cooldown timers, but if you collect the right gear you can speed up the timer.
Since Destiny is a shooter, combat is all about shooting and well to my surprise the aiming and shooting is incredibly responsive with it very easy to line up and get headshots with sniper rifles and semi-automatic weapons. Although it is possible to get headshots with automatic weapons, but doing so requires a lot more patience.
The ease of the combat is helped by to the enemy’s rather poor survival instinct. There has being countless times where I have seen enemies just stand still waiting to be shot and even when they scatter after hearing a shot and hide in cover they always pop their head out long enough to be shot in the head.
Since Destiny is a shared world/MMO you would be forgiven for thinking that there would be a way to interact with other players. Well in Destiny interaction with other players is limited to seeing them while on patrol or at The Tower and the game’s social hub. Unfortunately when you run into another player you can only wave, point, dance or sit with them. Yes, Bungie decided to strip social interaction down to four emotes, want to talk or text chat with another player good luck as Bungie decided that easy communication in a game with group content wasn’t required.
Levelling in Destiny for the most part is pretty standard, well at least for the first twenty levels. From 1-20 you simply grind experience by completing bounties, story missions and simply killing enemies, but for the final nine levels, 21-30, you leave the experience bar behind and farm for specific loot that grants you a light bonus. As I said in my Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare review I like the simplicity of the experience bar and as such I’m not a fan of this switch from experience to grinding for specific armour. What annoys me about it isn’t the fact you have to get specific armour, but how difficult this armour is to get. Gaining rare, legendary or even exotic armour requires large amounts of grinding from killing constantly spawning enemies at a “loot cave”, running PVP matches and praying that the random loot gods will give you something or grinding daily quests to earn rank and credits for special vendor armour.
Destiny’s level 21-30 endgame content has its ups and downs. The game’s player versus player is enjoyable and reminds me of Bungie’s old Halo multiplayer content. The PVP has your normal selection of simple kill and objective game modes, with my favourite being the control game mode, which requires you to fight over three capture points and hold them until you reach the required score or until time runs out. While I’m not a big online multiplayer person I did enjoy it as there was a good selection of maps and the attempts were made to bridge the level gap between players.
PVP isn’t the only endgame activity as players can take part in strikes. These strikes, which are similar to your typical MMO dungeons, see you team up to two other players to take down some powerful enemies. In theory this could be fun, but the strikes have a few issues. The first is lack of communication, there is no easy way to communicate with your allies, so when you get to a boss fight you are left hoping that your allies know what to do and where the bosses weak point is. Another issue are the bosses themselves. Bosses are incredibly bullet spongy and can take several minutes of constant shooting to kill. For example during the first boss fight on the level 18 Martian Strike, Cerberus Vae III it took over ten minutes of near constant shooting to bring the enemy down. Although it isn’t all bad news as bosses do have powerful attacks, for example the above mentioned boss, which is a tank by the way, had a one hit kill cannon shot, but this could be avoided by simply walking behind a rock. I personally believe if there was any easy form of communication myself and the other two players could have taken the boss down quicker as I found one or two of the other players weren’t shooting at its weak point.
Destiny also contains a level 26+ raid, but alas I couldn’t farm for long enough to try it out.
While I do have a lot of negatives regarding Destiny I love the music. The artists Michael Salvatori, C Paul Johnson, Martin O Donnell and Paul McCartney have all created music that suits the various aspects of the game. While there are times you may not notice the music it really stands out when you have big fights such as fighting a Vex Gate lord or a Fallen Kree.
Destiny is a decent game that is a victim of its own hype. While the game’s universe and aliens are amazing the loot system, endgame and story leaves a lot to be desired. Hopefully future expansions/content updates fix some of these issues.
+ Plenty of room for expansion content
+ All the alien races feel unique
+ PVP is great
+ Planets are a joy to explore
– Story is disappointing
– Social aspect is non existent
– Combat is too easy
– Loot system needs improvement
– Strikes are boring as bullet spongy bosses are not fun to fight
|Bungie||Activision||First person shooter||16||Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360||September 9th|
For more information on Destiny, visit http://www.destinythegame.com/.
Author: Aaron Meehan
Hi, I’m the creator of SG Gaming Info. When I’m not working on my writing or creating content for this site’s YouTube channel, I like to relax and enjoy character driven story games.