Written by DJ Chapman
Ten years ago Bungie released Halo 2, a game, in my opinion, that pioneered the online first person shooter landscape. The game is widely recognized as one of the best online multiplayer first person shooters of all time (so much so, that 343 Industries is telling you the reason you should buy Halo: The Master Chief Collection is so you can play Halo 2 online, oh and 4000 Gamerscore points). Jump ahead 10 years, and we have Bungie’s first game since the split with Microsoft: Destiny.
In Destiny you play as a Guardian, a fierce warrior who must defend the Solar System against The Darkness by wielding “The Light.” The game takes place on a post-apocalyptic Earth, where after a few centuries of human awesomeness, the galaxy decided the humans became too big for its britches (i.e. colonizing every nearby planet), and needed a little extermination. Now, all of the remaining humans live on the last Earth city, The Tower which also acts as a home base for The Guardians.
You start Destiny by creating your character, choosing a race (Human, Awoken, or Exo), and then a class (Titan, Hunter, or Warlock). Races are completely cosmetic while class defines how your character will level up. Class doesn’t define what gun you shoot; it affects what kind of power ups you get as you level. As you level up, you gain different skills, but unfortunately instead of a skill tree, the game gives you a skill line. You can swap out different skills depending on if you want a scatter grenade or a focused grenade but there isn’t much choice when it comes down to the skills.
What is surprising about Destiny is that, after the introduction mission, the game plays very much like an MMORPG. There are a good amount of people in the levels, and they can help you out if you are in a jam. Luckily, even though Destiny has an MMORPG feel, it doesn’t feel crowded. Often when I play MMOs, it seems like there are just way too many people. Destiny feels spread out, and it’s not just because the levels are big. It seems like Bungie took steps to make sure that there is a realistic amount of other Guardians adventuring alongside you. There are always a massive amount of enemies that outnumber the players. Sometimes there will be spur-of-the-moment group missions that you can join to kill of waves of enemies with a bunch of strangers. It’s a lot of fun.
What I most enjoy about Destiny is that the game does not feel linear; everything is a part of the overarching story. You, and your fellow Guardians must stop The Darkness, but your path there will not be the same as a friend who is playing. You can do one-by-one story missions to complete the game, you can do a combination of story, or you can spend all of your time in the Crucible (matchmaking arena) to level up a ton, and then complete the story.
Destiny’s strongest attribute is that while playing the missions it always feels like you are on the losing side. The game knows to throw the exact right amount of enemies at you. You never really get a break, and because of the game’s MMO nature, there really is no moment to pause. This makes weapon choice important. While you can easily change between your three weapon options, you cannot change what weapon is in this slot very easily.
Another in-game mechanic that is fun is Bounties. Bounties are basically challenges that, if you complete them, you gain a nice amount of XP and rewards. They are divided between Vanguard (Bounties you complete in story missions), and Crucible (Bounties you complete in matchmaking). There is no time limit to complete the Bounties you attempt, but you can only have five at a time, and the Bounty board refreshes daily.
While there are a lot of highs, Destiny definitely has its lows.
The story is not strong by any means. It’s very basic and for some reason the stakes never really feel high. The story is passable, but it is not what keeps my interest in the game.
There is no local (couch) co-op play. This is my biggest complaint. My girlfriend and I are avid gamers and we only have one PS4 in our household. Is fair that, even though she likes watching me play, she can’t play alongside me? Bungie claims the reason for this is because it would cheapen the level design they worked so hard to create. While the levels are nice, I don’t feel I would be losing out with a split screen. I’ve done just fine with similar games like Halo: Reach and Borderlands. Also, I cannot play games with people who have a PS3 even though it is also on the PlayStation Network. Bungie again has a response to this in that it would not be fair for those who have a PS4 to play with PS3 owners from a graphics perspective.
The soundtrack is okay. Martin O’Donnell (composer of the Halo series) was fired by Bungie in March 2014, but apparently the game’s music was already done by then…but it seems doubtful. The soundtrack is like every other FPS. The score is just whatever until you get until the final battle and all hell breaks loose.
The multiplayer is off-putting. It’s hard that I have to play other parts of the game to enjoy the multiplayer aspect. You can’t really unlock the necessary parts of the game to be effective in the Crucible until you hit Level 20. It is definitely manageable, but from my observations it isn’t really worth it until hitting a high level.
Peter Dinklage’s Voice. Finally, while it may seem like a small complaint I really can’t stand Peter Dinklage’s voice acting in his role as Ghost (not to be confused with the dog from Game of Thrones). The problem is that Dinklage has this deep robust voice which doesn’t work for this role. Ghost is supposed to be a scared, intelligent, self-conscious guide that wants to help you. His voice should should have a lot of personality but Dinklage comes off so robotic. This would be fine if Ghost was a “beep-boop-beep” deal, but he definitely is supposed to be a robot with a lot of personality, from what his lines suggests.
If you are looking for a game with some genre defining action that brings something new to the table Destiny is not that game. However, if you want a game that takes the best parts of the FPS genre and does it really well — then this is for you. If you have a PlayStation 4 and want to play with me you can find me at Zippybynight.